It may come as a surprise but Judaism does not insist on perfection. In all of Jewish sacred texts nowhere do we encounter the divine demand: Thou shalt be perfect. Recognizing that perfection belongs exclusively to God and to pursue it would be construed as an act of hubris. Judaism did, however, hold out the expectation that we strive for holiness, to emulate God’s deeds of compassion and justice, but never to entertain the prospect of becoming God.
Human life is incomplete, imperfect, in a state of fragmentation and brokenness.
We break the Matzah, putting one part aside , hiding it for later, with the knowledge that the divided piece will suffice for our current celebration. Wholeness, perfection, the ideal is something hidden, “zafun,” as yet undiscovered. The ultimate transcends our awareness; all we can do is imagine and reach for that which we conceive of as God-the Source of perfection, unity, “Shalom.”
To engage in the journey of greater God consciousness we can only break up the wholeness of life into understandable segments, partialize reality and grasp, if blessed, only a momentary glimpse of God. The matzah over which we conduct our Seder is ”Lechem Oni,” a broken matzah, the food of humans whose mortality and creatureliness render us insignificant, almost desperate in our search for the divine. It is poor man’s bread, as we emerge spiritually impoverished, a faulty facsimilie of God’s Image and likeness.
Yet, it is precisely by way of a broken heart that we arrive at an awareness of greater proximity to God. Can we pray when feeling smug about life, perfect and complacent?
The mature heart is not perfectionistic; it rests in the compassion of our being instead of the ideals of the mind. Before we seek the piece that fits the puzzle of our bewilderment, and restore the hidden piece to our fuller awareness and knowledge of God, we bless, praise God for the partiality of life , of matzah, and discover gratefulness in every bite of this bread of affliction.
We are left with the shattered pieces of our lives, with the fragments of our history as a people still struggling to unify God’s name in this world. What remains as we continue our ritual is the broken matzah, and the story of lives unleavened and incomplete.
It is time to tell the tale-Magid.
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