There is something almost magical about making a dough. It is basically just water & flour, but adding a little yeast makes it into an airy dough that bakes up into a delicious loaf of bread. Nothing beats the smell of fresh baked bread. Cutting into a homemade loaf is heavenly. Taking that first bit from a freshly baked slice is simply amazing. It is easy to understand why the word of God is compared to bread.
I love making my own bread, but the last years I haven’t made it a priority. However making sourdough bread has been on my bucket list and this week’s Torah portion made me decide to finally give it a try.
While we have commercial yeast available, back when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt they did not. Making bread with leaven was a slow process that took a whole day from start to finish. Water & flour were mixed with a little bit of salt and some leftover dough from the previous batch would be added. That little bit of leaven would be enough to slowly make a big batch of dough rise. The process is still the same today.
Since I didn’t have some leftover dough, I had to make a starter. When you mix water & flour and let it stand, it will become sour over time. For a week I added more flour & water until it was ready. And with a little bit of my sourdough starter, just like the women in the bible, I too made my whole batch of dough rise. Just like in the time of the bible, this process takes a long time.
In this week’s Torah portion the Pharaoh finally agreed to let the Israelites go. The last three plagues were locusts that ate everything that was left after the previous plagues, three days of total darkness, and the death of the firstborns. With the Pharaoh’s own son death, he summoned Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night and told them to leave. The people of Egypt urged the Israelites to hurry.
“So the people took their dough before leaven was added… With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without leaven because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.” Exodus 12:34+39
Making bread with leaven is a timely process and the Israelites were in a hurry. There was no time to add leaven and wait for the dough to rise. They had to hurry and leave.
We remember this hurried leaving of Egypt every year when we celebrate Passover. All leaven is removed from our homes and for seven days we eat unleavened bread. While we are free and have the time to let our dough rise, it is good to remember that our forefathers did not when the Lord delivered the people out of Egypt.
When we prepare for Passover in three months from now, I will follow the instructions that the Lord gave through Moses and remove the leaven from my home. But until then I will enjoy my sourdough bread and I will give thanks to the Lord for allowing me to life in freedom, for giving me the luxury of having the time to let my bread rise, and for Jesus the Messiah who is the Bread of Life.