F or readers who have never been present at the mechiras chometz conducted by the rav on Erev Pesach allow me to take you behind the office door and let you in what really goes on back there.

A number of years ago our trusted nochri moved to North Carolina and we needed a replacement. After a quick talent search we found our man — a Mr. Campbell a nochri meyuchas. (When we asked him if his mother was Jewish you could hear his laugh all the way back to the South Side of Chicago his old stomping grounds.)

Halachah mandates that the rav must ascertain that the buyer fully understands what he is undertaking. (If you think it’s easy to explain you try it. “What am I buying? Comets? Like the ones NASA sends space probes to examine?”) After the rav coordinating the mechirah completed his explanation he asked Mr. Campbell to briefly explain his own role and his response was right on target. “Since G-d took you out of Egypt you can’t eat crackers for a week.”

Perfect. We had our guy.

Little did our buyer know that he was actually mechavein to a pasuk in parshas Bo that should offer us all food for thought. “And you should guard the matzos for on this very day (b’etzem hayom hazeh) I took your multitudes out of the land of Mitzrayim” (Shemos 1217). The pasuk is implying that there is a correlation between the fact we left “b’etzem hayom hazeh” and our mitzvah to eat shemurah matzah on Pesach.

What is the connection?

Furthermore Rashi here quotes the well-known dictum “mitzvah haba’ah l’yadcha al tachmitzenah” — when a mitzvah comes your way do not postpone it. What is the correlation between b’etzem hayom hazeh and not delaying a mitzvah?

The Beis Yisrael of Gur is quoted (V’shalal Lo Yechsar p. 165) as having answered this second question as follows. When a person is given an opportunity to do something good at a particular moment he must seize it immediately for who knows what the next moment will bring? Even the slightest delay could cost him the opportunity. And even if it remains within reach who says that his inspiration to do the mitzvah will still be as strong?

Seforim hakedoshim teach that the Exodus from Mitzrayim took place at a very precise moment and had we remained there even a moment longer we would never have left.

The concept is not limited to Yetzias Mitzrayim.

Conventional thinking is that a historical event occurs at a random date on the calendar and when we celebrate it in future years we are commemorating the anniversary of that event.

In actuality cites Rav Yerucham Levovitz from a midrash every pivotal event in history — Creation the forming of Adam Harishon Kabbalas HaTorah and so on — has an exact moment when it must take place. Those moments are rife with potential and when we return to those times each year we can tap into spiritual energy that spurred that initial event to take place.

The potential for success in any endeavor is contained within a specific zeman. We must capture those moments because what we can accomplish one moment might not be available to us in the next. When an opportunity for a mitzvah presents itself therefore it cannot be postponed. And we can understand why this idea is inferred from the pasuk instructing us to guard the matzos from becoming chometz because one extra moment is all that separates between a mitzvah of matzah and an issur kareis Rachmana litzlan.

Yetzias Mitzrayim taught us that every moment has its segulah and its bounty which can spell the difference between galus and geulah between mitzvah and aveirah.

This message extends beyond Pesach pertaining to the more frequent avodah of tefillah. Koheles teaches “Lakol zeman v’eis l’chol davar tachas haShamayim.” There is an “eis” for all things.

We’ve all heard of the concept of an eis ratzon for tefillah but do we realize that many an eis ratzon can depend on individual circumstances?

Preceding the pasuk “Va’ani sefilasi lecha Hashem eis ratzon ” Dovid Hamelech writes “Yasichu bi yoshvei sha’ar u’neginas shosei sheichar — those who sit by the gate gossip about me the song of the drunkards” (Tehillim 6913). The Malbim explains that Dovid declares that the exact moment when he is being mocked turns into an eis ratzon a time when Hashem responds to his pleas.

But one doesn’t have to be hurt by others to merit this sort of special attention; every time a person feels brokenhearted it creates opportunities and opens windows as the pasuk says “Lev nishbar v’nidkeh Elokim lo sivzeh — Hashem does not spurn a humbled and wounded heart” (Tehillim 5119).

