I have a friend who sponsors a lot of guys. He has this thing he does with them that his sponsor did with him. After his sponsees read him their Fifth Step, they go out and burn it. It struck me as kind of dramatic. Yes, for most of us the list has all sorts of embarrassing things written on it, but you can just put it away in a private place.

"Why do you burn it?" I asked him, "You might need it later."

"When you need it again, you can do another Fifth Step then. This one we burn."

There's an ancient Jewish custom that when we rid our homes of leaven on the night before Passover, we search for it by the light of a candle. Somehow it also became standard to bring along a feather as a tiny broom and a wooden spoon as a sort of miniature dustpan. When we're all done, we take the feather, the spoon and the candle — along with our leaven — and put them in a bag. The next morning we throw the bag in the fire and watch its contents go up in flames as we ask G‑d to remove the chametz from our lives just as we have removed it from our homes.

One might ask — It makes sense to burn the feather, for it touched the chametz. It makes sense to burn the spoon, for it held the chametz. But why burn the candle which only helped us find the chametz? It seems like a waste. At the very least, we should save it for next year.

But the answer is simple. Isn't it? Because we don't hold on to something whose purpose is to find chametz.

When we go about searching for our character defects through the process of personal inventory, we invariably unearth some unpleasant stuff — our internal chametz.

Why are our shortcomings compared to leaven? Because each one of them is a puffed up exaggeration of our true selves — various expressions of an ego that was allowed to rise.

Having found all of our leaven on the eve of our Redemption, we do not attempt to get rid of it immediately. We are tired from our search. We're not ready just yet to take the next step. We neatly tie up our chametz in a bag — along with the feather, the spoon and the candle — and put them all aside.

Then, the following morning, with a full and rested mind, we place them all in the fire.

The chametz.

The feather.

The spoon.

And the candle.