Male Chauvinism and the Search for Chametz

Thursday, 21 April, 2016 - 3:26 pm

Every year, on the evening before Pesach, cynical me has a good chuckle. Thousands of Jewish husbands, poking around, under, over and around every bit of furniture in the home, armed with feather, candle and wooden spoon.

For the past many weeks, their dedicated wives have spent dozens of hours, as they scrubbed and clean every nook and cranny of the home.  Occasionally assisted by their husband, who generously spares 3.5 minutes to help the Pesach cleaning effort.

By this evening, each of these homemakers know their home better than ever before.  They can tell you exactly where to find the nail clipper, odd green sock, and the obscure antihistamine lotion, hidden away at the back of the bathroom cabinet.  Show up the blokes at nightfall and commence their search, as though their 'incapable wives' would inadvertently overlook an essential crumb or cracker, somewhere nowhere near the kitchen or dining room.

Is tonight's Bedikat Chametz exercise really a show of macho superiority, or something far deeper?!

In many Chassidic homes, the search is an intense one, lasting far longer that one would think necessary.  According to Chabad philosophy, tonight's search is far less about finding elusive bits of leaven, overlooked by a haggard, overtired Jewish mother; it's much more about personal introspection and the search for your personal spiritual leaven.

To achieve personal freedom, all negativity needs to be purged.  Tonight, we reveal true light.  We search in the deepest recesses of our soul, for those bits of bread that get in the way of our quest for true freedom.

Get your searching kit.  Take your time.  Tomorrow night, we celebrate freedom.  Tonight we pave the way to achieve that freedom, by dispelling darkness, at candlelight.  The candle of Torah, Mitzvot and of the soul.

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