The theme of chameitz, (the leavened bread and other substances prohibited during Pesach) is prominent in our current parshios. In addition to leavened bread the word chameitz, orchometz also means vinegar, a substance that, like wine, is forbidden to a Nazzir (Bamidbar 6:3). Both usages of the wordchameitz describe a food product developed by a fermentation process. It is also interesting that during this fermentation process, if the process were stopped earlier a different product would result. In the case of bread, matza results from stopping the fermentation process 18 minutes after the water and the flour come into contact. In the case of vinegar, wine is the result of stopping the fermentation process in time.
There is another, more metaphorical use of the word chameitz inchazal: Mitzvah haba'ah leyadechah, al tachamitzeina, "when a mitzvah comes your way do not let it ferment." The idea that one can let an opportunity (I think opportunity is a wonderful translation of the word mitzvah) ferment and sour is worth some exploration.
Opportunities are moments filled with potential and with energy. Sometimes opportunities are presented to us; at other times we discover them or suddenly notice them. Sometimes another person inspires us to recognize an opportunity to which we were previously oblivious. All too often opportunities pass us by without us noticing them or if we do notice them without us acting on them.
Acting on an opportunity can turn that opportunity into an experience. An opportunity is potential; an experience is actual. An opportunity can be envisioned, aspired to or hoped for; an experience is an asset that can be banked in your vault of life-experience and rich memory.
An opportunity not acted upon does not retain its initial energy. Often in the moment of identifying an opportunity we are inspired to act. Consider the energy to action we often feel in shul on Rosh Hashanah, during the last moments of Ne'illah on Yom Kippur and countless other moments of personal inspiration. What happens to all of that inspired energy a day or two later, or sometimes a mere few hours later? The energy of inspiration dissipates and the opportunity becomes chameitz. Like wine that becomes vinegar, or kosher matzathat becomes unusable (on Pesach) bread, opportunities can pass their "sell-by" dates too.
When you identify an opportunity or are inspired to act, ACT! Analysis between inspiration and action is like yeast, it ferments the inspiration, sours it and often renders it useless. Do something, even just a beginning, something that begins to turn every opportunity into a valuable experience.
These ideas inspired two of my Lead By Greatness Blogs: The Tyranny of Tomorrow and The Triumph of Today. In these and my other Lead By Greatness blogs that appear at least once a week, you will see how I present Torah thoughts to the general public in ways that add value using a universal, rather than faith specific language. Please visit the blog frequently and be so kind as to forward links to it to whomever you think would find it of interest. I advise the public each time I post a new blog on the Lead By Greatness Facebook page, our LinkedIn Group Page and on Twitter@DavidLapin where I also frequently refer you to other inspiring articles and quotes on life and leadership.