Pesach 2018: Ridding Ourselves of Chametz
The laws of Pesach (Passover) are more stringent than all the other holidays. Pesach has mitzvos (Torah commandments) not just on the holiday, but before and afterwards as well. Getting rid of the chametz (goods containing leaven) is one of these mitzvos. As it says, “Matzos shall be eaten throughout the seven day period; no chametz may be seen in your possession….” (Shemos 13:7)
“Pesach Cleaning”, not to be confused with “Spring Cleaning” can also be very tedious in preparation for Pesach. One is required to clean every space in his home where food may have gone to make sure that no chametz can be found in his possession on Pesach. Once the house is cleaned, any remaining products containing leaven are burned and/or sold (to a non-Jew) for the course of the holiday and then returned afterwards. Thereby ensuring a chametz-free environment.
Pre-Pesach amidst the Jewish community can be quite hectic. As we know, cleaning, shopping, cooking, and preparing can really bring about an emotional side in us as this grandiose holiday draws near.
What exactly are we doing all this work for? All the cleaning, scrubbing, vacuuming, and wiping to get each and every crumb of food –why is there such an extensive amount of effort put into the cleaning?
To answer this question we need to understand what exactly chametz is and why it’s so important for us to completely eradicate it.
Chametz, loosely translated is, “levean” or “bread”, but it’s more than just bread. Chametz is the embodiment of the yetzer hara (evil inclination). Dough rises and becomes attractive, appealing, and very desirable on the outside, but its essence is gaiva (haughtiness) because “its all just fluff”. Whereas unleavened bread while flat, often burnt, lifeless, and unappealing to look at, its essence is anavah (humility).
Ridding ourselves of chametz, is cleansing ourselves from this negative force. So, Hashem’s commandment to eliminate chametz provides great opportunities for growth in emunah (belief in Hashem). We go into the seder (Passover meal), eat matza, and relive the salvation from Egypt knowing that our yetzer hara was symbolically destroyed, removing that critical barrier between us and Hashem.
Orchos Tzadikim teaches from the gemora (Sotah 5a), Hashem cannot exist in the presence of haughtiness, as it says, “The haughty eye and broad of heart -him I cannot abide.” (Psalms 101:5). We now go into the seder and the Pesach holiday with an awesome opportunity to connect with Hashem, let’s make the most of it!
Have a wonderful Shabbos and Yom Tov! Maverick V. Peters