6 Reasons Why We Need 3 Matzot On The Seder Table
The Torah teaches us that on first night of Pesach, there is a mitzvah to eat Matzah. Normally we have two complete loaves on the table. On seder night, many communities use 3 matzot, (some use only 2) and we break the middle matzah. Why is this night different from all other nights? Why do we have 3 matzot?
There are a number of reasons given for this tradition of having 3 Matzahs on the Seder table.
1. The first two matzot are for the double portion of Manna that fell in the desert, the same as we have for Shabbat. The third is for the Afikoman. The middle Matza is broken into two. The larger one is hidden until the end of the meal. The smaller piece is used to tell the story. As the Torah says “Lechem Oni”- a bread over which answers are given.
2. Another meaning of the term Lechem Oni- is the poor man’s bread. The middle piece is broken because a poor person does not have a full loaf of bread, so too we do not have a complete Matzah. One sign of freedom is the ability to share one’s food. A poor person is no longer poor if he can share his bread with others. Tonight we celebrate our freedom, we do this by breaking bread with those around us.
3. Is to remind us of the three groups of Jews: Cohen. Levi and Israel. Since Levi was separated among the rest of the nation, so to the middle Matzah is broken and separated.
5. To remind us of the 3 Patriarchs in whose merit we were redeemed. Abraham Isaac and Jacob.
6. There are 4 parts in the Seder where Matzah is eaten. Motzi, Matzah, Korech and Tzafoon. The three pieces are needed to fulfill these obligations. One for the blessing of Motzi, second for the added blessing of eating Matzah – al achilat matza and the third for the Hillel sandwich known as Korech and the fourth for Afikoman. Hence the middle Matzah is broken so that we have 4 pieces of Matzah to fulfill the order of the Seder.
Each reason adds another dimension to the Seder night. So many ideas to think of as we munch our way through the Seder meal.