Posts Tagged 'Procrastination'

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.


Do Not Linger

In Vayera, this week’s Torah portion, we read about the destruction of Sodom. There we read:

15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying: ‘Arise, take your wife, and your two daughters that are here; lest you be swept away in the iniquity of the city.’ 16 But he lingered; and the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him. And they brought him forth, and set him without the city. 17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said: ‘Escape for your life; look not behind you, neither stay in all the Plain; escape to the mountain, lest you be swept away.’

Here Lot and his family are being told to get out of there and not to linger. And as we all know Lot’s wife does turn around and is turned into a Pillar of Salt. Lot’s daughters fear that world has been destroyed. As compared to their mother who seems to linger these young women shift into gear and set a twisted plan to save the world. They intoxicate their father and get him to sleep with them. They bear Moav and Amon. The Israelites are instructed not to marry people from these two tribes. Later on in the Book of Ruth we learn that indeed Boaz marries Ruth a Moabite. Their children are the progenitors of the David and in turn the  line of the Messiah.

In the 12th of Rambam’s 13 principles of faith we read:

I believe with complete faith in the coming of Messiah, and although he may tarry, nevertheless, I wait every day for him to come.

It is noteworthy that the word “tarry” shares the same root as the word in our Torah portion for lingered וַיִּתְמַהְמָהּ .  What does it mean that Lot is instructed to not tarry, but in the end the Messiah who is ultimately descended from him will linger? What do we make of this?

This seems to point to a basic human trait. We all love to procrastinate ( see Matzah here). I am not alone in realizing that I often will wait until that last-minute and then pull the all-nighter to get the job done. It seems only just that our ultimate salvation will be held up doing the same.

Temperamental Drink

In Pinchas, this week’s Torah portion, we read about all of the sacrifices. Starting with the Tamid, daily sacrifices, through the Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh, and all of the festivals we learn about all of the offerings. There about  the Tamid sacrifice we read;

And the drink-offering thereof shall be the fourth part of a hin for the one lamb; in the holy place you shall pour out a drink-offering of strong drink to the Lord. (Numbers 28:7)

What is this ” strong drink ” and why does this sacrifice need it?  On this Rashi  writes,” This is wine that intoxicates,to the exclusion of wine that comes directly from the wine-press. This daily sacrifice needs fermented wine, and not just grape juice. But what is the significance of fermented over juice?

I think it is interesting to realize that you cannot just whip up some wine. Fermentation demands preparation. Passover is s holiday during which we commemorate our not having planned ahead. We did not leave time for the bread to ferment. We procrastinated and now we are left with Matzah. In many respects I believe that we are the procrastiNation. In contrast to the Matzah, with the daily sacrifice they were instructed to make the needed preparation. To me it seems like an interesting lesson in the importance of planning ahead.  In terms of planning all I can say is that I married well. I know that my personal temperament is to shoot from the hip, but I know that this is something that I need to work on every day. For me planning is a daily sacrifice.

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