Days Of Unleavens
This booklet is written with the idea of providing a means to get started in this study. It is by no means an effort to answer every question or give you all the proof you need. To truly understand, you need to do some research on your own. Most of the Scriptures quoted are from The Interlinear Bible, by Jay P. Green, Sr., as general editor and translator.
What is meant by "Unleavens"? What is leaven? How does it affect our lives? What does Yahweh say about it and what does He expect of us?
Instructions From Scripture
- Seven days you SHALL eat unleavened - v. 15.
- Put the leavening out of your house - v. 15.
- The first and seventh days are to be convocations with no work except for meals - v. 16.
- No leaven is to be found within your dwelling - v. 19.
- You are to eat NOTHING leavened - v. 20.
- Seven days you SHALL eat unleavened - v. 6.
- There shall no leaven be within your borders - v. 7.
- Seven days you SHALL eat unleavened - v. 6.
- The first and seventh days are to be convocations with no work, but there is to be an offering made by fire - v. 7 and 8.
- #4682 - matzot = sweet, not soured or bitter with yeast; unfermented cake or loaf.
- #7603 - se'or = barm or yeast-cake (as swelling by fermentation).
What Are And Are Not Leavening Agents?
Yeast is a tiny, microscopic plant that lives in the air and soil. It requires air, moisture and sugar or starch to grow. As it grows, the sugars and starches convert to carbon dioxide and alcohol. The process is called fermentation.
A starter is a mixture of flour or meal and water or beer that is left in a warm place to absorb yeast spores present in the air. It is known as a sourdough, beer or salt starter. After it begins to ferment and bubble, some is removed to mix into a dough to make bread. The remainder can have more water and flour stirred in to be set aside a while to make bread again in a few days.
In the days of ancient Israel, they did not have commercially available leavening agents as we do today and sourdough was their mainstay.
Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) was the first chemical leavener used in this country. When combined with an acid (buttermilk, yogurt, molasses, sour milk, vinegar, lemon juice, cream of tartar) it will produce the carbon dioxide that makes dough rise. It is usually added along with the dry ingredients because when it is mixed with a liquid, it reacts immediately and begins to bubble.
Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda, an acid such as cream of tartar, and an absorbent such as cornstarch. It also needs to be mixed with dry ingredients, unless otherwise specified. The introduction of liquid begins the formation of carbon dioxide.
Cream of tartar alone will not leaven. It is a fine white powder derived from a crystalline acid deposited on the inside of wine barrels. It is added to candies and frostings to give them a creamier texture; to egg whites before beating to improve stability and volume; or as an acid to aid the leavening properties of baking soda.
Brewer's yeast is a by-product of the fermentation of beer. It is rich in vitamins, especially in B-complex. It will not leaven anything.
Yeast extracts are the proteins derived from inactivated (killed) yeast. They are used as a flavor enhancer and will be listed on labels as "yeast extract", "yeast autolysate" or "torula yeast", describing the ways in which it is made. This extract does not contain any live yeast cells and will not have any leavening effect.
Eggs, of themselves, are not leavening agents. Boiled, scrambled, fried, etc, they do not rise. Simply stirred into a batter that does not contain any other leavening agent, they alone will not leaven the baked product.
BUT - if the whole eggs are beaten till light and foamy, they will add air to make things like popovers rise. Egg whites separated and beaten fluffy and full of air, will cause expansion when a batter is heated. For example, egg whites are often the only "leavening" in an angel food cake.
All the other above-mentioned leavening agents are simply mixed into the flour and/or dough. But beaten egg whites require that you make a deliberate change in the egg and alter its characteristics. Why is that being done? In order to get a light, fluffy product, right? Why? Is it an attempt to get around the law of Yahweh?
Beverages such as carbonated drinks or beer will leaven a baked product. A 7-Up in a cake rather than baking powder will result in a light, soft texture, also due to carbon dioxide.
In Deuteronomy 16:3, unleavened bread is referred to as the bread of affliction. The word "affliction" is # 6040, ohnee, meaning depression or misery. The children of Israel were just coming out of misery when Yahweh took them out of Egypt. Some will look at that and say that it is a bread of misery - not something to be enjoyed. But consider: due to their traveling, they could not have their usual bread. The unleavened product reminded them of freedom. They had just come out of depression and misery. We are to do this for seven days to be reminded that Yahweh is also rescuing us from misery and depression - of sin. So can't we dispense with soft bread and cakes for just one week and stop trying to circumvent the rules Yahweh has set in place?
