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When Exactly did our Ancestors Eat the Bread of Freedom?

Friday, 15 April, 2022 - 12:51 pm

 

When Exactly did our Ancestors Eat the Bread of Freedom?


Achieving liberation is uncomfortable. Breaking free of old habits and of negative patterns of behavior requires discipline. Avoiding the temptation of instant pleasure and the comfort of established neurological pathways requires persistence and willpower. Matzah, the unleavened bread of freedom, therefore, has no taste. To break free, one must be willing to give up immediate "taste" - enjoyment and pleasure - and muster the courage to ignore one's instinct, escape old patterns of behavior, and begin a new path.   


The Haggadah, the liturgy read during the Passover seder, offers two descriptions of the Matzah. At the beginning of the Haggadah, the description of the Matzah is the bread that we ate in Egypt: 


This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.


Toward the end of the Haggadah, however, a verse from the Torah is quoted that describes the Matzah as the bread the Jewish people ate after they left Egypt: 


"They baked Matzah-cakes from the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, because it was not leavened; for they had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had also not prepared any [other] provisions. (Exodus 12:39)"


The dual description represents the two general categories of liberation. The first is the liberation from the figurative "land of Egypt" - negative habits and destructive behaviors. Yet, even after we leave Egypt, even when we are in a positive and wholesome space, we still need to eat the bread of freedom. 


The exodus from Egypt is central to Judaism because it represents the ongoing journey of growth. Even when we are not trapped in negative patterns of behavior, we live within the confines of limited holiness and goodness. The Torah commands us: "you shall remember the day you went out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life”(Deuteronomy 16:3), because each day, we are called upon to grow beyond the limitations of yesterday, seeking to become kinder, wiser, and deepen our connection to G-d. 


The journey to freedom, otherwise known as the Passover Seder, begins with breaking free of negativity. As the Seder progresses, our definition of freedom expands. We understand that the bread of freedom must be consumed even after we leave Egypt because even a limited dimension of holiness and positivity traps our potential for ever-increasing growth.


This year at your Seder, experience both dimensions of the Matzah. Ask yourself, what negative behavior will I liberate myself from, and what positive aspect in my life will I expand?  


Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe, Maamar Hei Lachma Aniya 5741


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