Friday, April 25, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Kedoshim
Pirkei Avos – Perek 1 – Shabbos Mevorchim Chodesh Iyar
24 Nissan 5774/April 24, 2014

            On Erev Yom Tov last week as we were getting into our car I noticed that one of the back tires was low. I headed over to the local mechanic, who removed the tire and found a small hole. He patched it up and in a few minutes we were ready to go.
            I was thinking about the irony of the fact that we were just hours away from the onset of a holiday in which ‘air’ inside food – i.e. leaven and leavening agents, becomes our implacable nemesis, and here I was looking for a way to keep vital air in my tires.
Someone once told me that at the conclusion of Pesach, Rav Aharon Shechter shlita, the Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin, wishes everyone a ‘Good Chometz’.
One of the most obvious questions regarding chometz is that if it’s such an evil commodity, and represents our base desires, why do we consume it freely all year round? 
The answer is that chometz is not inherently evil. Our Sages explain that chometz symbolizes our evil inclination. When dough rises, no substances are added. It only seems bigger because we allow air to fill it.
Chometz symbolizes ego and one’s sense of self. Too much of it is extremely detrimental. No one likes being around arrogant and conceited people. On the other hand, every person must have a healthy sense of identity and must be ready to stand up and defend his beliefs. 
On Pesach, which is the anniversary of our birth as a nation, we remove all traces of chometz so we can commence with an extreme level of humility.  In celebrating the exodus from Egyptian servitude we completely nullify ourselves before G-d, symbolizing that the purpose of the exodus was only so that we could become G-d’s People.  
After we have spent a week reflecting on that truism, we reintroduce chometz to our diet. Now that we have reflected on faith, G-d’s love, and our values as Jews, we are prepared to serve G-d with a healthy self-esteem. The air in the dough symbolizes our ability to serve G-d even with the negative impulses, passions, and penchants within us.
It is not air itself that is evil, but rather unbridled and uncontrolled ‘air’. The right amount of air inside a tire is integral to the ability of the entire complicated vehicle’s ability to proceed. But if one isn’t careful and adds to much air to the tire… pop goes the weasel!
Indeed, a “Good chometz” to all!

               Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
               R’ Dani and Chani Staum  

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