A few months ago I participated in a shabbaton with the girls and staff of LINKS an organization dedicated to giving chizuk to yesomos. Among the guest speakers was Rabbi Nosson Muller of Yeshivas Tiferes Tzvi of Chicago. Friday night after the formal workshops and sessions ended a young lady approached Rabbi Muller and poured her heart out over her plight of losing her father at a young age and the lack of opportunity to open up until this Shabbos. Rabbi Muller asked her if she had been at her father’s kever to daven and pour out her heart as she was doing now. She replied that due to the distance from her home she was unable to get there. A few days later she e-mailed Rabbi Muller to inform him that Hashgachah pratis had orchestrated that she was suddenly afforded the opportunity to visit her father’s kever and unburden her heart of all the tefillos and tears that had been bottled up inside her for so long.

A mere two weeks later he received yet another e-mail this time with an attachment a picture of the girl with her chassan! Apparently the Gates of Heaven had burst wide open to accept the cries of a broken heart with the ultimate Matchmaker moving all the pieces in place to create this eis ratzon.

An oft-repeated anecdote goes that the Brisker Rav was mesader kiddushin at a wedding and the chassan stricken with nerves dropped the ring — first once and then a second time. “Itzter iz der tzeit — now is the time.”

Every zivug has its moment.

There is a pivotal moment at the Seder when both the segulas hazeman of Pesach and the eis ratzon we create with our tefillos come together to create a unique opportunity. The Maharal in his commentary to the Haggadah (Divrei Negidim) introduces the climactic section of Hallel-Nirtzah with the following insight (free translation): “We have a tradition that the war of Gog U’Magog will come at the very end of the geulah sheleimah... when they publicize their denial of the Oneness of Hashem and His Hashgachah. The paragraph Lo lanu refers to this time when they will be obliterated for us to see the glorification of His Name which they had been committed to profane. After their downfall the geulah will come in its entirety. Chazal instructed us to enter a tefillah before the tzarah. We therefore daven specifically on this night Lo lanu because the Gates of Redemption are open and it is an eiz ratzon for the geulah ha’asidah. We introduce this paragraph with Shefoch Chamas’cha asking Hashem “Pour Your wrath on them not on us… even if we are not worthy.”

Despite the late hour and even with some children sleeping on the floor others on a sugar high and adults struggling to keep their heads vertical after three cups of wine and shiurim of matzah and maror this idea should inject us with renewed vigor as we conclude our Seder.

This is a once-a-year opportunity a Ne’ilah of sorts to beseech Hashem for the geulah sheleimah. We have a trifecta of auspicious moments coming together the segulas hazeman of zeman cheiruseinu the eis ratzon of tefillah from a yearning heart along with the special time of chatzi halailah as we detail in Nirtzah.

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a) relates that Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi asked Eliyahu Hanavi when Mashiach will arrive. Eliyahu told him to go ask Mashiach and told him where he could find our elusive redeemer at the entrance to the city among the destitute and ill. He then gave him a sign to distinguish Mashiach from the others while everyone else would treat their wounds by removing all their bandages at once washing themselves off and cleaning their bandages before replacing them Mashiach would remove one bandage at a time clean the wound and replace the bandage. Why So that if he were to be summoned to redeem us he would not have to delay even a few minutes to replace all his bandages.

We have been waiting nearly two millennia for Mashiach. Would two more minutes make so much of a difference

Perhaps the answer is that there are special moments that are propitious for geulah small windows when our zechusim are sufficient. If it doesn’t happen at the moment Mashiach is summoned who knows when the next opportunity will present itself

Let’s gather our collective strength for this one moment capture the segulas hazeman inherent in this eis ratzon so that we will declare for the very last time “L’shanah haba’ah Birushalayim Habnuyah.” (Originally featured in Mishpacha Issue 655)

Rabbi Henoch Plotnik is the mara d’asra of Congregation Bais Tefila and a ra”m in Yeshivas Meor Hatorah in Chicago.