We begin our Seder with “This is the bread of our
affliction that our fathers ate in the land of
Mitzrayim.” Yet, we all know that the reason that
we eat matzah is because Hashem took us out of
Egypt in a very big hurry and we had no time to
let our dough rise. We also know that we were
required to eat matzah on the very last night of
our stay in Egypt, even before we actually left. I f
the reason for eating matzah is because we
left Egypt in a big hurry, then what was the
matzah on our last night in Egypt all about?
How do we reconcile these two seemingly
different reasons for the use of matzah?
The answer may be quite simple. On our last night in Egypt we were required to
eat the Matzah in remembrance of the poor man’s bread which we ate as slaves in
Egypt. When we begin our story of our exodus from Egypt, we put this bread in front
of us in order to recall our slavery there. The reason a slave eats matzah rather than
bread is because he is very hungry and doesn’t have the time to allow the dough to
rise. His master is constantly on his back and driving him to work harder. He has no
time for himself. He must prepare his food in a very big hurry. Matzah can be made
very quickly while Chometz must be allowed to rise and this takes time. A slave has
no time to wait until the dough rises. He is too busy working for his master.
On our last night in Egypt we were required to recall our slavery in Egypt and
therefore we had to eat matzos. Yet, during the seder itself we are required to thank
Hashem for having taken us out of Egypt in a big hurry and not delaying our stay
in Egypt for even an extra minute. Every second counted. Once the moment of our
redemption had arrived, Hashem didn’t delay it for even an extra moment. An extra
moment may have meant that some person would have reached the bottomless pit
of tuma – the fiftieth stage – and therefore he would not have merited the redemption.
In fact, we are told that only one in five merited to be taken out. Many died during
the plague of Darkness.
We begin our story by pointing to the matzah which we ate in Mitzrayim. This
matzah is a reminder of our slavery and great suffering which we went through
הגדה של פסח
during our actual stay in Egypt. Perhaps we can compare it to a slave who lived
in great poverty and pain. One day his master freed him and also paid him lots of
money for his loyal service over the many years. Every year on this special lucky
day he would make a big lavish party and invite all his friends and give praise to
Hashem for his good fortune. He would start his party by putting on the old torn and
tattered clothes he had once wore when he was still a poor hard-working slave and
tell everyone how terrible his once was. Later on, during the meal he changed to his
beautifull new suit and would take out his beautiful silver and gold dishes and thank
Hashem for all he did for him.
We, too, start the Seder by telling how it once was and point to the poor man’s
bread we were forced to eat while still in Egypt. Later on, during the meal, we eat
matzah in appreciation and gratitude of the great speed with which we were taken
out of Mitzrayim. They are no contradiction at all!