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From: Chaim Goldman
To: heb_roots_chr@hebroots.org
Subject: Keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread

KEEPING THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD

While YHVH's Passover seems to get all the attention this time of year, let us not forget that the dominant part of this springtime celebration is not Passover at all, but the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Getting the Leaven Out

Shemoth 12:15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed, on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses:

Shemoth 12:19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses:

Shemoth 13:7 Unleavened bread is to be eaten the seven days; and whatever is leaven is not to be seen with you, and leaven is not to be seen with you within all your border.

By these verses (and others) we see YHVH requires that we remove leaven ("se'or") from our homes, and even all the way out to our borders, prior to Passover, and not bring any back in until the seven days of Unleavened Bread are completed, during this period we are not to eat that which is leavened ("hametz"). What does this mean to you, a Torah Observant Messianic Israelite? It means that in preparation for Passover we are to search our all our dwelling places, even to our borders, to "get the leaven out". Traditionally, the evening before Passover, Jewish families make a game out of the search with their children, looking everywhere in the house, using a candle for bringing light into usually dark places, even sweeping crumbs out of pantry corners with a feather.

So, what is "leaven"? Biblically, it seems to be specifically "yeast", that which ferments or sours something else. And as we are commanded to specifically eat "Unleavened Bread" during this time, "leaven" would seem to speak to that which leavens bread/bread products -- again, yeast. Traditionally, not only bread and other products made with yeast are considered leaven, but any grain item that rises or expands, or might expand, when mixed with water. Therefore, any grain (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) that comes into contact with water for more than 18 minutes, is considered "hametz". There is even special matzoh that is "kosher for Passover" because it is guarded all the way from harvesting to packaging to make sure it does not get wet prematurely, and is placed in the oven within 18 minutes of the dough being mixed -- just in case any wild free-floating yeast spores found their way into the flour. Ashkenazi Jews even consider rice, corn, peanuts, and any other vegetables in the pea family as hametz, as theses items are often ground into flour and made into bread. Pasta, although not made with yeast, is also traditionally considered hametz. During the days of Unleavened Bread, matzoh meal is used in all recipes normally requiring flour or bread products -- this is already cooked matzoh, in a broken-up or powdered form. Again, the Biblical commandment seems to be only specifically against yeast (or it could be argued "baking powder", or any other outside agent that is introduced to food to make it rise), but you can decide if it means more.

Obviously, YHVH is trying to teach us a very valuable spiritual lesson in this commandment, as each year we search out to remove every spec of leavening from our household. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 lets us know that "a little leaven (sin) leavens the whole lump", and therefore we should keep the Passover (please note, Rav Shaul tells us to "keep the Feast") "not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." By commanding us to search out the leaven, YHVH wants to teach us about searching out and purging sin from our lives. Is not sin an outside agent that is introduced in order to ferment/sour that which is pure?! In earlier generations, they did not have anywhere as many food products as we have today, neither did they have sin coming into their lives in so many different "shiny packages". Search though your cabinets and refrigerator, look at all the labels, and get the hametz out (it's in products you wouldn't even think about!). But if you stop there, you miss the whole point. When you are finished keeping this commandment in the physical, move it up to the spiritual. Search your heart, check it completely, in order to find and remove all the sin from your life. When you do so, and you recognize all that sin that "snuck in" (or, let's face it, was brought in!) since the last cleaning, repent (turn from) of it and ask for forgiveness from YHVH in the name of Y'shua our Messiah. THEN, you will be considered clean to keep the Passover, the Seder meal, and to have a right relationship with YHVH through the "Lamb of Elohim Who takes away the sins of the world." And though we are permitted to again eat leavened bread after seven days, we again have the option to bring hametz back into our houses and within our borders -- it doesn't mean we have to -- because certainly, on a spiritual level, YHVH would hope that the purging of sin in our lives is not a temporary process.

