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Parashat Vayikra

03/18/2021 04:57:58 PM


Rabbi Hearshen

What is חמץ/Chametz?  It is anything made from certain grains that have risen. The definition becomes more expansive when we include the different cooking equipment and dinnerware used with those items. But at the core, Chametz is the stuff that we as Jews are forbidden to eat during the holiday of Passover. The prohibition is not only about eating. Rather it’s all about deriving benefit from it and from owning it. In fact, we are not even allowed to see Chametz during the holiday.

In our tradition, we understand Chametz to be more than just food. We see it as a part of our personality… namely the wicked side of who we are. That wickedness is called the יצר הרע, the evil inclination. It is linked because of the tendency that our evil inclination has to “rise.” Thus, every year on Passover, we need to do everything we can to sell and get rid of our wickedness that’s part of our Chametz. 

The selling of Chametz is a way Jews have found to be able to live in the modern world. Today we all own lots of stuff. That’s a technical word: stuff. We own pots and pans and lots of groceries. Many of us buy in bulk and as such it’s impossible to get rid of all of our “stuff” that is Chametz before Passover without losing money. For that reason, we are obligated to sell our Chametz to somebody allowed to own it, a non-Jew, for the duration of the holiday. This sale is not symbolic. We sign a contract with the person who’s purchasing our Chametz and it is binding throughout the holiday.  

This year, when you sign your sale form to authorize me to sell your Chametz for you, spend some time reflecting on the metaphorical Chametz you are offloading as well. Think about the “Chametz” that still rises in you even though you wish it didn’t. Think about the ways you can rid yourself of that Chametz because selling it will not suffice. And then close your eyes and let it all go away.

Mon, April 19 2021 7 Iyyar 5781