Three Secrets

The Secret of the Pesach

Rabban Gamaliel used to say,
whoever does not discuss these three things on Passover
has not fulfilled the obligation, and these are:
Pesach, Matzah, Maror.
We begin with the Pesach, the offering itself.

The Pesach, the paschal lamb,
what my ancestors ate when the Temple stood
— what does it mean?

Because the Holy One passed over (pasach)
my ancestors’ houses in the land of Egypt
this I tell my children.

Because God leaped or jumped over our houses
so should we leap or jump, in everything we do
this from Rashi.

You need a leap a jump every now and again,
a breakthrough, a reminder
what we are all about, said the musical Shlomo.

Because God jumped in (pasach)
jumped out of our story.
In Egypt we were feeling far away from the Holy One,

but Moses whispered to us
the secret of the Pesach and we came to understand
near and far

leaping in leaping out, it’s all the same
so we sacrificed our lowliness
we offered up our distance

with the Paschal lamb,
the fragrance rose up high and God,
as it were, descended into the pit of Egypt.

Near and far, jumping in jumping out,
we came to understand the secret
of the lamb,

that’s when we became free
when Moses whispered the secret.


Now we turn to the matzah,
what we call the bread of poverty
we also call it by the Zohar
the bread of faith.

two concepts
one honors memory
the other commitment.

The bread of faith
redemption through transformation.
What is matzah but chometz
in arrested development,
bread without ego.
What is chometz but the inner puffiness
that separates us from God
and all we love the most.

Matzah chometz
bread of poverty leavening
the same substance;
somewhere along the continuum of rising
the matzah becomes bread
the bread remains matzah if the
rising is interrupted —
a symbol of transformation
without a change of substance.

Matzah chometz practically anagrams
the difference in the opening of the hay
it opens up into transformation redemption
the chet opens downward —
the difference in the smallest of exits.
So easy to abandon yourself to gravity
to spiral downward
when the redemption
is the squeeze through the open hay


Maror, the bitter herb,
because Pharaoh embittered
our lives in Mitzrayim [Egypt].

What is the challenge of Pharaoh?
Why haven’t we left him behind?

is not every ceremony
a celebration of cosmic union?
Set against this is Par’oh, to rend, to split,
the separator, the dis-integrator.

Every time we meet: union,
integration, wholeness.
We separate from the Other Side
that’s why
we had to leave Pharaoh
to become one with ourselves.

The bitter herb is memory,
set against the memory of Pharaoh
who separates us from God
and all we love the most
is matzah, redemption, the bread of faith.
Matzah redemption
maror memory,
no reclining with maror.

Hillel used to combine
the matzah with the maror.
The bitterness of memory cut
with the redemption of matzah
don’t we know this about life?

The hurt and the redemption bound up,
G*d gave us the remedy before the malady,
we eat maror and matzah as did Hillel
reclining becoming free.

jsg, usa