Ready or not, here it comes... Once again it is time for
the annual pre-Passover house-cleaning. It is time to move the furniture and
scrub the chairs, line the counters and scour the dinette; perhaps, perhaps, we
will unearth a stale cookie or come across a half-eaten piece of licorice which
the baby stowed behind the couch.
Why the big fuss? Torah prohibits many items at various times, but--thankfully!--we are not obligated to embark on an all-out assault against every
banned item. We don't have to destroy all food before Yom Kippur, and we don't
have to get rid of our cars every Friday afternoon! Why so much ado over half of a
So the studious amongst us open up the Kabbalistic texts and discover that
chametz, which rises, represents the ego - something which must be eradicated at
all costs. But this only raises new questions: Is a little ego really so
terrible? Any psychologist will tell you that a healthy ego is a powerful
motivator, giving people the courage to pursue their dreams and stand up for
what is right. And if ego is such a paramount evil, why then is it permitted to
consume chametz throughout the entire year? Is it possible that Dr. Atkins
really was onto a profound mystical truth?
On Passover we celebrate the birth of our nation. At that historic moment,
more than 3300 years ago, G‑d intervened on behalf of an enslaved tribe, an assimilated
and corrupted clan which bore very little resemblance to its holy patriarchs,
and liberated them, both physically and spiritually. Throughout their ensuing
history, the Jews were enslaved time and again, but they never lost their
spiritual liberty. On that fateful Passover day, the Israelites began their
journey to Mount Sinai. They left behind Egypt and all the "Egyptness" which
over the course of the years had attached itself to their characters, and they
began their spiritual voyage to G‑d and His Torah.
Pride is important, when it is in a proper context. At the moment of their
liberation, the Jews had nothing to be proud about their G‑dless lifestyle.
To their everlasting credit, they understood this idea, and jumped at the G‑d
given opportunity to enrich their lives by improving their character and
devoting their lives to serving the Creator. As they distanced themselves from
Egypt and its values, they earned the right to be proud of their
accomplishments. Just as the proud and tall tree which yields such beautiful
fruit started out as a seed which decomposed in the ground, so, too, true
spiritual growth begins with total humility, recognizing that without G‑d all
pride is simply misplaced arrogance.
May G‑d bless us all with a truly meaningful and liberating Passover. And as
we purge our homes from all traces of chametz, let us strive to rid ourselves of
destructive pride, and commit ourselves to a life of Torah-liberty, a life of