Why Fuss over a Little Leaven (Yeast)?

Let the coming chag not be polluted by old yeast, but that you observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread like the Most High wants us to remember the exodus of the Bnei Yisroel.

Why making such a fuss over removing leaven from the houses.

 

Shivat yamim shall ye eat matzot;
but the first day ye shall put away se’or (yeast, leaven) out of your batim (houses);
for whosoever eateth chametz from the first day until the seventh day,
that nefesh shall be cut off from Yisroel.
(Exodus 12:15 OJB)

 

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You could also ask

Is it so difficult to eat unleavened bread for seven days?

Dvar HaElohim is clear when it warns us that for whosoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel, making that being not being part any more of the ‘Chosen ones’.

We must be aware that  in the first day there shall be a set apart convocation as well as in the seventh day, when no manner of work shall be done on them, except that which every man must eat, that only may be done by you.

And in the yom harishon there shall be a mikra kodesh, and in the yom hashevi’i there shall be a mikra kodesh to you; no manner of melachah shall be done in them, except that which every nefesh must eat [i.e., activity necessary for the preparation of food], that only may be done of you.
(Exodus 12:16 OJB)

As such shall we observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread as one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Shalosh Regalim); for in this same day the Elohim Hashem Jehovah took care Bnei Yisroel could escape out of the land of Egypt.

Therefore shall we keeping the tradition to observe this day in our generations by an ordinance forever.

And ye shall be shomer to safeguard the matzot; for on this very day I brought your tzva’os out of Eretz Mitzrayim; therefore shall ye be shomer over this day in your generations by a chukkat olam.
(Exodus 12:17 OJB)

Rabbinical Judaism has taken this single commandment and transformed it into a system that would weary the hardiest of women. All dishes, cutlery, pots and pans, even dishrags used during the feast must be “Kosher for Passover.”

In the display windows of the stores we can see the notice boards “Guaranteed leaven-free” or “Kosher for Pesach”

Because the kitchen has to be cleared of products that contain leaven or may be contaminated with it, it can be some labour intensive and expensive work preparing for the Pesach, making it very clean (sparkling like it did when it was new).   Just prior to Passover, grocery stores in Israel begin to stock foods that are specially prepared and guaranteed leaven-free.  The Hebrew signs on the shelves above read

“Kosher for Passover.”

With the stamp “Kosher for Passover”  one may be sure to have goods guaranteed to be free of leaven (chametz).

Haggadah Passover Seder reading, setting the order of the recounting of the
deliverance of the Jewish People from Egypt. Being read during the Passover
Seder. – The pierced, striped bread of affliction in the bottom right corner
is called matzah (unleavened bread).

Next week we shall face the big day with a night which is so different than other nights.

Then we shall come to remember how God brought salvation to His People, but also how that Exodus from Egypt should remind us of our connection and relationship with God and our will to obey His ordinances and to make us as “whole for God”.

The apostle Paul refers to a little yeast how it works through the whole batch of dough.

A little chametz leavens all habatzek (the dough, T.N. see Pesach Haggadah).
(Galatians 5:9 OJB)

He uses the yeast as a powerful metaphor for learning about the Elohim and living a life of placing yourself out of this world, making yourself pure.

Yeast is the driving force behind fermentation, the magical process that allows a dense mass of dough to become a well-risen loaf of bread. You should know that it doesn’t take much yeast to act as a leavener, dough developer, and flavour builder. It works by consuming sugar and excreting carbon dioxide and alcohol as by-products. In bread making, yeast has three major roles. Most of us are familiar with yeast’s leavening ability. But you may not be aware that fermentation helps to strengthen and develop gluten in dough and also contributes to incredible flavours in bread.

Yeast is so pervasive that if dough is left on the counter, yeast will attach to the surface of the dough and then make its way throughout the whole loaf. It’s in the air.

So, just like yeast (leaven) eats away at the sugars in the dough, sin eats away at us and causes us to become separated from God.

But your avonot (iniquities) have separated you and Eloheichem, and your chattot (sins) have concealed His face from you, that He will not hear.
(Isaiah 59:2 OJB)

These days we should assay if we are not have been separated from our God by our iniquities. We should examine if our sins have not hidden God’s face from us, so that He will not hear.

In the same way that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough, causing it to become puffed up, a little bit of gaa’vah (or pride and arrogance) in our hearts causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

Spring brings us nature coming back alive as if everything is renewed. We too should be renewed. In the Autumn or the fall of man may be the destruction, but when everything had fallen down and seemed to be death, there is the Power of God Which brings new life into everything.

When we are willing to deal with the leaven in our own hearts, knowing that arrogance is not pleasing to the Lord, we should do away with the pride and haughty spirit. The sugar and the alcohol in our spiritual body may come to sparkle, and whilst we work at our self it is like rolling our life-dough. For breath or pasta, manipulating the dough in any way allows more proteins and water to find each other and link together. If you’ve ever made home-made pasta, you know that each time you roll the dough through the machine, the dough becomes more elastic; in other words, more gluten is developed. And with puff pastry dough, every time you fold, turn, and roll the dough, it becomes more elastic. So you yourself have also to become more elastic to blend with God His wishes and to fit the holes He prepared for you.

To protect our intimate relationship with God, we must always be searching for the leaven (chametz) in our hearts.  It’s a daily search and destroy mission!

Nisan is one of the few months mentioned in the Torah by name. The Elohim even refers to it as Chodesh HaAviv, aviv being related to “fullness” (since the crops are plump and ripe), or “father,” since it is the beginning of the ripening season. That Month of Spring is like a new beginning where we can show that we are prepared to start a new to come to fullness. We have had the old year, in which we could have done things wrong. But now at the New Year we can start all over again to try to do our best. (Ensuring that Nisan remains in spring forms the backbone of the entire intricate Jewish calendar, including the leap year.)

In a month when it was not to cold and not to hot God made it possible for His People to start their journey. As always the Hashem took the ‘prisoners’ or ‘slaves’ out at the most opportune time.

“See the lovingkindness that He bestowed upon you, that He took you out in a month in which it is suitable to go out, when there is neither heat nor cold nor rain.” {Rashi on Exodus 13:4}

Let us these days prepare ourselves for that lovely period from 14 up to 22 Nisan when we take time to have chag, making it the most important festival for us because we remember the liberation of Bnei Yisroel in ancient times, but also our liberation and the liberation of next generations.

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Preceding

At the Shabbat HaChodesh: readings about blood, liberation and purification

Commentary on Parashat Tazria

Egypt, Moshe and Those who never felt they belonged there

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