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Yachatz - Breaking the Matzah

Yachatz -

Breaking the Matzah

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Broken Matzah

Yachatz ("divide") is the fourth step of the Passover seder. Three matzot that have been placed in a white bag (called a matzah tosh) are taken out and shown to all.  The leader then says,

"This is the lechem oni - the bread of affliction - which our forefathers ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry--let them come and eat. All who are needy--let them come and celebrate the Passover with us...."

The Seder leader takes the middle piece, calls out "Yachatz," and breaks it in half. He then takes the larger piece (called the afikomen) and carefully wraps it in an linen cover. The leader will then tell the children present to close their eyes and then hide the afikomen somewhere in the room.

As the Seder progresses, parents often encourage the children to search for the "lost afikomen." Since the Seder cannot end without it, once it is found (engineered to occur at the end of the Seder), the child receives a reward, and a small piece is given to each participant. The wine cups are then refilled and grace after the meal may be recited to close the meal. Perhaps the ulterior purpose of the Afikomen game is to keep children alert and attentive throughout the ceremony.

Why Three Matzot?  Why Afikomen?

There is some speculation as to why there are three matzot at the seder. Some of the sages have suggested that they represent Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But why then is the middle matzah (representing Isaac) broken in half? Does this suggest the Akedah (the binding of Isaac) by Abraham?  If so, this is a clear allusion to the sacrifice of Jesus, since the first occurrence of the word love in the Scriptures (ahavah) (Gen 22:2) refers to a father's love for his "only" son who was offered as a sacrifice on Moriah (the very place of the crucifixion of Jesus), a clear reference to the gospel message (John 3:16).

Akedat Yitzchak

Consider how the Akedah provides a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus as the "Lamb of God" (Seh haElohim) who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Both Isaac and Jesus were born miraculously; both were "only begotten sons"; both were to be sacrificed by their fathers at Mount Moriah; both were to be resurrected on the third day (Genesis 22:5, Hebrews 11:17-19); both willingly took up the means of his execution; and both demonstrate that one life can be sacrificed for another – the ram for Isaac, and Jesus for all of mankind.

Another tradition is that the three matzot represent the people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, respectively. But why would the priests be depicted as "broken" in this case? Is not Jesus the "high priest of our confession" (Heb. 3:1) who provided eternal redemption by means of shedding His blood in the Holy of Holies made without hands (Heb 9:11-12; 10:11-12, 21-23)? Why would the symbolism of the broken priest be included in the Passover Seder? Did not the prophet Isaiah foretell that the Messiah would be "wounded for our transgressions," "bruised for our iniquities," and that "by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53)?

The afikomen ritual has been a part of the Passover ceremony since Second Temple times, and therefore would have been part of the Passover service during the time of Yeshua. Indeed, the Greek word aphikomenos is a participle that means 'he is coming' and therefore has Messianic overtones.

Consider further that the three matzot, one of which is broken, is an image of hashilush hakodesh - the triune nature of God - with the focus on the broken middle piece of matzah, which is a picture of the suffering Mashiach Yeshua. Consider that this piece is taken, wrapped up, and carefully hidden from view, only to be discovered at the end of the Seder by little children. This is an image of the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua from the dead.  Only after partaking of the Lamb of God who was slain for our transgressions do we understand and take hold of the reward given to those who seek for Him.

Preparing for the Second Cup

After the Yachatz ritual, wine for the second cup of the Seder is often poured.

2nd Cup

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