A Word to the Weary
R’ Tzvi Hirsh Feldman (Tiferes Tzvi) spoke of the extensive effort that goes into preparing one’s home for Pesach:
Each of the Festivals requires extensive preparation, both physical and spiritual. This is especially true of Pesach. Weeks in advance of the Festival, the task of making one’s home chametz-free has already begun. When the time to sit around the Seder table has arrived, virtually everyone is physically drained. If it were up to us, we would recommend that the Seder be postponed until we had ample time to rest, so that we could celebrate Pesach amid joy and freedom of both body and spirit.
Yet it was decreed that the Seder, with its many requirements, be conducted on this night and that we spend much time recounting the details of the Exodus, as we say [in the Haggadah], “The more one tells about the Exodus, the more he is praiseworthy.”
From this we can derive a fundamental principle, that specifically in a situation where one is tired and drained from his pre-yom tov preparations he is to strengthen himself like a lion, to recline in the way of a king and tell about the Exodus at length to his children and to others. It is specifically this sort of situation which is very dear to the Holy One, Blessed is He, for it is through this – when one demonstrates that a myriad of physical factors cannot prevent him in the least from fulfilling the will of our Father in Heaven – that one can become elevated spiritually in a most profound way.
Avos D’R’ Nosson states that “one [deed accomplished] amid pain is greater than two hundred without pain”; the more difficulty one endures in serving his Creator, the greater is his reward. As the Sages state elsewhere (Avos 5:22): “In accordance with the effort is the reward.”
Chametz and Matzo
The puffed-up chametz dough alludes to pride and arrogance, while the flat matzah alludes to humility. Arrogance is a most despicable trait, as Scripture states, “Abhorrent to HASHEM are all who are arrogant of heart” (Proverbs 16:5). From another verse, the Sages derive that when God sees an arrogant man, He says, “He and I cannot exist together in the same world” (Sotah 5a).
While removal of the chametz reminds us to uproot all that is negative from within ourselves, it should be cause for reflection regarding this trait in particular.
All the letters in חמץ, chametz, and מצה, matzah, are identical, except for the ח and the ה. The difference between these two words is dependent on the minute space in the left leg which differentiates a ח from a ה. This tiny difference is symbolic of the difference between chametz and matzah. Lack of precision in the preparation and baking of matzah can quickly turn it into chametz (Alshich).
Applying this to chametz’s symbolism of the yetzer hara, we may suggest that the path which one’s life takes is often chosen not through major decisions or occurrences, but through subtleties. How often it is that childhood friends of the same background and education drift slowly apart as they mature until they stand worlds apart, one the product of zealousness, the other of complacency.
Reproduced from Passover – Its Observance, Laws and Significance by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman
ArtScroll / Mesorah Publications Ltd. Reprinted with permission.