When I was younger, I was told that if a person eats too much of a certain food, he will eventually start to look like that food. Pesach proves the fallacy of that idea: The more matzah I ate over Pesach, the more I felt like a fluffy piece of chametz. If only eating matzah made you look like matzah (without the holes)…
Although we are all back to eating chametz, Pesach contains a powerful lesson that is especially poignant and relevant for our times.
Anyone who attends shul during any day of Pesach, and hears the Maftir being leined from the Torah, is aware that the congregation seems to become very excited when the word “ka’eileh” is read. When the Torah describes the unique korbanos that were offered each day of Pesach, it states “ka’eileh” – “like these” (i.e., exactly as the Torah dictates) – shall the korbanos be offered. Rashi explains that on Sukkos there was a different amount of korbanos offered each day of the holiday. On Pesach, however, the exact same amount of korbanos was offered all seven days of the holiday: two bulls, one ram, and seven sheep as olos (elevation offerings), and a goat as a chatas (sin offering).
The Gemara (Arachin 10a) relates that because on Pesach the same offerings are brought each day, the joy isn’t as intense as on Sukkos. Therefore, on Pesach only “half Hallel” is recited, whereas on Sukkos, the entire Hallel is recited on each day.
Based on this discrepancy, it may seem that Pesach plays second-fiddle to Sukkos. But the reality is that this very aspect of Pesach contains an important insight. We live in a world of constant innovation. Yesterday’s exciting novelty is today’s ho-hum.
My students in yeshivah tell me that my iPhone 5S is “ancient.” I try to explain to them that I remember when double-screen Donkey Kong was the latest rage, just before Game Boy hit the scene.
Everything is constantly becoming clearer, more convenient, and faster. Ours is an “on-demand” world, where everyone panders to the consumer so that they can lure him into their snare of mindless preoccupation with their product.
In such an impatient society, it is an increasing challenge to focus and reflect on anything.
That is the beauty and greatness of Pesach. For a week, we would offer the exact same korbanos, and that is an important part of the celebration and the biblical obligation of being joyous during the holiday. It may not contain the excitement and novelty of Sukkos, but it is no less vital. To be able to rejoice with what we have, and to reflect upon the timeless messages that surround us, is an integral facet of spiritual maturity.
Pesach is a celebration of divine love and faith. Those are messages that are not quickly internalized, but require much contemplation and thought; a week is hardly enough time to imbibe such timeless values.
Perhaps that is the subconscious reason why it has become in vogue to call out “ka’eileh” along with the baal k’riah throughout Pesach. The fact that we bring the exact same korbanos every day of Pesach reminds us how important it is to take advantage of the message of Pesach. It isn’t because our Pesach diet seems to be the same every day – matzah pizza, chocolate, leben, yogurt, eggs, and potatoes – but because we desperately want that message to remain with us long after we have reopened our chametz cabinets. If there was ever a time when we needed to remind ourselves of the value of reflection and contemplation, it is in our “YouTube/check-out-this-silly-clip generation.”
Even as we work to rid ourselves of the physical aftereffects of the matzah, we would be wise to try to hold onto its spiritual message for as long as we can!