What Is Matzah?

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During the seven-day Passover celebration, you may have noticed many Jewish people eating matzah. If you’ve never eaten this flat, square bread, you might have questions about it and its significance. Below, discover what’s special about this Jewish bread.

What is matzah?

Matzah, also known as matzo, is an unleavened, cracker-like type of bread. Unlike most other bread, it’s baked before it has a chance to rise. Like most other bread, it contains flour and water. Matzah is called “the bread of affliction” or “bread of poverty” by many Jewish people, who eat it to commemorate the Hebrew slaves’ exodus from Egypt. 

What is the history of matzah?

According to the Torah, matzah was created by accident during the rush of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. After a long battle of plagues that God unleashed on the Egyptians for enslaving the Jewish people and treating them cruelly, the Egyptians freed the Hebrew slaves. The newly liberated Jewish people thus had to make a rapid departure, leaving them no time to let their bread rise. 

Normally, the ancient Israelites used to gather yeast on grape leaves to leaven their bread. According to the Hebrew Bible, on the evening after Passover, God advised the Jewish people leaving Egypt not to allow their bread to rise. God then told them that in the future they were to commemorate Passover by getting all yeast out of the house for seven days. The Jewish people then created matzah from God’s advice. 

When is matzah eaten?

Whereas Christians and Catholics gather on Easter Sunday for one large dinner, many Jewish families gather on two different nights of Passover for a special meal known as a seder. The Passover seder dinner is centered around matzah. This year, the seder feast was on March 27 and March 28. However, in Israel, there is only one seder.

During a seder, the story of the Israelites exodus is recited from a classic Jewish text called the Haggadah. At the beginning of the Passover seder feast, it’s tradition to say, “This is the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt.” Both matzah and maror are served, along with other foods such as egg and shankbone.

Many people participate in a game called afikoman at Passover seders that involves matzah. Although this game is usually for kids, people of all ages can enjoy it. In the early stages of the seder ceremony, someone breaks a piece of matzah in half. The person who breaks the matzah then hides one of the halves somewhere in the house hosting the ceremony, and it’s up to the participants to find it. Usually, families motivate the participants by offering a prize to the winner.

How do you eat matzah?

Matzah can be eaten in many ways. It can be eaten plainly, and it comes in many different forms. Sometimes, people add salt and egg to matzah to make dumpling-like matzah balls for chicken soup. Some people spread their favorite jams on top of matzah. Some kids enjoy dessert with chocolate-covered matzah.

How do you eat matzah? Sound off in the comments!

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