Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Bread of Affliction

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

It's getting to be that time during Pesach...

In the Haggadah we read in Aramaic:
"Ha lakhma anya --This is the bread of affliction,
the poor bread,
that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.
All who are hungry,
let them enter and eat.
All who are in need,
let them come and celebrate the Passover..."

We stock up with matzah before Pesach.
Every year, I can hardly wait to put it in the cupboard, and cook with it, and eat it.
But it really is lakhma anya--the poor bread.
Flour and water. That's it.
It does not satisfy the way that leavened bread does.
By this time in Pesach, it seems that everyone in the house is looking for something to eat. All the time.

Matzah ball soup...with a side of matzah.
Israeli salad...with croutons of matzah.
Dessert? Chocolate covered matzah.
It is not at the seder that a person understands ha lakhma anya...

It has to do with more than changing eating habits for a week...

The counters are covered with foil.
Certain cupboards are taped shut.
Even reaching for a spoon, a knife or glass makes a person confront newness and change.

And everywhere in the house, there are matzah crumbs.

It makes one wonder why we clean before Pesach!

"This matzah, is what we shall eat..."

For seven days, no leavening, no fermented stuff, no kitniot (corn, legumes, rice).
Practically, this means no processed food.
We eat plain food, prepared at home, with pure ingredients.
Like our ancestors ate in the desert.

In the Haggadah, it is written:
"To the driven of earth we link ourselves as we fulfill the commandment: 'For seven days you shall eat matzah, that you may remember the going out from Egypt as long as you live."

The driven of the earth.
They are always looking for something to eat.
They eat the poor bread, like our ancestors ate in Egypt.

It is at this time in Pesach,
feeling hungry because the matzah does not satisfy,
eating late because Taekwondo is at dinnertime and Panda Express is a no-no,
refusing the offer of a latte from a friend,
reaching for a knife and being disoriented because everything has changed...

It is at this time in Pesach that those of us who are children of peace and plenty get a very small taste of what it feels like to be "the driven of the earth."


Swylv said...

we are right there with ya this week.

my DS and I have been reading a passage of Scripture each day for this Feast of Matzah and yesterday's was II Chronicles 30:13-23 ... "They kept the seven days with gladness"

Oh that is our prayer

SabrinaT said...

What determination and devotion!
I read the post and then grabbed my 2 sons and we read it together. Thanks for sharing!

Consent of the Governed said...

I have to say I enjoy my Passover cookbooks better than my Haggadahs!

Every Passover I try to use some new recipes.. this year I did a bunch including zucchini fritters.. and they were a hit.

I have a great Passover cookbook by Pearl Avrutick. Can't help it if i am a "foodie".

Hope you enjoyed your celebration this past week.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thanks for the good wishes, everyone!

Judy, this was one of those Pesach's where we were pretty busy over the week, but I did try a new Passover Wine Cake recipe on Thursday. That did a lot to stifle the typcial complaint: "There's nothing to eat!" This is always said even when the refrigerator is stocked with yummy Seder left-overs. We finally had Matzah Brei on Saturday morning--when it is usually our first day of Pesach breakfast. So we were indeed slow this week! The Matzah Brei warm in the tummy did a good deal to ease the passing of time during the alst day of Pesach!