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  • Melissa

Broken Matzah



It is Pesach noontime, and I am, once again, sweeping crumbled matzah, trying to gather the pieces to bring some semblance of orderliness to this wine-splattered floor.

I slowly move the broom, dragging the weight in my chest with me, eyeing the mess that is my home, thinking about the mess that is my life, and doubting that I can summon the energy to deal with any of it.


I am so done. I just want to go to bed. Indeed, I will head to bed just as soon as the meal preps are over.


How apt, I think, gathering all the pieces of matzah. Here I was, doing so much, planning so carefully, in an attempt to be whole this Pesach, being gentle with myself, being organized and compassionate, doing what I could to keep the fragility intact.

But just like the box of "whole matzahs" that we opened on Seder night, only to see that they’d all cracked, I can’t stay intact either. Touch me, handle me roughly, shove me, drop me, and I’m in pieces. I can’t hold up against life. I am in shards, smithereens I can’t pick up and definitely can’t put together again.


And so on this Pesach day, I don’t see a future. Like the crumbled matzah, I’m shattered and scattered, and so done.

And it’s Pesach. The time of redemption. The time of song and praise and a recounting of miracles.


I open the shades just a bit.

I see a family pass through the window. Dressed in their holiday finest, machzorim tucked under their arms, probably heading to shul to say Hallel.

All over, Jews are singing, thanking, enjoying the glorious day, the glorious holiday. Yesterday, I, too, went to shul for Hallel. I got dressed, prettied up my kids. For these few minutes, I sat at the back of shul, proud of my attempt to get out of my home. Maybe I was sadder than happier, but I did it.


But today, I can’t get out of my house clothes. I am just here, trying to put one foot in front of the other to barely survive. Trying to pick up the jagged pieces of crumbled matzah so I can get to the end of the day.


What kind of Jew am I, crying on Pesach? What kind of Jew am I, not being able to summon one ounce of gratitude for the gifts I have?

I don’t feel like saying Hallel today.


On top of all this sadness, I feel so wrong too.


But then I remember. The Jews, in the straits of Egypt, were not at their glorious best when G-d took them out. They were at the very nadir — the 49th level of impurity.


And G-d didn’t send a messenger so He doesn’t, so to speak, dirty Himself with the filth that his People were sullied with. He, Himself, in His Glory and Honor — no angel, no messenger — reached out to bring us out of the depths.


G-d is with me, I think through my tears. Surely, He is not shunning me or my sadness. He’s not angry that I am in a funk while the rest of the world sings. He is with us right here in these dark and dreary places.


He sees me.


And suddenly, as sad and broken and crumbled and unable to thank that I am, I know G-d is with me. Here in my depths.

And that knowledge allows me to go on as I gather the matzah crumbs, put up the food to warm, and then head to bed for as long as the kids will let with the knowledge that I’m never too low for G-d to be in my dark little corner.

Even while the world out there sings Hallel.



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