Floodgates or Freedom: Navigating two realities this Pesach
How often have you been in a remote place and found matzah in the grocery store’s ambiguously kosher/Jewish/Israeli section? Based on my own experiences, I’m assuming it’s a lot. I think it might be the most identifiably “Jewish” food. But even if it’s not, it’s the core food of Pesach. And yet, it holds a powerful polarity.
Matzah is simultaneously the poor man’s bread (lechem oni) and the bread of freedom (oogot matzah) which the Jewish people baked for the journey to freedom. Matzah is simultaneously both a representation of oppression and redemption, of suffering and of healing.
Now more than ever, we understand these two realities and how they live in tension with one another. Many of us are simultaneously filled with grief and overwhelmed by the current state of the world amidst this pandemic, while yearning for freedom and hoping for a return to normal. We are balancing optimism and realism, faith and fear.
Matzah reminds us that these polarities exist and that there is hope on the other side. If we remain focused on our community, the floodgates will ease, we will find freedom, and we will be prepared to sing and dance together again on the other side of the proverbial sea.
Rabba Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez currently supports the community as the Jewish Camp Initiative manager at Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.