So, we’re in the final stretch, and soon the beautiful Festival of Freedom will be upon us.

But, first things first. Let’s focus on the call of the hour—the search for chametz conducted the night before Passover. The very first Mishnah in Talmud Pesachim instructs us to search anywhere we may have brought chametz during the year. Any room we never brought chametz into does not need to be searched.

There is, of course, the well-known interpretation that chametz symbolizes arrogance, which, like rising dough, is all about the inflated ego. With that in mind, we can understand the Mishnah differently: Where should one seek to uproot arrogance? Anywhere we may have brought it.

Now, do we bring arrogance into someone else’s personality? Not usually. We are responsible for our own egos, not other people’s. As such, we have no business searching for arrogance in others. The only place we need to search is our very own personalities and psyches.

All too often we find fault with others. We might consider someone bigheaded or egotistical. But the unhealthy ego we need to seek and destroy is the one within ourselves. We should limit the search to our own backyards.

In fact, why do we look for chametz, more broadly interpreted as “failing” or “imperfection,” in other people at all? Why look for juicy pieces of gossip or misfortune to gloat over? Better to look for good news, happy things, or positive information!

The traditional method of searching for chametz involves a candle, a feather, and a wooden spoon: the candle to search for any crumbs in every nook and cranny, and the feather to sweep the crumbs into the spoon. Then it is all put into a paper bag and thrown into the fire the next morning.

Now, it makes perfect sense to burn the objects which came into direct contact with the forbidden chametz, i.e., the wooden spoon, the feather, the bag. But why must we burn the remainder of the candle? The candle never touched the chametz at all!

A beautiful explanation I remember hearing from my late father is that it was the candle that went searching to find the chametz. This candle is an evil seeker, searching every corner to find the negative. Such a critical, judgmental, disapproving object deserves to be thrown into the fire!

This is also the week that, on 11 Nissan, we mark the anniversary of the birth of my saintly mentor and teacher, the Rebbe.

The Rebbe, too, was a candle, but a candle that only sought to illuminate the good, to find the spark of G‑dliness in every soul, no matter how far away, no matter how dark its surroundings. The Rebbe saw only the good in everyone and encouraged us to see it too. He sent his students to every corner of the globe to be candles, lamplighters, and lighthouses, to illuminate the world and to warm it with the light of Torah and mitzvot.

Please G‑d, we will find and remove our own personal chametz, our own shortcomings, and only highlight the good in others, thereby helping to stop wars, disease, hatred, and hostility in their tracks and bring our generation to the ultimate exodus and the final Redemption. Amen.