Chag Matzot – Festival of Unleavened Bread

Chag Matzot is a 7-day long festival that occurs in the Spring. It starts on the evening of the 14th day of Chodesh Rishon (First New Moon), the first month, and ends on the 21st day. It is a moment of birth and newness, a time to rise up.

The first day of the Festival of Matzot is a holy set-apart day called the Pesach festival. The first and last day of the festival are celebrated as holy days with special meals, special prayers services and abstention from all servile work. Pesach is a festival to commemorate the Hebrew people’s emancipation from slavery in Mitsrayim, the time when they rose up against Pharaoh. The scriptural account describes the Hebrew people as they fled Mitsrayim with such urgency they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; when it was baked later, it was matzo (unleavened) and as they traveled through the desert, they had nothing to eat but matzo bread. The Festival of Matzot is one of the 3 scripturally ordained Pilgrimage Festivals.

Matzo is defined as unleavened flat bread. The plural of Matzo is Matzot. Matzo bread consists of only water and flour, with no yeast, shortening, or other enriching agents. Matzah recreates the hard “bread of affliction” provided to the Hebrew slaves by their ruthless masters. Like the bitter herbs used to season the Pesach animal, it represents the suffering and degradation of the people of Yisrael. Matzah was the hard slave bread; we eat it instead of the rich, soft bread that was eaten by free people.

The Scriptures often use “yeast” or “leaven” to symbolize sin. In cleaning it out of our homes, we realize how difficult it is to find and remove all of it. When we see how difficult it is to remove the leaven out of our homes, we realize just how difficult it is to get the sin out of our lives. In the same way, it’s easier to get the big, obvious sins out of our lives, but more difficult to get the hidden, seemingly small ones out before they rise up.

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