Matzah - The Mystery of the Matzah

April 06th 2017

By Rabbi Adam Ross


The Zohar describes Matzah as the ‘bread of faith’. Somehow it contains the secret of emunah-faith.

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch explains that the people had not intended to take provisions for the journey with them, they had wanted to leave with nothing in order to demonstrate their total faith. But they did not know when the redemption was due. Having eaten their Seder-meal, redemption had not yet come, and as the hour got late, the people began to waver ever so slightly. They took out dough to prepare the morning meal. Then came the sudden moment of the Exodus. Their hastily prepared midnight feast, was flung over our ancestors shoulders yet mysteriously never rose. 

What is the deeper significance of this?

In our everyday lives, we don’t sit back and wait for miracles, rather we maximise our efforts and work hard for that which we pray. Ordinarily the miraculous hand of God works through human courage. But it took a one-off show by God to demonstrate that in reality God does not need our acts in order to make the miracle happen. 

In an apocryphal tale, there was a person searching frantically for a parking spot. Late for a crucial meeting, and driving round every block, they could find no space. In desperation the driver turns to heaven and shouts, ‘God if you get me a parking spot, I’ll never speak a bad word, I’ll eat kosher, I’ll pray more, I’ll give 10% of my money to charity…’ 

All of a sudden, right in front of them, a car pulls out leaving them with a perfect parking space. The relieved driver looks up to heaven and says. ‘God, deals off, its all ok, I managed to find one myself!’ 

On Seder night, through the Matzah, this wondrous bread of faith, we are transported back to the birth of our nation. We refresh the core faith of Judaism, that though we are called upon to always do our best, there is nothing that is beyond God’s ability. 

We learn that our limits are not the ultimate limits; just because something seems impossible to us does not mean that it cannot happen. Jewish history attests to this again and again. 

In the words of David Ben Gurion, ‘a Jew who does not believe in miracles is not a realist.’