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Burning the Chametz

By Tzvi Fishman
4/18/2008, 12:00 AM

Just before my bar mitzvah, the reform “rabbi” of our community explained to us that the Exodus from Egypt was not a miraculous act of Hashem, but rather a freak accident of nature. He said that because of a severe draught, the Red Sea had turned into a sand bar which the Jews crossed on their way out of Egypt. When the pursuing Egyptians arrived at the sand bar, a sudden, freak, torrential downpour of rain caused a flash flood which drowned the Egyptians. Luckily, he said, the Jews had already reached the other side of the sea, but Hashem hadn’t had anything to do with the story.

Miracle or Freak Rainstorm?

I thought to myself at the time, “What a stupid explanation! If that’s Judaism, I don’t want anything to do with it.”
The rational, pseudo-scientific explanation of the reform “rabbi” is an example of the chametz that needs to be uprooted from our hearts before we sit down at the Seder. A Jew has to replace it with a simple and heartfelt faith in the Torah and the traditions of our holy Sages. That is what Judaism is all about.

The Test of Emunah

Over the course of writing this blog, I have encountered many examples of chametz that need to be uprooted from our hearts and national psyches. For instance, there are individuals who maintain that aliyah is suicide; or that gay parades in Jerusalem are expressions of freedom; or that the Kabbalah is idol worship; or that Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia; or that the Song of Songs is a pornographic ballad; or that the father determines the Jewishness of a baby and not the mother; or that America is the Promised Land; or that women should be free to dress as immodestly as they wish; or that the State of Israel is the work of the devil; or that the Mashiach is a Christian, etc etc etc.

In addition to the bread crumbs, and what we mentioned in our previous blog, this is the ideological and philosophical chametz that needs to be purged from our hearts – the lack of faith in our Sages, which makes idol worship out of our own egotistical, unlearned, and misguided beliefs, like Pharoah who haughtily proclaimed, “Who is Hashem that I should fear him?”

As we burn the chametz this morning, may we all do the t’shuva necessary to free ourselves from the bondage of arrogance within us, and thus forge a stronger, holier, more truthful attachment to G-d.

This year in Jerusalem. Amen.