|This D’var Torah is in Z’chus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandfather Moshe Ben Breindel, and my grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Nechama Hinda Bas Tzirel Leah
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
צַו ● Tzav
● Why couldn’t Chameitz be offered on the Mizbei’ach? ●
“Chameitz vs. Matzah, On All other Nights”
Early on in Parshas Tzav, the Torah zeroes in on the laws of the Menachos, or the Meal offerings, which consisted mainly of flour. In this discussion, the Torah emphasizes that the Kohanim would have to eat the remainder of the flour as Matzah, as unleavened crackers, and that they could not eat them as Chameitz, as leavened loaves.1 This instruction parallels that of the similar one in Parshas Vayikra where the Torah instructed that no Chameitz is permitted to be burned on the Mizbei’ach with the bringing of the Menachos.2 For this reason, Korbanos overall (with minimal exception) do not contain Chameitz, and as such, the Kohanim were likewise ordained to eat the Menachos in an unleavened state. Thus, at the onset of Parshas Tzav, an undoubted paradigm is set: Chameitz versus Matzah.
The question is as follows: What is the basis for this technical discrepancy between Chameitz and Matzah within the laws of Korbanos? Why should it matter?
Chameitz vs. Matzah, an Age-Old Feud
Indeed, the discrepancy between Chameitz and Matzah is not by any means novel, nor is it exclusive to the context of Korbanos. It is an age-old clash which finds its roots in the more famous and familiar context of Pesach. On the holiday of Pesach, the B’nei Yisrael are commanded to eat Matzah and refrain from eating Chameitz supposedly to commemorate how G-d hastily brought us forth from Egypt, the “house of bondage,” before the dough could even rise and become leavened.3 Thus, Pesach is the origin of Torah commandments distinguishing between Chameitz and Matzah. Having said that, what relevance does any of this have to the Kohanim and the Avodah on a random given day of the year?
“On all other nights”
To take matters a step further, one might argue to the contrary, as the authors of the Haggadah Shel Pesach state explicitly, “She’B’Chol HaLeiLos Anu Ochlim Chameitz U’Matzah, HaLailah HaZeh, Kulo Matzah”-“that [while] on all other nights, we eat leavened bread or unleavened bread, on this night, only unleavened.” In other words, the “Chameitz-Matzah” divide is a “Pesach-exclusive” one. On all other nights, we welcome both Chameitz and Matzah. As we’ve argued above, it was the haste that is associated with the Exodus which we attempt to re-experience on that holiday of Pesach that warrants the sensitive discrepancy between Chameitz and Matzah. Otherwise, there should be no distinction because the distinction is not irrelevant. And yet, well before the Haggadah was complied, in the Torah itself, Hashem expressed that in the Mikdash, on the Mizbe’ach, every day of the year, there is to be no Chameitz. The dough of the Menachos could only be consumed as Matzah. That means there was constant consciousness of this discrepancy between Chameitz and Matzah. But, why? Why and how has this symbol seeped into the laws of the Korban Minchah? What do the symbols of Chameitz and Matzah mean in this seemingly unrelated context? What is their relevance?
Matzah: A Coincidental Mitzvah?
In order to understand the centrality of Matzah and the dismissal of Chameitz in the context of the Avodah, we might need a more nuanced understanding of the same sensitivity and their significance on Pesach itself.
Indeed, we tend to take Mitzvos we perform for granted and are often content enough with the basic answers provided, when more often then not, those simple answers require some elaboration. Yes, on Pesach, we were freed from Egypt with the unleavened bread on our shoulders because the dough never had a chance to rise.
If anyone thinks he has a fair conception of the the reason for Matzah on Pesach, then perhaps he can answer this one: Why didn’t G-d allow the dough to rise when He took the B’nei Yisrael out of Egypt? Was Hashem in some kind of rush? And if so, why, then, didn’t Hashem just warn the Israelites to pre-bake their dough, a few days in advance so that they could leave with real bread, good old Chameitz, instead of the ridiculous, flat “bread of affliction” we call Matzah? Did G-d decide on the fly to take the nation out of Egypt? Was it merely circumstantial that we left Egypt with Matzah? It just happened to be that they left before the dough could rise, so we eat Matzah for generations forward?
