Matzah is the core Passover icon. Indeed, “the Festival of Matzah” is the Jewish name for this holiday.
But what exactly is it about matzah that captures the Passover theme? Why do we eat matzah? Is it just tradition and ritual, commemorating the bread eaten by our ancestors rushing out of Egypt, or does matzah have some actual, tangible benefits?
The mystery of matzah is captured in a powerful, yet mostly unknown statement by the 18th century Chassidic Master, the Alter Rebbe, in which he cites the Zohar: “The matzah of the first evening of Pesach is called the Food of Faith; the matzah of the second evening is called the Food of Healing.”
What is the connection between faith and healing?
And do we Jews really believe in faith healing?
The fascinating response of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to the fatal diagnosis of a doctor, a letter he wrote to the esteemed Torah giant, Rabbi Shlomo Yozef Zevin (author of the classic Talmudic Encyclopedia) when he fell ill, and a unique talk he delivered on the subject, all help us uncover the deeper meaning of healing, as well as the deeper meaning of faith.
This sermon defines the key difference between remedial medicine, which only treats symptoms, and preventive medicine, which addresses the root of the problem. And the role that faith (and matzah) plays in both.