What Are We Really Cleaning for Pesach?

Below, I am posting some inspiring words of my friend, ILana TzipOra, who is too shy to post herself. I am hoping to encourage her to write more and share her words with the world. We never know how our words that seem mundane to us, can inspire other people. The more words of Torah we share with each other, the better the world will finally become, that’s how I see it.

 

With Pesach fast approaching, I can’t stop but feel reminiscent of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah and the preceding month of Elul when each and every Jew undergoes deep spiritual awakening to prepare themselves for the High Holidays.  The holidays of Rosh Hashanah – the Birth of the World and Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement are considered to be the most spiritually cleansing and upheaving holidays of the Jewish year, a time for the soul renewal.  Traditionally, the time before Rosh Hashanah is considered to be the time when a Jew remembers and re-evaluates his past year and his deeds during the year. When appropriate we take responsibility for an erroneous action and make Teshuvah – repent the wrong-doing.

How about Pesach?  Pesach, as we know, is in the first month of the Jewish year and is considered to be a holiday of the utmost importance in the Jewish tradition.  So much so that we start preparing for it a month in advance, right after the holiday of Purim. In fact, the day after Shushan Purim is the day when it is considered a mitzvah to start learning the laws of Pesach, and as we know, in Judaism learning usually goes hand in hand with practising.  All synagogues conduct classes that teach both men and women about the exact guidelines of preparation for Pesach and how to celebrate it.

Now the celebration of Pesach is 8 days long, yet it takes a whole month to prepare for it?  Also as anyone who ever went shopping for Pesach knows, the number of items one buys food and non-food would be enough to last for a whole month, yet it is intended to be used during the holiday of Pesach, during the 8 days… Sounds quite exaggerating, doesn’t it?  After all, we start preparing for the holiday of Succot 4-5 days in advance and it consists of building a Succah. For Shavuot, we prepare by ….well… buying flowers and making mouthwatering cheesecakes….So what is up with Pesach and its month long physically strenuous preparation?

We start the preparation for Pesach by learning the exact meaning of the word Chametz and its definition in the Jewish Diet.  Chametz is any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt that has come into contact with water and been allowed to ferment and “rise.”  In practice, just about anything made from these grains, other than Passover matzah, which is carefully controlled to avoid leavening, is considered chametz. This includes flour (even before it is mixed with water), cakes, cookies, pasta, breads, and items that have chametz as an ingredient, like malt.

in Jewish philosophy Chametz – Leavening is compared to a person’s Ego – a desire driven component of the human psyche that motivates our physical body to constantly reach new heights and frontiers whether it is in career, material possessions or grandiose human attention otherwise known as “fame”.

It is symbolic to note that Egypt where the Jews were liberated from by G-d Almighty, was the ultimate center for fame, material possession and the ultimate career – Pharaoh.  Chametz is our ego leaving the ego land – Egypt.  So before Pesach, we prepare both our mind and our body for the new year and new us.  Everything is new – new kitchen, new dishes, new food, new soul and with the seder – a transformation for a new world.  By cleaning our house from Chametz and undergoing a complex physical transformation of our home, and while doing so a complete spiritual transformation of our mind and soul.  Another allegory between the two high holidays is that Rosh Hashana comes after the month of Elul, which astrological sign is scale, it is the time when we talk to our conscience directly and face our misdeeds straight forward.  Before Pesach, we don’t introspect ourselves directly but rather focus on the external way of getting rid of Chametz in our house. While doing so, we may get our ego triggered. Our ego is not hiding since we are not facing and fighting it (!) and give us a way to actually deal with it and introspect our mind and soul all the while doing a mundane job of “cleaning our house”.  So although on the facade we are cleaning our physical space, in reality, we are also cleansing our soul and mind via the body-mind-soul connection.  And just like the month of Elul before Rosh Hashanah, we have a whole month before Pesach to prepare both spiritually and physically for a beginning of the New Year!

So Happy Spring Cleaning for Our Body, Mind and Soul on the way to the Holiday of Freedom!

 

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