ProcrastiNation: Why We Eat Matzah on Passover

In preparation for Shabbat HaGadol I ask myself, why do we eat Matzah on Passover? As we read in the Haggadah:

Because the dough of our fathers did not have time to become leavened before the King of the kings, the Holy One, blessed be God, revealed God’s self to them and redeemed them. Thus it is said: “They baked Matzah-cakes from the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, because it was not leavened; for they had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had also not prepared any [other] provisions.” (DIY Haggadah)

So when the time came for them to leave they did not delay, but that final plague was not the first time they heard of their pending exodus. Moshe came and told the slaves of the plan to leave Egypt. It seems as though the Israelites were surprised by the exodus. Or is it that they doubted that it was possible? You would think that they would have prepared some provisions. Maybe some bagels for the trip, they travel quite well. Can you even imagine what our Passover brunch spread would have been like? But that is not the case. We are stuck eating Matzah.

It seems that Pharaoh was not alone in doubting that God would redeem the people from their bondage. While we call it the bread of affliction, the affliction in question seems to be procrastination. The slaves procrastinated in getting ready to leave the world they knew. We all can relate. On a mundane level we all run late and wait until the last-minute to get things done. But on a deeper level we are all a little slow in working to be the change that we want to see in the world. As the expression goes, failure to prepare is preparing to fail. As we eat this “bread of procrastination” we should liberate ourselves from habits of being a “ProcrastiNation”. As quoted by MLK in his moving Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We must believe, plan, and move swiftly to free our world from injustice. Eating Matzah reminds us not to delay.

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1 Response to “ProcrastiNation: Why We Eat Matzah on Passover”


  1. 1 Greg Wall March 27, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Hi Rabbi Avi- I was drawn to read your post as I was in the midst of preparing my Shabbat HaGadol drasha on this very topic! Although I never thought to view the enslaved Iraelites as procrastinators, I do see a message to those who do choose to wait before taking action, an our most noble intentions can quickly turn to moral chametz. I have always read the Exodus as an inspiring moment in Jewish history, and the fact that our fore parents were able to take action while unprepared shows faith in a power greater than themselves and their oppressors. But, then again, I like eating matzah… especially the whole wheat handmade matzah from the Boro Park Shmura Matzah Bakery!
    Wishing you, Adina and the family a chag kasher v’sameach!


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