Torah Fax 

Torah Reading:  Bo (Exodus 10:1 - 13:16) 
Candle Lighting: 4:53 PM
Shabbat ends: 5:56 PM

In this week's parsha the Torah details the way the first Passover was observed. The Jews were commanded among other things to bake and eat Matzah. The way in which this command is introduced is with the words "You shall guard the Matzot." The meaning of "guarding" is to insure that the mixture of flour and water is not allowed to rise and become "leavened."
The word Matzot, when written in Hebrew without vowels, allows for an alternate reading. Instead of the world Matzot, it can be read Mitzvot, which means commandments. Accordingly, the Talmudic sages reinterpret this verse to mean: "Guard the Mitzvot that they do not become sour/leavened." When one has an opportunity to do a Mitzvah, one should do it without any delay.  What began as a specific prescription for the proper preparation of the Matzah now becomes a general and sweeping exhortation concerning the way we approach the observance of all the Mitzvot.
The question that one may ask is why the Torah chose the Mitzvah of Matzah to impart the lesson of not procrastinating in doing a Mitzvah?
One answer given is based on the teaching of the great Kabbalist the Ari (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria-Ashkenazi of the sixteenth century). According to the Ari, if one is careful not to possess even the most insignificant amount of Chometz (leavened bread or bread products), they will be assured that they will not transgress throughout the rest of the year. In other words, eating of Matzah and its converse, not eating or possessing Chometz, relates to the observance of all of the commandments. Therefore, when the Torah wants to admonish us about guarding the observance of our Mitzvot, it chose the Mitzvah of Matzah because, indeed, it relates to all of the Mitzvot.
However, this answer merely transfers the question to the teaching of the Ari. Why did the Ari maintain that scrupulous observance of the Chometz interdiction will affect the observance of all of the commandments that we will perform throughout the rest of the year?  Nowhere does it say that the proper observance of the Mitzvah to eat in a Sukkah during the Holiday of Sukkot, for example, will in any way guarantee the observance of other commandments during the rest of the year. What distinguishes the Mitzvah of Matzah and the prohibition of Chometz from all other seasonal observances?
One approach to this is that Chometz and Matzah are said to symbolize the difference in attitude between one who is egocentric—whose every act, word or thought revolves around themselves—and the one who is G‑d and people centric.  These "Chometz" - "ego driven" personalities are compared to the flour and water that is allowed to rise and become inflated with air. They compare unfavorably with the Matzah personality whose ego is in check and whose life revolves around G‑d and the need to help others.
Guarding our Matzah is another way of saying preserving the natural state of our soul to be humble and recognize its G‑dly source. To neglect our Matzah (read: ego-less mindset) is to make us vulnerable to all the negative possibilities. If we preserve the integrity of our Matzah we also fortify ourselves and ensure the integrity of all our Judaism. One who is obsessed with his own needs and desires will lose the sensitivity to the needs and desires of G‑d and other people.
In this spirit the Ari's teaching is that one who is careful to eradicate the Chometz, the egocentric inclinations one possesses, will also discover they are more likely to resist the temptations to which others would ordinarily succumb.
There is an even deeper lesson from the above.
When Rashi cites this interpretation he expresses it in the following way: "A Mitzvah that comes to your hand - don't delay it."
What does Rashi mean when he speaks of a Mitzvah that comes to 'your hand?" Why couldn't Rashi have stated simply: "One should not delay the performance of a Mitzvah."
By stating "a Mitzvah that comes to your hand" Rashi is including a more sophisticated form of procrastination. The verse is not merely talking about a person who postpones doing a Mitzvah because of laziness. It can also be referring to someone who has the opportunity to act on the Mitzvah, but feels that they are not ready for it. They want to first study the reasons for the Mitzvah and psyche themselves up for it before they actually act on it. They may reason that doing a Mitzvah without the requisite feeling and emotion for it is a waste. One might argue, "If I don't feel like helping my neighbor, then perhaps, I must wait to start feeling the need to help, before I act."
To negate this mindset and reason for delay of a Mitzvah, Rashi therefore emphasizes, "a Mitzvah that comes to your hand," meaning that if you have the ability to act on the performance of the Mitzvah with your hands—even if your mind and heart are not yet in it—don't delay doing it. Act first and then learn about the deeper meaning for what you've accomplished later.
And this lesson too has a connection to the guarding of Matzah lest it become leavened.
As explained above, guarding the Matzah represents maintaining humility and not letting our egos gain control over us. When we are not careful about our Matzah, and our egos swell, it is likely that we will postpone the execution of a Mitzvah; we will wait to first convince ourselves about the importance of the Mitzvah. We will try to find—whether consciously or subconsciously—a good rationalization for doing the Mitzvah in terms of what is in it for us. A person, who is consumed with a sense of self importance, will never defer to someone else's judgment.
Only a person who is humble will readily yield to G‑d's will even before they fully understand its subjective and objective value.
Rashi therefore tells us that the only valid consideration for the observance of a Mitzvah is whether it comes to your hand. If you know it's a Mitzvah and you have the physical ability to do it—do it!
Our Sages tell us that every commandment that G‑d gives us, He keeps as well.
Of all the Mitzvot, our Sages tell us, it is the Mitzvah to redeem captives that is regarded as the greatest. Thus, if we are obligated to liberate those who are held captive from captivity, then it follows that G‑d too has the Mitzvah of redeeming us from exile. And even for the majority of Jews who live in free societies, we still are in a spiritual exile.
We therefore respectfully approach G‑d in our prayers and say to Him: "G‑d, You commanded us to redeem captives and you also commanded us to not delay the performance of a Mitzvah. Please, do the same and redeem us from exile, now! And if for whatever reason You might feel that the Redemption can be postponed, please realize that the Torah teaches us that one may not delay the execution of a Mitzvah.
G‑d might then argue to us that His heart is not in it, for perhaps we have not done enough to "affect" G‑d's feelings for us, as it were. G‑d might therefore be waiting to "have His heart in it" by waiting for us to show our devotion to Him.
Our response to this argument is, "G‑d You yourself told us that when a Mitzvah comes to your hand, i.e., when you have an opportunity to do a Mitzvah, don't wait for your heart to be in it. Just do the Mitzvah and the feelings will follow. G‑d, please follow Your own laws and bring an end to the physical and spiritual exile and all the negativity that exile entails, and bring Moshiach now!"   


Moshiach Matters  

“The life of the Previous Rebbe (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn) can be divided into 3 stages. The first is when he began spreading Chassidus during the lifetime of his father, Rebbe Sholom Dovber, the second is during his reign as Rebbe when he spread Chassidus throughout the world, including bringing Torah to America. The third stage is after 1950 (the years of the Rebbe’s leadership), when his work intensified greatly, to the point that the world has become absolutely ready for the arrival of Moshiach!”
(The Rebbe, Parshas VaEra, 1992)

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