By Rabbi Mark Glickman
(AJNews) – It’s a late October evening, just before 7:00 and I’m frustrated. Once again, I can’t find the darn remote. All day long, I’ve been looking forward to watching my favorite show, but now I don’t even have what I need to turn on the TV! I’ve searched and searched for that thing, and it’s nowhere to be found – not on the coffee table, not in the dining room, and not even in the washroom (phew!).
Hmmm…I wonder. Maybe it slipped between the cushions of the couch, falling into the furniture abyss below. I lift one of the cushions, look underneath, and there I see it, a bright white speck – far larger than a grain of salt, far smaller than a pea – shining forth like a jewel in the dust.
A matzah crumb.
That’s right. It’s a small piece of unleavened bread – the bread of affliction – that by some great miracle managed to survive the repeated cleanings and straightenings since it originally flew off its Manischewitz mother ship at our Pesach seder many months before.
How did it last so long? How did it get to its resting place beneath that couch cushion? And how did it keep from disintegrating into its biodegradable subparts? Alas, we’ll never know.
All we can say for certain is that those pesky matzah crumbs are mysterious and magical things. They fly to incredible places; they last forever; they’re indestructible.
On one level, it’s amazing what these little unleavened granules can do, but on another, it makes a certain amount of sense. After all, like the matzah crumb, there is something about Pesach itself that is downright eternal. For thousands of years, our people has gathered around our seder tables to tell the story of our people’s flight toward redemption. It’s a journey that began with our departure from Egyptian slavery, led us into the wilderness, brought us to the Promised Land, and still continues today. Indeed, it’s an eternal journey – one that will not be complete until our people’s great messianic vision of a redeemed world is fulfilled.
It’s important that we remember this as we prepare for our upcoming Passover celebration: The journey isn’t over. Yes, our ancestors got to the Land of Israel, but until the world around us becomes the good place we know it can be, that journey remains incomplete. That’s why Chad Gadya – the song that begins as a cute ditty only to turn dark in is final verses – doesn’t conclude until God comes and destroys Death itself. That’s why we open the door for Elijah, who our tradition teaches will one day herald the messianic age. That’s why we conclude our seder with the words “L’shanah haba’ah biy’rushalayim. Next year in Jerusalem.”
The great hope of Pesach, in other words, is a hope that remains unfulfilled even after all these centuries. So we keep on hoping, we keep on praying, and we keep on eating matzah to remember slaveries past and present.
Pesach is about far more than the weeklong festival each spring. It reminds us of our ongoing responsibility to fix our broken world. And for us Jews, that responsibility transcends time and space…Just like the matzah crumb.
So this year, when you break your matzah, when you crack off pieces to hold your charoset and maror, and even when have it with some butter or jam the next day, don’t lament the crumbs. Celebrate them instead. For this is what Pesach truly is – a little piece of brokenness that sticks around forever, reminding us that in this world, there is great work to be done, and that we can’t consider the work complete until all human suffering ends, and until all the crumminess surrounding us truly gives way to kindness, justice and compassion.
Chag Sameach. May you and your loved ones have a wonderful and truly “crumby” Pesach holiday
Rabbi Mark Glickman is the spiritual leader at Temple B’nai Tikvah, the Reform Jewish congregation in Calgary. .
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