As I search for crumbs in every nook and cranny of my chametz-infested home, I hear a voice in my head say in frustration: “Where did my kids hide their stash of leftover Purim hamentashen? Didn’t I do this last year? Isn’t Passover supposed to be the holiday of our freedom? This doesn’t feel too liberating to me!”
Just before the Jews left Egypt, G-d commanded us to sacrifice the paschal lamb, and then eat it, roasted along with unleavened matzah and bitter herbs. G-d told us to replicate this feast every year on the anniversary of the Exodus: “It shall be for you a remembrance … seven days you shall eat matzah, and on the first day you should remove all se’or (sourdough, a leavening agent) from your homes. Anyone who eats chametz (leaven) from the first day to the seventh day shall be cut off from Israel.”
Chametz and matzah – made up of flour and water – are almost the same substance. The one key difference is that while chametz bread rises, filling itself with hot air, matzah stays flat and humble. Chametz represents that swelling of ego that enslaves us, deluding us to think that we are the ones running the show, relegating our dependence on the One Above. Indeed, the words, chametz and matzah have the same letters, except for the chet and hei.
“And the man Moses was very humble, more than any man on the face of the earth.” Yes, Moses was the only one who ever spoke with G-d, face to face. How can the greatest leader of our nation – the one who faced the mighty pharaoh head-on, and who took us out of slavery, be described as the most humble!?
Moses, our leader, was fully aware of the Source of his talents, gifts and opportunities. We – or rather I – puff up very quickly. By eradicating any chametz puffed-up self-importance that I may have inside – both the physical and the spiritual – I make room for welcoming G-d into my life and reaffirming my complete dependence on Him.
And, from the sound of my inflated inner voice, I can tell it’s not enough that I went through this process last year. I have to embark on a spring-cleaning process – search deep within me for my chametz and get rid of it, every single year.
So yes, it really is Passover again and thus, I will continue to humbly search every nook and cranny of my home, and personality. One crumb at a time.
Have a happy and kosher Passover!
This first appeared on the Jewish Herald Voice, March 15, 2018