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The Journey from Matza to Bread

May 18, 2022

Today is Lev Baomer, the 32nd day of the Omer count. Right in the middle, the heart of the Omer count. Nothing very special about the date, except that every day is special, every day can be an excuse to look with new eyes at the world we were thrown into.

Jews do this with food, right? Symbols and symbols and symbols, the matza tells one story and the maror another and the etrog another, and wine flows throughout the ritual life: shabbat and marriage and brit milah are accompanied by a cup of wine to taste the blessing made, root it in this world.

This shiur plays with the idea of bread, and beer, and chametz in general. Why do we deny it sometimes - notably, Pesach - and require it at other times? I think this paradox comes out nicely at this period of the year, on the journey from Pesach to Shavuot. Now that we're at the heart of that journey, I thought I would share it with you.

You can read the texts I used here, or listen to the shiur I recorded on Spotify / Apple / or wherever you find your podcasts. (For some reason, this is one of the most successful sourcesheets I have, with about 1500 people who came across it recently. Can't explain why.)

Some people simplify 'Judaism' and say that it teaches us to enjoy life. That's not not true, but I would phrase it differently. We are required to live life. To absolutely be with everything that confronts us, and not hide away in our own little corners. It's eating bread and drinking beer, seeing challenges as opportunities rather than as obstacles, recognising what the world offers us, sometimes in the language of thanks and sometimes in the language of mourning. It's different language for the same truth: Baruch Dayan Ha-emet.

I'll finish on that thought and say that I'm dedicating all my teaching and learning this month to the memory of Eric Salitsky (חיים יוחנן בן אברהם אליעזר זצ"ל) - his blessing is a memory and his memory a blessing. He would have had what to say on this subject.

May we find strength and sustenance in what this world has to give us,


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