Pesach 5781(Second Days) – A Lesson from Nordstrom Rack

By BJLife/Ori Strum

Posted on 04/02/21

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

A few years ago, I was shopping at Nordstrom Rack in Towson, MD, minding my own business, when all of a sudden, a random guy asked me the following, “Does this look like a carrot?”

At first, I had no idea what he was talking about. But then I realized he was showing me – the closest shopper in his proximity– an outfit that he had just picked out. He was holding a bright orange shirt and a pair of dark green pants and was wondering if the color combo would make him look like a carrot. I had an urge to laugh at him, but my ethical conscience kicked in, and I pleasantly reassured him that he would not look like a carrot with an orange shirt and green pants. I explained to him that an actual carrot has the green part on top and the orange part on bottom, and as such, he would not look like a carrot!

You are probably wondering why I am mentioning this story. There is indeed a great lesson to be learned from here; a lesson that can help us connect to the essence of the holiday of Pesach.

The man in the story needed my reassurance and approval that his orange and green outfit did not make him look like a carrot. It made no difference that he didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. He valued my opinion and was ergo at the mercy of my influence. How would I respond? In the positive or in the negative? He would view himself however I would view him. To be a carrot or not to be a carrot? That is the question.

Just like humans have a tendency to view their own selves based on how others view them, so too the Jewish people are influenced by Hashem; we tend to view our own selves based on how Hashem views us.

So, how does Hashem view us? We refer to Pesach as זמן חרותנו – a time of our freedom. It is the holiday in which we emerged – 3333 years ago – as the Jewish nation. Hashem, בכבודו ובעצמו, took us out of the most unescapable place on Earth, from the depths of Egypt. He set us free and gave us a new identity; an identity of free people. In the Haggada, we say the words: חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים – every person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt. We are each commanded to view ourselves as being free. Hashem views us as free people, ergo we must view ourselves as free people.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch says a remarkable Halacha (110:9): "המגלגלים יגלגלו בזריזות ואל ישהו לעשות את המצה כדמות איזה צורה" – Regarding the baking of Matzah, the rollers should do their work at full speed and not waste time on giving the Matzos a specific shape!

Interesting. Why would we not be allowed to make the Matzah into a particular form or shape? On Chanuka, we make all types of cookie shapes, such as dreidels, menorah’s, etc. On Purim too, we make hamentashens. Why, then – on Pesach – is there a specific Halacha for the Matzah not to be formed and molded into a specific shape?

Throughout the year, we are constantly trying to fit ourselves (and others!) into certain pictures, shapes, and molds. We come up with all sorts of צורות that we think sums us up and defines us. And of course, that is normal. But Pesach is that special time when Hashem says, “Don’t waste time on giving the Matzos a specific shape!” In other words, “No molds! No pictures! No shapes. I will show you who you are and help you discover your true identity. You are a free people. This is how I view you and this is how you should view yourself.

Let us connect to this inner freedom that exists at our core and serve Hashem in the greatest way that we can.                               

Have a holy Shabbos and Yom Tov!