Thursday, March 29, 2007

Guest Posting By Rabbi Dovid Sears - The Search & Destruction Of Chometz

(Painting by Boris Dubrov)

From Reb Noson of Breslov

Likkutei Halakhos, Hilchos Netilas Yadayim: Shacharis
, 2:8:

The essence of the search for chametz and its destruction is that we must purge our minds from all twisted ways of thinking, which are derived from our taking nature to be an autonomous entity (chokhmas ha-teva'). Rather, we must know with lucid clarity that everything is but a reflection of Divine Providence alone. With this perception, we nullify all exiles and all spiritual darkness; because when Divine Providence is manifest in the world, darkness no longer exists, for the essence of "light" is Godliness. Then "night will shine like the day," as will be the case in time to come. "And it will happen that in the evening, there will be light!" (Zechariah 14:7)

This is why the night of the search for chametz, when we transcend the illusion of nature, in the language of the sages of the Mishnah is called "the light of the fourteenth day" – "light" specifically.

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Another insight into Bedikas Chametz:

I recently ran into Reb Itzel Kenig and Reb Shmuel Burshtein of Tzefas at Rabbi Landau's Shul in Flatbush, and Reb Itzel told me an interesting vert'l that his friend, Reb Shmuel, had just come up with.

The word "chometz" corresponds to three levels of creation and three stages of human life: the letter ches corresponds to "Chai," living creatures; the mem corresponds to "medaber," the level of human beings, who can speak; and the "tzadi" corresponds to "tzome'ach," vegetation. These elements parallel three stages in our lives. When we are born we are "chai," living; as we grow older and learn to speak, we become "medaber"; after we have attained maturity, we marry and have children, who are compared to fruit, so now we are in the category of "tzome'ach." The only level that is missing is "domem," the "silent" level (which includes things like earth, stone, water, etc.). This is attained on Erev Pesach, when we nullify the chometz and declare it "ke-afra de-ara," ownerless as the "dust of the earth."

Since the two shluchim from Tzefas were leaving the Shul after Minchah, and I was hurrying to get ready to daven, Reb Itzel didn't have a chance to explain further. But what I think he meant (or actually Reb Shmuel, who came up with this insight) is that through bittul chometz, we nullify the ego. This represents the completion and perfection of human life, which is the undoing of the aspect of chometz / ego. Then all four elements form one harmonious whole.

The four elements in turn correspond to the four letters of the Shem HaVaYaH (yod-heh-vav-heh). Through bittul chometz and the nullification of ego, the Divine Name becomes revealed.