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The Arizal compares the top matza to the Kohen, the middle to Levi, and the third to Yisroel (Pri Eitz Chaim Pesach (6:4) -

תקח הג' מצות מצה שמורה, ותניח הכהן למעלה, והלוי למטה ממנו, והישראל למטה ממנו

Why do we specifically break apart the middle matza (ויקח מצה האמצעית ויבצענה לשתים - Shulchan Aruch 473:6) symbolizing Levi?

  • I’ve heard it said many times that it’s because Levi didn’t take part in the servitude, but I don’t like that answer on the grounds that neither did the Kohanim (who technically didn’t exist yet). – DonielF Apr 7 '20 at 15:53
  • @NJM Please see the following answer for a related question. Levi is also associated with the kabbalistic aspect of Gevurah. judaism.stackexchange.com/a/113474/7303 – Yaacov Deane Apr 8 '20 at 3:41
  • חהרי בארנו, איך מצה ב' היא בינה, ולכן נפרסה, ולכן צורתה ד"ו, לכן צריך לבצוע חלק א' גדול, מן חלק הב' הגדול, נגד הו', הקטן נגד הד', כי מספר ו' יותר מן מספר ד'. וחציו הראשון הגדולה, אנו מניחין לאפיקומן, שצורתו ו'. וחציו הב' שצורתו ד', אנו מחברין אותה עם המצה הראשונה השלימה, ומברכין עליה המוציא, ואכילת מצה, המוציא נגד השלימה, ואכילת מצה נגד הפרוסה הב': If you already know the kabala link you will find the answer there as well also in sh'loh. in more detail Levi is binah kohen chochmo, yisroel daas . – interested Apr 8 '20 at 9:16
  • @DonielF I dont exactly understand you. Do you mean one has to break levi now because they werent 'broken' before. – interested Apr 8 '20 at 9:26
  • @Interested Essentially, yes. But like I said, Kohanim didn’t work either, so why don’t we break theirs too according to that theory? (I’m very biased here, by the way, in that I’m a Levi.) – DonielF Apr 8 '20 at 16:26
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I heard an answer to this just yesterday in the name of Rav Aron Walkin, a major leader in pre-war Pinsk. The reason we break the matzah of Levi is to show that even though Shevet Levi was not forced into the physical bondage of Mitzrayim, they were still afflicted by the slavery of their brothers. They had a middah of empathy that caused them to be "broken" just like the rest of the bnei Yisrael.

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    And the Kohanim didn’t? – DonielF Apr 8 '20 at 16:26
  • I would like to write a comment how levi got out of it. If I have time will put it on chat. – interested Apr 8 '20 at 17:17
  • @DonielF you can ask that kasha on any answer to this question. Your difficulty is with the Arizal's premise, not this answer. – Daniel Apr 8 '20 at 19:10
  • @Daniel I wouldn't ask that on an answer that addresses why Leviim yes and Kohanim no. I'm not saying this is a bad answer – this is the "classic" answer to this question – I just have a problem with it. – DonielF Apr 8 '20 at 21:51
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So Rabbi Daniel Glatstein explores this topic here (at around 22:35 minutes in).

He brings an answer from Rav Eliezer Ginsburg Rosh Kollel, Mir Yeshiva, Brooklyn; Rav, Agudas Yisroel Zichron Shmuel and he wants to say similar to @DonielF's point that the Jewish had three gezeiros (decrees) against them 1) that they were going to be strangers, 2) that they were enslaved, and 3) that they were afflicted. Out of these three gezeiros, they were only strangers, the other two were not relevant to them. So we take the 'Levi' and remove two-thirds as if to say these parts were not nogeiah (relevant) to them. Only the fact that they were strangers remains and that's what we keep at the seder.

However, as stated above, we are still left with the question why the Cohen matzah stays intact.

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    The Cohanim at that time were the firstborn. So Cohanim of Mitzraim were involved in the slavery. – user6591 Sep 6 '20 at 19:51

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