HaLakhma Anya – This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat! All who are in need, come and join in celebrating Pesach! This year we are here, next year we will be in the land of Israel! This year we are slaves, next year we will be free men! (Passover Haggadah)
This is the Bread of Poverty! Of material poverty and affliction. Of spiritual poverty and cynicism. It is the bread our ancestors ate in bondage.
This bread, the very same bread, is the Bread of Redemption! We brought it out of Egypt, it tasted like Bread from Heaven. The bread did not change. Our awareness of its Source did!
The morning after the Seder. The long prayer service had just ended. Everyone was still dizzy from the wine, exhausted from the long night. But it was great. Another Seder! Another Pesach! Everyone was elated. Everyone except one.
“I’m glad that’s over with,” he grumbled. “I just can’t take all that wine, and the Matzah gives me constipation. And what’s the need to say all that Haggadah? Can’t the rabbis take us into consideration? Oh well, it’ll be over in a week. Before you know it, we’ll be back to routine.”
Stunned by the outburst, the others looked on in consternation. No one wanted to embarrass him, but no one knew how to approach him. Looking at him in silence, they all sighed.
What a pity. For him it was just another Seder… just another Pesach…
Two people can externally experience the same event. The one who is spiritually impoverished will perceive affliction and suffering. Internally he will taste the dryness of a Godless experience. The one who is aware of the Source of all events will perceive Benevolent Providence. He will gain insight into God’s Infinite Unity, and see how it is expressed through the multitude of human events and worldly phenomena.
This is the “Bread of Experience.” It’s a matter of taste.
We call out to those who are still grappling in the exile of spiritual poverty: Come! Let us partake of the Bread of Experience. Let us together learn how to “eat,” how to taste life, to experience God throughout. It may still be painful, but next year in the Land of Israel! It is only a matter of time. Next year we will experience true freedom.
Throughout the year, the physical reality of our bread is Chametz – leavened, fermented bread. It is indicative of – indeed, it is the cause of – the fermentation of our thoughts. What we eat and how we eat it influences our mental processes. Eating just for pleasure or the alleviation of hunger is beneath the level of man. Our thought processes sink below human level and we fall prey to undesirable fantasies.
We must therefore break those spontaneous thoughts the moment we become aware of them. We must not allow them to rise to our human consciousness. Year-round, we recite a blessing first, and only then partake of our food. Through the blessing, we become aware of the higher meaning of human consumption. Then we can “break bread” – break off those unwanted thoughts.
On Pesach, we eat Matzah. Unfermented bread, unfermented thoughts. It is symbolic of true human consumption. We break it even before a blessing is recited. We show that with “Matzah,” we can abruptly break off undesired thoughts and keep our minds pure.
“This is the Bread of Declaration!” – our food for thought.
Through the Lechem Oni, the broken bread, we come to its second aspect: The Bread of Declaration. By harnessing our eating habits – by harnessing our thought processes – we can express ourselves before God. We are free of disturbing thoughts. Now we can sit down to the Seder to recount, experience and declare the wonders of the Redemption.
Based on Likutey Halakhot, Betziat HaPat 3:2-3
Pesach kasher v’samei’ach! A happy and kosher Passover to all!