Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
For days and weeks before Pesach, we meticulously clean our homes, making sure that not a crumb of bread might, God forbid, be found when we begin the festival of matzahs.
Some women even go to the extent of “kashering” their doorknobs, as was said about the wife of Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, zt”l, rav of Jerusalem and founder of Kollel America.
After burning our last bits of chametz on Erev Pesach, we sit down at a Seder table adorned with the three matzahs, a Seder plate, wine and guests. The silver goblets and candelabra are shining brightly. After the first two cups of wine and the reading and singing of the Haggadah, the time has come: the big moment. We wash and direct our eyes and thoughts to the leader of the Seder. He lifts the matzahs and recites the blessing with emphasis on the word lechem (bread): “Hamotzi lechem – He brings forth bread from the land.”
But now that we have cleaned our homes for Pesach and are free of all bread, can’t the blessing be “He brings forth matzah from the land”?
Many years ago I did a radio show on the sixth day of Passover and told my audience that the 16th Avenue Pizza Shop would be open on the night after the chag with delicious fresh pizza. Did I get complaints! “Dov, how dare you mention chametz on Pesach?”
I answered with a question: “Don’t we mention bread when we make a blessing on our matzah brei?”
I left the listeners scratching their heads. I’ll bet many readers are also thinking, “Yeah, really, why? Why not mention matzah in the blessing and not bread? There may even be a few activists reading this who are thinking of organizing a large protest in front of Heaven’s Gates!
But let me put you at ease with a Dov Shurin original dvar Torah. In the Haggadah, before the eating of the matzah there is a discourse that concludes with the admonition that we are obligated to remember our exodus from ancient Egypt day and night, all the days of our life.
I will show you the hint to “leaving Egypt” in the blessing for bread, which is the most essential food in our three daily meals.
Let’s analyze the blessing. “He brings forth bread is not really true – Hashem brings forth wheat; we turn it into flour and bake it into bread.
So bread proves our world was not created perfectly.
The holy Rabbi Akiva had a debate with a non-Jew who claimed that “if man was created uncircumcised, then that is the way God wanted him to be. Therefore, circumcision is wrong.”
Rabbi Akiva wisely answered, “Look at bread. God created wheat, and wanted humans to bring it to perfection in the form of bread. So, too, God created man uncircumcised and only through a bris milah does man reach perfection!!”
And so in the blessing we make, the word bread is a hint to the Jew: We are, so to speak, the bread of all nations.
In the Torah God tells Moshe to announce, “I am God that brings you forth from the burdens of Egypt.” The word “hamotzi” is used.
The Jews are the hamotzi lechem (bread) while the min ha’aretz symbolizes ancient Egypt. How?
Ancient Egypt was the epitome of earthiness (artziut), lust, and vulgar desires. When our forefather Abraham went down to Egypt, he carried Sarah in a case so that the Egyptians would not see her and lust for her.
Then Abraham told her, “Please say you are my sister, so that they will not kill me and take you.” Hebrew grammar tells us that ha’aretz has a hei hayidiah, which is a hint concerning ancient Egypt and its extreme earthiness.
So it is this blessing that helps us remember our exodus from Egypt all year long, both day and night. Certainly we should make this blessing at the Seder table, on the night of the anniversary of the Jews leaving Egypt. The blessing “Hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz” is equivalent to saying “Hamotzi Am Yisrael miMitzrayim.
I am reminded of the two large challahs I held up high this past Friday night as I blessed Hashem when making the motzi.
About the Author: Dov Shurin is a popular radio personality and the composer and producer of several albums. He lives with his family in Israel and can be contacted at email@example.com. His Jewish Press column appears monthly.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
The Drama Mamas are not an ordinary theater troupe. “When we audition actresses,” says Elisheva, who also serves as the show’s director, “we like to explain to them that the main qualification is that you can honestly say, I have never been on a stage before, but I have always wanted to be an actress!”
Under the plan, a person who was not a citizen of either the Jewish or Arab state was to be appointed governor to administer Jerusalem and to conduct external affairs…
While Brooklyn College is famed for its plethora of Jewish professors and students, it is not a Jewish institution. The 92nd Street Y is. According to its own mission and history statement, it’s “a proudly Jewish institution since its inception.”
I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.
Alcohol on Purim is viewed by many as the drinking equivalent of the Autobahn: no limits, no control.
Why not tell us that Purim is to be commemorated with reading the megillah, dispensing mishloach manot, giving gifts to the poor, and partaking in a Purim feast?
At the core of traditional Judaism is the belief that our world has a Creator. This Creator knows all that goes on in our world, and remains actively involved in all of its events – no matter how insignificant some of those events might seem.
Make no mistake: the potential here is enormous. If all of these budget items are approved, they could be a game changer for Jewish day schools and their budgets.
There are those who believe all Israelis must share equally in the military defense of Israel while others say Torah study affords at least as much security as military service. In many respects, The Jewish Press has long reflected this dynamic.
Mr. Obama’s latest “amendment” of the Obamacare law, however, has elevated the arrogation of legislative power to an art form. And he has done so for blatantly political reasons.
What do at-risk youth and more than 30,000 square feet of groceries have in common? The answer is Moisha Binik.
I hollered over and over again, waving a clinched fist toward the heavens.
This past Shabbos, as we read the weekly Torah portion of Bishalach, my son suddenly said to me, “Dad, I have a feeling Sharon is going to pass away today, because we just read his name in Az Yashir [the Song of the Sea] where it says ‘arik charbi.’ ”
God decided to cast Truth down to earth and went on to create the world.
As I put on my tefillin, I knew we needed a miracle.
To me, the biggest joke of it all was the gleeful announcement by Rabin that “We are no longer an am livadad yishkone, a nation that dwells alone!”
Hashem simply goes beyond the letter of the law in His love for us.
I just celebrated the 29th anniversary of my aliyah to Israel. I have experienced two intifadas, the disastrous results of the Oslo agreements, the assassination of a prime minister, and the tragic expulsion of thousands of our citizens from their beautiful homes in Gush Katif.
What were you thinking on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the year? The day when we mourn the destruction of our two Temples; our expulsion from Spain, England and France; the Crusades, the Holocaust; our two thousand years of wandering the earth?
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/dov-shurin-columns/why-a-bread-blessing-on-the-festival-of-matzahs/2013/03/13/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: