When we were slaves in Egypt, every single day we ate Maṣa. Breakfast, lunch and dinner we ate just Maṣa! Maṣa was the food conceived by the cruel Egyptians to be the ideal meal for the Jewish slaves. It was cheaper than any other food. It lasted longer than regular bread in the slave's stomach. And it was very cost effective. Why? First because you only need regular flour and water to make Maṣa. But mainly because of the time factor: to make regular bread you need to let the dough rest for approximately 15-20 minutes and only then you would place the spongy-dough into the oven. In the Egyptian captivity the raising of the dough was skipped. Instead, the Jewish slaves had to put the flat dough into the oven. Why? Because the Jewish slaves had to work without a pause. The Egyptians were not willing to waste 15 extra minutes of Jewish work for the dough to raise and be made into regular bread. Thus, we declare at the very beginning of the Hagada: ha lahma 'aniya... that the Maṣa brings to our memories "the bread of poverty and affliction, that our ancestors ate in Egypt"
On the other hand, upon our sudden departure from Egypt, we also ate Maṣa. Why? Because we did not leave Egypt progressively, during the course of a few months, weeks or even days. We were rescued by HaShem in a super express operation (behipazon) which lasted just one night. (Try to visualize the mobilization of 3 million people, leaving in one night!). And as much as we were eager to have our first normal meal with bread, there was no time to prepare bread for the journey. Not even 15 minutes to wait for the dough to rise. We had to leave swiftly. In our memories, therefore, Maṣa has also the good taste of "freedom".
Maṣa represents both, the nice flavor of freedom and the bitterness of slavery. During Pesach we literally relive the sourness of captivity and the sweetness of liberty. Maṣa celebrates our freedom. Without forgetting our suffering.
Dedicated to the young Sara Miriyam bat Tamar, daughter of Oren and Tamar Besalely. May HaShem bring her refua shelema.
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