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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated magazine featured an extensive profile on Orthodox-Jewish college basketball player Aaron Liberman on Wednesday.  The article details Liberman’s efforts to balance faith, academics and basketball at Tulane University, a challenge the young athlete calls “a triple major.” Sports Illustrated pointed out that Liberman is the second Orthodox student to play Division I college basketball. The other was Tamir Goodman, the so-called “Jewish Jordan.” As reported in The Algemeiner, Liberman started his NCAA career at Northwestern University. According to [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.