Open the Door to ALL: The Real Meaning of “Matzah”

The Halachma Anya invites others to join in the Passover meal. This ritual is meaningless unless we truly open our doors throughout the year to end injustice, poverty, hatred, and war throughout our world.

Each year we begin our Passover Seder with an ancient Aramaic saying, as we break one of the three ritual matzot (plural of “matzah”) in half.

We hold up one-half of the middle pieces of matza and we clearly say:

This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat. All who are needy, come and celebrate Passover with us. The hour has come, now we are here. Next year, may we be in the land of Israel. Now we are slaves. Next year, may we be truly free.

And then we open our front door and and invite in all who are in need of a place to celebrate Passover, all who need a place to eat, all who are alone, or lonely, lost or wandering.

Usually, we do this as a ritual act: we break the middle matzah, recite the ancient words by rote, and open the door. We peer into the darkness and then hastily close the door again and continue with the rest of the rituals.

But what does it truly mean to hold up our “bread of affliction” and to OPEN OUR DOOR to others?

I think now is the time to transform this symbolic ritual into reality, to take the lessons from our Passover tables and turn them into living reality, so that next year, when we say at the end of “Ha lachma anya…next year may we truly be free.” These words will be filled with deep meaning because we have worked hard to make them so.

I write this on the day of Erev Pesach, the week that Syria used poisonous gas killing so many innocent citizens, in a civil war that has been raging for years? Where are our “Open Doors” to those Syrian refugees who need to to be treated as humans, and not as pawns in some bizarre game of “not welcome through my door.”

Where are our Open Doors to those who are starving in parts of Africa because we lack the intelligence and have too much red tape to adequately distribute food and water in a just and equitable manner?

Where are our Open Doors to those who are suffering in silence from Mental Illness or other illness afraid of what our current administration in Washington is going to do to our Health Care system?

Where are our Open Doors to those who are aging and might not have enough resources to enable them to live long lives filled with dignity, honor and as full-functioning humans?

Where are the Open Doors to our educators and parents and students who have invested so much in our public school system, to our Nationally Funded Arts programs which give our country more than just culture, but breadth and depth?

Where are the Open Doors to Women who deserve and demand a right to make our own decisions about what happens with our bodies?

Where are the Open Doors to members of the LBGTQ+ community who are being violated and having their long-fought-for rights stripped as we speak?

We have so many doors that are either closed or being threatened with closing.

This Passover — this Pesach — our Ha Lachma Anya prayer takes on especially significant meaning.

I invite you to open your door. Open it wide! As you break the middle matzah, think about how you find ways to symbolically open other doors throughout the coming year, how we can break down barriers, open doors to peace and understanding, justice and freedom for all.

One of my favorite quotes this time of year is from Morris Joseph. He said: “Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being.”

Let’s knock down the closed doors of injustice, hatred, racism, xenophobia, poverty, war, mistruths, and so much more.

This year, not all are free. Next year, may we open the doors so that all may join us in freedom at our Pesach tables, no matter where we celebrate

Chag Pesach Sameach!