As we clean our homes for Passover, also we must search our hearts and our deeds. We must take stock and engage in self-reflection, judging where we can improve.
We recently discussed how we must prepare our homes for Passover. I shared tips on what needs to be cleaned for Passover and how the koshering process is done. We also learned that chametz, the number one enemy of Passover, refers to grain products that have been left to rise. Bottom line: In the days leading up to Passover we must totally eradicate any chametz in our midst.
All of this is the physical chametz, but there is another type of chametz as well. That is the chametz of arrogance, the chametz of sin. We are taught that the urge to sin – the yetzer hara, the evil inclination – is compared to chametz. The yetzer hara is its own type of leavening agent. Just as yeast causes dough to rise, the yetzer hara inflates our egos, gives us a sense of superiority and invincibility with God, and tempts us to engage in self-serving and unbecoming behavior.
Not only do we have to clean physically before Passover, but we have to clean spiritually as well. We must eradicate chametz from our homes, but we also have to eradicate chametz from our hearts. Just as we ignite a fire to burn the chametz or light a blowtorch for the purpose of koshering our eating utensils, we must also ignite a “fire” in the soul, a “burning” recommitment to following Torah values. When we burn away the physical chametz, we must also burn away the spiritual chametz.
As we clean our homes, searching for places where chametz may be found, we must search our hearts and our deeds. We must take stock and engage in some self-reflection, determining where we need to improve. For some, it may be an obsession with materialism. For others, it could be a character defect: anger, jealousy or the need to control. There are plenty of areas where we can all use some improvement.
Once we know where our personal “chametz” lies, we must “clean house.” It means making resolutions, making changes, committing to being better – to being more “kosher”. One who is able to look in the mirror and make these changes is truly a free person.