Is it a mitzvah to eat matzah on Chol Hamoed?
Eating matzah on Chol Hamoed is an opportunity for becoming great. Only that it involves some effort, some thinking. You take a piece of matzah, Chol Hamoed Pesach, when you’re eating lunch, and while you’re chewing, you’re thinking, “Why am I eating matzah? Why not bread?”
“Well, the Torah says so.”
But why did the Torah say so? The answer is to remember Yetzias Mitzrayim. That’s a new idea, no? You’re eating matzah, lunchtime, in the middle of Chol Hamoed Pesach and you’re thinking, “Why matzah? Why not a roll? Why not bread?”
The answer is, in order to remember Yetzias Mitzrayim. Instead of being avodim to Pharaoh we were taken out of Mitzrayim to be free men.
The only question is what does it mean to be free?
You know, the Reformers say “Pesach is the Holiday of Freedom! Pesach is not only for Jews; it’s a holiday of freedom for everyone – the whole world should be free!” It means the blacks should be free to get the best jobs in the universities. Women should be free to get the best jobs. Freedom means to take away jobs from the men and give it to the women even if they don’t qualify. Freedom for the whole world!
No; Pesach is not a festival of freedom. Pesach is when we went out of Pharaoh’s service — but we went into another service however; we went out of Mitzrayim in order to serve Hashem. Pesach is not for freedom! חירותנו means we go free from Pharaoh; but it’s only in order to serve Hashem! אשר הוצאתיך מארץ מצרים להיות לכם לאלוקים – I took you out of Mitzrayim to be your G-d. Instead of working for Pharaoh you have to work for Me. It’s freedom from Pharaoh, freedom from shtus. But now you have to work for Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
And how do you work for Him? By learning Torah, by doing mitzvos. It’s a good type work. It’s for your benefit to do that kind of work. But still, you have to know that you are a servant to Hashem, no less than you served Pharaoh. That’s what you’re thinking about on Chol Hamoed when you’re eating matzah – that’s what it’s for.
TAPE # E-229 (April 2000)