4. Yachatz

Breaking the Matzah

04MatzoLeader takes the middle matzah out of its cover and breaks it in two, replacing one half between the two whole matzot and putting the other half in a wrapper as the Aphikoman to be shared at the end of the meal. While the Aphikoman is being hidden he discusses the origin of this ceremony and its significance for us today.

Reader: (Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12 JPS)

Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. According as many were appalled at thee – so marred was his visage unlike that of a man, and his form unlike that of the sons of men – so shall he startle many nations, kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they perceive.

‘Who would have believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he shot up right forth as a sapling, and as a root out of a dry ground; he had no form nor comeliness, that we should look upon him, nor beauty that we should delight in him. He was despised, and forsaken of men, a man of pains, and acquainted with disease, and as one from whom men hide their face: he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely our diseases he did bear, and our pains he carried; whereas we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed. All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, though he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and with his generation who did reason? For he was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.

And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich his tomb; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.’ Yet it pleased the LORD to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that he might see his seed, prolong his days, and that the purpose of the LORD might prosper by his hand: of the travail of his soul he shall see to the full, even My servant, who by his knowledge did justify the Righteous One to the many, and their iniquities he did bear.

Therefore will I divide him a portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the mighty; because he bared his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Leader associates the scriptural description of the Messiah with the form of the matzah, and then he elevates the remaining matzot in their cover and says:

Behold, the matzah, the bread of affliction our fathers ate when they were slaves in the land of Egypt. Let it remind us of people everywhere who are poor, hungry, and separated from God. Let it call to our minds those men and women today who are still enslaved and without freedom. May all in need come and celebrate Passover with us. May God redeem us from all bondage and affliction. Next year at this season may the whole house of Israel be free. And may all mankind discover and enjoy the liberty, justice, and peace that we have found in the Messiah.


Home Back Next