Season Of Our Freedom & Festival Of Matzos
The festival of Passover is commonly referred to in our prayers as the
"Season of our Freedom" and the "Festival of Matzos." These names relate
to aspects of Passover that are germane at all times and in all places.
The other names of this holiday - "Passover" and the "springtime
festival" - apply only to distinct times and places: The name "Passover"
is related to the Passover offering, which could be brought only when
the Holy Temple stood; "springtime festival" refers only to the Northern
Hemisphere, for in the Southern Hemisphere Pesach occurs in the fall.
Understandably, the festival's message for the entire year [ 1 ] can best be gleaned from those
titles that apply at all times and in all places. The term "Season of
our Freedom" alludes to more than just the Jews' freedom from
enslavement in Egypt thousands of years ago: it invokes the true freedom
of each and every Jew in all times and places.
The ultimate purpose of the Exodus finds expression in the verse: [ 2 ] "Upon your taking out the nation
from Egypt they shall serve G-d on this mountain," i.e., the experience
of receiving the Torah at Sinai. For the Jewish people could not be
truly free of the physical bondage of Egypt until they were spiritually
free as well. [ 3 ]
Spiritual enslavement - the Hebrew word for Egypt being etymologically
related to "straits and limitations" [ 4
] - can come about from without as well as from within: A person
may be enslaved to the mores of his society, or he may be a slave to his
own passions. True freedom from this kind of enslavement can be achieved
only through Torah and mitzvos - "serving G-d on this mountain."
But what specifically is the freedom seeker to do? Herein comes the
lesson of the festival's other name - the "Festival of Matzos."
The "Festival of Matzos" consists of two parts: the obligation to eat
matzah and the prohibition of eating chametz, leavened products. The
obligation to eat matzah is limited to a specific amount at a specified
time - a quantity the size of an olive must be eaten on the first night
of Passover. [ 5 ] However, the
prohibition against chametz knows different limits; the tiniest particle
of chametz is forbidden throughout the holiday. [ 6 ]
The natural differences between chametz and matzah, and the consequent
differences between eating matzah and refraining from chametz provide a
valuable lesson in the quest for spiritual freedom. [ 7 ]
Leavened dough rises continually. Matzah is the very antithesis thereof
- the dough is not permitted to rise at all.
Our Rabbis explain [ 8 ] that
chametz is symbolic of haughtiness and conceit - traits so deleterious
that they are at the root of all negative traits. This is one of the
reasons why even the minutest amount of chametz is forbidden -
haughtiness and conceit must be completely nullified. [ 9 ]
Ridding oneself of the traits represented by chametz and performing the
mitzvah of eating matzah enable the Jew to overcome his own faults and
the blandishments of the mundane world. He is then able to free himself
from spiritual exile, and enjoy this freedom throughout the year.
Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XXII pp. 266-270.
- Back to text See Likkutei Torah, Berachah 98b.
- Back to text Shmos 3:12.
- Back to text See Avos 6:2; See also Shmos Rabbah 41:7; Vayikra Rabbah 18:3; Zohar II 113b and onward.
- Back to text See Torah Or, Yisro 71c and onward.
- Back to text Tur and Shulchan Aruch and Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, Orach Chayim 475. [The size of one "olive" in Halachah is 28 grams, or 1 ounce.]
- Back to text Pesachim 30a; Rambam, Hilchos Chametz u'Matzah 1:5; Tur and Shulchan Aruch and Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, Orach Chayim beginning of section 447; Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, Orach Chayim beginning of sections 431 and 445.
- Back to text See Likkutei Torah, Tzav first ma'amar titled Sheishes Yamim, ch. 3; Likkutei Torah, Shir HaShirim 14d and onward, et al.
- Back to text See places cited in previous footnote.
- Back to text See Rambam, Hilchos Deos 4:3; commentary of R. Yonah on Avos 4:4.