Pesach: An unprepared Advantage

If you were to be plucked out of your kitchen table without any notice and transported to the same location, albeit 1000 years in the past, how useful would your information be?

If science fiction and modern novels are to be your guide, you could assume it would help you tremendously and you could manipulate them in to thinking you are some god or master wizard.

However, with the little notice you were given there would be no time to prepare and your knowledge would be limited to the stored information you have at present. Taking for granted the basic technologies of the modern human life, without proper research your experiences alone would not adequately prepare you to appropriately utilize them if they were to disappear.  Only, with accurate planning (and great memory skills) could the traveller astonish and really assist the people of the past.

One of the phrases from the 12 step plan of addiction recovery is “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Every grandmother has tried to preach “haste makes waste” while “think, then act” is a bumper sticker seen on many cars. It is all too easy to look for shortcuts and rush aspects to get whatever job you are doing, done. But it is quite obvious that doing so will leave your result lacking and the result will probably have more mistakes than had it been done efficiently the first time.

Overall, it seems that any journey profits from taking pains to ensure you’re starting out on the right foot and have the right directions.

credit: Chabad

Pesach celebrates the liberation from Egypt, starting the first journey as the Jewish nation.  Yet, every part of the mission’s beginning reeks of impulsivity.

The matzo we eat, emblematic of the Seder night, attests to the haste the Jews were in. They were taken out of Egypt so fast, with so little planning, that their dough didn’t have time to rise.

Therefore in our Sedarim we commemorate this with making our matza in a strict time limit, mimicking the “great haste” of the exodus. Their baking skills aside, the Jews were actually commanded to eat the korbon pesach in a hurried manner.  With “their loins guarded, shoes on their feet and staff in their hand.”  The matza wasn’t coincidentally rapid, the exodus wasn’t incidendtal or spontaneous.  Part of the fabric of Pesach itself was a carefully planned “chipazon,” a hurried panic.

The exodus of Egypt was a pivotal moment for the small nation. At such a fundamental moment in time, conventional wisdom would suggest some measure of preparedness for the upcoming expedition.

Would not the rewards of impulsivity be far smaller than the superior risks involved?

Why the rush?

credit: Chabad

Let them sit down enjoy their barbecues, get a good rest and the next day they could have their sandwiches and provisions prepared.

Preparation can indeed change the whole outcome of any course of action. However, there are times where being unprepared and ready to make a huge leap can be more advantageous.  For example; US and Australian studies have shown, people quitting an addiction by themselves, going “cold turkey”, are more successful than any program or treatment.  Planning and having a whole detailed preparation in that case doesn’t help and may even hinder it.  This doesn’t mean it’s easier, it’s not, it takes more effort to do the jump but the results are long lasting.

The Jews had to get out of Egypt before the Egypt inside them wanted to return.  Any delay would be costly, the midrash relates how 4/5th of the Jews didn’t want to leave and stayed behind.  Any hesitation could spell the end of their liberation plans.

So too, breaking an addiction is tough.  In fact, the latest statistics show that 4/5th of smokers try to quit by themselves without success.  We all have our own addictions, be they; negative behaviours, poisonous relationships, bad habits or toxic ideologies.

Pesach teaches us, and indeed gives us the power, to have no hesitations, to go cold turkey, to “Passover” to jump and leap over any boundaries we thought impossible.

Ari Rubin is the Rabbi of the Cairns Jewish Community, together with his wife Mushkie they run the Chabad Centre for jewish Life in North QLD a division of Chabad of RARA.
More information on Chabad RARA of FNQ is available at


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