Flash deals are a trend in online marketing. A few years ago I was looking to book a flight to Eretz Yisrael. Someone forwarded me a “flash deal” for a very low price on a flight. I was busy at the time and opened the link an hour later to be greeted with the words “deal dead.” Yet, a couple of my friends secured tickets for this insanely low fare. I was not quick enough; “you snooze, you lose!”
The Yom Tov of Pesach is referred to as Chag Hamatzos—the holiday of matzah. Matzah is an integral component and concept of this Yom Tov. And speed is a key requirement in the production of matzah! The Torah instructs us “u’shmartem es hamatzos,” you shall guard the matzos—to ensure they are produced with enough speed to prevent the dough from rising and becoming chametz. Rashi quotes the Mechilta, which changes the vowels on the word matzos…to cause it to read “mitzvos.” Hence, we also need to “guard” mitzvos. The lesson is clear: Just as matzah must be produced with speed lest it rise and become chametz, so too, when an opportunity to perform a mitzvah presents itself, we need to act promptly.
When we perform a mitzvah we do an action that connects us to Hashem, Who commanded us to perform that mitzvah. To quote Rabbi Shmuel Berkovics, zt”l, “Every mitzvah we do connects us to the Metzaveh (He who created the mitzvah).” The simple doing of the mitzvah enables us to see Hashem’s involvement in our lives more clearly. We can now better understand the Mishnah that says, “The performance of one mitzvah brings the opportunity to perform an additional mitzvah.” Each mitzvah develops a further bond and relationship with Hashem…and our desire for more! It’s much like a married couple—the more you do for each other and feel good about it, the deeper the love develops.
The two Hebrew letters “mem” and “tzadi” appear in the word matzah (mem, tzadi, hei) and chametz (ches, mem, tzadi). The only difference between the word chametz and matzah is the letter “hei” at the end of the word matzah, and the letter “ches” at the beginning of the word chametz. The Gemara tells us the letter “hei” is the letter Hashem used to create this world. The letter “hei” represents the ability to perform teshuva and return to Hashem. The shape of the letter “hei” is an upside-down “u” with a space between the left leg and the top of the letter. The open bottom of the letter indicates that a person who wants to sin has free choice to do so! Conversely, the space between the leg of the “hei” and its roof is the window of opportunity for the individual to return. The letter “ches” is also in the shape of an upside-down letter “u”; however, it doesn’t have any gap between the legs and the top of the letter. This symbolizes a person “leaving the world” and thereby sealing the window of his ability to return. This is the difference between chametz and matzah.
Remember: Both chametz and matzah are produced from combining flour and water. The only difference is time—the time that allows the dough to ferment and rise. This symbolizes two different attitudes and approaches to life. The production of kosher matzah demands vigilance and speed, whereas being lackadaisical in the process results in the dough fermenting and rising, producing chametz. The same is true for mitzvos. One needs to have the attitude that mitzvos have the highest priority in life, so they require immediate attention and performance, or else the opportunity may be lost.
While we eat our matzah on this Chag Hamatzos, may this remind ourselves of the proper approach to mitzvos. A “flash deal” is only won if we act without delay.
Wishing all of you a Chag kasher v’sameach.
Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate Rosh Yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch, where he leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. PTI has attracted adult Jews of all ages from all over northern New Jersey for its learning programs. Fees are not charged but any contributions are always welcome. Beyond PTI, Rabbi Bodenheim conducts a weekly beis midrash program with chavrusa learning in Livingston plus a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected] For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com.