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Matzoh: food for the journey and battle

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 19:13
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News From Jerusalem

The Kotel at Passover - Photo by Ouria Tadmor

by Tom Brennan,

The Hebrews were told to prepare unleavened bread, quickly baked to be ready for the coming Exodus and be ready to leave as soon as they were told to go (in case Pharaoh changed his mind again, and he did). Today’s “bread” comes in so many varieties, with so many preservatives, that the term “bread” has lost its impact. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Messiah and home of David the King, means “House of Bread”, Bet Lechem, a center of the barley growing region. Barley was the poor man’s grain; wheat was grown for the urban power-centers where rulers and priests dwelled.

Passover at the Kotel - Photo by Ouria Tadmor

Passover at the Kotel – Photo by Ouria Tadmor

The unleavened bread, called today the matzoh is full of significance and symbolism. It is bread prepared in haste, a reminder of the time in servitude, a command to be ready and watchful, food for a journey back to the land which Jacob and his sons left, the place where Abraham met his destiny as father of a nation it is bread for warriors.

Matzoh has the ability to be kept as food for long periods. It can be eaten while on the move or on the march. It needs no fire; fire can alert an enemy to your presence. It can be mixed with other food items to make a bigger meal (locusts for protein, quail for a stew, whatever a nomad finds).

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Matzoh brings memories of suffering and triumph, bondage and exhilarating freedom, fear of the unknown and a certainty of “food security”. It is an essential to Pesach. If Yeshua and His Disciples ate Passover, they ate unleavened bread in a room that had been swept clean of leaven.

Leaven is bacteria: a fungus. Bakers know that leaven makes the dough rise to the brown delicious loaves that tempt the eye and pallet. Passover (easter) cards that show a loaf of bread and cup of wine are unfortunately inaccurate. They ate matzoh and the other ritual foods commanded in Torah. The matzoh is broken as a reminder of a covenant made that night and executed the next day in the death of the Messiah.

Forward March and Yo-ho-ho: it’s really matzoh!

Hardtack and ship’s biscuit are matzoh Matzoh is food for wanderers and warriors. Its longevity, flexibility and security are legendary. America’s Civil War introduced “hardtack” into everyone’s vocabulary. Many museums and historical societies have souvenir hardtack in their collections. Today re-enactors buy and eat modern hardtack in their living history camps. Side by side, the artifact and modern hardtack are almost identical. Hardtack could be broken off and chewed, ground into a type of flour for various meals, you name it. Soldiers would be issued 3 days marching rations and munitions. Nine pieces of hardtack, a medium “slab” of meat, salt pork or beef, which they cooked ASAP, and 60 rounds of cartridges. No MRE’s or nutrition bars.

Aliyah from Ethiopia - Photo by Ouria Tadmor

Ethiopian Jews celebrate their first Passover Seder in Israel – Photo by Ouria Tadmor

Sailors knew ship’s biscuit as an essential part of their meager and often vitamin-deficient diet. This sea-going hardtack was mixed into whatever was available of hadn’t gone rotten in the ships hold. It kept forever and ever, or so it seems. Soldiers and sailors toughed it out on the march and on the seas to do their duties. Their diets were meager, basics and somehow kept them going. The Israelites marched into the desert, following an 80 year old Prince-turned shepherd-now prophet who in turn followed an Unseen God. Somehow the matzoh kept keeping on.

Unleavened bread is an essential reminder of an event that re-started the Hebrews life in The Land which God had given to Abraham and which Jacob and his sons had left in time of famine. It calls to mind the providing of food and guiding by a pillar of fire and a tower of cloud. Matzoh is a symbol of basic necessities, obedience and above all faith. It doesn’t taste good, that’s true. But the promise of good things to come makes it go down easy. (PS, matzoh from The Holy Land is the best!)

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