Faith Food

The zohar calls matzah "the bread of faith." Often our behavior is inconsistent with our faith. The Talmud speaks of the "Thief in the Burrow Syndrome": A thief is tunneling under the walls of a home when he hears the sound of footsteps. "Please, G‑d," he prays silently, "save me!" Here is a man who believes in G‑d, and who undoubtedly knows that G‑d commanded "Do not steal." Nevertheless, he is stealing and simultaneously beseeching the Al-mighty for help.

Faith, then, may hover in some neutral space above one’s everyday self. The same is true of all "spiritual" elements of the human experience. They may move a person to eloquent pronouncements on Truth and Beauty, set his eyes aloft and his heart on fire. They may move him to a frenzy of action or even to a dramatic overhaul of his life. But nothing in him has changed. Soon his euphoria wanes to reveal just another thief in his burrow.

Matzah helps us overcome this inner dichotomy. Partaking of the "food of faith" makes us conscious of the need to internalize our faith and enables us to incorporate it into our daily lives.

The flat matzah is the antithesis of the inflated chometz—the symbol of ego. (In the Zohar, chometz is compared to idolatry—the idol of "self".) Hence matzah’s double potency: the Zohar calls it both the "bread of faith" and the "bread of healing." And the faith precedes the healing so that it is not a faith that comes in the wake of a healing from illness, but rather a faith that generates a healing that prevents illness from occurring to begin with.