Friday, March 23, 2007


by Reb Jay

The significance of matzah is when the Jews were leaving Egypt, they were forced to hurry. This did not allow the dough proper time for it to rise; hence they left with matzah.

Is it not rather arbitrary, however, that because the Jews were forced to leave in a hurry, and their dough was not given time to rise, therefore, for eight full days (Pesach is seven days in Israel) we are not allowed to eat or even possess bread?

Obviously there is a much deeper significance to matzah.
In Hebrew the plural form of matzah and mitzvah (commandment) are spelled the same. The sages in the Talmud teach us, “don’t read matzos (plural form of matzah), read mitzvos (plural form of mitzvah).” This means that within matzah lay the true essence of mitzvah.

Einstein proved that speed and time have a direct correlation, i.e., if one could somehow travel faster than the quickest known speed (the speed of light), time could be bypassed.

Traveling faster than the speed of light and bypassing time are impossible. The level below that, however, is not. The level below traveling beyond time would be to do things as quickly as possible, meaning at the first opportunity.

Although time will not be bypassed in this manner, by doing so one is as close as is physically possible to “being above” time.

We do not eat matzah simply because our dough did not have time to rise, but rather we eat matzah because it is sustenance made as quickly as possible. Our birth as a nation took place in a hurried state (the sages state we were born as a nation as we left Egypt). This teaches us that as a nation, we are as close as possible to “being above time”. As we stated earlier, our very existence as a people for nearly 2000 years without a homeland, proves we are unlike any other nation. The normal rules that are either a guarantor of a nation’s flourishing or disappearing do not apply to us.

This is also the reason why the sages state in the Talmud (Pesachim 4a), mitzvos (commandments) should be fulfilled at the earliest possible time i.e. as quickly as possible. (This does not mean mitzvos should be done as quickly as possible - rather they should be fulfilled at the earliest possible time; for example a bris—circumcision-- should be done first thing in the morning). Performing the mitzvos at their earliest time shows an eagerness and enthusiasm. The passage of time usually dulls one’s desires. Our unique relationship with Hashem and His Torah have stood the test of time, and our performance of mitzvos with zeal highlights this concept.

Therefore, precisely at the moment when we became a nation is when we were hurrying out of Egypt with our matzah. Furthermore, of modus operandi of doing mitzvos is to fulfill them at the earliest possible opportunity, thereby reflecting our relationship with time. (For a deeper understanding of this concept, see the Maharal’s classic work Gevuras Hashem).

Another approach to matzah is nullification of the self-i.e. the ego. The whole year we eat dough that has risen, which is full. For eight days we eat dough which has not risen. This is a message to us to tone down our ego in order to enable it to coexist with Hashem. According to the Maharal, this is one of the reasons matzah is called “poor bread”, because it represents simplicity.

Every Generation they try to destroy us

Why is it so important to mention this point? It seems to be a strong inclination amongst Jewish people; to not only relive good times, but also bad ones. Why is this so?

We remember the bad times to remind us that we are special and therefore have special responsibilities.

Let us think back: why did Hashem take us out of Egypt? To fulfill the purpose for which the world was created, i.e., the receiving of the Torah (which rectifies the world).

When we do not remember this and do not in act in accord with our exalted status, Hashem sends us reminders. These reminders take the form of other nations trying to destroy us. This is all done with the hope that any person, by use of minimal perception, will take note of the unnatural attention paid to the Jews by the non-Jewish world.

When we see this happening it is meant to remind us of our awesome responsibilities, and that if we ignore them, Hashem will remind us of them. We can never live as a regular nation. From the moment we accepted the Torah we are a nation set apart. Hopefully we will accept is as the special privilege that it is.

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