Toy Story 2 as Yachatz: A Break in the Middle

April 20, 2011 at 11:29 pm, by

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.

This summer, I saw Toy Story 3 in the theaters. But, having not seen Toy Story 2 since 1999, I chose today to refresh my memory and watch Toy Story 2.

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.

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3 Comments So Far

  1. Could this be what some people deem as “middle child syndrome”?
    In all seriousness, a la Aladdin, do wonderful first and third incarnations make up for a middle (Robin Williams-less) film? What’s that say about other trilogies?
    Think about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Isaac, the middle generation, was sacrificed by his father and tricked by his son. Where does his yachatz turn into hope?

    Sara, August 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm #
  2. Hey Sara, that’s a really powerful thought. I never thought of Isaac as a yachatz: after all, he was almost literally broken up (sliced up with a knife), and his story–other than the sacrifice–is a little lacking in the Bible. As far as where his Yachatz turns into hope, off-the-cuff, it’s tough to say where it happens, but it seems to have happened before he blesses Jacob pretty decently. Why would a guy with Isaac’s troubles have so much hope for his progeny? Seems to me like he found some hope along the way….

    Re: Disney… Disney sequels do tend to struggle I feel. And I understand that Cars 2 did not quite hold that same magic as its predecessor. So, who knows if there will even be a Cars 3? (If there was an announcement already, I admit that I missed it…)

    Jonah Rank, December 9, 2011 at 3:58 am #
  3. Hallelujah! I ndeeed this—you’re my savior.

    Alexavia, November 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm #
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