You’re better than you think you are

We’re about to burn the Chametz.

In the spirit of asking questions, here is another one:

Last night we searched our homes using a candle to find the last remnant of anything leavened – and today we destroy that chametz (as leavened food is called). The custom is that we burn the cleaning utensils that were used to clean out those last crumbs for they are likely to have a bit of leavened food on them. But why do we burn the candle too? It was only used to find the chametz – it never came into contact with it, so why burn the candle? The answer is that something which was used to find something negative has a strong negative quality to it as well. Sometimes it is necessary to find what is wrong so that we may correct it, but looking for the negative should not be our modus operandi. Therefore, when we are done with the job it’s important to move on.

And move on, we do.

Tonight we sit down at the Seder Table together with the Four Sons. Conventional wisdom has it that the “Wicked Son” is a major problem. The Haggadah obviously thinks otherwise. Don’t look at the negative qualities of an individual; rather, search – and you will find – the positive. This person is at least at the Seder and is passionate about it too. He is involved! And for that, he is to be welcomed, commended and placed right near the Wise Son. In doing so, we “blunt his teeth”, as the Haggadah says. We help him take the “edge” out of his reaction to the Seder … we help him realize that he is not as bad as he thinks he is. His personal experience of being bogged down by all kinds of psychological and emotional impediments to enjoying our inherent spiritual freedom – is history! “Egypt is behind us!”, we tell him.

Egypt is behind us, indeed.

My sincere wish for you dear friend, for your loved ones and for all of us together, is that on this Pesach we finally break free. May G-d give us the strength and the courage we all need, in order to rise above the petty and the not-so-petty issues that hold us back from fulfilling our greatest potential in life, as we strive to make our world a better place.

The simple, humble Matzah and the lively 4 cups of wine are the perfect fuel for our journey to freedom. When we’re (a) sincere about our mission in life and (b) joyous about the privilege that G-d has granted us, there is nothing that can stand in our way. Not even a stormy sea.

May you have a Shabbat Shalom and a kosher, happy Pesach!

About the Author
Rabbi Yossi Deren was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1973, lived in Western Massachusetts through the '80s and today serves as the Spiritual Leader and Executive Director of Chabad Lubavitch of Greenwich, Connecticut. Together with his wife Maryashie, they founded the synagogue-center in 1996 as Emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory.
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