Passover and Unleavened Bread

For 7days we celebrate Passover eating Matza in every variation possible with every recipe under the sun.

What is all this fuss about leaven bread that we should not eat it for the 7 days of Passover and anyone who eats leaven shall be ex-communicated?

Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses; for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel: (Exodus 12:15)

And again:

Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger, or born in the land: You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall you eat unleavened bread: (Exodus 12:19-20)

Is really because the Children of Israel did not have time to bake bread upon their departure from Egypt?

And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We shall all be dead men: And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders (Exodus 12:33-34)

Not only is leaven forbidden during the Passover holiday but also in Leviticus it states:

No meal offering, which you shall bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven; for you shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire: (Leviticus:2:11)

What has God against bread? Why is leaven bread not allowed to bring to the altar and during Passover?

Bread, Adam and Eve

The first time bread is mentioned in the Bible is after Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden, where it states:

In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust shall you return: (Genesis 3:19).

The Garden of Eden was the land of the spiritual where man would obtain his sustenance without effort. The moment Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (See hyperlink The mist, Adam, truth and the two trees), he and Eve were thrust out into the material world where sustenance could only be obtain through work. Bread therefore became a possession – “I worked for my bread, therefore it is mine, it is not yours”.

Bread is represented by the ‘fire’ element which is used to bake the bread. It is also related to ‘war’. Bread, lechem in Hebrew, is spelt: לחם lamed-chet-mem and has the same root letters for the word for ‘war’, melchama, spelt: מלחמה mem-(lamed-chet-mem)-heh. The relationship of ‘bread’ and ‘war’ is not due to economic reasons i.e. disputes over food, but rather because war is normally caused as a result of a desire or dispute over possession. Hence the process of material ownership is ultimately the cause of war.

So it is that argument, struggle and war between man and man, people and people, country and country, are, in most instances, due a struggle of ownership or possession of land and/or goods. The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is no better example.

Bread, Joseph, Potiphar and his wife

The idea of ownership and possession is further associated with desire and lust in the story of Joseph when he was the master of Potiphar’s house. It is written:

And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not what he had, save for the bread which he ate; (Genesis 39:6)

Then when Potiphar’s wife tried to rape Joseph, he said:

There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he (Potiphar) kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God (Genesis 39:9).

From these two verses we can see that ‘bread’ is associated with lust –or possession. The relationship between lust, adultery, possession and bread is reiterated in Proverbs 6: 23-26;

For the commandment is a lamp; and the Torah is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: To keep you from the evil woman, from the smoothness of the tongue of a strange woman: Lust not after her beauty in your heart; nor let her take you with her eyelids: For by means of a harlot a man is brought to a piece of bread; and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life:

where verse 26 not only links these four aspects (lust, adultery, possession and bread, but also verse 23 re-affirms Joseph’s perception that the act of adultery is a sin against God and reproof of instruction (of the Torah) are the way of life.

The Story of the Butler and the Baker

But, to return to our original question, why is it forbidden to eat leaven during Passover or to bring leaven to the altar?

The concept that bread is associated with the phenomenal world of duality with all its complexities of possession and desire is further emphasised in the story of the butler and the baker (Genesis 40). Where Pharaoh’s butler and baker relate their dream to Joseph whilst in prison and we are told that the butler, who serves wine to the Pharaoh, regains his post and is freed, whereas the baker who serves bread to the Pharaoh is hung from a tree and pecked by birds.

The interpretation of the dreams by Joseph not only portrays the skill of Joseph in interpreting dreams, (that come through God) that eventually brings him the Pharaoh’s court, but it also signifies God’s requirements upon man in his attitude towards the ‘fruits of the earth’.

