Pesach: Pesach, Matzah, and Marror

My wife started cooking last night, and out of all the people, my oldest son wanted to join her and help.  The reason, he explained, was that he remembers every year, since he was younger, working and making special Pesach food with her.

Last year, I once asked the kids that if they had a choice to stay at home for Pesach or go to a hotel, what would they choose?  They all agreed that they would want to stay at home.

My wife noticed that despite all the stress and yelling that occurs shortly before Pesach, if one really puts their physical and emotional power into making the Yom Tov meaningful; the childen will still remember only the good and look forward to it with excitement.

I heard a wonderful talk from Rav Breitowitz a few days ago.  He made some very nice points about the Seder and I thought to share one of them with you.

As we know, Pesach is not only about the birth and freedom of one nation from another, but it also is a time where one has more “mazal” to free himself from the shackles of the Yetzer Horah.  Pesach is not just a national time, but also a personal one as well.

The main part of the Seder is the explanation of the Korban Pesach, the Matzah and Marror.  Rav Breitowitz explained these three things as steps to inner growth, however, he explained them in reverse order.

“First” is the marror, which we all know represents bitterness.  The first step to any form of self-improvement is the most bitter step: the soul-searching and admitting one's shortcomings.  Actually acknowledging that you actually have what to work on and admitting exactly what that issue is.

Second comes the matzah.  What’s the difference between matzah and chametz?  Simply ... action.  If one mixes flour and water and leaves it be, it will become chametz.  However, if immediately one begins to work with the dough and get it into the oven as soon as possible, it will become matzah.

Similarly, if a person, even if he knows what his problem is, doesn’t start working on himself immediately, he will never move forward.  His laziness will continue to keep him down, making him unable to move forward.

Finally is the Korban Pesach.  Halachically speaking, one should eat the Korban Pesach in a group.  Another key component to successful growth is being part of a group.  It could be one's spouse, one’s immediate family, one’s group of friends, or even a community.  If one is part of something that is bigger than he is, quantitatively and spiritually, they will help him and provide him with the inertia to continue upwards.

Rav Breitowitz than asked, this order seems so logical, why does the Hagaddah say Korban Pesach first and Marror last?  He answers that first, one needs to be part of something bigger than himself to help him along.  Afterwards, comes the matzah.  A person who is willing to admit his ways are wrong, but is unwilling to do something about it, will not move anywhere.  First, he needs to have the desire and the will to take action.  Only then, will he be able to start with Marror and start looking into which character traits he needs to improve.

As we see, Pesach is not only about our national birth and rebirth, but is a very proper time for one to start his life anew.

Have a wonderful and meaningful Pesach!