How Much Affliction?

Posted on April 13, 2009

Matzo is the “bread of affliction” (Devarim 16:3), also referred to as the “poor bread,” and bread of poverty or oppression. But just how much affliction is enough?

The observance of Pesach (Passover) provides for us a different sort of bondage. Those of you who observe Pesach know what I’m talking about. Shouldn’t every box of matzo come with a free jar of Metamucil? Or a Fleet enema?

For some of us, it’s annoying and potentially embarrassing. For others, such as those coping with IBS, it can cross the line into a health issue. One physician claims it’s life-threatening.

So how much affliction is too much? At what point does it cross that line?

There are things one can do to try to offset the symptoms:

  • eat high-fiber Pesach-friendly fruits and vegetables such as raspberries (8g fiber/cup), pears (5.1g fiber/med pear), artichokes (10.3g fiber/med artichoke), and broccoli (5.1g fiber/cup) – although brocoli has its own digestive issues. According to the Mayo Clinic, from which these numbers come, “Recommended fiber amounts for women is 21 to 25 grams a day and for men is 30 to 38 grams a day.”
  • drink lots of water
  • exercise
  • try prune or mulberry juice
  • when the symptoms are too severe to treat with food, water, or exercise, try a warm bath or heating pad

Additional fiber content information is available on this fiber chart.

We were meant to understand what it’s like to go without luxury foods (like bread) for eight days. We were meant to see ourselves as if we’re also leaving Egypt. We were not meant to understand through matzo what it feels like to be disemboweled (IMHO).

Only three more days to go. Meanwhile, those raspberries are looking really good.


  1. Shira Salamone

    I often alternate between one extreme and the other. One remedy is to reserve most of the matzah-munching for the seder/sedarim, and survive on potatoes for most of the rest of the holidays. It probably helps that I’m not in the habit of eating a sandwich every day for lunch.

  2. Jack Steiner

    Oy, I know the feeling.

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