Monday, April 02, 2018

Passover Thoughts

Kudos to Abba for a nice selection of readings:
"We still have a long, long way to go before we reach the promised land of freedom.
Yes, we have left the dusty soils of Egypt, and we have crossed a Red Sea that had for years been hardened by a long and piercing winter of massive resistance, but before we reach the majestic shores of the promised land, there will still be gigantic mountains of opposition ahead and prodigious hilltops of injustice...
Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.
Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.
Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent, sanitary home.
Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.
Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.
Let us be dissatisfied until men and women...will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin.
Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout, “White Power!” when nobody will shout, “Black Power!” but everybody will talk about God’s power and human power."
-Dr. King, August 16, 1967 at the Annual SCLC Convention, Atlanta

Of Time and Freedom: Thoughts on Matza
How improbable that the central symbol of the great event in Jewish history is a cracker! Why matza? When told to "hurry up," Mary Moody Emerson (aunt of Ralph Waldo Emerson) once responded, "Hurry up is for slaves."

Time is the most precious human commodity. If we cannot control our own time, we are not free. We all have obligations, but only a slave has no control over his own time. Matzah represents the forced hurrying of the slave.

Our tradition took this symbol of hurry, of slavery, and made the bread of affliction the symbol of Passover freedom. Israeli scholar Israel Yuval writes: "In the ancient world, the rising and leavening of dough, represented the power of civilization, of human activity, and interference in nature, while the matzah was a symbol of simplicity and primitivism, the bread of the unsettled nomad, and the bread of affliction that lasts a long time."

Pesach is a bracing meditation on time and freedom. In leaving Egypt, there was no time to bake bread. The fleeing Israelites transformed the "hurry up, slave" message of matzah into a declaration of freedom for all humanity.

Time is the most precious human commodity. Let the message of the matzah not go unnoticed - let us not rush through our own lives, lest we become enslaved to our own Pharaoh.

Grain, Water, Zeal, and Spirit
Buff Maniscalco
Bread - "The staff of life." Matzah is the most basic bread, the simplest food made by man. Matzah is a combination of the basic elements: earth, water, air and fire. The ingredients of matzah are flour and fresh water -- nothing more.

Flour from grains. Grains grow from the clay of the earth. Nourished by the sun and the soil. They are cut down and ground into dust.

Fresh water from the sky, appears like manna, a gift from Adonai. When fresh water is breathed into the dusty flour, the sweet sugars hidden in the dough are released.

Yeast, a bacteria found naturally in the air, enters the dough to eat its sweet sugars. Their life span is limited to 18 minutes -- no more, preventing over-population and fermentation of the dough's sweet sugars. The dough is poked and prodded, preventing it from becoming gaseous or puffed up.

Quickly, to overcome the influences and limitations of time, the matzah is baked. Acting with zeal and speed, the matzah is flat, even and humble; the foundation of spiritual growth.

The words "mitzvah" and "matzah" are analogous. As it is said, "When a mitzvah comes your way, do not allow it to ferment." Or simply put, "When the opportunity to do a mitzvah arises, seize it."

As we perform the mitzvah of eating matzah, may we be inspired with; a heightened connection to Adonai, to our world and to each other, steeped with a deep awareness of time, and a greater zeal in all that we do.

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