Day 5 of the Omer

פַּעַם נִכְנַס כְּבוֹד קְדֻשַּׁת הָרַב חַיִּים אַבְרָהָם (בֶּן רַבֵּנוּ הַזָּקֵן) אֶל אַדְמוּ"ר הָאֶמְצָעִי בְּחַג הַפֶּסַח לֵאמֹר גוּט יוֹם טוֹב. וְסִפֵּר אָז — הָרַב חַיִּים אַבְרָהָם — שֶׁרַבֵּנוּ הַזָּקֵן אָמַר: פֶּסַח דאַרף אֵיינעֶר דעֶם אַנְדעֶרעֶן נִיט מְכַבֵּד זַיין בַּאֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה, אָבּעֶר נעֶמעֶן אַלֵיין מעֶג מעֶן.

R. Chayim Avraham, the Alter Rebbe’s son, once visited [his elder brother,] the Mitteler Rebbe, on Pesach to wish him Gut Yom-Tov. R. Chayim Avraham related that the Alter Rebbe had said: “On Pesach, one should not offer a guest food or drink,1 but the visitor may partake on his own.”2

A Story with an Echo

There was once a chassid from another chassidic following who was exceedingly stringent in his observance of the Pesach laws. Fearing that he might inadvertently eat chametz, he would consume nothing throughout the holiday but matzah and boiled potatoes that he had cooked beforehand. He refused to eat at anyone else’s home, even his Rebbe’s. Now, his Rebbe was accustomed to distribute shirayim to his chassidim — portions of food from the plate from which he had partaken. However, because of this young man’s presumptuous stringencies, he did not want to eat that food either. On the other hand, he did not want to offend his Rebbe by refusing food offered to him, so he decided to stay home for the duration of the festival without visiting his Rebbe at all.

This was a very painful decision, and by the eighth day of Pesach he yearned to see his Rebbe. He decided that since the eighth day is a Yom-Tov observed only by Rabbinic ordinance, he could risk eating his Rebbe’s food.

As soon as he entered his Rebbe’s room, the Rebbe called him over. “Hurry home and throw your whole barrel of potatoes into the garbage,” he told the chassid. “There is chametz at the bottom of it!”

The chassid ran home and indeed, found chametz at the bottom of the barrel.

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” he later asked his Rebbe. “And why did such a thing happen to me?”

“I didn’t tell you earlier because I could not ascertain its presence until I saw you. As to why it happened: Chametz, as you know,is symbolic of pride. When a person is so proud that he won’t trust anyone but himself, chametz naturally becomes drawn to him.”


Stringencies in distancing oneself from even a remote risk of consuming chametz are a basic element of Pesach in Lubavitch homes. They are vigilantly observed by Rebbeim, by elder chassidim, and by ordinary members of the community. At the same time, the above directive of the Alter Rebbe, together with the above story, gives us some perspective on the balance that needs to be found when observing such stringencies.