Calling Pesach the holiday of freedom seems to be very paradoxical. We clean our houses, cars and offices in such onerous and arduous fashion, that even the most meticulous cannot tolerate it. We do all of this so we can rid ourselves of every crumb of chametz in our midst. This is rather bizarre. Why is this how we prepare to celebrate the Holiday of Freedom? Is it truly necessary to act like slaves for weeks so we can experience true freedom when Pesach arrives? Perhaps, if we delve deeper, we can see that preparing for Pesach can be truly meaningful.
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook writes in Orot Hakodesh that the removal of chametz symbolizes the eradication of all nefariousness from within us. Rav Kook is illustrating that the purpose of physically removing the chametz from our midst is to encourage us of to remove the spiritual chametz within us as well. We may or may not realize that we have negative spiritual traits that require fixing; yet cleaning for Pesach, hopefully, inspires us and provides us a time for introspection and a time to remove those spiritual crumbs from within.
Rav Shlomo Carlebach takes this idea a step further by honing in on the meticulous task of removing every minute crumb of chametz. He explains that one must be meticulous in removing the mundane within us and allow for spirituality and greatness. How often do we allow ourselves to become exasperated over the smallest things? We may often argue with family and friends over trivial and petty matters without even realizing that they are just miniscule crumbs. Yet, we allow these tiny things to restrain us from being free and reaching our true spiritual potential. True freedom and spirituality is releasing ourselves from the bondage of our own mishaps and not allowing these minute crumbs to impede us.
This is why we take time before Pesach involving ourselves with such strenuous labor. We physically search our houses, cars and offices for crumbs in every nook and cranny, in order to enable us to spiritually search within ourselves through every nook and cranny. This year may we merit the ability to remove all the crumbs that are holding us back from achieving our true greatness. Chag Kasher V’sameach!
By Rabbi Reuven Lebovitz, NCSY Teaneck City Director