The Torah gives a clear reason for eating matzoh on Pesach in Parshas Bo: “They baked the dough that they took out of Egypt into matzos, for they were driven from Egypt, for they could not delay, nor had they made provisions for themselves.” In fact, this is the textual proof cited by Rabbon Gamliel: “Whoever has not (explained the matzah) … has not fulfilled his obligation on Seder night.”
The fact that they were driven out quickly and had no time to bake bread that night doesn’t seem like the highlight of the miraculous story of יציאת מצרים, certainly not enough to become the central point of the Seder. Furthermore, Moshe told them ahead of time that they were leaving Egypt the next day, so shouldn’t they have packed up and been ready? Why were they so rushed at the last minute?
The Yidden expected to leave Egypt right after the first plague. They were packed, they were ready to go, but … they did not leave. The scenario repeated itself after all the remaining מכות—they packed but did not get the sign to leave. By the time of מכת בכורות, people did not believe the end was imminent and did not bake or pack provisions.
Rav Yissocher Frand explains that this was the lesson of matzoh: Hashem’s salvation can come in the blink of an eye. This message is the focal point of the Seder.יציאת מצרים is the paradigm for all future redemptions and teaches us that geulah can come precisely at the point of hopelessness.
This year, when there has been disturbing news, from the matzav in Eretz Yisroel to the recent uptick in anti-Semitic incidents both in Europe and here in the United States, it is easy to get depressed and ask, “What’s going to be?” The lesson of the matzoh and the lesson of all Jewish history is ישועת ה‘ כהרף העין. Things can turn around in the time it takes to snap your fingers!
This year, we have given your children a thorough grounding in all aspects of the Seder and the dinim of Pesach. They have learned divrei Torah expounding on the Haggodoh; please encourage them to recite as many of these as possible at the Seder table. Ask them to explain about the arba kosos, the ke’oroh, and the story of Pesach—and give them assistance if they need it! Let them join in singing the niggunim they’ve learned. I’m sure your children will give you much nachas. Chag kosher v’some’ach!
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School