In Exodus 12, we read about putting the blood of the sacrifice upon the doorposts and lintel of the door. G-d said in verse 14, And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the L-rd throughout your generations: ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. Verse 15, Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
Verse 39 states that they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. So, we remember that they were in a rush and I will talk more about that when we learn about matza.
It goes on to say that on the first day of Unleavened Bread there shall be a holy convocation and also on the seventh day and that on those days no manner of work should be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. In Judaism, we call this a “high” day or a “Yom Tov.” This is not quite as strict as a Shabbat, but still quite strict in what is permissible. Remember that there is Passover, which is the Preparation Day (and not a Yom Tov) and then the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first thing done during the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the seder.
Even today, we do not have leaven in our food nor even in our homes during this holiday. Leaven is equated with sin. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this removal of leaven (chametz) from our possession is an outward reminder of our need to clean out our inward sins. Ridding our homes of chametz is an intensive process. It involves a full-out spring-cleaning search-and-destroy mission during the weeks before Passover, and culminates with a ceremonial search for chametz on the night before Passover, and then a burning of the chametz ceremony on the morning before the holiday.
Passover begins in 20 days. Now is the time when I take stock of all the food items in our home which contain chametz. I then plan menus around those items so that I am sure to use them up and not have to throw any away. This includes pastas, breads, frozen schnitzels, flour, etc. We will be eating a lot of homemade biscuits, breads, and pizza over the next couple of weeks!
Perhaps you are going to try to go without chametz during Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread. Why not go through your kitchen and see which items you can use up in the next couple of weeks. Soon I will be sharing some of my favorite menus for the holiday.