This week's parsha, Vayikra, opens the book of Leviticus, and it deals entirely with the various korbanot, the sacrificial offerings. Yet you can find a hint in it for the upcoming holiday, Pesach (Passover). What is the connection?
In the verses explaining the grain offering (korban mincha), my favorite sacrifice because it is vegetarian, we find the following law:
כָּל הַמִּנְחָה, אֲשֶׁר תַּקְרִיבוּ לַיהוָה--לֹא תֵעָשֶׂה חָמֵץ: כִּי כָל שְׂאֹר וְכָל דְּבַשׁ, לֹא תַקְטִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה
No grain offering that you offer to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for no leaven or honey may be turned into smoke as a gift to the Lord. (Leviticus 2:11)
"Leaven" or "chametz" is familiar to us because it is defined as grains that have fermented, and are forbidden also on Pesach. Since the Torah gives no reason, it is not clear why these products were forbidden on the altar, whereas wine, which was fermented, was used in the libations poured over the altar and consumed by the fire.
But the 19th-century German commentary, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, offers an interesting interpretation, and draws upon the holiday of Pesach to explain this law:
"The significance of chametz and matzah is historical . . . Matzah symbolizes the lack of political independence, a condition in which our time is not in our own hands, our powers are not at our own disposal. It is a sign of slavery. By contrast, leaven and chametz symbolize independence and sovereignty.
Israel's original bread was matzah. Had Israel been left to their own devices, they would still be eating the "bread of servitude." Each year, when we celebrate the festival commemorating our deliverance from Egypt, matzah displaces leaven and chametz from our homes, reminding us anew that not by our own hands did we obtain freedom and independence, but by G-d's grace, which is perpetual. This same idea must be remembered when we stand in the Sanctuary."
(From The Hirsch Chumash, Translated by Daniel Haberman)