There is a frequently cited midrash that we read "Guard the Matzos" as "Guard the Mitzvos". I see this cited all over the internet, but no one seems to give the exact source. Could someone let me know what it is?

Relatedly, I've seen a citation to Mekhilta Shemos 12 for the statement "When a Mitzvah comes into your hand, don't let it become chametz." Is the Mekhilta the source for both statements? And does anyone know more specifically where in Ch. 12 it appears?


1 Answer 1


Keep reading in the Mechilta (in this portion here). It cites this exposition explicitly.

ושמרתם את המצות ר' יאשיה אומר, אל תקרא כן, אלא ושמרתם את המצות.

”Guard the Matzos.” R’ Yoshiya says, Don’t read thus, but rather “guard the Mitzvos.”

As an aside, this exposition is quoted by Rashi to Shemos 12:17.

  • How do you know that מצות = matzos but מצות = mitzvos?
    – Alex
    Mar 16, 2020 at 15:18
  • @Alex How else do you read it? The first one is clearly Matzos, because that's the passuk.
    – DonielF
    Mar 16, 2020 at 16:17
  • I don't know. So you're saying that you read the second one as mitzvos only because you can't think of another way to read it? (I.e. as opposed to having a definitive source that says that the word is mitzvos.)
    – Alex
    Mar 16, 2020 at 16:19
  • 2
    @Alex the next sentence of the Mechilta is clearer ר' יאשיה אומר, אל תקרא כן, אלא ושמרתם את המצות. כדרך שאין מחמיצין את המצה כך אין מחמיצין את המצוה, אלא אם באה מצוה לידך עשה אותה מיד.
    – Heshy
    Mar 16, 2020 at 17:37
  • 1
    That's it! Thanks! Mar 17, 2020 at 23:39

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