In the Haggadah of Pesach before eating the matzah we recite the reason why we eat the matzah:
מצה זו שאנו אוכלים על שום מה על שום שלא הספיק בצקם של אבותינו להחמיץ עד שנגלה עליהם מלך מלכי המלכים הקב”ה וגאלם
The Mechilta writes on the words כי גורשו ממצרים (Shmos 12,39) (that they were chased out from Mitzrayim) from that moment on, a miracle happened that their dough stopped rising. Once Am Yisrael could not wait any longer in Mitzrayim to allow their dough to rise, the reaction amongst the ingredients that would naturally cause their dough to rise became dysfunctional and the dough remained in the same frozen state throughout their entire journey from Raamses until they reached Succos. Only after arriving at Succos were they given the first opportunity to bake their miracle dough.
Why did this miracle occur? The Baal Haggadah answers שנגלה עליהם מלך מלכי המלכים הקב”ה. Hashem Himself had to bring the geulah to His people as it says in the Haggadah אני ולא מלאך אני ולא שרף אני הוא ולא אחר. The name of הויה forms the letters of היה הוה יהיה past present and future all in one moment. Hashem’s appearance during this encounter of the Shechinah Revelation displayed a characteristic of being above time, which is a creation in itself. The name of הויה forms the letters of היה הוה יהיה past, present and future tenses all simultaneously. As the meforshim explain on the passuk בראשית ברא אלקים that Hashem created a beginning which literally means the creation of time. For time is the starting point of everything of creation. As elusive and intangible as time seems, it nevertheless also needed to be created. This is how the Vilna Gaon interprets the phrase in Baruch Sh’amar ברוך עושה בראשית. Everything is under the influence of time. However, geulah which involved the revelation of Hashem’s presence automatically means a revelation of this aspect of rising above the natural components of time, such as day and night (Chazal say that the night of Pesach was as light as daytime), the zodiac and constellations (the mazal of טלה was deactivated from its influences), and natural aging as we find defied by the Lechem Hapanim in the Bais Hamikdash and in the dough that did not rise.
It takes the passage of time for dough to rise. Normally flat dough rises with time. The dough of Yetzias Mitzrayim was miraculous in that it demonstrated that it possessed the quality of the supernatural by not rising with the passage of time. It received the impact of the revelation of Hashem’s presence. Therefore a commemoration of this matzah was made into a mitzvah to symbolize our special geulah from Mitzrayim by Hashem’s presence.
In the beginning of the Haggadah, we say הא לחמא עניא די אכלו אהבתנא בארעא דמצרים this is the bread of affliction that we ate in Mitzrayim during our slavery. The meforshim learn that the staple food that was given to slaves was matzah since it takes a small amount of time to prepare and it is very filling. What a contrast to the mitzvah of matzah which symbolizes geulah. They both have the same outward appearance and might even taste the same. To go even further one can say that both matzos symbolize slavery. What? Yes! The only difference is one symbolizes the slavery of galus and the other symbolizes the slavery of geulah. As Rav Schwab writes in his sefer מעין בית השואבה that instead of being subjugated to Pharaoh, on the night of the 15th of Nissan we became subjects of Hashem the King of Kings. Here are some of the light-years differences that separate the two matzos. Under Hashem’s dominion, we are freed from the shackles of nature and time and are elevated to connect to Olam Habah even in this world. Unlike the לחם עוני we ate as slaves to Pharaoh, the מצה of Yetzias Mitzrayim was void of time constrictions and it turned into a מצוה like all מצוות which connect us (the letter vov of מצוה in Lashon Hakodesh is the connector letter) to an eternal and timeless world. The Matzah of Yetzias Mitzrayim had Hashem’s direct hand involved in the making of it which is in contrast to the matzah of Pharaoh given to the slaves, possessed only the hand of flesh and blood. The שאור, yeast of the dough, which Chazal compare to the yetzer harah was dysfunctional in the matzah of the geulah making it spiritual food, not so with the matzah of slavery.
Now we can understand another Chazal on the passuk וימררו את חייהם בעבודה קשה (Shmos 1,14) The Zohar Hakadosh writes:
וימררו אה חייהם בעבודה קשה קושיא, בחומר דא ק”ו, ובלבנים דא ליבון הלכה, ובכל עבודה בשדה דא ברייתא, את כל עבודתם אשר עבדו בם בפרך דא תיקו.
What is the meaning of this cryptic message that the Zohar is revealing by connecting the severe hardships of the slave labor that the Yidden had in Mitzrayim to the different tools applied to the learning of Torah Shbe’al Peh which interprets the 613 mitzvos? Even this is hinted in the gematriah of the acronym of these tools קושיא קל וחומר הלכה ברייתא תיקו which add up to 613. According to the above explanation, it is the matzah of Yetzias Mitzrayim that taught us that freedom is not a license to be able to live a life without rules regulations, restrictions, and disciplines. Rather it is the transfer of masters, from being enslaved to other people, things, bodily cravings, and lusts and now to become subjected and committed to fulfilling the mitzvos of Hashem our true Master. This new subjugation will be achieved by learning Shas and fulfilling mitzvos with the same commitment with which we worked as slaves to Pharaoh when we clearly realized that our life depended upon our expected production. עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה. The word חרות freedom is gematriah 614 and the acronym of the tools that are applied to the Oral Law is the same including the כולל. This is what Chazal allude to when they say אין לך בן חורין אלא מי שעוסק בתורה .
