Chametz: The Leaven in our Lives

on Saturday, 20 March 2010. Posted in Rabbi Marshall's Articles

The ORacle, April 2010 Issue

As we look forward to Passover, part of our preparation for this celebration of freedom includes searching our homes for chametz, or leaven prohibited during Passover. While many of us literally remove these forbidden foods, part of this ritual entails relinquishing our accumulations over the past year, both physical and emotional. Judy Sirota Rosenthal in The Women’s Seder Sourcebook includes questions to ask ourselves as we sort through our stockpiles. “As we gaze at an object, or reread a note, we can examine our relationship to it and the memories it holds. Some things will remain precious, others no longer engage us. We may learn that we have completed the chapter of our lives it belonged to, or that we have integrated the memory into our very beings and can let it go. We may want to throw certain things away, to create a space for a reinvention of some part of ourselves.

As we let go of what we no longer need, we challenge the stagnation in our personal lives. Cleaning becomes a meditation during which we address the emotional crumbs and clogs. We can ask ourselves, ‘Is this a crumb of the past that is not my present? Can I let it go? Do I have these things because there is a hole in my spirit that needs to be filled?’ And as we search for chametz, we can imagine each crumb as some aspect of our lives or ourselves that no longer serves us. Are we willing to release that crumb even if there is nothing but empty space left behind, a space to grow into?”

It is a challenge to let go of both the physical and emotional things we have been holding onto and decide what is essential in our lives, but this preparation enables us to choose what we truly need as we journey forward. As we search out the chametz in our homes and in our hearts, may we free ourselves of that which is burdensome and create space for rebirth and renewal.

Chag Sameach, Happy Passover,

Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall