Time to get rid of the CHOMETZ, AND I don’t refer to food. Chometz may also refer to our BAD HABITS. With Pesach around the corner, why not take a look in the mirror and check to see if there is ANGER, JEALOUSY, STINGINESS, GREEDINESS, SELFISHNESS and whatever other negativity you have allowed into your life.

My Rabbi, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis, encourages everyone to pay attention at this time and purge those poor ways out and away from you. This is another way of celebrating FREEDOM; the most important point of the Pesach holiday.

In Judaism if your intentions are really there, you can change the course of things. Just like our Freedom from Pharaoh did not happen over night, the cleaning out of bad habits that we have been clinging on for too long may take time, but everyone can succeed. If we care enough to have healthier habits rather than bad ones, if we care enough to have good relationships rather than toxic ones, we can have them.

Walk away from all that negativity. That is not to say run away from your life, but rather make a conscious decision to aim for the proper ways and keep the thought steadfast in your mind. Get in touch with your spirit, the side that wants to be GENEROUS, KIND, COMPASSIONATE and surrounded by perhaps more happiness and positivity in this life. Change your attitude and envision yourself free and remain focused. Most importantly, BELIEVE in what you want.

I find the lesson in Rachel and Rabbi Akiva quite appropriate. When Rachel met Akiva he was a poor shepherd and Rachel’s father did not want her marrying him. Her father, Kalba Savua, basically took a vow that if his rich daughter were to marry Akiva he would disown her. He would THROW HER OUT OF HIS HOUSE AND TAKE HER OUT OF INHERITANCE. And so it happened, because Rachel recognized Akiva’s potential. She was well aware, the most important quality in life is a LEV TOV. Because of this quality that Akiva possessed, he would be in her life. It was when he wholeheartedly agreed to the one thing it would take for her to be married to him. She requested his commitment to Torah and to become learned. That was important to her. And so the story goes as you probably all know, that Akiva became a talmid chacham, a scholar and Rabbi Akiva.

Rachel did not want to bear the mentality of her father which was to focus on the person’s wealth and appearance first and foremost. She was deeper than that, and in the end she taught her father a lesson or perhaps even two. In life it is not about the MONEY at all. As seen in this example, it is about a GOOD HEART, the DEVOTED AND HARD WORKER she found in her husband. Rachel had her priorities in order.

If Rabbi Akiva can begin a new chapter and basically follow a new path in life at 40 years old, then everyone can get rid of their personal chometz in the way of bad habits this Pesach. Strive to be better in life just as Rabbi Akiva did. More significantly, if Rachel can listen to her inner spirit and know the difference between the REAL IMPORTANT COMPONENTS TO PEOPLE thousands of years later, then we should too.

A side note: Thank you Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis for telling this story in Torah class. As usual, your messages are PROFOUND.

HAG SAMEACH PESACH