Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Whose Chometz?

March 25, 2013 9:34 am 0 comments

Wine and Matzoh. Photo: author.

It’s into the final stretch now. Soon we’ll be conducting the search for chometz (leavened bread) and then it will be Erev Pesach (the day preceding Passover) and the beautiful festival of freedom will be upon us.

The very first Mishna in Talmud Pesachim states that we must search for chometz in all places where we may have brought chometz in during the course of the year. Any room where we never brought chometz into does not need to be searched.

There is the well-known interpretation that chometz symbolizes arrogance which, like a rising dough, is all about the inflated ego. Now, let us understand the Mishna in light of this definition of chometz. Where should one search for chometz? Anywhere we may have brought chometz into. This would then mean, where should one seek to uproot arrogance? Anywhere we may have brought arrogance into. Now, do we bring arrogance into someone else’s personality? Not usually. We are responsible for our own egos not someone else’s. So, according to a Chassidic twist on the Mishna, we have no business searching for arrogance in other people. The place we need to be searching is inside our very own personalities and psyches.

It is sad that all too often we tend to find fault with others. We might consider someone else to be bigheaded or egotistical. But, actually, the unhealthy ego which we need to ‘search and destroy’ is not the one in others but the ego within ourselves. After all, did we bring arrogance into anyone else’s personality? Are we ever the cause for someone else’s ego? Not really. Why then are we searching in a place where we never brought any “chometz” into? We should search in our own backyards.

Why do we look for “chometz” in other people at all? Why look for some juicy piece of gossip or a little misfortune to gloat over? Why not look for good news, happy things or positive information?

There is an interesting question raised concerning the traditional custom of searching for chometz. This was done – and still is – with 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 which is thrown in the fire when we burn the chometz the next morning. So the question is this: it makes perfect sense to burn the objects which came into direct contact with the forbidden chometz, i.e. the wooden spoon, the feather, the bag, but why must we burn the remainder of the candle? The candle never touched the chometz at all?

And the answer is that it was the candle that went searching to find the chometz. This candle is an evil-seeker, searching every corner to find the negative. Such a critical, judgmental, disapproving object deserves to be thrown in the fire!

Recently we also marked the birthday of my saintly mentor and teacher, the Rebbe, on the 11th Nissan. The Rebbe, too, was a candle. But he was a candle that only sought to illuminate the good – to find the spark of G-dliness in every Jewish 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 Mitzvos (good deeds). May his memory be a blessing for all of us.

Please G-d, we will find and remove our own personal chometz, our own shortcomings and only highlight the good in others. Thereby we will help bring our generation to the ultimate exodus and the final redemption.

Excerpted from the book From Where I Stand by Rabbi Yossy Goldman. Available at leading Jewish booksellers.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features World Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried. A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia. According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Telling Israel’s story. It’s the specific title of a short film that Eyal Resh created last year. It’s also the theme behind the 27-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s broader body of work. The widely viewed “Telling Israel’s Story” film—directed by Resh for a gala event hosted by the Times of Israel online news outlet—seemingly begins as a promotional tourism video, but quickly evolves to offer a multilayered perspective. “I want to tell you a story about a special place for me,” a young woman whispers […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    JNS.org – The entrance to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park was transformed from April 25-27 by a fire-breathing robotic dragon, which flailed its arms and attempted to take flight. The robot, a signature feature at Jerusalem’s first-ever “Geek Picnic,” was one of more than 150 scientific amusements available for the public to experience. This particular dragon was designed by students from Moscow’s Art Industrial Institute in conjunction with the Flacon design factory, said Anatasia Shaminer, a student who helped facilitate the display. Children […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →