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 *


  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Food Spirituality/Tradition ‘Pastry Secrets’ Arrive Just in Time for Rosh Hashanah

    ‘Pastry Secrets’ Arrive Just in Time for Rosh Hashanah – Babka. Strudel. Stollen. Danish pastry. Not to mention Gugelhopf and Charlotte. The names set the mouth to watering and conjure up lovingly concocted pastries that feed the body and comfort the soul. If you didn’t have a grandmother who baked these delicacies, you wish that you had. George Greenstein was never a grandmother, but his life as a baker provided his children and grandchildren with memories infused with the smell of fresh baked bread and rugelach. His daughters, Julia […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Spirituality/Tradition Fusing Israeli and Holocaust History, Novel Offers a ‘Middle Eastern Western’

    Fusing Israeli and Holocaust History, Novel Offers a ‘Middle Eastern Western’ – There is a game that all of us have played at some time in our lives. We ask ourselves: What would my life be like if I had gone to this school instead of that one, or if I had married this girl instead of that one? In their newly published book The Ambassador, authors Yehuda Avner and Matt Rees play that game with modern Jewish history. Avner — who died earlier this year, and was a speechwriter, secretary and adviser to […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Lifestyle A Toulouse Fashion Student Finds Style and Harmony in the Holy Land

    A Toulouse Fashion Student Finds Style and Harmony in the Holy Land

    A unique group of young fashion bloggers and designers recently visited Israel to learn more about the country’s fashion industry and diverse culture. Hailing from the Philippines, Korea, Kenya, Japan, Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.K., the 10 participants toured the country and met with top Israeli fashion designers throughout last week. “It was an amazing experience,” said Meissene Maghni from Toulouse, France — one of the participants of the program. “I’m Muslim and I really wanted to see Israel […]

    Read more →