Checking for Chametz before Pesach

The days preceding  Pesach are days of introspection and making resolutions.  One should  use these days to ponder  the mitzvot  he is given then, and try to understand their meaning. Through this, he will come to  positive  conclusions.  These are days of elevation,  or  chas v’shalom, descent.

The  Torah  commands  us to  destroy  all  chametz  before  Pesach. Simply nullifying  all of one’s chametz is sufficient,  according  to  the Torah (Pesachim 4b). However, our Sages say that one must also check for   chametz   (ibid.   2a,  in   the   Mishnah.)   All   chametz   must   be categorically   removed  from  one’s  domain,  in  order  to  avoid  the temptation  of finding chametz and desiring to consume it on Pesach. Our Chachamim therefore stated that one must rid himself completely of all chametz and destroy it (ibid. 6b).

The physical act of burning the chametz is a reference to the eradication of what chametz represents spiritually. The main act of searching for and destroying chametz does not involve the chametz in one’s house, in his attic, garage, office, or car, but the chametz in his mind  and in  his  heart.  He should  expunge from  within  himself  all vestiges of the Yetzer Hara, which is pure unadulterated  chametz. He should  uproot  from  his  heart  all  bad  character  traits  that  he has become accustomed to.

Just as physical chametz requires actual burning, so too, it is insufficient to merely eliminate aveirot from his mind and his heart, but he must search for them, and rectify them completely, in order that he should never repeat them. He must completely cleanse himself. This is the perfect preparation  for Pesach.

On Pesach, every person should feel that he is totally destroying his bad middot and his sins, just like on Yom Kippur. The holiday of Pesach is the symbol of freedom. On Pesach, our nation  was liberated.  It is called “zman cheiruteinu – The time  of our  liberation.” Chazal teach (Avot 6:2; Bamidbar Rabbah 10:21), “The truly  free man is the one who engages in  the  study  of  the  Torah.”  Through  Torah  he is  able to eradicate  the  spiritual   chametz  in  his  heart,  freeing himself  of  the Yetzer Hara.

At the time of Yetziat Mitzrayim, Bnei Yisrael were at an all-time low, wallowing  in  the  forty-ninth level  of impurity (Zohar  Chadash, Yitro

39a). But on Pesach they were extricated and brought to the heights of spirituality, to the extent that our Sages tell us (Mechilta, Beshalach 15) that  at the Yam Suf, a servant woman saw more miracles than later prophets  were able to see. They received the mitzvot  of the korban Pesach, as well as milah, as the Navi (Yechezkel 16:6) proclaims, “Then I passed you and saw you wallowing in your blood.” The removal of the foreskin alludes to their elimination of the Yetzer Hara and tumah. They attained  the level of submission  to Hashem represented  by Shabbat Hagadol, tying the avodah zarah of Mitzrayim  to their  bedposts (Tur, Orach Chaim, ch. 470).

In this  manner, they  demonstrated  to  one and all that  they  were bound to Hashem and not the Yetzer Hara. They left Egypt without  any provisions,  for  they  had  trust  in  Hashem, Who would  see to  their needs.

We are enjoined to remember the day we left Egypt all the days of our life (based on Devarim 16:3). Indeed, numerous times a day, we remember our Exodus from Egypt.

It is not sufficient  to remember it only one day a year, on Pesach. One who wishes to truly  associate himself with our nation’s creation, their trials, and their connection with Hashem, must remember Yetziat Mitzrayim every day, as well as every night. Chazal teach us (Berachot12b) that the words, “All the days of your life” means at night, as well.

In  this  manner,  one  comes  to  the  understanding  that  Hashem is watching  over us at all times. He will  realize that  there is none like Hashem, Who responds to our cries.

We are living in difficult times, yet every day we witness Hashem’s miracles. We must believe that Hashem never removes His protection from  His nation  (Tehillim 111:4). Therefore, every day, we must remember the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Chazal state (Pesachim116b), “In  every generation, a person  is obligated  to  see himself  as though he left Egypt.” We should take a lesson from our ancestors in Egypt, who,  from  the  lowest  level possible,  ascended the ladder  of spirituality, until they reached the level of angels



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