In the Torah portion of Bo we read that the Jews left Egypt in great haste.1 The Torah thus commands us:2 “You shall eat matzah for seven days. This shall be lechem ohni [impoverished bread], since you left Egypt in a rush. You will then remember the day you left Egypt all the days of your life.”

Our Sages conclude that the commandment to eat matzah is fulfilled only when the matzah is “impoverished bread,” i.e., made only of flour and water; one does not fulfill the obligation by eating matzah ashirah (rich matzah) made with wine, oil, honey, etc.

What is the difference between lechem ohni and matzah ashirah in terms of man’s spiritual service; why are we not allowed to fulfill the obligation of remembering the Exodus with matzah ashirah ?

Made exclusively from flour and water, lechem ohni is a matzah that has no taste added to it by the liquid. This is not the case with matzah ashirah , as the wine, oil, etc., add flavor.

In a spiritual context this means that3 lechem ohni is symbolic of the divine service that results from kabbalas ol, acceptance of the Divine Yoke. It involves performing G‑d’s commandments though the individual lacks understanding as to their significance. As a result, the person who serves with kabbalas ol does not delight in his service — it lacks “taste” and pleasure.

Matzah ashirah, on the other hand, denotes spiritual service based on a person’s understanding and logic. As such, this service is replete with “taste” and delight.

When a Jew serves only out of kabbalas ol and his performance lacks the “taste” of intellect and emotion, then there is room within his intellect and emotion for evil — he merely forces himself not to follow his evil impulses and does what G‑d wills.

But when a person’s divine service is such that it involves his intellectual and emotional attributes, then these attributes themselves negate any possibility of acting contrary to G‑d’s will — the person has absolutely no desire to act in an evil manner.

These two kinds of service find expression in the two general types of redemption, the redemption from Egyptian exile and the imminent redemption from our present exile.

The Torah informs us4 that the exodus from Egypt took place in great haste — “the Nation fled.” They did so because “the evil in the [animal] souls of Israel was still at full strength”5 and it was necessary for them to flee the evil and impurity of Egypt. This is symbolized by “impoverished bread” — a state of spiritual impoverishment in which one can serve G‑d only in a manner of kabbalas ol.

However, during the future Redemption, “You will not go out it haste,”6 as G‑d assures us that at that time “I shall remove the spirit of impurity from the earth.”7 This condition, in which evil is totally negated and so there is not even a remote possibility of acting wickedly, is the level of matzah ashirah.

There is, however, a positive element as well to the prohibition of fulfilling the obligation with matzah ashirah :

Although matzah ashirah is symbolic of a total cessation of evil, only the service of lechem ohni requires labor and struggle to overpower evil.

Or put another way: Matzah ashirah emphasizes how man is united with G‑d by dint of purifying and refining himself to the extent that his very being becomes the antithesis of evil. Lechem ohni, however, is indicative of a person’s nullification of self to G‑dliness; although there is latitude within his intellect and emotion for evil, by fulfilling G‑d’s will he forces himself to do that which is entirely against his own nature.

This is why, even at the time of the future Redemption, the Exodus from Egypt will still be mentioned:8 G‑d’s ultimate intent is that even when a person reaches the level of matzah ashirah, where there is no room for evil, he should always retain the self-nullification that can only be achieved as a result of labor and struggle.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XVI, pp. 122-126.