Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. (Exodus 12:14-15)
Today, we began preparations to have leavening out by Passover. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I don’t spend a lot of time cleaning. I like to plan in advance so we don’t have a lot of waste when it comes time to remove the leaven. I start by going through all of our cupboards and pulling out any items that have leavening in them. I set them on the counter in a crate so everyone can be reminded that they need to be eaten by Passover. This is the crate I set out today. We have a particularly large amount of goodies because we just went camping last weekend, so we have lots of leftovers.
Then, I go through the refrigerators and freezers. I make a list of leavened items that are in there. When preparing food, I refer to the list to get rid of these items by Passover. This year, I happen to have a whole, unopened bag of yeast from Costco. Hmmm. Poor planning there. Oh well.
In the meantime, I minimize the leavened products that I buy. We can go through 2 loaves of bread in a couple of days, so I will buy bread up until a few days before. But, I won’t buy bread crumbs (or yeast) or anything that would take weeks or months to use.
Right before our Passover celebration, we throw out anything left in the crate and anything left on the list. I don’t store my leavening at someone else’s home or hang it on the other side of my fence and take it back after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. I throw it away. I get rid of it. I remove it from my life. And, I try to plan it so that I’m not being wasteful. Financially, we have lived in plenty and we have lived in want. But, we have never had difficulty replacing the leavening that we need after the Feast of Unleavened Bread is over.
Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5:6-8)
A question I always have to ask is, “what is leaven”? The answer is not so clear cut in today’s world. In Bible times, they made a sourdough type bread. They would save a bit of their leavened dough to use as leavening for the next batch they made. They didn’t have instant yeast (So, they wouldn’t have to throw away a whole Costco sized bag.) or baking powder.
So, what do I actually need to get rid of? I don’t get rid of flour or grain. I have no problem keeping rice or pasta. They don’t puff up. They swell up with the water they are cooked in. I had actually never even heard of getting rid of that for Unleavened Bread until the last several years. I used to get rid of cream of tartar (church rules), but since that does not leaven on it’s own, I don’t get rid of it anymore. I will make and eat angel food cake. That is just air whipped into eggs. If you leave it on the counter unbaked for long enough, the air bubbles will deflate. True leaven will puff up when left alone on the counter. So, I have wondered for years if I should get rid of baking soda and baking powder. I’m not sure that is a true leavening. If I make a cake batter and let it sit on the counter, the “leavening” action will dissipate. So, again, this is not a true leaven. For now, I still get rid of baking soda and powder and foods made with it. So far, I have erred on the side of caution for this one.
So, I get rid of leavening agents – yeast, baking powder, baking soda – and any products made with those leavening agents. That’s pretty simple. Whatever you decide to get rid of, read the labels of the foods you have in your home. You would be surprised how many products contain leavening. Stuffed pasta usually contains bread crumbs. Grape Nuts, though hard as a rock, contain yeast. (At least they did 20 something years ago when we sat down to eat it for breakfast during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.) Don’t forget any candy you have with cookies in it, like Twix, Kit Kat or Ferrer Rocher. (When you buy a big box of this as Passover treat, you will need to eat it beforehand when your kids read the ingredients. Ask me how I know.)
Removing leaven is an object lesson, and a great one, at that. Leaven pictures sin. We want to get it out of our life – completely. We don’t want to tuck it away just to bring it back in later. We don’t want to hold onto it because it might cause financial hardship. It’s everywhere. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s well hidden.
We have found that when I stay home, I find it easy to avoid leaven. (Although, no matter how hard I try, I always find some leavened product or child's leftovers that I didn't get rid of.) We don’t have it in our house, so, I would have to make an effort to eat it. As my husband goes out in the world to earn a living, he has a much harder time remembering. It’s everywhere, and the world doesn’t think twice about partaking. When he goes to his supplier to get materials for a job, there are donuts sitting out. When I didn’t send breakfast and lunch with him, it was way too easy to stop and get a bagel or a sandwich without even thinking about it. Just a reminder that when we surround ourselves with righteousness it is easy to live in obedience, but, when we are in the world, we have to be on guard because it is always a battle.
So, when God asks us to remove the leavening from our home, it’s not a hardship. It’s a lesson. It is many lessons. Every year there is something new to be learned. And, we have the added bonus of having a clean pantry.