When the Jews refer to leavened things, you will hear the word chametz. The root for that word is #2556, chametz, meaning to be pungent, i.e. in taste (sour, i.e., literally, fermented, or figuratively, harsh). In other words - to be leavened.
But the Jews definition is somewhat different. From the book Living Judaism, by Rabbi Wayne Dosick, page 164, we find the following:
"In Hebrew, leaven is called chametz. But everything - not just leavened bread - that is prohibited on Pesach is also called chametz. The Rabbinic sages went far in defining chametz when they delineated the Pesach food prohibitions. The rabbis specified five grains that are chametz (presumably because leavened bread can be made from them): wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and oats. To these were added rice and legumes (including peas, beans, corn, maize, lentils, millet and mustard), which expand when cooked."
"Thus prohibited on Pesach are leavened bread, cakes, cookies, biscuits, crackers, cereals, coffee (if mixed with grain), and anything else made from any one of the five grains, including beer and liquor. The only exception is the matzah. Although it is usually made from wheat, production is carefully supervised by rabbinic authorities who make sure that the wheat flour comes in contact with water (the process which would cause the wheat to rise) for only a specified number of minutes, precluding leavening."
So What Can I Eat?
You can eat any grain product that is unleavened. In the stores, you can find such items as Ry-Krisp, Triscuits, matzos and sometimes other cracker-like products. But be sure to carefully check all labels, even if they do say kosher for Passover. Don't forget items such as breading on fish, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, etc. Of course, graham cracker pie crusts contain leavening and so do some of the regular pie crusts. You may have to do some searching.
On this website, there is a recipe booklet of unleavened foods - cakes, cookies, crackers, breads, etc. Feel free to check into them and try some new things.
We need to plan ahead for these days because we can't go make a sandwich or grab some fast food at the last minute.
Try baking your own bread and crackers. Handle it quickly though. Don't let the batter or dough sit uncovered as it will pick up air-borne yeast spores. If you cannot roll out and cook all the dough in one pan and have to finish in another baking, just make sure any left behind is well-covered. Feel free to experiment with herbs and seasonings as well.
So What Do We Do With What Is In Our Kitchen? Throw It Out?
Not necessarily. Start about a month ahead of time. Do an inventory of your kitchen and see what is in your cabinets. Read all the labels carefully. Set aside any leavened items or make a mental note of them. That way you will have a chance to use them up in the next month. Also keep these days in mind each time you go to the grocery store and don't buy any more than what can be used up. In this way, you won't have a lot of food items left as the days approach.
But anything left will then need to be thrown out. Yahweh said we are not to have any leavening agents or anything leavened within our borders - in or on our property or in our possession.
Where Does The Idea Of Cleaning Come From?
Cleaning for the Days of Unleavens isn't exactly mentioned in the Scriptures. So where do we get the idea?
But what is the best way to be sure we have all of these products out? It would be to clean the cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, etc. If we are to remove anything leavened, that includes crumbs, too, doesn't it? So what about the oven, the microwave, any area where you eat, etc? But especially the toaster! What about fast food in the vehicle? That's your property, too, isn't it? Though I have never seen any quotes nor do I have any proof, I feel that this is where the idea of spring housecleaning originated.
And don't forget to empty the vacuum cleaner bag!
Living With Unbelievers
What if others in your household do not believe as you do and do not plan to observe the days of unleavens? If you are responsible for the meals, check out our recipes - you may not have to disrupt your usual plans as much as you think. If the other person insists on leavening, that is their choice. It doesn't mean that you have to eat it, too. Just think carefully before you eat something.
As for cleaning, do as much as you can. If you have a separate room, make sure that is clean. Set aside a space for unleavened items from which you may eat freely.
At work, you can make sure that there is no leavening in your cubicle or desk. If you are allowed to have foods there, keep some unleavened item to snack on to help avoid the office donuts!
Clean Out Even The Crumbs?
In Matthew 16:6, 12, Yahshua warned people to beware of the leaven (doctrine) of the Pharisees and scribes. In Luke 12:1 He explains that leaven can represent hypocrisy. What He is saying is that their attitude of superiority, their hypocrisy - their sin - was likened to leaven. That sin caused them to "puff up" with importance and arrogance. Putting the leaven out of our homes and meals is likened to putting sin out of our lives and minds.
In I Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:9 Paul tells us that it only takes a little leavening to leaven the entire lump of dough. As with us, it only takes a little sin to puff us up and put us on the outs with Yahweh.
So back to the cleaning idea - do you want to get out all the leavening (sin) or just part of it? Yahweh is looking for perfection in us.
Thanks to Farm Journal's Homemade Bread by Alice Joy Miller for help with the definitions and descriptions of leavening agents.