Matzah and Relationships
There are several essential steps to create a great relationship that are similar to matzah:
- Invest a lot of effort and attention
A lot of energy must be put into kneading the dough and rolling it out to prepare it for the oven. A tremendous amount of attention must be paid to the details: making sure the matzah is prepared and baked within a short time frame of 18 minutes, placing holes in the matzah to ensure it does not rise and puff up like regular bread, and being mindful that it does not come into contact with any old pieces of dough.
Likewise, in order for you to enjoy a nurturing and meaningful relationship, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and invest in different ways. You create great relationships by:
- sharing quality time together
- focusing your attention on your partner
- investing emotional energy
- giving thoughtful gifts that your partner would appreciate
- progressively sharing deeper layers of yourself with your partner – even in ways that might make you vulnerable.
- Give selflessly
Our rabbis teach us that yeast is compared to a person’s self-centeredness. Just as yeast makes dough inflate and bread rise, self-centeredness makes a person think s/he is more important than others. Matzah is just the opposite. It represents the epitome of selflessness; it is flat and unassuming.
You can create a strong and lasting relationship by focusing on your partner’s needs and giving selflessly and unconditionally to your partner. Give genuinely to your partner without expecting anything in return. Avoid keeping score of how much you did and how much your partner did. Even if your partner does not always reciprocate, keep giving. Over time your modeling will likely influence your partner to give more to you, too.
- Expect there to be bumps along the way
Part of what gives matzah its unique character and texture are the little bumps and craters along the surface. Whether you eat traditional hand-baked round matzah or machine-made square matzahs, every matzah has these uneven features.
Likewise, your relationship has its ups and downs. Sometimes it might seem that you are too different from one another. Other times, you might feel that it’s a bad sign that you are having an argument. Ironically, if you think that having a conflict signifies that your relationship is bad, then that will likely become the truth: conflicts will undermine your relationship. A healthier approach is for you to expect arguments to happen.
Your relationship involves two people. Each one of you brings a unique set of needs and perspectives based on your inherent personality, upbringing, education, social influences, and life experiences. Thus, it is natural and understandable that you will have disagreements. Communicating and listening effectively to each other will help you understand each other’s needs better and help you get through the conflict. So while conflicts and disagreements can feel unsettling and frustrating at times, allow yourself to remain calm and try to communicate your needs to each other. In this way, your relationship can emerge even stronger after a conflict.
- Be there for each other
While made of only two simple ingredients, flour and water, matzah miraculously lasts almost indefinitely. Typical breads made with yeast tend to get stale or moldy within a few days, but matzah stays fresh for months. If kept under the proper conditions, matzah can last for years.
Over time, two people can create a beautiful and healthy relationship that withstands the vicissitudes of life. In a relationship of mutual giving and trust, partners can rely on one another for empathy and support when they are feeling down or experiencing life’s challenges. On the flip side, they can share life’s joys and blessings, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments and successes as their own.
The holiday of Passover will eventually end, but the taste of matzah, and the meditations on relationships it can invoke, can last forever.
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