Courtesy: Rabbi Shraga Simmons
What is the reason we eat this matzah? Because when the King
of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, revealed Himself to them
and redeemed them, there was insufficient time for our ancestors’
dough to become leavened. As it says: “The dough, which they
brought out of Egypt, they baked into unleavened bread, because
they were driven out from Egypt and they were not able to delay,
and they had not prepared any provisions.” (Exodus 12:39)
There is a beautiful story told about Rabbi Levi Yitzhak, an 18th century tzaddik who lived in the Russian village of Berditchev.
It was the day before Passover and Rabbi Levi Yitzhak called his students together. He instructed them as follows: “Go around to each Jewish home in Berditchev and bring me all Turkish tobacco, Austrian silk and chametz (bread or crumbs) that you can find.”
“But rabbi,” they protested. “Everyone knows that Russia is at war with Turkey and Austria — and possession of tobacco and silk is strictly forbidden!”
Still, the rabbi insisted and the students went looking for tobacco, silk and chametz. Later that evening, the students returned to Rabbi Levi Yitzhak, carrying various containers of Turkish tobacco and rolls of Austrian silk. “But,” they reported, “we could find no chametz.”
Rabbi Levi Yitzhak looked heavenward and said, “Almighty God! The Russian Czar has his army stationed at the borders and in the towns — a million armed soldiers ready to arrest anyone who violates the decree of possessing this contraband. While You, God, have nine holy words in the Torah stating to remove bread from the house on Passover. How righteous are Your people Israel, who are faithfully observe Your mitzvot!”
Think about it: Why would anyone spend hours and hours cleaning every nook and cranny looking for chametz? Just because our ancestors did it is surely not reason enough. (I can hear it now, “But Mom, just because Grandpa wouldn’t eat pickles or cheese on Thursdays, why shouldn’t we?”) Jews eat matzah on Passover for one reason only: Because we possess a confidence and belief in the truth of Torah.
Asks the Talmud: A Jew’s Tefillin contains the verse of “Shema Yisrael,” in which the Jew proclaims every day the Oneness of God. But what is written (so to speak) in God’s Tefillin?
Answers the Talmud: “Who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation in the world” (2-Samuel 7:23). God treasures our loyalty and belief — which is most evident on Passover.