RE’EH — “BREAD, MATZAH…AND PIZZA”

 “Mazel Tov: Just Call Me ‘Yente'”

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Tonight (Thursday) is a very special occasion. My wife, my daughter and I are invited to an engagement party. It is a special thrill for me because I was the “Shadchan — “matchmaker.” I had spoken with the parents of the young man and young lady before they met, and arranged for them to meet. They obviously hit it off, and they are now planning, G-d willing, to be married.

There is another reason that I am looking forward to this event. Tonight, for the first time, I will get to meet the soon-to-be bride and the soon-to-be groom!

How, you may wonder, did I manage to arrange a “Shidduch” without ever having met the parties?!  I’m not sure myself.  To make a long story short, a friend of mine asked me if I knew anyone for his neighbor’s son.  I asked my daughter, who, initially had no ideas, but came back to me a few months later, and suggested a friend of hers.  The rest, as they say, is history.

The moral of the story is: if G-d presents you with an opportunity to help someone, even a stranger, don’t wait around for someone else to grab the Mitzvah.  My son often chides me for continuing to drive when I see a pedestrian walking along the sidewalk, rather than pulling over and offering him a ride.  G-d has many messengers who can do His bidding, but if He chooses to honor you with the opportunity, JUST DO IT!!!

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“BREAD, MATZAH…AND PIZZA”

One of the 613 Mitzvahs is the obligation to remember the Exodus from Egypt.  This Mitzvah is not limited to the annual recitation of the Haggadah on the Seder Nights.  There is a daily (and nightly) requirement to remember that G-d saved us from a land where we were beaten, tortured, and murdered.  The Egyptians, who considered us their property, persecuted our Nation without mercy.  G-d miraculously turned everything around and gave us our freedom.  We commemorate this great event by eating underbaked bread:

Do not eat leavened bread…for seven days, eat Matzahs…for you left Egypt in a hurry — so that you will remember the day of your departure from Egypt all the days of your life.” (Deut., 16:3)

Did you ever wonder why we left in a hurry?  We eat Matzah to remember that since we were in a hurry, there was no time for our bread to rise.  But what was the rush?  Why were we in such a hurry?   We couldn’t afford a few more minutes to take the bread out of the oven and put some peanut butter on it?!   210 years in Egypt, and we can’t take the time to pack and leave like a mentch?!

Chizkuni, a 13th century commentary, points out that if G-d can take us out of Egypt, He can do so in whatever time frame fits His divine plan.   Through nine plagues, the Pharaoh refused to allow the Israelites to go.   Suddenly, along comes the10th plague, and the Egyptian firstborn are dying.   Pharaoh can’t wait to get us out of his country. The pressure is on for us to leave.   Surely, G-d could have held the Egyptians back for a few minutes.  Why didn’t He?

The answer, says Chizkuni, can be found by carefully reading the verse. “… eat Matzahs…for you left Egypt in a hurry — so that you will remember the day of your departure from Egypt all the days of your life.”  We think that we eat Matzah so that we’ll remember leaving in a hurry.  It’s just the opposite: “…you left Egypt in a hurry — so that you will remember…”

G-d deliberately accelerated our departure from Egypt so that our bread wouldn’t rise.  The purpose of this rush was to give us the Mitzvah of eating Matzah — a tangible reminder of the Exodus.  He wanted to give us something that would insure that we would never forget what He did for us that first Passover — how He took us out of a seemingly hopeless situation and gave us our freedom.

We must never forget the Exodus from Egypt.  Most of our prayers contain reminders.  The morning and evening services contain references to the Exodus and the splitting of the Red Sea.  The Kiddush that is recited Friday and Yom Tov evenings tell us that the special day is “Zecher l’yetzias Mitzraim — a reminder of the departure from Egypt.”  The message is that G-d is in control of the world.

There are two ways to look at the Mitzvah of remembering our emigration from Egypt:

1) Appreciation of past kindness and how we benefit from it today.  At the Seder we read that “if G-d had not taken our ancestors out of Egypt, we… would still be there.”

2) Inspiration for the future.  Remembering that G-d saved us from slavery in Egypt is what has given our People the strength and hope to withstand inquisitions, pogroms, and holocausts.  Remembering that G-d saved us from slavery in Egypt is what inspired the sainted Rebbe of Bluzhov to request (and receive!) permission from the Nazis to bake Matzahs in Bergen-Belsen.  Remembering that G-d saved us from slavery in Egypt is what gave our people the faith and Chutzpah to return to Zion after World War 2.

And remembering that G-d saved us from slavery in Egypt is what keeps us going when the streets of Jerusalem flow with the blood of Jews whose only crime is buying a slice of pizza.  It is up to the Master of the World to decide when to “take us out of Egypt.”  Our Father in Heaven saved us before, and He’ll save us again.  The only question is, “When?”

Please, dear Father, let it be now.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

To leave a comment about this article, or to read other readers’ comments on this article, scroll down past the archive links.

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 From the Archives

“The Emperor’s New Tallis” (2010)

It was the social event of the year…

There was, of course, a Chuppah.  How do you have a Simcha without one?  And a framed Ketubah.  And a Yarmulke.  And a Tallis.  And a broken glass.

