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(Not to be confused with this question)

How can one explain Matzah to a curious colleague in under 18 minutes?

So far I have been asked:

  1. Why does it need to be extra watched? (I've shown her Sh. 12:15.)

  2. What does it mean that the soul will be cut off?

  3. If it's such a serious penalty, what is it about Matzah that makes it so ... um ... serious?

I expect more questions to come. Any advice would be welcome!

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1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted
  1. Extra watched: to make sure that no water touches it (except while it's being kneaded), because water is needed to start the fermentation process, which would make it chametz.

  2. The soul is connected to G-d, like a limb of the body is connected to the heart (for its blood supply) and the brain (for its functionality). "Cut off" means just that - that connection is now severed, like a limb that was amputated. It can be repaired (like a severed limb can be reattached), but it takes a lot of effort; you're obviously better off keeping that attachment intact in the first place.

  3. It's not failure to eat matzah that incurs this punishment, but rather, eating chametz. Basically, it's because the Exodus and its accompanying miracles are an important basis for our belief in G-d: they demonstrated for all time (even when for one reason or another miracles aren't prevalent) that He created nature and controls it. So to deliberately flout the mitzvos of Pesach is in effect to demonstrate that one doesn't believe in this principle, and then in turn that undercuts the rationale for any other mitzvos, which are the "blood vessels" and "nerves" that connect the soul to G-d. (See Ramban, commentary to Ex. 13:16 and his lecture entitled Toras Hashem Temimah; and Tanya, Iggeres Hateshuvah ch. 5).

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1  
+1. Do you have a source for the "it's because..." part of item 3? –  msh210 Apr 3 '12 at 15:58
    
@msh210: it was based on my memory, but I couldn't find a source for it. I've replaced it with a different explanation. –  Alex Apr 3 '12 at 18:37
    
It sounds to me like your current answer #3 is very similar to the one you deleted for lack of a source, but now you have a source. I would still +1 because I think the current version is just slightly more detailed than the previous, but ultimately incorporates the same idea of the theme of the Exodus being so fundamental that to violate the law would be to deny the premise upon our religion is based. –  Seth J Apr 3 '12 at 19:17

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