The Gerrer Rebbe, Rebbe Yisroel Alter zt”l (the Beis Yisrael), once commented: “When I was a young child growing up in Ger (Gora Kalwaria), my cheder rebbe used to teach us the story of how Yaakov gave his brother Eisav a soup made of lentils in exchange for the b’chorah (birthright). He would explain the pasuk, “And Yaakov gave Eisav bread and a soup of lentils, and he ate and drank and arose and left,” as follows: Va’yochal – and he ate, without washing his hands for N’tilas Yadayim; va’yeisht – and he drank, without making a brachah on his drink; va’yakam – and he got up, without reciting Birkas HaMazon; va’yeilach – and he left, without kissing the mezuzah. This is the correct way to teach children, for it instills in them an aversion to following the wicked ways of Eisav and draws them to the proper manner of mitzvah observance.
Every year, a special emphasis is placed on the mitzvah of preparing and baking matzah, by righteous groups of Yidden, who devote days, weeks, and even months toward the process of ensuring complete matzah shmurah. Attention to detail and expending great amounts of effort is essential to ensure that the process is done in the best possible manner. In Satmar, this is especially true. The Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum zt”l himself, would sit on Erev Pesach and separate by hand the kernels of wheat to be used for baking matzah. When he was asked why it was necessary to go to such great lengths for individual kernels of wheat, he would relate the following story.
The rebbetzin of the first Belzer Rebbe, Rav Shalom Rokeach zt”l (the Sar Shalom) was a pious woman who was very meticulous in her performance of mitzvos. On one occasion, she saw a person reciting the blessing Borei Minei M’zonos on a piece of cake in a hurried and rough manner. Instantly, she walked over and said, “Do you know what you just did? Think about it. How much did this tiny kernel of wheat have to go through before it ended up here, in your piece of cake? What sort of adventure do you think it went on until it reached your mouth? Well, let me tell you. While this stalk of wheat was still swaying silently in the gentle breeze, together with all the other stalks of wheat, it was praying a silent prayer before the Master of the World: that it should grow properly and become a source of nourishment for the world. It should not get drenched by heavy rains, nor dried out by a blistering heat and hot winds. It beseeched the Master of the World and begged that He should watch over the little kernel of wheat so that it could grow to its maximum size and not be cut down before its time, and HaKadosh Baruch Hu watched over it, sending a specific angel to protect it and tell it to ‘grow’ when it was the right time to grow. So, when this stalk of wheat is finally reaped in its proper time and became the kernel it was meant to be, it was filled with such happiness that it praised and thanked Hashem for all the good He had done with it.
“But at this point,” continued the Rebbetzin, “the kernel once again turned to the Almighty and prayed: ‘Please, Hashem, protect me and save me so that I am not overlooked at the harvest or fall through the cracks of the mill.’ And once the wheat is processed, the kernel – as well as all the other kernels – continued to plead before the Almighty that no harm should come to it, that it should produce fine pure flour, with no bugs or worms to infest it. Throughout the entire process, the wheat never stopped praying to Hashem that it should turn out the way it was supposed to turn out, and that Hashem, its Founder and Creator, should continue to watch over it and protect it from any sort of ruination. And finally, the kernel makes one last request: that it should produce a tasty meal that will be served on the table of a pious Jew, who will recite a proper blessing over it and eat it, thereby infusing it with holiness and bringing it to its ultimate purpose in this world: to praise and exalt the Name of Hashem and bring Him a great deal of nachas ruach.”
The Belzer Rebbetzin finished her lengthy and vivid description and turned to the person one last time. “Don’t you think,” she asked, “that you should take into consideration the pleading prayers of this little kernel? Are its prayers worth nothing in your eyes? Do they not make you want to say a blessing on this piece of cake with a real and proper kavanah – to have intense concentration on the words of the blessing as per the dictates of halachah?” [sefer HaM’vareich Yisbareich, Rav Yaakov Meir Shechter shlita]