"Hey, I sent you an e-mail about the proposal two hours ago. Have you had a chance to review it?" In today’s world, people expect instant results, and that means doing things without thought or consideration. But as they say, "haste makes waste," and our Sages caution people to "be patient in judgement."
In this week’s reading, G-d warns the Jewish people that life will not be good for them if they deviate from His ways. One of the lines reads, "and I will appoint ‘behalah’ over you." The word "behalah" means terror, and also sudden haste.
Our Sages note that this same word is a drop of ink away from "b’Challah." One of the Mitzvos in the Torah is to separate a portion from a dough ("Challah") and give it to a Kohen, a Priest. In the Chapters of the Fathers, they tell us that if a person fails to do this, hunger is the expected punishment. The Tosfos Yom Tov explains why such a severe punishment is expected for what seems to be a matter of simple neglect. He points out that technically, one is only required to separate Challah from several pounds of flour kneaded into a single dough. One can avoid the obligation by kneading several small loaves separately. This being the case, making a large dough and then not separating some of it is tantamount to deliberate disregard of G-d’s Commandment!
The Drash VeHaIyun then asks, how would a person who is aware of this Mitzvah and its importance manage to do such a thing? The answer, he says, is haste. He’s in a rush, and doesn’t have time to make several small breads, so instead he makes a big one and completely neglects the Mitzvah. And that, he says, explains why the Sages connected "behalah," terror or haste, to "b’Challah."
With all the methods of instant communication available to us today, it’s all the more important to slow down and think about what we are doing, and keep our eyes on the big picture.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org