To me, the prohibition against having chametz in the house on Pesach is absolutely amazing. Because bread and cake crumbs get scattered to all four corners of the home, in order to make sure that the house is chametz free, you have to do a super cleaning job the week preceding the holiday. This forces every Jew to undergo a mini-experience of back breaking work, resembling the “avodat parech” which the Jews were forced to endure in Egypt. Compared to real the bondage of our forefathers, this “virtual” exercise is small, but because it is so tiring, irritating, and seemingly never ending labor, it recreates the Pesach drama of old, and puts us in the mindset to identify with our ancestors, so that we too can experience the feeling of freedom once Seder night begins.
The most important thing is to look out for the biggest chametz of all – anger. Given the hard, painstaking work, and the tiredness and irritation that comes with it (usually do to a person’s pride in thinking that why should such an important person as he, or she, have to do such menial work as cleaning the house for stupid cookie crumbs?) it only takes a small spark to set off a volcanic outburst of anger.
Our Sages have warned us against the terrible consequences of anger. Unlike other sins, which cause a specific blemish to one aspect of ones spiritual blueprint, anger pollutes the entire system. The Zohar explains that when a person gets angry, his Divine soul leaves him, and an animal soul takes its place. This is why people looked like wild beasts when they get angry. Not only does their soul leave them, but all of the mitzvot and Torah learning that they had previously accomplished, all that leaves them also. Even if the person is otherwise a big tzaddik with a great deal of good deeds and Torah learning to his credit, it all leaves him when he gets angry. And unlike other sins that are erased through the spiritual cleansing of repentance, anger is different. Because one’s entire soul has been replaced by an impure imposter, an incredible amount of tshuva is needed to get it back. And if a person is prone to get angry at short intervals, for all kinds of stupid things that rub him, or her, the wrong way, that person will never be able to make any spiritual progress at all, because the anger will always wipe out the good that he’s done and bring him back to point zero, over and over again, every time he gets angry.
"I finished cleaning the kitchen, sweetheart."
So this Pesach, as you go about cleaning your homes, watch out for anger. If you want to save your soul, just as you wouldn’t eat a cheeseburger on Seder night, don’t get angry and take a slug at your wife. And ladies, brooms were meant to sweep the floor – not to break them over your husband’s head, no matter how insensitive and thick skulled he may be.