Yachatz (Step 4) — A Taste of Things to Come

Rabbi Goldson is a well-known author of numerous pieces appearing on the web and in print media. He has quickly become one of the most popular contributors and commenters here on BeyondBT.

The fourth step of the seder, yachatz, is so brief that it can easily slip past us with little notice, depriving us of one of the most profound symbolic messages of the Pesach evening.

The simple, superficial imagery of breaking the matzah reminds us of the poor man rationing his meager fare and protectively hiding away the larger portion (the afikomen) to guard against an uncertain future. This echoes the symbolism of matzah as lechem oni — poor-man¹s bread, the coarse meal accorded the Jewish slaves by their Egyptian overlords.

But there is a far deeper idea here. We begin yachatz with a shalom — a perfect, unbroken matzah — symbolizing the perfect world in which HaShem placed Adam and Chava, a world in which the physical and the spiritual coexisted in absolute harmony. To the first man and woman HaShem gave a single instruction: Do not destroy My world.

But man did bring destruction to the world when he ate from the Tree of Knowledge. And so we break our perfect matzah to recall the damage the first man inflicted upon HaShem¹s perfect world, disrupting the harmony of creation by dividing the spiritual from the physical. The lesser portion, the physical, remained the realm of humankind. The greater portion, the spiritual, HaShem hid away for us to seek and uncover through our observance of His Torah until, through our efforts, we achieve the reunification of the spiritual and the physical and restore the harmony of creation.

The afikomen, therefore, represents the rediscovery of our lost spirituality symbolized by the hiding of the yachatz. Even as our children search the house in hope of discovering the afikomen, we hope that when we open the door at seder’s end to greet Elyahu HaNovi, he will herald the messianic fulfillment of the search that has been undertaken by all of the generations that have preceded us.

One comment on “Yachatz (Step 4) — A Taste of Things to Come

  1. Most of us know that the minhag quoted in the Shukchan Aruch is to use three (3) matzos-two for Lechem Mishnah and one for Mitzvas Acilas Matzah. RYBS quoted the Gra (and posssibly also the Rambam) as saying that we use only two matzos. A poor person does not have the luxury of a lavish meal. Therefore, the requirement that we eat a poor man’s bread ( lechem oni) dispenses with the requirement that we have lechem mishneh.

Comments are closed.