Jews are strictly forbidden to eat any leavened foods on Passover. Bread is replaced by Matzah – flat baked wafers made only of flour and water. Jews all over the world, take scrupulous care to avoid eating even the smallest particle of Chametz.

The characteristic of leavened dough (Chametz) is that it rises and swells, symbolizing pride and boastfulness. A Matzah, on the other hand, is thin and flat, suggesting meekness and humility. Passover teaches us that Chametz – arrogance – is the very antithesis of the ideal of Torah.

When an arrogant man is confronted with the obligation of performing a Mitzvah that demands a measure of self-sacrifice (for example, charity, which involves sharing his possessions with his less fortunate fellow) he avoids fulfilling his obligation. He reasons: “I am wealthy because I deserve it. In fact I am entitled to more than I presently possess, so why should I give some of it away?”

Moreover, the egotism of the arrogant person deprives him of the ability to discern the worthiness of his neighbor and he smugly concludes that the other is truly far below his level.

According to his logic the cause of this neighbor’s poverty is readily understood: “That pauper surely does not deserve any better!” “Now,” he thinks to himself, “if G‑d sees fit, and rightly so, that this man be poor, should I interfere and help him?”

Such egotistical reasoning leads the haughty individual to do more and more evil. Yet, he will never perceive the evil of his actions and repent of them. For, even when he is forced to concede that his actions are improper, he finds various causes “beyond his control” that prevailed upon him to act as he did.

Moreover, even when he cannot find any excuses to satisfy his conscience, nevertheless, “Self-love covers all transgressions.” He may be a spiteful evil-doer who cannot invent, through any stretch of the imagination, any line of reasoning to justify his behavior, yet self-love blinds his eyes and covers his evil.

The humble man, on the other hand, has quite the reverse attitude, both with regard to his fulfilling the Mitzvot as well as to his repentance of improper acts in the past.

Using the Mitzvah of Tzedakah (charity) once again as an example: the humble man compares himself with his fellow-Jew in the proper light. He thinks to himself: “Am I truthfully better than he? Do I deserve my better fortune?” This analysis, made objectively, rouses him to sympathize with his fellow-Jew and to render him assistance.

Moreover, when the unassuming person acts improperly, he does not attempt to justify his incorrect behavior. On the contrary, his sincere self-analysis prompts him to do Teshuvah,” to honestly repent of his improper actions.

Each year, on Passover, we are commended by the Torah to rid our domain of all traces of Chametz. We must seek to rid ourselves of every particle of the ‘spiritual Chametz’ – arrogance – so that we are able to clearly perceive our own faults and our fellow’s good qualities.