Bread, which is the core subject of the dream of the baker, is the basis for our physical needs in this world and is derived from wheat which is the 1st of the seven fruits (See Table of the Seven Fruits) and which belongs to the Tree of Life. It is made from wheat through a long sequence of processes of harvesting, threshing, winnowing, grinding and finally baking. More especially, the leavening of bread is made through the addition of yeast which causes it to grow, and grow and grow ad infinitum without end until it is baked. The growth and expansion of leaven bread as it increases, it becomes more and more remote and different from its source. It can go on forever. So too is the process of development in this world, which can continue and grow without ceasing and without end as shown in exponential development of modern technology, computers, smart phones, and electronic gadgetry. Development per se is a positive activity however if it takes place without recognition of its source i.e. God, then it become a self-indulgent and self-perpetuating action that has forgotten God and the purpose of life on earth i.e. to seek truth. For this reason ‘truth’ in Hebrew, emet, אמת spelt aleph-mem-taf can only be found with the inclusion of God, the source, the ‘one’ the aleph. If the aleph א is taken away from ‘truth’ we obtain met, spelt מת, mem-taf which mean ‘death’. Similarly, in Hebrew the word for ‘man’ is adam spelt aleph-daled-mem אדם. If the aleph, the 1, is taken away from adam we are left with ‘dam’ spelt dalad-mem דם meaning ‘blood’. That is, man without God is only flesh and bones. (See hyperlink the mist Adam and the two trees)


The baker was therefore hanged on a tree and his head was pecked by birds was because he represented the unabated development that was detached from God and from truth leading to his own self-destruction. Bascially truth, emet, אמת, without the alephא leads to the road to death מת met.

Bread is an inseparable part of our needs in this world and receives a place alongside wine on the Sabbath table. However it remains covered until after the blessing of the wine, for the reason that development, activity and creation should cease on the Sabbath day. So bread, essential to our existence, receives second place: for bread is represented by the fire element, and wine is represented by the water element {1}.

In the case of the butler, he served wine to the Pharaoh squeezed from grapes fresh from the vine. Wine is the 3rd of the seven fruits and is related to the 7th, the date (or honey). Wine, yiin, spelt: יין yod-yod-nun has a value of: 10-10-50 = 70. Seventy represents the seventh day, the Sabbath, and is therefore the agent of blessing on the seventh day. For wine, when drunk with God in our thoughts, takes us to a higher plane in preparation for the next world. The blessing takes place in the house or home, which is beit in Hebrew and the symbol of the second letter of the alphabet, beth, with a value of 2 representing duality. The home is where the table is set just as an altar to God (See hyperlink Table of numerical values). So inside the home on the Sabbath is where the ‘2’ is brought to ‘1’, where duality is brought to unity.

Notably yiin יין is spelt with 2 yods, representing God on the plane of the second decane, and it ends with the letter nun with a value of 50, the number of re-birth and renewal.

Wine is derived from the vineyard, kerem spelt: כרם caph-resh-mem and has a value of: 20-200-40=260. This too is a decane above 26, the value of the tetragrammation YHVH and the component value of the letter aleph, from which all was created. (See hyperlink Aleph, head of a bull, name of God, ying and Yang)

So the reason the baker was hung was because the leaven bread he baked was associated with the phenomenal world and its process of development without the inclusion of God. The butler was restored to his post because wine uplifts man into the spiritual world and the service of God.

Unleavened Bread

Similarly unleaven is bread in its original form and is associated with the spiritual world of oneness, unity and God. The commandment to eat unleavened bread for 7 days during Passover is in preparation for the Children of Israel’s departure from the material world of Egypt and entry into the World of Unity, the land of Canaan. Hence:

Canaan, spelt: caf–nun-ayin-nun כנען = 20-50-70-50 = 190

Egypt =Mitzraim (Hb), spelt: mem-tzadik-resh-yod-mem מצרים = 40-90-200-10-40 = 380

So the ratio of Canaan: Egypt is 1:2 where Canaan is the world of ‘unity’ and Egypt is the world of duality. Moreover, Mitzraim (Egypt) ends in the letter ‘im’ meaning plurality in Hebrew, and hence implies a land of the world of multiplicity.

{1} In accord with the ancient Chinese book, the I Ching, Hexagram 63 , if water is over fire and if the fire is too strong the water will boil and will evaporate so there will be no more water, or the water will boil over the pot and put out the fire. Hence, fire and water, bread and wine, this world and the next world must co-exist in harmony and in the correct level of energy. If the phenomenal world is too strong it will lose focus and cause the spiritual world to evaporate, moreover the fire of the phenomenal world will also destroy itself. On Sabbath our focus is on the spiritual world.

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