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Matzah vs. Chametz

Torah Thoughts on Parshas Shemini by Rabbi Tomer Zino

"וְהַנּוֹתֶרֶת מִמֶנָה יֹאכְלוּ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו מַצוֹת תֵּאָכֵל בְּמָקוֹם קָדֹשׁ בַּחֲצַר אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד יֹאכְלוּהָ"  וַיִקְרָא ו':ט' 

“And Aharon and his sons shall eat whatever is left over from it. It shall be eaten as unleavened bread in a holy place; they shall eat it in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting.” Vayikra 6:9

Here, the Torah adds some more details about the meal (Mincha) offering. The Torah tells us that the grain offering must be eaten by the Kohanim in matzah form and not as chametz. One may wonder and ask why chametz is not allowed to be involved in this offering. The Kli Yakar offers an amazing answer to this question, and through his answer, he reveals to us the great symbolism that the chametz and matzah represent. His words also shed much light on the role of the matzah in the holiday of Pesach.

The matzah represents humility. This is represented by the flat nature of the matzah, as opposed to the fluffy and raised nature of the chametz. He also explains that this is why the matzah is so connected to the holiday of Pesach. The holiday of Pesach is all about bolstering our faith in Hashem and remembering that Hashem redeemed us. One must work on one’s humility in order to gain faith in Hashem and remember the good that He has done for us. Therefore, we eat matzah, which represents and promotes humility. The chametz, on the other hand, represents haughtiness. As Rabbi Alexandri (Brachos 17a) prayed to Hashem, saying: “We want to do Your will, but the leavening in the dough stops us.” The chametz represents the evil inclination that pushes us to not do what Hashem wants us to do. The only difference between the chametz and the matzah is that the chametz is full of “hot air”.

We, too, can sometimes let things get to our heads and feel that we are bigger than we really are. As someone once told me, when semi-trailers get stuck in short ceiling tunnels, they deflate the tires in order to get the truck trailer out. So, too, in our lives. When we get stuck in a difficulty in life, we must be humble and let out the “hot air” in order to pass through the obstacle. Therefore, when it comes to the Mincha offering, which a person offers to become closer to Hashem, it is proper that the flour should be made into matzos, which represent humility. When a person is humble it is easier for him to come closer to Hashem and to follow His word. It would not be proper to make the flour-offering into chametz, which represents haughtiness and not listening to someone else. May we all merit to introduce more humility into our lives this Pesach and welcome in the Final Redemption this Nissan.


Rabbi Tomer Zino FYHS (2013) learned at Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim in Queens, NY for a year, then on to Yeshiva Gedola of Passaic under Rav Meir Stern, שליט''א. He returned to Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim for a year, during which he married, then learning in the Kollel of Yeshivas Beis Nosson Meir of Queens, where he received Semichah from Rav Aharon Walkin זצ''ל. He is currently in dayanus kollel Beth Gavriel, aiming to become a Dayan, and is the Rav of the Vasikin Minyan of Congregation Beth Gavriel in Forest Hills, NY, where he lives with his family.

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