A leaven-sent pathway to Redemption

A leaven-sent pathway to Redemption

By Harav Rubin Shlita

It’s started already, the hoovering at all hours, the throwing away of papers, the general pre-Pesach manic clean-out that touches every Yiddishe home. My main job is to stay out of the way and “do my room”.

I recently heard how one particular fellow was asked to help in the cleaning and went on to create havoc through his ineptitude. His long-suffering wife requested that if he really wanted to help he should just leave the house. An hour later he returned and when asked why he came back so soon answered, “How long do you think I could help?” Most men feel like a fifth wheel in the Pesach cleaning campaign, and really should just stay out of trouble. Someone once said that if Chazal ruled that men make Pesach and women the Succah, they both would start Erev Pesach!

One positive outcome of this “clean your room” maneuver is that I discover scraps of articles that I have cut out for future reference. I love storing these things away but can never find them later. I came across just such a nugget this week and want to share it with you. It was published anonymously in one of those popular self-help columns:

“A young lady confidently walked around the room while explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question: ‘half empty or half full?’… She fooled them all …. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied:  “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burdens become increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced.”

It is no easy task to carry life’s baggage without it weighing you down to nothing. Torah Yidden have a window of opportunity that offers hope in this respect if we would only grasp it.

All the rushing about before Pesach, the scrubbing and cleaning, is perhaps meant to remind ourselves that we need to learn to let go of some of the stress that life throws our way. You may ask, how do you figure I can learn to de-stress when all Yom Tov seems to bring us is just that?

Guta Yidden used to teach that Pesach is the Rosh Hashanah of Emunah: the New Year of Klal Yisroel’s ability to have faith in Hashem. As we became a nation through the miracles shown at Yetzias Mitzrayim, we were invested with a new and eternal faith in Hashem. This belief is now in our spiritual DNA and Pesach is the time to refuel our emunah cells. With this renewed faith in Hashem, much of the stress of life can be eliminated. If we don’t take advantage of this moment, we face the danger that the stress will become the chometz that suffocates our future. Chometz is born from any substance that is allowed to stand unworked upon for too long. So much of what we see as life’s burdens comes from allowing extraneous matter to gather in our hearts, festering there until it blocks all our emotions. Pesach is the moment to realise once again that we have the ability to cast off all this surplus material, and learn to have faith in Hashem’s complete plan for us all.

No matter how much we run around before Yom Tov, and despite the difficulties involved, the night will arrive when we will all sit together, proclaiming the eternal truth “That Hashem is our Redeemer.”

I believe that one of the greatest obstacles we face is that we have no faith in ourselves! We are convinced that we can’t attain such spiritual heights given our daily mundane reality, nor can we ever really be free of the human hypocrisy that often makes up much of our existence. Pesach saw a disparate group of slaves reach the highest level of holiness; that is their bequest to us!

We can leave behind the darkness of the stresses that drag us down and illuminate our inner souls with the candle of bedikas chometz. The only hindrance to achieving that goal is the self-imposed chometz of doubting ourselves.

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