Friday, April 03, 2009

Matzah-Matzah G-d

By the Bray of Fundie

Think the annual post-Purim OCD search and destroy Khametz mission is tough? Try to imagine what it must have been like in the Bais HaMiqdash where Khametz Meal offerings were prohibited on the Altar all year long 1!

While DB has been confronting the issue of animal sacrifices quite a bit lately he’s written nary a word about the Menakhos=meal offerings. But the facts are that although the menu of Menakhos sported a more elastic definition of Matzah than we do today 2 (ours are Ma'afeh Tanur =baked in an oven exclusively), the fact remains that for one week a year we raise the bar of our bread kashrus to Temple altar levels. Put another way, on Pesakh we ingest only that (bread) which is kosher for G-d. Here's my take:

Khametz is singular in the entire Torah dietary code in that its prohibition derives from neither ingredients, ingredient combination, manner of death, health nor location. It is a matter of processing and in particular, the time elapsed in the food processing.

We tend to think of infinity or transcendence as being “longer” than finite time. When the past extends behind any starting point and the future unfurls beyond any ending point that’s infinity. But consider the possibility that infinity is not longer than time but qualitatively timeless. No time at all. An immobile present, a tick on the clock that never tocks.

When we watch-guard Matzah lest it become khametz, when we keep the process under 18 minutes, we are endeavoring, as much as our finite-under-time humanity allows us, to bake an infinite bread, a bread that is the staff of eternity rather than of (mortal) life.

Much has been said and written about the Qorban Pesakh=Passover offering-Paschal Lamb, having been the first Qorban in history of which human beings partook (all the Qorbanos of Bereshis were Olot=burnt offerings or… what the Greeks call holókauston or "holocausts"). In the idiom of our sages such edible offerings are M’Shulkahn Gavoha ka zakhu= “(we) merited (dining) from the table on high”. IMO this is true of Matzah as well. On the night/festival when G-d acquires us as His slaves we eat of His infinite bread, much as the slave of a Kohen may eat T’rumah while freemen Yisraelim may not.

Now…doesn’t that make the cleaning, scrubbing, high priced Matzah and Matzah Fibrosis/indigestion all worth it?

Bonus riddle: (edited in deference to Hershy) During the 40 year sojourn in the Wilderness the Israelites ate manna bread. Described in the Torah as "Bread from Heaven". In theory if we could get our hands on some could we fulfill the Mitzvah of eating Matzah on Pesakh with Manna Bread?

Qedusha-Havdala...have you gotten yours today?

1. Leviticus 2:11
יא כָּל-הַמִּנְחָה, אֲשֶׁר תַּקְרִיבוּ לַיהוָה--לֹא תֵעָשֶׂה, חָמֵץ: כִּי כָל-שְׂאֹר וְכָל-דְּבַשׁ, לֹא-תַקְטִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה.
11 No meal-offering, which ye shall bring unto the LORD, shall be made with leaven; for ye shall make no leaven, nor any honey, smoke as an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

2. Leviticus 2:5,7 And if thy offering be a meal-offering baked on a griddle, And if thy offering be a meal-offering of the stewing-pan

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