Matzah (Hebrew: מַצָּה), also spelled Matza, Matzoh, Matzo, Matsah, Matsa, and Matze, is a cracker-like unleavened bread made of white plain flour and water. The dough is pricked in several places and not allowed to rise before or during baking, thereby producing a hard, flatbread. It is similar in preparation to the Southwest Asian lavash and the Indian chapati.
Matzah is the substitute for bread during the Jewish holiday of Passover, when eating chametz—bread and leavened products—is not allowed. Eating matza on the night of the seder is considered a positive mitzvah, i.e., a commandment. In the context of the Passover seder meal, certain restrictions additional to the chametz prohibitions are to be met for the matza to be considered "mitzva matza", that is, matza that meets the requirements of the positive commandment to eat matza at the seder.
The concept of matzah is mentioned in the Torah several times in relation to The Exodus from Egypt:
There are numerous explanations behind the meaning of matzah. One is historical: Passover is a commemoration of the exodus from Egypt. The biblical narrative relates that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste, they could not wait for their bread dough to rise. The resulting product was matzah. (Exodus 12:39). The other reason for eating matza is symbolic: On the one hand, matza symbolizes redemption and freedom, but it is also (lechem oni), "poor man's bread." Thus it serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like in servitude. Also, leaven symbolizes corruption and pride as leaven "puffs up". Eating the "bread of affliction" is both a lesson in humility and an act that enhances one's appreciation of freedom.
Another explanation is that matza has been used to replace the pesach, or the traditional Passover offering that was made before the destruction of the Temple. During the Seder the third time the matza is eaten it is preceded with the Sefardic rite, “zekher l’korban pesach hane’ekhal al hasova.” This means, “Remembrance of the Passover offering, eaten while full.” This last piece of the matza eaten is called afikoman and many explain it as a symbol of salvation in the future.
Full article ▸