Affliction – Freedom – Remembrance

‎הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא דִי אֲכָלוּ אַבְהָתָנָא

“This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate…”

The Seder opens with an odd invitation, come and eat the bread representing affliction with me if you are hungry, if you are in need. “Come and eat this bread that has been part of my affliction … Come and eat this bread that has been part of my pressed, hurried, and bondaged life.”

When we taste the matzah, we are transported in time: to the past and into the future.

The Passover Seder causes us to remember, live, and share in the still unfolding deliverance of a people. It is an event of sensory engagement: an eatable sermon.

While we reflect and remember, we are stirred by the narrative of the Haggadah, from a place of self-reflection: to compassion, gratitude, and sharing.

This matzah – the unleavened bread – has two meanings: 1) it is the bread of affliction that the children of Israel ate because they did not have time to allow the dough to rise, and 2) it is the bread of freedom that they ate in the days after they left Egypt.

How can this be?

When we are afflicted, the natural inclination is self-preservation. In affliction we do not say to our neighbor or stranger, and certainly not our enemy, “If you are hungry, come and eat.” But we know we are free, when filled and refreshed with gratitude, compassion, and without hesitation, we share what little we have.

This is freedom – when we can open ourselves, we are truly free.

When we recognize the gift of life given by the Lord, the most basic and relatable human condition, then דינו/Dayenu: “it is enough for us.”

The same unleavened bread, two meanings, and much to teach us. Here we see how the Messiah can be both afflicted and victorious, the Man of sorrows and Savior, the Suffering Servant and King. The afflicted, suffering servant, the man of sorrows Who sympathizes with us (Heb. 4:15); and the victorious, Savior King standing at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

By eating this Matzah, this bread of affliction and bread of freedom, we balance between two spiritual realities in Messiah: afflicted humility and generous freedom.

We eat the bread of affliction: 1) to remember that Messiah died for us; and, 2) we eat the bread of freedom to show the greatest love, of giving ourselves completely to the other, just as He gave Himself completely for us.

Deliverance from Egypt demanded the life of a lamb. Deliverance from the power of sin and death demanded the life of the Lamb. And now we, as living sacrifices in Messiah, the Lamb, give ourselves over to His Will: connecting to those in suffering and bondage.

Yet, in His resurrection we connect to His victory, and His freedom; whereby, we connect with the victorious and the free in joyous praise.

This is why we need to be reminded, to remember, and share the words, year after year:

‎הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא דִי אֲכָלוּ אַבְהָתָנָא בְּאַרְעָא דְמִצְרָיִםכָּל דִכְפִין יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכֹל, כָּל דִצְרִיךְ יֵיתֵי וְיִפְסַח

“This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in Egypt, whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is needy, let him come and celebrate Passover.”

‎דינו, dayenu, what we have received at this season would be more than enough, but He has so much more to give us, and so much more for us to share. We are always blessed with enough, because we have Him.

Be well. Shalom.
Chag Pesach Kasher Vesame’ach, a kosher and joyous Passover to you all.

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