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Ancient Diet, Part 2: Passover

September 5, 2019

So now hopefully you can see what I mean by that being somewhat time-consuming and difficult. It’s not that it’s not simple — anyone with you know some flour, some water, and an oven could make it happen. I don’t really think anybody could screw it up too badly, except for maybe not putting enough flour and ending up with a terribly sticky dough, which is a problem that I’ve run into and trying to make bread in the past. But it’s certainly not something you want to do if you’re in a rush. As we know as the Jews were while escaping from Egypt, the story says they were in a great rush because Pharaoh was chasing after them. Pharaoh does eventually drown in the Red Sea and the event of him drowning is of course very joyous. By the time the Jews have escaped their slavery — which of course the Pharaoh drowning in the sea is the culminating event of that process — there’s a lot to celebrate. First, that their own children were passed over by the Angel of Death who kills the firstborn of each Egyptian family, and of course also that they managed to go through the sea unharmed. To commemorate the great acts of God’s mercy that are present in the story, the Jews to this day have an event called the Passover or called Passover. It is the holiest event on the Jewish calendar and its eight days long. Now, there’s a celebration a tradition called the Seder. The Seder dinner commemorates all the events of the Exodus. It involves several highly ceremonial and highly symbolic food items. One is bitter herbs, very often something like horseradish, a very, very pungent and bitter spice, that you would dip in salt water, which commemorates the tears of the slaves in Egypt. Then you would eat it, the bitterness of course commemorating the bitterness of their slavery. There is another thing down on the bottom right of the plate that you can see called haroset which is a very sweet sort of nut mixture — nuts and apple’s, it’s totally delicious — that commemorates the mortar that the Jews had to make to put between the bricks as they were building things for Pharaoh. At the top left, you see a shank bone. The shank bone is is a bone from a lamb that commemorates the event of putting blood over the doors. The very top left of the screen you see several pieces of bread that’s matzoh. As you saw, bread takes a long time to make, and so if you’re running away you don’t have much time to make it the right way, the three/ three-and-a-half hours that it took that guy in the video to actually successfully make a loaf of bread can be reduced to about 20 minutes if you’re trying to do it without leavening the bread first. And so the Jews as they’re running from Pharaoh have to eat unleavened bread, an almost cracker-like substance now known as matzoh, which is what… I’m going to bring in for you guys during class tomorrow. Back then they did not have a chance to allow the bread to rise because they were being chased by Pharaoh. Nowadays during Passover, the Jews are not allowed to allow the bread to rise because it would not be accurate to the event that Passover commemorates. And so, what happens is not only are you not allowed to add yeast to the bread, you’re also not allowed to allow it to rise naturally, which will happen as a result of the fact that yeast, again, is present in the air and present in flower naturally. So no more than 18 minutes are allowed to pass between the moment the water hits the flour, which is a very important step in making bread, and the moment that the bread finally goes into the oven. And so, what you’re going to see in the next video is a kosher bakery in Montreal that is making matzoh for Passover, and you’re going to see how strict the process actually is. No more than 18 minutes can pass and if it does the bread has to be thrown away and the kitchen thoroughly cleaned because otherwise it’s not kosher anymore; it’s not accurate to the original event and therefore wouldn’t be a valid celebration. I’m going to bring you guys in this bread tomorrow, as i mentioned. it’s really good in my opinion, it’s not like any other bread really. Worth trying, certainly. And what we’re going to see is that this will sort of help us to remember the importance of this event which is the event that, first of all Jesus refers to in sharing bread and wine with his disciples, which as Catholics is of course a very important thing, and second of all is something … Sorry … the joy behind this event which the bread celebrates, the bread commemorates, is what gives legitimacy to the religious law that we’re going to be studying in the coming days. And so of course it would be impossible for me to overestimate how important this event actually is. Enjoy the video. I know you will, I certainly did. I will see you tomorrow to discuss it further. Peace, gentlemen.


  • Reply ben meyer July 10, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Take Note, Hebrew-Jewish Passover is not identical with the Eucharist in Roman Catholic Tradition.


  • Reply Daniel Reitman February 4, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Passover isn't quite the holiest observance, but it is the defining celebration of the community. Yom Kippur is a more significant observance, but that's not really a celebration.

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