Oh, there was also a Jewish young man who wanted to get married.

Unfortunately, as far as Torah Law is concerned, he didn’t…

Read more.

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“The Tire Kicker” (2009)

How should we live our lives?  What does G-d want us to do?

The answer to this question SHOULD BE simple:  Open the Torah, read what it says, and do it!  After all, it’s the Master of the World’s instructions.  He made the world and He made us.  Certainly He knows what’s best for us.

He told us to rest on the Sabbath, so we should rest on the Sabbath.  He told us not to worship idols, so we shouldn’t worship idols.

But what if G-d changes His mind?  Do the rules change if G-d decides to set up a different system?

What if G-d decides, “You know, I don’t like the way things are working out with the current Mitzvah arrangement.  The original Testament I set up isn’t working so well.  I think I’ll write a ‘New’ one.”…

Read more.

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 “Birds of Different Feathers …?” (2007)

… It is commonly understood that the reason we don’t eat eagles, owls, and hawks is that they are birds of prey.  Birds that attack other animals and tear them to shreds with their claws are not the types of creatures we want to consume… the Torah wanted to distance us from the consumption of cruel animals because they would somehow taint us spiritually and ingrain a degree of cruelty into our souls.

One interesting bird on the list is the Chasidah, usually translated as a stork… The Chasidah is a very generous bird who shares its food with its fellow Chasidahs.  …  This begs the obvious question… we don’t eat these non-kosher birds because they are cruel.  We don’t want to ingest a nasty bird that kills other animals.  But the Chasidah is a nice guy!  He shares his food with his fellows.  He does Chesed, acts of kindness for others!  So what’s the problem?..

Read more.

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 “You!”  (2006)

… The Talmud describes how the available bachelorettes borrowed dresses (so as not to embarrass one who had none) and went down to the vineyards to meet eligible bachelors … two days, Yom Kippur and the Fifteenth of Av, were the two main days for arranging marriages.

Doesn’t that seem a bit odd?  Yom Kippur, a day of serious spiritual yearning, a time of forgiveness of sins!  Is that the right time to arrange a date?!  The month of Av, a time during which we have shed oceans of tears!  Is that an appropriate time for a singles event?! …

Read more.

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“Terrible or Tear-able? – The Living Talk about Dying” (2005)

… I once went to visit a friend who was sitting Shiva for his father.  He and his mother were both wearing black ribbons pinned to their shirts.  Now this black ribbon, as I will explain, has no significance whatsoever in traditional Jewish practice.  It was the last day of Shiva.  My friend, taking advantage of the fact that a rabbi was visiting, decided to call upon the vast wealth of Torah knowledge that his friend the rabbi could provide.

“So tell me, Rabbi,” he asked.  “How long am I supposed to wear this ribbon?”…

Read more.

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“A Little Bit Kosher?!” (2004)

“There’s no such thing as ‘a little bit pregnant.”  There are no two ways about it; either you are or you aren’t.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Kosher law was so simple? … “Why are there so many Kosher symbols? What ever happened to the plain, simple “K”? O-U, O-K, Star-K? OY VAY!!!!”… I still haven’t answered the question about dual standards.   Must meat be Glatt kosher or not?  Must milk be Cholov Yisroel or not?  IS SHE PREGNANT OR NOT?!

Read more.

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“A High Fly Matzah Ball into SHALLOW Center Field” (2003)

… My son and I went to a baseball game the other day.  I usually try to take him to a game or two every season, and this particular day fit into my schedule.  Coincidentally, it happened to have been Jewish Heritage Day at Shea Stadium.  What, I wondered, is “Jewish Heritage?”  Well, now I was going to find out.

It was, in many ways, a wonderful day.  Fortunately for my son-the-Met-fan, the Mets beat the  Rockies. (Again!)  The weather was great.  Cliff Floyd had four hits and an intentional walk.  Al Leiter pitched a season-high ten strikeouts.  It was a good day at Shea.

Oh, and the “Jewish Heritage Day?”  To be honest, I was, at best, underwhelmed…

Read more.

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“Spring Ahead …” (2002)

…Jews and Muslims both use a lunar calendar. Rosh Chodesh, the first of the month, always comes out on the new moon. Why then, is there such a discrepancy between the Jewish and Muslim calendars? While Ramadan can come out any time during the year, Rosh Hashanah is always in September, and Passover is always in March or April.  How do calendars that are so similar end up so different?…

If the calendar were left alone… we’d have Chanukah in July! (At least it might eliminate the “December dilemma!”) …

Read more.

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“BREAD, MATZAH…AND PIZZA” (2001)

… Did you ever wonder why we left in a hurry?  We eat Matzah to remember that since we were in a hurry, there was no time for our bread to rise.  But what was the rush?  Why were we in such a hurry?   We couldn’t afford a few more minutes to take the bread out of the oven and put some peanut butter on it?!  210 years in  Egypt, and we can’t take the time to pack and leave like a mentch?!…

Read more.

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This is the weekly message at TorahTalk.org. Copyright © 2000-2011 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (Brisrabbi.com) and chaplain in  Monsey,  New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

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Published in: on August 17, 2001 at 3:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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