And even if did happen that way, for whatever reason, why is that detail as crucial as it is? Why is worth our commemorating? And if, for whatever reason, it is so crucial to our understanding of the Exodus, why must Chameitz be entirely eliminated, so that one who eats it on Pesach is subject to Kareis (spiritual excision)?
Haste by Design
Obviously, G-d made no last-minute decisions and it was not by mere coincidence that the B’nei Yisrael left Egypt before their bread could leaven. This much has to be true, not just from a theological standpoint, but from narrative itself. Indeed, in their preparation for the Exodus, G-d commanded them specifically to bake unleavened bread when He had them observe their very first Pesach Seder in Egypt, well before they had to hit the road. G-d could have told them even a day earlier to get ready, but apparently, by its original design, He intended them to eat only Matzah and not even a crumb of Chameitz in the process of their Exodus. The “haste” which we refer to was real, but it was not coincidental. It was by overt design. It was not that the Egyptians, for example, allowed no time for the Israelites’ bread to rise by the time they drove the nation out of their land, but that G-d, in the event program, arranged that the bread not be afforded the time to rise. The question is: Why? Why, according to the original design, did G-d not allow for the bread to rise?
“Bread of Dependence”
Regarding the necessity of Matzah in the larger story of Exodus from Egypt and our observance of Pesach, R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch reminds us that, indeed, Matzah was not just the bread which B’nei Yisrael carried out of Egypt, but rather, throughout the long years the nation spent in Egypt, they actually ate the same Matzos, or at least something similar to it. This much is alluded to in the Haggadah itself as the authors testify, “Ha Lachma Anya Di Achalu Avhasana B’Ar’a D’Mitzarayim”-“This is the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt.” It was the food the B’nei Yisrael ate as slaves. Ibn Ezra points as low class citizens, constantly on the move at the whim of their masters, the B’nei Yisrael could not enjoy the luxury of traditional bread. Consequently, they were limited to Matzah. More than a “bread of affliction,” R’ Hirsch refers to Matzah as the “bread of dependence” as it symbolizes the Israelites’ servitude and dependence on their masters.
So, why would Hashem want the B’nei Yisrael to continue eating this “bread of dependence” upon their departure from servitude? R’ Hirsch explains that the B’nei Yisrael needed to recognize amidst their redemption that although they were leaving the bonds of Pharaoh, they were not to become completely independent of servitude. Although the quality of servitude would be changing dramatically and although the distance between their previous masters and their new Master could not be greater, they would still have a Master. Indeed, their redemption was dependent on humility, resulting from the recognition of the unmistakable reality that G-d was the catalyst of their salvation. In fact, it was not by their personal merits, but by the mercy and kindness of G-d that they were being freed. G-d, their new Master, orchestrated their Exodus.
Thus, G-d prearranged a procedure which required a service in haste. They would eat the “bread of dependence” in anticipation of their freedom. And at daybreak, the B’nei Yisrael would leave Egypt, forced by their masters and oppressors, carrying the selfsame “bread of dependence.” They would then venture forward with that realization that it was only by G-d’s “hand” that they left Egypt. They would continue to be “dependent,” but this time, on the gracious, Supreme Master of the world.
The Loaf of Luxury
On this note, many point out, based on Chazal, that Chameitz, risen dough, is actually symbolic of the the Yeitzer HaRa, Evil Inclination, the temptations of Gashmius or physicality, as well as Gaivah, or arrogance.4 Leavened bread is what we might refer to as the “Loaf of Luxury.” It is large, blown-up, filled with air. Conversely, the Matzah represents simplicity, Ruchnius, or spirituality, and Anivus, or humility.
The inflated appearance of Chameitz bread characterizes the Yeizter HaRa as it appears enticing to man, tempting him to pursue the fleeting and ultimately unfulfilling sensation mistaken for true happiness. It similarly symbolizes the common delusions of grandeur which man tends to develop for himself which cause him to forget that without G-d and His kindness, he is nothing. These misnomers, G-d sought to counteract with the Matzah, for the simple, straightforward, and modest bread serves as a reality check, reminding us to sober up and refocus on our spiritual responsibilities. The Matzah reminds us of our dependence on Hashem, that which truly matters.
All of this sounds great, but there is a problem: If all of the above is true, that Chameitz essentially represents the ploys of the Evil Inclination and Matzah represents the spiritual reality, then why limit this discrepancy to Pesach? Why stop there? If Matzah represents the necessary path to propriety in this world and Chameitz represents the obstacles on that path, why would we not refrain from eating Chameitz all year around?
