Passover – It’s All About Time!!
By: Chaya Sora Jungreis-Gertzulin
In the Torah, Pesach is also referred to as Chag HaMatzohs. Holiday of Matzohs. When we think Pesach, invariably among the first things that come to mind are the Seder and matzohs.
For weeks before Pesach, we are already looking forward to that special taste of matzoh. In fact, many people have the custom of refraining from eating matzah from the beginning of the month of Nisan, so that come Seder night, the taste of matzoh will be fresh to the palate.
We’re so busy with our matzohs. How many pounds to purchase. Which hand shmurah matzoh bakery makes the tastiest, and which makes the thinnest matzohs. At the Seder, matzohs are given a prominent place on our table, covered with an elegant cloth.
Yes, we are involved with our matzoh. But how much time and thought do we give to its meaningful messages?
Ever go to a shmurah matzoh bakery? Each year, when I join my husband as he bakes matzoh, I’m amazed at the speed of the entire process.
Quickly, quickly… the flour is mixed with the water, to form the dough. It is then given over to be rolled out. A crew moves ever so fast with their rolling pins going back and forth. In a matter of minutes, the flattened dough moves along to another table where it perforated, then placed on a long pole, ready to go into the fiery, super-hot brick oven. The heat is so intense, that in mere seconds, the fully (sometimes even more than fully) baked matzohs are removed and readied to pack and go.
The 18-minute rule. It’s all about time. From start to finish, the entire process must be completed in less than 18 minutes. Wait too long… don’t move quickly enough – it becomes chometz, and no longer deemed kosher l’Pesach.
Time, a most valuable and precious gift from HaShem. There is a well-known expression, “Mitzvah habo liyodcha, al tachmitzenah, A mitzvah that comes to your hand, that comes your way, don’t delay in performing it, don’t let it become ‘chometzdik. ’ ” Rashi (Shemos 12:17) comments on the words “U’shmartem es haMatzohs, And you should guard the matzohs”, that the words matzohs and mitzvos are similarly spelled, rendering them interchangeable. Herein, lies an important life lesson. Just as matzoh becomes chometzdik if too much time elapses in the baking process, similarly, if we delay in performing a mitzvah, we lose out. It can become a missed opportunity.
Life is full of occasions to do good. To give tzedakah, to do chesed, to say a kind word, to study and daven at the appropriate time. Sometimes we procrastinate. An inner voice may tell us I’ll do it later, I’ll get to it tomorrow. But the tomorrow never happens. As Pirkei Avos, Ethics of the Fathers teaches us with regards to studying Torah, “Do not say when I have time I will study, because that time may always allude you.” (Pirkei Avos/Ethics 2:4)
The same can be said about any good deed. From welcoming guests, to visiting the sick, to honoring parents, to spending quality time with our children and grandchildren. Although we may have the best intentions to do a mitzvah, delaying can lead to lost opportunities.
The matzoh has yet another message. Both bread and matzoh are made of essentially the same ingredients, flour and water. Yet, the matzah is flat, crisp and thin, while bread (think challah) is high, light and fluffy. The same can be said about people we interact with in our daily lives. While our appearances may be different, we are essentially all made up of the same “ingredients”. The only difference, like the yeast which causes the challah to puff up, is the outward appearance, which is just a lot of “fluff”. A lesson in humility. A powerful message, to focus on the ingredients within, the true essence of a person, and recognize that we are all created B’tzelem Elokim, in the image of HaShem.
The three matzohs on the Seder table rest one on top of the other. Our Rabbis teach that they represent the three segments of our nation, Kohain, Levi and Yisroel. The matzohs lean one on another, signifying that we all need each other. That we all have to work together, to be there for each other. On Seder night when Jews from all four corners of the world are reliving the great miracles that HaShem performed for our ancestors, let us remember that throughout the ages, from the time of slavery in Egypt, to the blessings that we are able to enjoy in our own lives, the entire Jewish nation is indeed an Am Echad, one united people.
Seder night is also a time for family memories, a time to create a legacy for our children. I would like to share a personal Pesach story.
Each year, when it was time to open the door for Eliyahu Hanavi, the Prophet Elijah, my mother, a”h would tell us children to all go together to welcome Eliyahu. She told us that Eliyahu was magically able to be at every Seder table. From New York to Yerushalayim, to wherever Jews were. That we should greet Eliyahu with honor, and invite him in to our home. That it was a time to make a special prayer. Even now, I can hear my mother’s words, “Sheifelech… Eliyahu Hanavi is in the house. Daven. Daven for the mishpachah, our family. Daven for Am Yisroel. Daven for Eretz Yisroel.”
Our world today is undergoing much turbulence and turmoil. I wake up in the morning wondering what will the new day bring. I hear my mother’s voice. Daven.
To my dear readers. Let’s remember the message of the matzoh. Don’t lose the opportunity. Pesach night, Eliyahu Hanavi will be in our homes. It’s a most propitious time for special tefillos, prayers. Who doesn’t have what to daven for? Let’s pray for our families, our fellow Jews the world over. Let’s add a special prayer for our brethren, acheinu kol beis Yisroel, who are suffering from terrorism, from war, and from the rise of anti-Semitism.
The concluding passage in the Haftorah of this past Shabbos Hagadol read, “I will send you Eliyahu Hanavi, before that great and awesome day.” May we all merit to see the coming of Moshiach and the realization of the words of the Haggadah, “L’shanah habah b’Yerushalayim, Next year in Yerushalayim!”
Wishing all a most enjoyable Yom Tov.
Chag Kosher V’Sameach!