Feast of Unleavened Bread

The day after the Passover meal begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first day (15th of Aviv) and the seventh day (21st of Aviv) are YHVH-commanded Shabbats, when no work is to be done. The in-between days are not a Sabbath, and work is done, but we continue to keep hametz out of our homes and mouth. Beginning with the evening of the 14th day of the first month and continuing until the evening of the 21st day, we are to remember the Exodus of our people from Egypt by the mighty hand of YHVH by eating only unleavened food, no hametz. (Shemoth 12:18)

If we don't, Scripture warns that "that soul shall be cut off from Israel" (Shemoth 12:15) and "even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land." (Shemoth 12:19)

Truly our redemption is through Messiah who is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), but like with all the other moedim (set-apart times, appointments) and through the Torah, YHVH gives us instructions to carry out certain actions regularly, so that we would be continually reminded, on a yearly basis (or even WEEKLY by the Shabbat), how wonderful He is to deliver us. Every Passover, by physically following YHVH's specific commandments regarding leaven, He teaches us the spiritual lesson of searching out and purging sin from our lives. Because getting ourselves free from the bondage of sin is the true meaning of "Deliverance".

Passover vs. Unleavened Bread

So, now that we have done something that most of the world doesn't -- that is, separate Passover and Unleavened Bread into separate commanded set-apart times of YHVH -- now that we won't anymore call this time of year "the eight days of Passover", we can look deeper at what YHVH is trying to teach us.

Of course Passover signifies our deliverance. YHVH commands us to keep the Passover to remember and teach our children that we were once slaves, and now we are free. As Messianics, we know that Y'shua is our Passover, and it was by His sacrificial atonement that death passes us by. But what about Unleavened Bread?

Consider this: Passover is just an event, from killing the lamb to eating it, but Unleavened Bread is an entire seven-day period. Torah has no exclamation points, bold type or italics. When YHVH wants to make a strong point, He uses repetition. While worldly/Greek thinking would consider yearly holydays like Passover or Yom Kippur more hallowed (because of their rareness) than the weekly Shabbat, the Hebraic mind sees that when YHVH has us do something every week it is more important (52 times more important one could say), than something we are to only do annually. Similarly, according to Isaiah 6:3, the Seraphim cry, "Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh" ("Holy, holy, holy"), repeating three times as the ultimate emphasis of how set-apart YHVH truly is!

Look up Scripture passages that discuss YHVH's instructions regarding Unleavened Bread and see how many times He tells us to get and keep the leaven out. It seems a clear and simple instruction, one that is easily understood on first reading, and yet YHVH delivers it again and again. Shemoth 12:8, 15, 17-18, 20, 39; 13:6-7; 23:15; 34:18; Vayyiqra 23:6; Bamidbar 28:17; Devarim 16:3, 8, 16. How many times does YHVH need to tell us that there is to be a season called the "Feast of Unleavened Bread", and explain that we are not to eat (guess what?) any leavened bread during that feast which, by the way, just in case you weren't paying attention, is called the "Feast of Unleavened Bread". Think this is important to YHVH? Seems like it. Why?

Yeast

Very interesting fact about yeast -- you need yeast to make yeast. In order to have yeast to make bread dough, you must retain a lump of raw dough with yeast in it. When you make up some new dough, you take a piece of the dough with the yeast in it, and add it to the new. As we know, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump". You don't need to add much to your new dough to get it to leaven, but you do need some. Without retaining this lump of dough to culture your leaven in, you have no leaven to leaven any new dough.

You probably see where I'm going with this. When you clear all the leaven out from your homes and borders, as YHVH commands we do, how can you ever make leavened bread again? It's impossible, unless you go so some other source, someone who has retained leaven in his or her lump, and get some from them. Remember, YHVH requires us to get rid of our leaven, and keep it out for seven days -- but when the seven days are over, and we are (it seems -- or is this just an assumption?) permitted to once again bring the leaven back in -- we are not commanded to do so.

Think about it. If Israel really had to clear out all the leaven and keep it out for seven days, that means they were required to leave Egypt without ANY leaven. If this was practiced by everyone, where did they get the leaven out there in the desert after the seven days were up?! If Israel truly kept YHVH's command, then they would have been free from leaven throughout their desert journey. And since they were to take no spoils from any of the nations they conquered when taking the Land, they would have not been able to acquire leaven from them also. Israel would have been a "leaven-free people".

But, let's face it, YHVH knew better. He knows we would seek out leaven and bring it back into our homes -- that's why He has a perpetual commandment so that we have to clean it back out every year! Baruch haShem YHVH!