The Place for “Inclination”
Indeed, one to way to deal with the challenges posed by the Yeitzer HaRa is to completely shun it. That is the course of action to be taken on Pesach. During the sensitive time of Pesach, we require such desperate measures. And anyone who finds himself in the clutches of one’s inclination should do the same and attain a sense of rehabilitation.
However, that measure is apparently not the Torah’s ideal. That Hashem created us in the physical world with a Yeitzer HaRa tells us that we cannot hide from it forever. There is a place for the Yeitzer HaRa in the natural world. It has a deeper purpose in our lives. Indeed, Hashem has allowed and wants us to enjoy the pleasures of this world and even take pleasure in our personal accomplishments. That is why the Torah does permit the eating of Chameitz in general, on “all other nights” and all other days of the year. The key is to control your inclination and never let it control you. But, to give leeway to one’s inclination in a kosher way is acceptable and recommended.
With all of that said, there are various contexts and situations that are more delicate, where Hashem has placed a sensitive ban on the Yeitzer HaRa, on the indulgence of any Chameitz. There are circumstances where complete humility and nullification of one’s personal agenda.
We have already elaborated on how this sensitivity applies to Pesach. On Pesach, we relive the Exodus and remember our dependence on Hashem, that dependence which behooves us to humbly walk in His ways and observe His Torah, because we only succeed by His kindness. For this reason, in many ways, the “Chameitz-Matzah” divide makes Pesach the foundation of our Avodas Hashem, the paradigm for purity in our Divine service throughout the year. But, if Pesach is the foundation of our Avodas Hashem, then the fundamental themes cannot just entirely fizzle out on the day Pesach ends. No. Pesach must seep into our everyday lives so we have its ideals at the ready for those sensitive settings.
Where else is there such a setting where we must fulfill that role of a humble Eved Hashem, a servant of G-d?
The Center of Avodah
Of course, the most sensitive setting is at the Mizbei’ach, the center of all Avodah. That is where the Kohanim who serve there must do so with a palpable sense of Avdus, servitude. For this reason, there is another ban on Chameitz, yes, another place where Matzah is demanded; the Avodah in the Mishkan. Apparently, the foundational theme of humility and simplicity which is essential to the process of our Exodus which we celebrate on Pesach is meant to be felt during the Avodah as well. Why are we supposed to remember Pesach then and there? Because although throughout the year, Hashem lifts the ban on the Yeizter HaRa and allows us to participate in the luxuries of the physical world, when it comes to our Avodas Hashem—when we stand before His delicate Mizbei’ach, when we engage in intimate spiritual services before Him in a state of supplication, there is no room for the indulgence. It is certainly no place for personal grandeur. As if it were Pesach itself, we enter before Him in haste and in humility.
A Lesson for “All Other Nights”
In the end, it is relatively easier to shut out the Yeizter HaRa for about a week, to drop Chameitz and familiarize ourselves with the spiritual ideals of Matzah. But if one truly understands Pesach as setting the groundwork for our every day Avodah, then it could not end with Pesach. The challenge is: knowing when to incorporate those sensitive ideals, no easy feat in the natural world where the Yeitzer HaRa is free to roam. Imagine trying to make this differentiation on “all other nights” when both Chameitz and Matzah may be eaten. It is obviously not easy, but that is the goal of life; to differentiate between Chameitz and Matzah—the Yeizter HaRa and spiritual yearning, outside the bubble of
Pesach, discerning when “Chameitz” is appropriate and when not, when to limit oneself “Matzah.”
The Kohanim made this differentiation every single day! But if everything we’ve suggested is true, it doesn’t stop with the Kohanim and the physical Temple structure. In our lives in this world, we have to make that same differentiation when necessary, to understand the delicateness of our own personal Avodas Hashem, and to properly incorporate the lessons of Chameitz vs. Matzah “on all other nights.”
May we all be Zocheh to properly engage in the world while maintaining humility and purity in our Avodas Hashem, and as Hashem had done in the times of Yetzias Mitzrayim, He should take us out of Galus in haste once again so that we will relive the Geulah with the coming of Moshiach, Bimheirah Biyomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos!
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg 🙂
- Vayikra 6: 9-10
- See Shemos 12-13
- Based on Brachos 17A