Passover preparations are underway, and many households are already cleaning out rooms, looking for Chometz. “Chometz” is any product of wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt which was allowed to rise, including bread, cookies, cakes & crackers. During the Passover holiday, the bread which we eat is Matzah, prepared without allowing it to rise. The Torah instructs all Jewish households to not only consume Matzah, but to remove all leavened products from their possession.
While Passover is observed for only one week, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was wary of Chometz the entire year. As we read in this week’s Torah portion, the majority of flour offerings (Menachos) in the Temple were Matzah, unleavened bread. “All leaven, and all honey, should not be burned as a burned offering to G-d (Lev. 2:11).”
What is the message of Matzah that connects the lofty service in the Holy Temple with the joyous holiday of Passover?
If you’ve ever witnessed the production line in a Matzah bakery, one thing stands out — the speed. See one in action here. According to Jewish law, leavening begins 18 minutes from the time water is added to flour. That means the entire process of producing Matzah, from the moment the two ingredients mix until the baking is complete , must take less than 18 minutes. In practice, per the video clip, a Matzah bakery can produce each Matzah in less than five minutes(!). That takes tremendous speed, dedication, coordination, and teamwork.
This emphasis on speed and attention carries over to our practice and observance of all of G-d’s commandments. The spelling of Matzos and Mitzvos, in Hebrew, is exactly the same – מצות. The optimal form of Mitzvah observance is with excitement and zeal, just like baking a Matzah. (Based on Sefer HaChinuch)
While it’s fairly easy to go through the motions, even if we’re feeling sluggish and uninspired, it’s important to cultivate actual excitement for Mitzvos so their observance is more meaningful. In a loving relationship, partners will do whatever they can to better it. A core principle of Judaism is that G-d’s desire is to give us enjoyment and pleasure. A Mitzvah done with excitement is a manifestation of our own desire to do the same, as it were — to please G-d by carefully and speedily fulfilling His will, like a servant hurrying to care for royalty.
There is also, in Jewish Law, a means of ridding ourselves of Chometz that we would like to return to our possession after Passover — by selling it for the duration of the holiday and repurchasing it afterwards. To help you do this, we have, and are again, offering our annual program to facilitate the sale of your Chometz, online (through a renowned expert in doing this correctly, Rabbi Yirmiyahu Benyowitz). This convenient service is an important fundraiser for Project Genesis – Torah.org, so we encourage you to use this service. Sell your Chometz online today, as you prepare for Passover!