This is the reason why we introduce the Maggid segment of the Haggadah with הא לחמא עניא. Why should we even focus on the type of food such as the matzah that we ate as slaves and why is that so important? The answer is because the matzah of geulah is only an exchange of subservience to different masters. However, we are expected to use at least the same inner and outer strengths of mesiras nefesh and commitments to Hashem as we did while being enslaved to Pharaoh. That is why the description of slave food is an integral part of not only the galus but of the geulah as well.
This could also explain the custom why we place two types of maror on the Seder Plate מרור וחזרת. The meforshim explain that the maror is used for the siman of maror representing the bitterness of our servitude to Pharaoh. The chazeres which is lettuce is used for maror in the Korach sandwich. However, the two marors are sending two distinct messages. The Korach represents the geulah as we find in the times of the Bais Hamikdash the sandwich contained the Korban Pesach which symbolizes the geulah. This maror is called חזרת , a word which is composed of two parts חזר to return, and the letter ת gematriah 400 symbolizing the years of our galus which included slavery to Mitzrayim. At the time of our redemption from Mitzrayim our servitude to Pharaoh returned to Yisrael in the form of servitude with mesiras nefesh to Hashem and his Torah.
Note that we mentioned previously that the gematriah of חרות freedom, equaled the acronym of all of the applications for learning Torah with mesiras nefesh. However now if we include the word of חרות as well, we come to 615, which is exactly the same gematriah of חזרת. This demonstrates that we must now channel our servitude to Mitzrayim into עמלות of Torah and mesiras nefesh for fulfilling mitzvos which has become our new mission.
This explanation will also answer why the order of Rabban Gamliel in the Haggadah was פסח מצה מרור instead of the correct time sequence that these symbolic foods events represent מרור פסח מצה ? The answer is the same as the above being that Rabban Gamliel wanted to assure that we fully understand clearly the true definition and ramifications of our newly acquired freedom from Mitzrayim, and our obligation to our new Master which is the singular pathway to gain our true חרות.
Now to bring just a side note which is of utmost chizuk. As we brought above the Torah relates that in the morning of Yetzias Mitzrayim ולא יכלו להתמהמה that Hashem caused that Am Yisrael could not tarry any more in Mitzrayim. It was then that Hashem removed the ability for the dough to naturally rise with the passage of time, for now, they would be on the constant move and have no time or opportunity to bake them. Only when they reached Succos they baked them as the matzos of geulah. In this rush of leaving Mitzrayim we have a lesson that relates to tefillah as well. לחם עוני – bread of poor person – can allude to tefillah as well, since we find the lashon of תפלה לעני. Sometimes one finds himself being rushed to daven, either because he was caught in a lengthy business deal or he didn’t realize it was getting so late. To daven in crunch time without the proper kavanah one might mistakenly think that what he’s about to do is worth nothing and he might as well forget it. The Trisker Maggid, the author of Magen Avraham parshas Korach writes a great revelation about such a scenario as follows.
בשם הבעל שם טוב שגם זה האיש המוטרד בעסקיו כל היום בשווקים וברחובות וכמעט ששוכח יש בורא עולם רק בעת שמגיע זמן תפלת מנחה עולה על זכרונו שהגיע זמן התפלה וגנח ונאנח בלבו בהתבוננות האיך שפנה כל היום בהבלי העולם והוא רץ לסימטא אחת מן הצד ומתפלל מנחה הגם שאינו יודע כלל מה הוא מדבר עם כל זה גם זה חשוב ויקר מאד לפני הבורא עולם והאנחה שלו בוקעת רקיעים.
In the name of the Baal Shem Tov a person who is preoccupied with his business the entire day in the market place and streets can almost forget his creator entirely. When the time of davening Mincha starts ebbing away, he realizes his shortcoming and lets out a groan in anguish in that the entire day he spent busy with fleeting things of this passing world. He then quickly runs to an inconspicuous alley and quickly davens Mincha not really understanding what he is saying. This crunched tefillah is nevertheless deemed before Hashem as a precious and cherished expression of his connection and longing to Hashem. His groan over his loss of ruchniyus, pierces open the heavens.
Such a tefillah is hinted in the word ולא יכול להתמהמה they were in rush to leave and did not have time for the dough to rise. Its gematriah is תפילה 525. Just like in the ולא יכול להתמהמה in the baking of the matzos nevertheless, Hashem removed the power of the yetzer harah and the matzah did not rise, so too even the tefillah which we find ourselves rushed into a crunch davening, is cherished by Hashem תפלה לעני כי יעטוף ולפני ה’ ישפוך שיחו. The tefillah of a poor person is one who possesses poverty in time. The reason being, כי יעטוף which means coming late (Bereishis 30,42). Nevertheless, this person faced with minimum time, יעטוף, which means agony and pain. Being unable to spend the proper time needed for a tefilla with kavanah, causes him pain to the degree that he might even emit a groan of Oh Vey! As the Trisker Maggid said above, such a tefilla can still be precious in the eyes of Hashem nevertheless. לפני ה’ ישפוך שיחו His tefillah can still come before Hashem and not only is it not rejected but also it is embraced.