What I remember about school lunches during Passover in Baltimore is waxed paper and lots of crumbs. Our sandwiches were made with matzoh instead of bread. We ate matzoh sandwiches of peanut butter and jelly, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, salami, roast beef, turkey and anything else with which a sandwich could be made.
There was no way to eat these sandwiches without crumbling them to pieces with every bite. There was no strategy around it. It was the nature of the beast – two pieces of brittle matzoh with anything in between. Every bite brought down a fresh cascade of crumbs, and the trick was to eat our sandwiches hovering just so over the unfolded waxed paper they had been wrapped up in so as to maneuver the falling crumbs into a quickly mounting pile on the paper below.
Jewish communities all over the world like the one I grew up in still observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They are still the keepers of the oracles of YHVH, and they wait and pray for the restoration of all things. Yet, among the many things from the ancient paths that were lost to them in the Diaspora, one of the things they haven't observed for centuries is the original Creator's calendar.
Six years ago, in 6005 according to the Astronomically and Agriculturally Corrected Biblical Hebrew Calendar, at the time of the new moon, the whole Messianic world was taken by surprise when the barley in the land of Israel was most unexpectantly found to be "aviv". The mathematically calculated Rabbinic Calendar, created by Rabbi Hillel and used since the fourth century, had projected an Adar Bet (an extra month) for that year, while the sighting of the "aviv" barley according to the corrected calendar signaled an immediate beginning of the new year without an Adar Bet. The two calendars are often different by one or two days, but for the first time since the calendar was corrected and the testing of the barley was restored in the land of Israel, the two calendars were a month apart. This precedent sent shock waves of heated debate across cyberspace in the Messianic world which reverberated for months to come.
It was an exciting moment in time, because this one month difference had catapulted the subject of the corrected calendar – theretofore regarded only politely and without conviction by the Messianic community – smack into the center of passionate discourse. It was thrilling to witness the first jarring collision of the pharisaical time clock that altered times and seasons with the restored time clock of the ancient paths.
Controversy raged between several Messianic camps of opinion. Some argued that we should keep the rabbinic calendar in the interest of maintaining unity with Judah, our unbelieving brothers, and that to do otherwise was divisive. Some argued in accordance with the pharisaic position, that we should keep the rabbinic calendar until such time as an official Sanhedrin was reconvened which could again validate the sighting of the "aviv" barley as it did centuries ago. Yet others argued that, having rediscovered the keys to understanding the ancient calendar of the Creator, we should most certainly observe it.
Not surprisingly, Michael and I were of the latter opinion. It was the least popular of the three opinions, and very few of our friends in Israel were willing to celebrate the Feast of Passover or any of the ensuing Feasts with us that year.
As we began to prepare for Passover, we discovered another calendar-related dilemma we needed to resolve. In the Jewish communities of America, matzoh is available in the stores all year long as well as on Passover. In Israel, however, matzoh is only found at the time of Passover and would not appear in the stores that year for another couple of weeks. We may well have been the only people in Israel celebrating Passover on the corrected calendar who were facing this dilemma.
What to do? – There was no choice but to make my own matzoh. I had never done that before. I found a bread recipe on the back of a bag of whole wheat flour, and I adapted it exactly as it was, but without the leaven. It was fantastic!
We loved it so much, that we never used store bought matzoh again. From that time on, I developed a tradition of coming together in my kitchen before Passover with a group of people to make huge quantities of matzoh for our Passover seders. What a mess we make, but it can't be helped in the face of flying flour.
Over the years, I've made a number of different matzoh recipes. There are many variations of ingredients and ways of preparation. Recipes are easy to find on the Internet. But each time I make matzoh, I am reminded of the reason I was forced to first try it in the year of the calendar controversy.
Every year, I watch with eager anticipation for the sighting of the barley, waiting for the next time the two calendars will again be a month apart – waiting for the next historic opportunity that will compel us to wrestle again squarely with the prospect of the restoration of all things.
There is still time to make it to our Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread Extravaganza. It is less than a three day drive from any place in the continental United States, and we will be making and baking matzoh for the entire seven day feast just as we did when we came out of Egypt nearly 3500 years ago.
Join us in the tent of Abraham for the Passover experience of a lifetime.
Michael and his team of carpenters and masons have been building the Bedouin sajes upon which we will all be baking our matzoh in the next few days – so we hope to see you before the smoke of the matzoh clears…
(filling in for the guy who can't write this himself because he is putting in eighteen hour days preparing for your arrival)