Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Passover Matzah

Dry Bones cartoon - Passover Matzah
If the cartoon made you laugh then you're probably a carbohydrate addict.
Like me.
I LOVE matzah. Smeared with butter as a fast food. Fried matzah. Egg matzah. When I was a kid, before the days of cholesterol, we ate it spread with chicken fat (called schmaltz) and crispy bits of chicken crackling (called gribines).
Incredibly, non-carbohydrate junkies do find it to be a "bread of affliction".
Here's what a New York Jewish Lawyer has to say as an intro to an amazing posting on the topic called "The Matzah Wars":
"Matzah may be the least palatable food ever devised by man. But for a week, we must eat it, or tempt the wrath of God. So I've taken it upon myself to find the least offensive matzah on the market today."
For a more "orthodox" (i.e. non-culinary") take on the stuff just click here.

At the special ritual meal we participate in this evening (and the next night if you live outside of Israel) we retell the ancient story.
But perhaps I could describe the event, thousands of years ago that started it all. And forgive me if it's not the Disney version.

We were slaves in Egypt, and nine terrible plagues had not convinced our masters to let us go...
And then we were given a bizarre set of instructions.
Every family was, on the 10th of the month, to take a young healthy male lamb into its home. On the 14th of the month, at dusk, we were to slaughter the lamb and smear our doorways with its blood.
Then, after burning the whole lamb, we were to eat every part of it, while sitting locked in our homes holding walking sticks, wearing walking shoes, ready to leave, and eating bread made without yeast along with bitter herbs. And we were ordered to eat quickly! If by morning we had not completely devoured the sacrificial lamb we were to burn what was left again, and then to eat that!

While we were performing this weird and scary ritual, the spirit of God himself would pass through the land, passing over our homes and killing the first born of all who were not behind the blood-marked doors.
And this ritual meal was to be an annual remembrance of our liberation from slavery and our birth as a nation. And so we have celebrated that ritual meal of matzah and bitter herbs for all our generations to follow, down through the ages once each year, until the present.
And tonight's the night.

If you want to read about the scene the way the bible tells it just click on Exodus 12:1-28 .

a piece of matzah

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