The passuk states “ושמרתם את המצות and you shall guard the matzos.” Rashi brings Rebi Yoshiyah said, “Do not read itאת המצות the matzos, ratherאת המצוות the mitzvos. Just as we do not wait while baking matzos since this will cause it to become chameitz, so too we do not wait to fulfill a mitzvah. If a mitzvah comes to your hand do it immediately. Why are matzos the example used to learn the concept of zerizus?
HaRav Hutner zatzal explains that when one bakes matzah and waits causing it to become chameitz, this is not a slight problem, where it is only missing an attribute of its uniqueness. Rather, the matzah is not matzah, it is something else, it is chameitz! The procrastination or lapse of time causes one to totally ruin the matzah. Chazal specifically derive from matzah the lesson of zerizus, hurrying to do a mitzvah. The middah of zerizus is not simply a nice attribute, and if a person is not quick he is only missing a bit, but rather it is actively ruining the mitzvah. We are meant to do mitzvos with zerizus, and procrastinating is not the way we are meant to fulfill them.
The Mishnah teaches: one can fulfill the mitzvah of reading the Megillah, saying Hallel, blowing shofar, and taking a lulav the entire day. Rashi is bothered: there is a rule of zerizus which requires one to do a mitzvah immediately; if so one should only be able to fulfill these mitzvos in the morning? Rashi says that still the entire day is ok, though the most proper way of fulfilling mitzvos is to perform them in the morning.
The Mesillas Yesharim says that zerizus is a prerequisite and fundamental to fulfilling all mitzvos. A person needs to be wise and alert to grab every opportunity of mitzvah, and perform it. However the nature of people is to be slow and lazy. The yetzer hara provides unlimited plots and tricks to fool a person and prevent him from doing and accomplishing. One needs to battle mightily against this nature to withstand the challenges in doing the will of Hashem. What can we do to be successful?
The Mesillas Yesharim says a person who is inspired to accomplish and has kindled a fire within him will act with zerizus; he has a charged motor which moves him. One who does not yet have this middah can acquire it by acting swiftly, and hurrying to fulfill mitzvos. By acting with zerizus the desire and interest to accomplish will follow. This is like kindling a flame in oneself which will move him to fulfill mitzvos.
May Hashem help us learn from matzah the uniqueness of zerizus and constantly feel the desire to fulfill Hashem Torah and mitzvos!