Ma’ot Chittin – Money for Wheat
It’s a simple mitzvah in preparation for Pesach, but such a deeply meaningful gesture. The practice of having a fund for collecting money specifically for Pesach flour goes back almost 2000 years to the Jerusalem Talmud. In the Mishnah, which also hails from theLandofIsraelbut a little earlier, we know that people would rely on the tamchui, the food pantry, to have four cups of wine on Passover. Presumably, they would have also relied on the food pantry for flour if they needed it.
But the setting aside a bit of money, each day, for tzedakah, is at the heart of Passover is all about. The matzah, after all, is called “lechem oni,” the “bread of affliction.” Why? All joking aside, one of my favorite interpretations points out the minimum measure of flour to make matzah is the same amount of flour that a poor person would offer as a sacrifice in theTemple, according to the Torah. Therefore, on Passover, each of us is to put ourselves in the role of one who has nothing, and depends on other people and God.
Empathy takes work, and so to set aside a little every day, with the intention of giving it all away, can help us get to that place where we are not the center of everything.
In the meantime, check out this beautiful organization that takes its name from our custom: http://www.maotchitim.org/ . May we all be inspired!!