Chometz and Matza – Just One Second Apart!


rabbi-eli-teitelbaumBy Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum zt”l

It seems quite strange that the Torah is far stricter with Chometz than with anything else. Not only are we not allowed to eat it, but we are not even allowed to keep the tiniest speck of it in our possession even under lock and key. What can be so terrible with a tiny drop of chometz that the Torah was tougher with the laws of chometz then with all other foods? There are many foods which we are not permitted to eat or even derive benefit from, yet we are permitted to keep them in the house. Why is chometz any different?

The only difference between chometz and matza is the element of time. The ingredients are exactly the same. They may be just one second apart, yet this one second makes all the difference. While we can make up for everything else, there is no way to make up for lost time. There is no way to make up for a lost second. A second lost, remains lost for eternity. Time is irreplaceable. It’s gone forever. Every person has a limited time on this world. Once we have wasted even a single second, there is no way to make it up. Only science fiction books can take us back in a time machine.

Sometimes that extra second can mean the difference between life and death. The Gemara tells us that because Nachum Ish Gam Zu was a little slow in unloading his donkey, a poor man died. To a starving person, one second can make the difference between life and death.

When we left Mitzrayim, a place filled with the worst form of tuma, one extra second could have meant another casualty. Another person may have fallen into the bottomless pit (which is stage number fifty) from which there is absolutely no way out. Just imagine what would be if that person had been our own great-grandfather? Then we’d certainly not be sitting at the seder table today!

We’re living in a time where we have time saving machines of every sort . We’ve got a car that can take us places that once took days yet now takes only minutes. We’ve got planes that take us half way around the world in less then a day, something that used to take weeks and even months. We’ve got machines that can do a weeks work in just a few hours yet for some reason we seem to have less time than ever before. We just never seem to know where all our time went. Despite all the timesaving devises, we are always complaining that we can never find enough time to learn. We’re always too busy. One would have thought that with all the new modern inventions, we’d have plenty of extra time that we could spend learning Torah. Yet I’m afraid that the very opposite is true. The more gadgets we have, the less time we seem to have for Torah learning.

The Yetzer Horah sure knows how to put all the gimmickry to good use so that we find less and less time to do what Hashem wants us to do. First we’ve got to listen to the news so that we know what happened in China. Then we’ve go to see the Super Bowl so that we can relax after a hard day’s work. Then we’ve got to use up our 2,000 free minutes on our cell phone so that we should not pay them for nothing. We’ve got to go on the Internet to find out how our stocks did today and also to pick up our ever increasing E-Mail messages. Then we must play with our “time out” games for only a few minutes which usually takes up far more time than originally budgeted. By the time the day is over, we are so exhausted that we fall asleep with an open Gemara. If we add up all the time wasted every single day, we’d soon realize we’re in bad trouble. We, of course, make up our mind that from today on things will be different. We decide that from now on we are going to be very careful and not waste a single second. Yet there is absolutely no way we can make up for even one wasted second of our lives. What a horrid tragedy! No wonder even the tiniest speck of chometz is not allowed on Pesach! When we celebrate our freedom from enslavement we must make sure to release ourselves from all those things that enslave our valuable time. When one becomes enslaved to all the machines and gadgets that surround us, one is in slavery even today.

Pesach is the time we must sit down and figure out a way out of our slavery. “Ein loch ben chorin ela me she’oseik b’Torah.” The only person that is truly considered free is the one who is studying Torah. Pesach time is the time we must make this commitment. That’s because the entire purpose of yetzias Mitzrayim was kabbolas haTorah.

Let’s make sure that the taste and lesson of matza remains with us all year long.

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