Friday, April 15, 2016

Shabbat Hagadol- Ridding Your Life of Chametz


Uva hakohein v'ra'ah v'hineih pasah hanega babayit tzara'at mam'eret hi babayit tamei hu.
And the priest will come and look, and, behold,the plague is spread in the house, it is a malignant leprosy in the house, it is impure. (Vayikra 14:44)
Today is Shabbat Hagadol, the Shabbat before Pesach. Traditionally, a rabbi would give a sermon only twice a year, the rest of the time reserved for teaching. Shabbat Hagadol is one of those times. The other is Shabbat Shuvah. Speaking during the High Holy Days makes sense. It is a time to ensure the congregation is in the right mindset for t'shuvah. So why is the other time Shabbat Hagadol? Maybe because it too is the start of a new year, a time when we refocus our thought and our actions. It is a time when we rid not only our homes, but our lives of hametz, of the sourness in our lives, for that is the true meaning of hametz, sourness.
In ancient times, bread was not leavened with yeast added to the dough, it was leavened with a sour. If you bake, you may know that a sour is a living thing. It must be fed and maintained. If maintained properly and kept in balance to the other ingredients, this sour can be used to produce wonderful baked goods. However, if the sour is allowed to grow unchecked, much like the tzara'at of our parasha, it takes over, producing rot and making the food inedible. So too can this happen within a person. Hametz, adds flavour to our lives. Without it life is bland and flat, but if we allow the hametz to take over, we may cease to maintain that which is necessary in our lives, throwing things out of balance. In every life there are ups and downs. There are times when we become too busy. The laundry piles up. Suddenly there are 2000 emails in your inbox. At these times we need to clean house, remove the hametz, return to the simple, and with that rebalance our lives.
Shabbat shalom and zissen Pesach