Pesach – Unburdened (2004)

by | Oct 31, 2006 | 0 comments

When we search for chometz we should concentrate on its symbolism of arrogance and take the opportunity to check every crack and crevice of our soul.

We all remember the famous advertisement of the Boys Club of America.

There was a boy with an ear to ear smile carrying another boy on his shoulders. As he carried a weight as heavy as his own he said, “He's not heavy, he's my brother!”

The Dubno Magid told a story:

There was diamond dealer who traveled from city to city to sell his precious jewels. He had his circuit, and when he arrived at a city he knew whom to call on to show his wares. On one particular trip he carefully wrapped up his diamonds as he always did and put them in his attach. He boarded the large steam train, put his briefcase to his side, stared out at the beautiful countryside and dozed off. When the porter woke him he was rested and relaxed. He got off the train and headed straight for the station where he would immediately begin making his connections and planning his day. Suddenly he broke out in a cold sweat. His attach was not in his hand. His entire collection was left on the train. He looked nervously around as he heard the deafening whistle of the train departing. He began to run after the train and to scream for help. From a distance he saw two big men coming toward him carrying a suitcase. His momentary relief turned to tears of misery. “That is not my case,” he cried, “There are two big men carrying that case together. My case is full of diamonds, it is almost weightless. If it's heavy, it's not my case!”

In our Haftorah, Yeshayahu tells the people in the name of G-d, “It is not me you are worshipping, the Jews are working too hard and growing too weary.” (Isaiah 43; 22) He spoke of the Jews offering their sacrifices and giving their charity. They seemed to be doing everything right, but it was a burden. If it is a burden, says G-d, you are doing something wrong. In the words of the Magid, “If it's heavy, it's not my case.”

This posuk talks to me. It gets to the core of how the experience of Yiddishkeit is supposed to feel. As Pesach approaches our attitude is really tested. We work hard preparing, especially the women, and we are all stressed. Even the Seder can become stressful making sure that we are leaning at the right angle, and have ingested the greatest amount of Matzo in the shortest amount of time.

The cleaning and care we put into Pesach is extremely important and even holy. Someone who has absolutely no chometz in their ownership is promised nachas from their children. Difficult, yes, but never let it be a burden!

When we search for chometz we should concentrate on its symbolism of arrogance and take the opportunity to check every crack and crevice of our soul for self-importance or conceit.

When we pick up our four cups of wine we should be proposing a toast to the Almighty who created the concept of freedom and blessed us with it.

When we eat Matzo we should remember those that are still in bondage; there are Jews today that are prisoners in Lebanon and Iran.

And when we talk about the four sons we should remember that all children are good, none can be rejected, and all require our maximum attention and love.

Pesach is an opportunity for us to grow. If it feels too heavy, take a step back and refocus on the beautiful chag, Hashem gave us to enjoy.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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