(Note: The only verses I can find which counter this theory of a possible "leaven-free Israel" are Vayyiqra 7:13 and 23:17-18, where leavened bread is used, respectively, as a Peace Offering and for Shavout as part of an early harvest First Fruits offering. According to Vayyiqra 23:18, these loaves are to be burnt in fire with the meat and drink offerings. Shemoth 23:18 and Vayyiqra 2:11-12 make it clear, though, that we are commanded to never burn on the Alter any grain offerings to YHVH that includes leaven. Leavened bread is used in these two occasions (every other place the bread is either unleavened or unspecified), but leaven is not allowed on the Holy Alter, presumably because it would defile it -- allowing the impure to come in contact with the pure. Amos 4:5 hits it home when the prophet states, while speaking of Israel's sinful lifestyle, that they "offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven".)

Well, back to our interpretation: Leaven is one thing, but certainly its spiritual equivalent of sin is something YHVH wants us to remove from our lives permanently. Most of us have understood for a long time that Israel was to have left its sin behind in Egypt, to escape the bondage of that worldly pagan culture, and venture into the wilderness to worship YHVH and eventually establish their own free nation with Torah as their constitution. But I hope, though this writing and the confirmation of the Ruach, that you can see a deeper and more complete picture of how sin comes in and infects our lives.

When we completely remove ourselves from sinful thoughts and actions, the only way to get them to return in our lives is to come back into contact with people or places where the sin is active. Just as yeast only comes from other yeast, so does sin come from other sin. And as with the yeast, it doesn't take much to leaven your whole, previously pure, lump -- but it does take some. We must put ourselves back into unholy places or situations, or have conversations with the wrong people, to get that sin back active and growing in our lives. How often have you been able to keep your thought life clean until you came into contact with a gossipy or contentious person. Or maybe you have a vice beaten until you see one of those magazines behind the convenience store counter, or drive by a Budweiser billboard, or happen to be at a gathering where some people are "partaking". Everything was going fine, but you happened to put yourself in a place (either accidentally or, more often, purposely) where there was "leaven" -- and now it's in your lump! Maybe you thought a little leaven couldn't/wouldn't/shouldn't leaven YOUR lump. But that just means you have forsaken the Word of YHVH, because "Do you not know, a little leaven leavens the whole lump?! (1Corinthians 5:6).

Seven Days

So why seven days of Unleavened Bread? Well, consider this interpretation:

Passover is an event, an evening. The lamb dies, the blood is applied to our doorposts, we partake of this sacrifice, and we are spared from the plague of death. And so it is with our deliverance through Y'shua, the Lamb of Elohim. Our Justification ("just as if we never sinned"), the first stage of our walk with Y'shua, is a one-time event. We recognize that His sacrificial blood was shed for us as our only way to escape death, we "apply" it to our "doorposts", and we are saved. But then what?

Well, then we have to live our lives in Him until the time when our days within these mortal bodies is finished. The third step in our relationship with Messiah is Glorification, but that doesn't happen until the Resurrection when we receive immortal souls and rule in YHVH's kingdom. So what occurs in between?

This is the entire span of our life as a Believer and Follower of Y'shua, it is the period of Sanctification. It is during this time that through the instruction of Torah (Bereshith through Revelation)
and by the power of the inner-workings of the Ruach haKodesh (set-apart spirit) that we become more and more set-apart unto YHVH, more and more like Y'shua. And so we see this picture of our relationship with Y'shua in the seven-day feast of Unleavened Bread.

According to Shemoth 12:18, we are to begin eating only unleavened bread from the very moment we sit down to partake of the Passover. This speaks of YHVH's expectation that, from the very moment we accept Y'shua, he expects us to no longer partake of "leaven". Traditionally, leaven is removed 24 hours or more prior to eating the Passover, and this is certainly prudent, but is not the Biblical model. YHVH requires us to have the leaven out by the time we sit down to eat the Passover, not before. Considering the fact that, due to the cooking time required to roast the lamb, the paschal sacrifice is killed and its blood is applied to the doorpost at least a couple hours before we are required to have the leaven out; certainly, in a slave's simple household, all the leaven could be cleaned out while the lamb is roasting. What's the point? It is this: YHVH does not expect us to lead a completely sinless life before the lamb is slain and its blood is applied to our doorposts, but he does so immediately thereafter! Without Y'shua, YHVH knows that we don't have the means or the power to get all the leaven out, but once the Lamb of Elohim and the Ruach haKodesh are allowed into our lives to do the job, YHVH expects our life to be radically transformed -- we are now to live as a pure lump!

