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Bread of Affliction

Passover (seventh day) (Exodus 13:17-15:26 )

by Rabbi Stephen Baars

"This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt."

Seder night is the night we all gather together and, well, complain!

The Haggadah wants you to know how bad they had it back in Egypt. Oy, the matzah!

Strange. Very strange to call food an affliction. Did anyone describe black enslavement as an issue of food? Darfur, Serbia, and of course the Holocaust - can food ever be that bad?

If there is one thing that bonds all parents is that food cannot be disparaged. Try to complain to your mother about dinner, and you can be sure you will get, "there are children in this world who would have less than that in a whole week!"

How can we as Jews, who have a sense of history, who know what we and others have suffered, point to the matzah and say, "that's how bad Egypt was!?"

My Rabbi (Rav Noah Weinberg z"tl) would always say, if you want to figure out a puzzle, ask more questions.

So why did the Egyptians feed the Jews matzah? A slave is only as good as the food he eats and that food should be nourishing. Matzah does not seem to fit this bill. Furthermore, flour and water will naturally rise into bread if you leave it, one has to consciously bake it early to get matzah.

So why was it so important to feed the Jews Matzah?

The real damage, the real misery, is not what you see, it's what happens so that what you can see can happen.

Golda knew, the real damage was changing how Jews think about precious life, that killing another afflicts the one pulling the trigger.

We don't have a problem enslaving animals. And machines do our bidding all the time. But humanity has come to the conclusion - no doubt based on their reading of our Torah, that slavery of human beings is abhorrent. And that's because a human being has a purpose greater than simply shinning your shoes or picking your cotton. And the only person who can figure that out is you.

A person who believes that, cannot be enslaved. They cannot be abused, because they know they have infinite worth.

When Apple manufactures a new phone, it undoubtedly makes an oversupply, Why? Because it doesn't really know how many it will sell. Those extras are redundant. When God creates humanity, He knows how many He needs, and He doesn't make one more. Therefore, there is no such thing as a redundant human being.

Every one of us is needed for a purpose that ONLY they can do.

If someone tells you, you are redundant, they are being abusive. That's what the Egyptians tried to tell us.

Now it's Pesach, let's eat!

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