One of the main purposes of the Pesach seder is to remind us that HaShem can help us today just like HaShem helped Am Yisrael many years ago in Egypt. The yachatz part of the seder takes this to the next level through teaching that many times our future redemption is hidden in our very moments of brokeness and struggle.
During yachatz, we break the middle matzah in two and raise the smaller piece for “ha lachma”. We then put aside the larger piece for tzafun, a later part of the seder. Breaking the matzah at the beginning of maggid hints at our times of brokenness. When we begin the seder, we are broken, we experience ourselves as enslaved in Egypt. Nevertheless, it is at this very moment that we bring to mind our future redemption.
We hide the bigger piece of matzah and eat it later on as the afikomen. The afikomen points to redemption because the afikomen is eaten today in place of the Passover sacrifice, the main symbol of God’s salvation. Hiding the afikomen during yachatz, therefore, alludes to our redemption being hidden, embedded, even in our toughest moments, during our brokenness. The larger of the two pieces is hidden because the future redemption may be even larger than we might have expected.
This is the deeper symbolism of yachatz. Even when things are tough for us in our lives and we are feeling down, HaShem is right there with us. HaShem has a plan. We can’t always see this bigger plan. It may be hidden, like the afikomen! Many times it will take seeing the full picture to understand how this is true. Similarly, in our seder we eat the afikomen only after reliving the full redemptive process through maggid and the matzah and maror. Nevertheless, we realize later on that Hashem’s redemption was there all along, HaShem loves us and has a plan for us. This is one of the more important lessons we can take away from the Passover seder.
Pesach kasher vesameach!
Rabbi Dr. Eli Yoggev
Associate Rabbi of Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Congregation