MATZAH BAKING: To guarantee that matzah is Kosher for Passover, it must be produced in under 18 minutes. That means from the moment the water and flour come in contact, through the kneading and rolling, until it is removed from the (degree) oven, no more than 18 minutes can have passed. When the 18 minutes are over, any unused dough is removed, the baking area is cleaned of left overs, and all workers scrub their hands to ensure that no dough is caught between their fingers.
WHERE IS MOSHE (MOSES)? Central to the story of the Exodus is the dynamic leader who spoke with G-d, confronted Pharaoh, led the Jews out of Egypt and guided them through the wilderness for forty years – Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our great teacher). As integral a part as Moshe played in the Exodus from Egypt, one would think that his name would be all over the Haggadah. But it isn’t. In fact, he is mentioned only once, and then merely in passing. Why isn’t Moshe part of the Haggadah?
While Judaism ranks no leader or teacher higher then Moshe, he is not, and cannot be deified, and this is why he is not part of the Passover Seder. On Passover we celebrate the fact the G-d brought us out of Egypt with “a strong hand and an outstretched arm.” As the Haggadah states: ” I [G-d] and not an angel. I [G-d] and not a messenger.”
No human being has ever come as close to G-d as Moshe, but in the end we must remember that he was still a human being. In fact, G-d recognizes the human capacity for deification and when Moshe dies, the location of his death and his burial site remains unknown to all. G-d wanted the Jewish people to understand that Moshe was a messenger of G-d, not the deity himself. The sages, therefore, when formalizing the text of the Haggadah, did not introduce Moshe into the text, out of fear that this could lead to Moshe’s deification.
HOW PHARAOH ENSLAVED THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: Upon reading the Book of Exodus, one might wonder at the swift descent of the Jewish nation from the esteemed family of the Viceroy, Joseph, to slavery. Xenophobia, the fear of foreigners, is a common historic phenomenon, but one would think that transforming a nation into slaves would cause an uprising or take generations. The sages teach, however, that the Egyptians were cunning and enslaved the Jews through artifice. This is understood from Pharaoh, whose name can be broken up to mean peh rah, which means evil speech and can be understood to relate to peh rach, soft speech – Language is a powerful tool and even Pharaoh understood this. When he decided to enslave the Jews he declared a national week of labor on which all good citizens of the realm were to come and help in the building of the great store cities of Pithom and Ramses, with Pharaoh himself in the lead. The Jews, wanting to show their loyalty to their host country, joined in enthusiastically. The next day, however, when the Jews arrived to building sites, the Egyptians did not return. Shortly thereafter, the Jews found themselves surrounded by taskmasters who demanded that they produce the same amount of work that they had done under their own volition the day before. It was through soft, gentle and cunning words that Pharaoh lured the Jewish nation into slavery.