Father and sons pray Western Wall

Never lose hope! When you are praying for salvation and it doesn’t come right away, be prepared, because it can come without warning.

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah [portion is “Bo” (Exodus 10:1-13:16), and in it we read about the last 3 of the 10 plagues as well as the Jewish People’s preparation for the Exodus from Egypt. For example, “They baked the dough that they took out of Egypt into unleavened cakes because they could not be leavened because they were quickly driven from Egypt…they could not delay nor had they made other provisions for themselves.”

This is certainly a famous passage being that it is the source for the reason we eat matza for seven days on Passover and it is also read as the climax of the Passover Seder. Indeed, one who does not read this passage at the Passover Seder does not fulfill the mitzva (Torah commandment) of having a Seder. It is indeed, a very prominent passage when it comes to Passover.

That being said, however, it is somewhat odd that this passage takes the stage. While matza is certainly an important feature of Passover and the story of the Exodus, why aren’t the actual Exodus passages given more prominence? Why is there not as much emphasis on the 10 plagues that God performed, which led to our freedom? While the 10 plagues are indeed mentioned at the Passover Seder, they are not mentioned in the context of their original passages, as is the passage regarding matza. What is so special about not being able to bake bread that earns this passage the limelight of Passover in general, and the Passover Seder in particular?

It is explained that the Jews were expecting to leave Egypt right after the first plague, the plague of blood. As such, they were packed up and ready to go. But as we know, they did not leave Egypt after the first plague. So they unpacked. Then they thought that they would surely leave after the second plague. So they re-packed. But again, nothing. No word to start moving. So they unpacked. The people kept on believing that every plague was the last and that they would be out of Egypt in no time. So they packed and unpacked over and over again. But by the time the 10th and final plague came around, they had lost their motivation. There were too many false alarms. Too many cries of “wolf.” Too much packing and unpacking. So they stopped packing.

As such, when the 10th plague came around and the Jewish people were rushed out of Egypt, they were unprepared. They had stopped packing. They didn’t believe that they would really be free. But as we know, there would not be an 11th plague. They were free after the 10th  plague, but they had no time to prepare.

We learn here that we must never give up on God. As our sages say, “Yeshuot Hashem K’heref ayin,” meaning that God’s salvation and miracles can come in the blink of an eye. We must never give up hope. We must always hang in there. With God, the possibilities are endless.

This is why the matza passage is so important. We must not be caught off guard, as the Jewish people were in Egypt. Don’t make their mistake. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose momentum. Don’t lose enthusiasm. When you are praying for a breakthrough and it doesn’t come right away, be prepared, because it can come without warning. The passage on the lack of proper bread and the leaving of Egypt in haste because they weren’t ready is a message for all of us, forever.

For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below: