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Beshalach-whatever you do, do it enthusiastically!

“And you shall safeguard the matzos” (12:17) ’ushmartem es hamatzos’ (Shemos(12:17))

 

The literal interpretation of the above verse is that one should approach the preparation of the matzos with the utmost care and caution, for the slightest delay in their preparation may cause the dough to become “chametz” – “leavened“, thus invalidating the matzos for use on Pesach.

 

 Rashi cites a Midrash which states that by changing the vowels, the word “matzos” can be read as “Mitzvos”, — From here we learn that what should not delay (ein machmitzin) [in the performance of] the Mitzvos thus  making the verse an injunction requiring us to perform all Mitzvos with “zrizus” – enthusiasm, diligence and eagerness.

 

When a person has the opportunity to perform a mitzva, he should not allow it to become “leavened”, rather he should perform it immediately Just as matzos that are unguarded – i.e., when the water and flour are combined for more than 18 minutes before entering the oven – and cannot be eaten during Pesach, so a mitzvah lacking the quality of zrizus is fundamentally deficient.

  

The comparison that the Midrash draws between the preparation of matzos and the performance of Mitzvos raises the following difficulty: if a person prepares the matzos without the necessary “zrizus” he invalidates them. However, the performance of a mitzvah with improper motivation does not invalidate the Mitzvos the Talmud states: L’olam ya’ask adam b’Torah ubmitzvot, shemitoch shelo lishma, bah lishmah (Pesachim50b). “A person should always involve himself in Torah and Mitzvos, even with improper motivation, for through their performance, he will come to do them with the proper motivation.” Why does the performance of a mitzva with improper motivations have merit, while the performance of a mitzva with proper motivation but without zrizus, is compared to valueless chametz?

  

Sometimes a person does, despite his dislike of it,  a certain task out of a feeling of obligation. When repeatedly required to do the task he may develop a sense of resentment.  However, if given an appropriate incentive to carry out the same task, he would perform it happily.  A possible explanation for this situation is that the longer a person performs a task with resistance, the greater his reluctance will be. He will reach a point of such great resentment, that he will loathe performing the said task. However, incentives would alleviate his reluctance, and he may even come to enjoy performing the task. A person may have the correct intentions in the performance of a mitzva, but if he performs it in a lax manner, he indicates that he is doing it with resistance. This resistance can grow to the point where he loathes the performance of the mitzva. Therefore, Chazal [our Sages] refer to a mitzva performed without zrizus as chametz. On the other hand, if a person performs a mitzva enthusiastically even for the wrong reason, he may come to love the performance of that mitzva, even if that enthusiasm is generated by rewards or incentives. Therefore, Chazal encourage performing Mitzvos even when there is a lack of motivation.

  

The message is whatever you do, do it enthusiastically.

 

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