So why seven days? Not only that, but why are the first and seventh, and only the first and seventh, Shabbats?

Consider this: Seven speaks of a full cycle. Seven days of creation. The seven-day week. The "week of years" whereby land is allowed to rest every seventh year. The seven thousand years
ordained for our world, completed by the millennial reign of Mashiach. Seven speaks of completion and perfection. And so also does seven speak of the completed period of time of our redeemed lives.

From our point of salvation/justification to our completion/perfection/glorification can be seen as a "week" -- a "week of redemption". During the entire period we are expected to live an unleavened life -- a existence free from the bondage and corruption of sin.

On the first "day" after our salvation is a Shabbat, and isn't the "honeymoon" period of our early salvation just that? After years of bondage to sin and this world, we are finally free. Sure it's an
uncharted wilderness, but to be resting in YHVH is so refreshing, you don't have a care. And, after all, the first day of having to eat only matzoh isn't that bad -- in fact, you wonder why you don't eat it more during the rest of the year.

But then you enter that interim period. Oh, you are still required to continue the sanctification process and keep the leaven out, but it is no longer a Shabbat. For five long days you must labor -- but it is still the time of Unleavened Bread -- and let's face it, eating only matzoh as your bread can get old right quick! It's not too long into day two or three that the term used in Devarim
16:3, "bread of affliction", takes on a very personal meaning. It is easy to now forget how bad Egypt was. Your wilderness is beginning to look pretty bleak, and you want to go back to the leeks and garlic and...... "hey, just a question, but did any of you people happen to bring some yeast with you when we left Ramses? Cause I figure if we mix yeast in with some of this Manna....yeah, see this flat bread is getting tiresome, but a bagel or a nice hallah-bread.....No, no one brought any leaven, huh? Yeah, I remember Moshe told us not to...but I just figured..... Well, we got plenty of money though....hopefully some Bedouin traders might happen to pass by.....let me know if you see any. OK?"

And so it goes. We forget where we came from, and we forget where we are going....and somewhere in the middle of our "week" we seek out leaven....just a little....and it leavens our whole lump. And that eleven-day journey from Sukkoth to the Jordan River takes 40 years --if we're lucky, that is, for many will die in the wilderness due to lack of belief!

But if we can hold on through the "week", through just a few more "days", to the end of the sanctification process, another Shabbat awaits -- the seventh day of the feast, the return of Y'shua and the millennial reign -- the time of our Glorification!

YHVH never promised us that walking with Y'shua would be easy -- in fact, we are guaranteed just the opposite. But what He does promise is that we will go though this "week" as free men and women -- and when we get to the seventh day, we will understand that it was all worth it. Not only can life be lived without leaven when you have the blood of Y'shua and the power of the Ruach -- but a leaven-less life is pure and healthy and pleasing to the Father -- which causes you to be blessed beyond all other peoples (Devarim 28) and enables you to truly present yourself to the Father as a spotless-bride for His Son -- which will be the ultimate pleasure.

But alas, we are humans, and the flesh dies hard. Although YHVH requires us to get rid of the leaven, he shows us grace by requiring us to "try again" Pesach after Pesach, year after year, lovingly and patiently guiding us though the sanctification process once again --that we would permanently leave behind more sin than we did last year. This year He wants us to find our ultimate satisfaction in Him, and not desire to leave camp looking for someone with a little leaven to spare.

And as this process is a perpetual one, from the time of our "Passover Justification" until our "Seventh-Day Glorification" (when we die or Mashiach comes back), as we labor through these "Interim Days of Sanctification", let us keep our minds remembering that YHVH has delivered us from bondage, press forward to the mark of our high calling (Philippians 3:1), and expectantly pray a slight modification of the prayer our people have cried out joyfully in this season for thousands of years: "Next Year In The New Jerusalem!"

Chag Samayach! (Have a joyful celebration!)

Respectfully submitted for your edification,

Chaim Goldman

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