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Home > Holidays > Passover >TAKE TIME TO SMELL THE MATZAH


By Larry Stein
Author of: The Really Fun Family Haggadah

April, 2001

Sometimes the hectic pace of our hurried lives even seeps into our Seders. A few minutes into the Seder and you can already see secretive glances at watches, thumbs whisking through the Haggadah, and the occasional painful sigh of imminent hunger. It's as if the Kiddush is a call to eat. And then, amid the silent exasperation, someone always seems to blurt out just a little bit too loudly, "When are we going to eat!"

Well, that does it. We all check our watches, thumb through the pages, and ever-so gracefully slim down the Seder to meet the cry for hunger. Of course, we can rationalize it. Maybe G-d really planned 20 plagues, and trimmed it down to 10 plagues so the Israelites could escape Egypt sooner. And maybe G-d originally planned to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land via Siberia rather than the round-about route they actually took during their forty years of wandering in the desert. Yeah, right!

Our ancestors hurried enough as slaves - they made it possible so we don't have to hurry anymore - especially on Pesach. The Haggadah says that everyone at the Seder table should feel as if they were brought free out from Egypt. And that takes time; after all, our ancestors were slaves for 400 years. Some rabbis say that if our ancestors were freed immediately and didn't go through everything they did over so many years, they wouldn't have truly appreciated their freedom.

So stop. Do it right. Take time out and smell the matzah. And if you can't smell it, feel it. That's why we have the Seder customs. To go beyond words; to appeal to our senses. Taste the bitterness of our ancestors' slavery in the maror, smell the brutality of their labor in the charoset, and crunch to the thrill of their freedom in the matzah. Feel that their freedom is now your freedom. And be thankful for it.

This year, as you read the Haggadah, take a breath now and then, and feel the power of the moment. Realize what the Haggadah is actually telling us. Ask questions. Seek answers. Treasure the uniqueness of Pesach - the opportunity to share a religious moment at home with your family. Take time to make your Seder special; time and effort certainly seemed to make freedom more special for our ancestors. Chag Sameach.

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