Toy Story 2 as Yachatz: A Break in the Middle
April 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm, by Jonah Rank
Something that I—and I’m sure many others—tend to gloss over at the Passover Seder is Yachatz, when we break the middle three pieces of matzah. Among the ones I’ve encountered, Haggadot (Passover Seder guide-books) tend not to say much about Yachatz other than what we physically do. But, at that moment of Yachatz, what do we do emotionally and spiritually?
Today, Rabbi Joshua Hearshen spoke in synagogue about Yachatz. Every Passover, he said, he asks people at his Seder to consider how we, like the middle matzah, have found ourselves at this time to be broken. Continuing, he said that he likes to ask how we can now repair ourselves. But last night, Rabbi Hearshen said today, he realized that the middle matzah that we break is never to be fixed again.
The matzah of Yachatz will never be reconstructed. It will remain forever broken. When we find ourselves broken—physically, spiritually, emotionally—certain broken pieces of ours will get fixed, but some parts of ours will remain eternally broken. In the moment of Yachatz, we admit there are certain broken things we can’t put back together, but we pray that we can repair what can still be fixed.
Early on in the film, Woody’s right arm breaks: a tear—it’s reparable. Although he might heal physically, Woody is soon broken emotionally when Andy goes to Cowboy Camp, leaving behind the toy cowboy Woody. In Andy’s absence, Woody’s arm is eventually repaired, but the action figure begins to doubt if his broken relationship with his owner will ever mend.
(SPOILER) Although Woody decides that he will try to love Andy once again, the film ends with a question: how long can Andy continue to love Woody? Will Andy ever outgrow out this “child’s plaything?” Was the breaking of Woody’s arm a simman (“sign” or “symbol”) for the yachatz of Andy’s relationship with Woody?
I sense that, given the way things go in Toy Story 3, Toy Story 2 is the middle matzah between the first and the third. Yachatz. The broken arm. The broken heart. Good for now, but, how much longer? In spite of it all, we never reject the smallest crumbs of hope.
Tags: breaking, brokenness, cowboys, Disney, gloss, Good, Hagadot, Haggadah, hope, John Lasseter, Jonah Rank, josh hearshen, Joshua Hearshen, longer, Midway Jewish Center, New York, order, Passover, Pesach, Pixar, Rabbi Joshua Hearshen, Seder, sequel, sequels, siman, simman, Syosset, Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Toy Story, toys, wholeness, Yachatz, הגדה, הגדות, יחץ, סדר, סימן, פסח