In the earlier stages of Magid, we claim that Matza is the bread of affliction that we ate in Egypt. We are eating Matza to set the mood, to see ourselves as those who had been slaves. While telling the story of our enslavement, we eat bitter foods, we recall tears and mortar and we eat slave bread.
And that answer fits until you get up to the part of the Hagada deemed most crucial: the how, the why and the what. We recall in one breath the miracle of the angel of death instilling fear in the homes of the Egyptians while passing the homes of the Jews because the Egyptians had made the lives of the Jews bitter through enslavement and thus God hurried the Jews out and the bread they were baking did not have time to rise and became Matza!
And so, in the course of Magid, the Matza transitioned from slave bread to exodus bread. Matza now recalls the very moments of emancipation.
The Bible does not seem to view Matza as bread we ate in Egypt. Both in Exodus (12:39) and Deuteronomy (16:3) we are told that Matza is a commemoration of the bread we made in haste while leaving Egypt.
One may be tempted to ask the age old question: so what? Others may ask the less ubiquitous, but more relevant question: how does any of this put limits on the freedom we celebrate on Pesach?
The Bible does inform us that Matza was the bread we ate as slaves, but it does so subtly. When God gives Moses the instruction to be relayed to the Jewish people, He mentions the eating of Matza. When Moses relays the instruction, no mention is made of Matza. If one looks carefully at the word used by God it is “Al Matzot Umrorim Yochluhu.” The italicized word means “they will eat it.” It was not a command to eat Matza that first Seder night. It was a statement of fact. Moses did not need to relay this information because Matza was the staple of their diet. Eating it went without saying.
Seemingly, however, when the Jews had planned to make regular bread for the first time in hundreds of years, their plans were foiled (or crushed, or flattened, or God burst their bubble). They were left again with Matza, but a new Matza. The old Matza was a bread rushed due to their state as slaves; the new Matza was rushed to hasten freedom.
Neither Matza was chosen. The second Matza, however, was predicted, predestined and predetermined by God. Freedom wasn’t chosen. We were chosen to be free, but we didn’t have a choice.
The story of Pesach is one of freedom, but every step along the way we cite how it was destiny and not of our will. The thrust of the Dayenu prayer is that whatever God does is what “needs” to be done, we have no control over it, but we should understand that it is sufficient (and that sufficient is another word for optimal).
If we don’t choose freedom, is it free? Or is it just another word for nothing left to lose?