The Living Torah is a weekly publication distributed in and around North West London. Written by members of Hasmonean High School's Sixth Form programme - we aim to bring you divrei torah for your Shabbat table each and everyweek.

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Thursday, 21 January 2010

Just Jump Right In

The posuk (יב.יא) when speaking about the way that the קרבן פסח should be eaten, says: ואכלתם אותו בחפזון – it should be eaten “with haste” the תרגום uses the wordבבהילו”. The word בהלה usually has connotations of the confusion that accompanies haste. On the surface this seems quite understandable. Hashem wanted the Jews to be ready to leave מצרים as soon as the time came, and so they were told to eat their קרבן quickly. After a little thought, though, this is not so simple. The use of the wordבהלה usually has very negative implications. The opening words of the קללות in פרשת בחוקותי are: והקדתי עליכם בהלה - Hashem will cause panic and confusion. Besides, we are constantly taught by the בעלי מוסר the importance of מנוחת הנפש – being calm and collected. Our thoughts, words and actions should be carefully measured. A mensch is in control of himself at all times, he will not act impulsively even when under pressure.

The question is, why would Hashem instruct the Jews to eat the קרבן with בהלה – a haste bordering on confusion. Haste and confusion should be the last thing we want at this extraordinary time of יציאת מצרים . The birth of the Jewish nation should surely be at a time of total tranquillity and peace of mind, not turmoil and confusion?

The answer to this is that of course, the highest ideal is to think carefully before we speak or act. Impulsive behaviour is something to be seriously avoided. And yet, there are times when too much contemplation is not the right thing. This is especially true when it comes to serving Hashem and doing מצות. The שטן is constantly on the lookout for someone with a little enthusiasm forמצות . Theשטן will pounce on him at once. “Come on” the שטן will say, “your plan will never work, just think about all the complications this idea of yours will involve. Just forget it and get on with your life.” And it’s true, usually if you think too much about it, it won’t happen. The שטן will have succeeded to put a damper on your enthusiasm. It’s like going swimming in a pool that’s not been heated properly. If you try to put your toe in to test the water – you’ll never want to go in, it feels so cold. If you think too much about it, you’ll never go in. The only way is – just jump in.

So sometimes you just have to be a bit hasty. If you’re too calm and collected the excitement will evaporate. And, yes, it was particularly at this momentous and crucial time, the birth of the Jewish nation, that excitement, enthusiasm and even a little haste and impulsiveness, were the right things.

By Rabbi Cohen

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