Features Archive

Easy Bake Nation-A Special Dvar Torah for Pesach


by: Adina Fink

(Adina is a current MMY student from Cleveland, Ohio)

On Leil haseder we focus on many things that are all aspects of the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim.  One of the things we say and do is "Pesach Matzah and Maror", and we give explanations for each one of these things. The explanation given for matzah is "Al shum shelo hispik b'tzeikam shel avoteinu l'hachmitz" -- the dough of our ancestors didn't have enough time to rise before we rushed out of Mitzrayim.

However, if we look carefully at the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim, this doesn't seem to make sense!

In Shemot 12:8 Hashem commands bnei Yisrael to eat the korban pesach "Tzli esh umatzot al m'rorim"  -- roasted with matzot and maror.  Then, in pasuk 15, Hashem gives us the commandment of keeping Chag HaPesach for future generations, which includes eating matzah and not having chametz in your house for seven days. Then, in pasuk 18, Moshe instructs bnei Yisrael to celebrate Pesach in Mitzrayim by doing korban pesach and eating matzah. 

So, even BEFORE bnei Yisrael were rushed out of Mitzrayim without time for their dough to rise, they had already been commanded to eat matzah!  So why do we say that today we eat matzah because we were rushed out?  There must be a different reason that bnei Yisrael ate matzah!

The Ran explains that eating the matzah in Mitzrayim was a condition for their Yetziya, and the matzah today reminds us of the fact that the Yetziya happened so quickly -- K'heref Ayin -- that their dough didn't even have enough time to rise between the time they left Mitzrayim and the time they stopped to camp.
The Ramban and Abarbanel expand on this idea of K'heref Ayin.   The Ramban says that the mitzvah of not having chametz for seven days also applied in Mitzrayim, and therefore bnei Yisrael were never planning on baking bread-- it was always going to be matzah.  However, they were rushed out of Mitzrayim before they had time to bake their matzah, and they were worried that the dough would become chametz on the journey. To prevent that from happening, Hashem made the geula happen K'heref Ayin, very quickly, so that by the time they reached camp, the dough was not yet chametz and they were able to bake it into matzah.  The Abarbanel goes even further. Imagine a bar mitzvah boy putting on tefillin for the first time. It's the first mitzvah that he's really obligated in, and he is so excited to be putting tefillin on and is so careful to make sure he does it exactly right. Now imagine how disappointed he would be if the next day, he found out his tefillin weren't kosher. Bnei Yisrael were the same way coming out of Mitzrayim

Eating matzah and not having chametz was the first mitzvah that they got, and they were so excited to do it. But when Paroh kicks them out of Mitzrayim, they are heartbroken because they think the dough is going to rise on the way out and they will fail in their first mitzvah. To their surprise, when they reached Sukkot and set up camp, their dough still wasn't chametz, because Hashem made the geula happen so fast. Bnei Yisrael needed the matzah as proof that the geula really happened K'heref Ayin. Even more than that, the unification of bnei Yisrael and the creation of a nation also happened K'heref Ayin as they walked out of Mitzrayim

This is different than any other nation-- their unification happens slowly over time as people immigrate to countries and learn to work with each other and create a community and functioning nation. Hashem wanted us to be different. We walked out of Mitzrayim, and as we crossed the border, we solidified into Hashem's nation.  We didn't need practicality or a government or mutual living space to become a nation; all we needed was the unifying factor of Hashem taking us out in order to create national bonds that would last forever.  This is why we say that we eat matzah "Al shum shelo hispik b'tzeikam shel avoteinu l'hachmitz" -- to remind ourselves that Yetziat Mitzrayim and our becoming a nation happened in an instant, and that those bonds are still strong today.

(Based on Rav Kook class with Rav Chaggai Raviv)