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The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Matzah: Survival

The job of the Jewish people was to build storehouses. Storehouses store grain. Grain makes matzah. The Jews ate the matzah so they could work. Their work was building storehouses….

A person can suffer anything if he believes that there is some meaning to it. He can survive the Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust, if he can find a purpose.

But if he does not have a real purpose, and invents instead some ‘make-believe’ purpose, then all shades of delusion are possible, none more sensible than any other. Some people live to collect beer bottles, some to memorize telephone directories. For the slave, the simplest “purpose” is to live for a good meal. Many people who lack an ultimate meaning to their lives are actually living to eat.

But if the food the slave works for is as tasteless as matzah he can have no delusions of purpose — he is not living for the pleasure of eating, only for the energy eating gives him.

The ultimate slavery is when the whole object of life is merely to eat. Can anything be more crushing than the realization that one’s whole existence is only to feed the body. This is what the Egyptians wished to make the Jews aware of.

The Haggadah makes us aware that we may only differ from the slave in Egypt in that we don’t eat matzah all year round. But in essence we may not be living for anything more meaningful than the slave. The slave is only more aware of this fact. The slave finds it harder to delude himself he is living for a greater purpose, he lacks the distractions of tasty food.

Could we survive on matzah all year round, or do we need that ‘taste’ to keep the delusion alive?

That ‘taste’ comes in many forms, from a good meal to a fancy car, a career and possibly a family. Are we surviving the twentieth century’s torture of a purposeless existence only because our bread has taste?

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