and the freedom therein
The “bread of affliction®” might need a rebrand. People just don’t seem to be looking for any more affliction than they’re already going through in their day-to-day lives.
The name also makes no sense if it’s supposed to conjure in us feelings of gratitude, liberation and redemption as the Hagaddah seems to suggest.
But maybe instead we need to shift our paradigm on what makes us free — before we try to rebrand a 3 millennia+ old sacred Jewish food.
Here’s my take on the explanation by the mystic Rabbi Yehuda Lowe of Prague known as the Maharal. I think it’s worth chewing on before you bite into that most classic of all crackers this week.
Life is complicated.
We all have a lot of stuff going on.
In the thick of it, we aren’t free to do much more than just stay afloat, and at best, keep slogging through. We may be technically free to do what we want, but in the absence of a clear sense of who WE are, we remain slaves to our status quo and the always-urgent demands of everyone and everything around us.
The good news that matzah teaches us is that all of this can change in an instant. Faster than our dough can rise.
Precisely when we’re in crisis. Without our luxuries. When life becomes suddenly simple. And the only question it asks us is: WHO ARE WE REALLY?
Challenge, discomfort, and crisis force us to define ourselves by who we are in our core and essence (I highly recommend that you listen to this classic commencement speech by J.K. Rowling before she was canceled).
This most simple of pleasures — this discovery in the midst of some unexpected crazy period of our lives — some affliction — doesn’t taste like cheesecake or tiramisu.
It is the simple taste of matzah.
Flour and water put through the fire of life.
Not trying to be anything more — or any less — than what it is.
Discovering who we really are is the taste of true freedom.
This XL is dedicated to my dear wife Calanit whose greatest pleasure is helping others free themselves by being themselves. It is her solar birthday today (4/4)!