If you spend any time at all this time of year looking for Passover-kosher recipes, you’ll find that while Jews in general love Passover (who wouldn’t?), keeping the Feast of Matzah is seen as a bit of a chore, something to be endured as a religious duty rather than enjoyed as a blessing.
Given that leaven in this context represents sin, that makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Would any of us give up either leaven or sin if we were not commanded to from above?
Actually, the mere fact that unleavened matzah is commanded this week is half the challenge. It’s not like anyone minds having holidays or holiday rituals, but as soon as we are commanded to give something up, even something as trivial as leavened bread, we automatically want it. Or as a wise sage put it:
What shall we say then? Is the Torah sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Torah; for I would not have known about coveting if the Torah had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opp0rtunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Torah sin is dead. (Rom. 7:7f)
As we submit to the discipline of mitzvot like the Feast of Matzah, or kosher, or the Sabbath-rest, we grow spiritually. Yes, there is a danger in religious externalism, but in my experience the greater danger is in having no externally-performed commandments and/or rituals at all. As D. Thomas Lancaster points out in Restoring the Torah, the Holy One chose to reveal Himself to His people not through lofty philosophical thought, but through a system of laws. Where ivory-tower theology excludes all but the intellectual, the rites, rituals, and customs of a living culture can reveal the Eternal even to the smallest of children:
Exo. 12:26 – And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Instead of looking forward to the sundown when we can eat chametz (leaven) again, let’s instead take the time to enjoy this last day of the Feast, so that our children will come to love and keep it to the Lord as well.