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Monday, April 14


I have to be honest, this matzo (matzah) was purchased because I liked the packaging and have a penchant for bland crackers.  With an inkling that the thin, perforated bread is part of the Passover holiday (April 14 - 22 this year), I decided to learn more.

Passover commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from their Egyptian enslavers as outlined in Exodus.  Matzo is special because it is unleavened and it is eaten at this time to symbolize the sudden departure from Egypt (the bread had no time to rise).  Matzo is a simple bread, also eaten as a symbol of humility and a reminder of the days of servitude; unlike risen bread (chametz), it is flat and not puffed up, the symbolic antithesis of a proud person. 

You are not to eat any chametz with it; for seven days you are to eat with it matzah, the bread of affliction; for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste.  Thus you will remember the day you left the land of Egypt as long as you live. - Deuteronomy 16:3

In preparation for Passover, observant Jewish people will rid their houses completely of chametz. Chametz includes not just risen bread but cereal, beer, pizza, cookies, etc. Even little crumbs are not tolerated; the entire home, from cupboard to couch cushion is fully cleaned.  If the household wishes to retain the chametz for after Passover they can sell it to someone who isn't Jewish through a Rabbi, to be re-purchased after Passover. The chametz can stay in your house but must be isolated from other food and be inaccessible to the household. 

To me this preparation for Passover appears as tradition firmly rooted in common sense.  Akin to "spring cleaning," ridding the house of those leftover bits mouldering at the back of the cupboard is good housekeeping.  Also, the symbolic "puffed up" nature of chametz can create a very real expansion of the waistline and purging such products from the shelves could promote better health.  So many bread products are comfort food, craved in the cold winter months.  A week away from these addictive victuals could turn the tide towards summer salads.  This coming from the land of the baguette.

Passover information was found here

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