While I was away for the first day of Passover, eating unleavened BREAD, that is flour and water baked into BREAD without yeast or other agents to HUFF and PUFF it up, there seems to have arisen a half-baked confusion stemming from seasonal remarks of Carly Fiorina.
“Passover is a time of remembrance and thanks. This festival provides us all – Jewish, Christian and all faiths – with an opportunity to reflect on the challenges we have faced and the triumphs we have achieved together. It is also a reminder of the resilient spirit that has carried people through trials of every kind through every generation. This week as we break bread and spend time with our families and friends, I hope we also take a moment to say a word of thanks for our freedom and for those who have give their lives in freedom's name.”To the delight of rabbinic legal experts like Huff-Po, Ms Fiorina's comments are grounds for exile, or at least excoriation.
Except that she's not wrong. Matzah IS bread. Moreover, the Seder begins with both the actual and symbollic breaking of bread and the recitation of the following statement of fellowship and welcome in Aramaic, not Hebrew:
This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Whoever is hungry--let them come and eat! Whoever is needy--let them come and celebrate Passover! Now, we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel! Now we are slaves; next year may we be free people.Note that this invitation is for anyone and everyone to partake of the meal and rituals of the Seder. Matzah is the name for a kind of bread. The fact is that it is bread, although wafer like without leavening, and not something else. In fact, before Matzah is eaten, everyone at the Seder makes the blessing for BREAD before making the blessing for the requirement of eating ONLY Matzah.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth BREAD from the earth.During the seven days that follow the Passover, when Jews are required to eat only unleavened BREAD, it is only the blessing for Bread that is said before eating Matzah. Moreover, during the Seder and at all other times during the Festival of Unleavened BREAD, the prayers of thanksgiving after eating a meal are the ones for eating BREAD. There are no separate prayers of thanksgiving for eating Matzah.
The rituals associated with eating Matzah and "breaking BREAD" together at this season has deeper significance as well. The ritual of BREAD and fellowship lies at the core of BOTH Christian and Jewish practices at this season. Depending on whether one holds that the Last Supper was the first night of Passover or the night before the Passover, the rituals of Easter are associated with breaking BREAD, leavened or unleavened, which in those days looked and probably tasted a lot like modern Matzah.
Think of it as a Venn diagram--all Matzah is BREAD, although not all BREAD is Matzah. On all other nights, we eat all kinds of BREAD--leavened or unleavened BREAD. On Passover (all seven days of it), we ONLY eat unleavened BREAD. One of my Rebbes in seminary was fond of reminding me whenever I would offer a sociological explanation for the Feast of Unleavened BREAD:
My dear Mr. Jackson. The Passover is not about Matzah or BREAD. It's about God's commandment to engage in a certain form of action at this time. If God had ordered us to eat puffed pastry at this time, we would eat flakey dough crescent rolls. That is why we say the second blessing on the Matzah; it comes to tell us that Commandment to eat unleavened BREAD comes from God; not from Marvin Harris.That would be a Puffington Host indeed.
There is in fact an unintended truth behind Ms Fiorina's words. The preparations for the Passover involve the disposition of a lot of leavening. Jewish Law commands that Chametz, leavening, and products made with Chametz or grain derivatives must either be sold or given to non-Jews. A lot of bread and food stuffs get given away or sold during this time. Food banks over flow (or, they should overflow). This year, I gave away a bottle of Johnnie Walker and made the non-Jewish barkeep in Tel Aviv to whome I gave it VERY happy.
At the end of the seven day period, Jews have traditionally turned to their neighbors for fresh baked bread on the evening after the Festival is over. Jews from Middle Eastern cultures usually turn to their Christian or Muslim neighbors for fresh hot Pitot (another form of BREAD). It is a traditional act of friendship and solidarity between individuals and households rather than rulers, ideologues, and factions.
Judging by the noise generated over this comment, it would appear that those who fault the candidate for her sincerity are in need of some basic education about the practices and rituals of the Passover. After this, I do not think there will be any doubt that Carly has been afflicted over bread.
Next Year in Jerusalem.