Toffee and Torah with Rebekah Lowin

Welcome to Toffee & Torah with Rebekah Lowin! We're so excited you are joining us. Together with Sefaria's Chief Learning Officer Sara Wolkenfeld, Rebekah shared some reflections on the deeper meanings behind matzah and how they connect to her work. Rebekah demonstrated how to make her beautiful and delicious matzah toffee name cards, and in doing so, brought to life the lessons of matzah she taught us about.

You can find a complete recording of the program below, as well as the texts we studied and recipe:

About Rebekah: Rebekah Lowin is an editor at Hearst Magazines and the founder of Jewish-focused lifestyle blog Her work has been featured by, Good Morning America, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Martha Stewart Living, Williams Sonoma, The Jewish Daily Forward, Tablet Magazine,, and more. You can follow her popular instagram page @rebekahlowin.

Lechem Oni ("Oni" Bread)

(ג) לֹא־תֹאכַ֤ל עָלָיו֙ חָמֵ֔ץ שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִ֛ים תֹּֽאכַל־עָלָ֥יו מַצּ֖וֹת לֶ֣חֶם עֹ֑נִי כִּ֣י בְחִפָּז֗וֹן יָצָ֙אתָ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לְמַ֣עַן תִּזְכֹּר֔ אֶת־י֤וֹם צֵֽאתְךָ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֥י חַיֶּֽיךָ׃

(3) You shall not eat anything leavened with it; for seven days thereafter you shall eat unleavened bread, bread of distress (lechem oni)—for you departed from the land of Egypt hurriedly—so that you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt as long as you live.

אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: ״לֶחֶם עוֹנִי״ כְּתִיב — לֶחֶם שֶׁעוֹנִין עָלָיו דְּבָרִים. תַּנְיָא נָמֵי הָכִי: ״לֶחֶם עוֹנִי״ — לֶחֶם שֶׁעוֹנִין עָלָיו דְּבָרִים הַרְבֵּה. דָּבָר אַחֵר: ״לֶחֶם עוֹנִי״ — ״עֹנִי״ כְּתִיב, מָה עָנִי שֶׁדַּרְכּוֹ בִּפְרוּסָה, אַף כָּאן בִּפְרוּסָה.

Shmuel said that the phrase: “The bread of affliction [leḥem oni]” (Deuteronomy 16:3) means bread over which one answers [onim] matters, i.e., one recites the Haggadah over matza. That was also taught in a baraita: Leḥem oni is bread over which one answers many matters. Alternatively, in the verse, leḥem oni” is actually written without a vav, which means a poor person. Just as it is the manner of a poor person to eat a piece of bread, for lack of a whole loaf, so too, here he should use a piece of matza.

Acknowledging our Limitations

ולא יאכל חמץ...דמצה אין בה יתרון ע״י תחבולות ידי האדם להעלות העיסה יותר מהקמח והמים שנבראים ממנו ית׳. משא״כ חמץ שולט בם תחבולות האדם להעלות העיסה ע״י שאור מש״ה הוא אות שקיום ישראל הוא רק ברוח ה׳.

Leaven my not be eaten [on Passover]... matzah takes no advantage of the human technological ingenuity and creativity which allows man to raise the dough more than simple flour and water which are created by God. Chametz is the epitome of human involvement in nature. Thus, non-leaven is the symbol of the survival and ongoing existence of the Jewish People as they survive solely through the spirit of God.

Matzot and Mitzvot
וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֮ אֶת־הַמַּצּוֹת֒ כִּ֗י בְּעֶ֙צֶם֙ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אֶת־צִבְאוֹתֵיכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֞ם אֶת־הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֛ה לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶ֖ם חֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָֽם׃

You shall observe the [Feast of] Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your ranks out of the land of Egypt; you shall observe this day throughout the ages as an institution for all time.

(א) ושמרתם את המצות. שלא יבאו לידי חמוץ מכאן אמרו תפח, תלטוש בצונן רבי יאשיה אומר אל תהי קורא את המצות אלא את המצוות, כדרך שאין מחמיצין את המצה כך אין מחמיצין את המצוה אלא אם באה לידך עשה אותה מיד:

You must be vigilant regarding the matzos. So that they not come to be leavened… Rabbi Yoshiah said do not read it as "matzot", but rather as "mitzvahs". Just as we do not allow the matzah to leaven, so we do not allow a mitzvah to leaven. Rather, if the opportunity comes to you, do it immediately.