21 April 2006
I had meant to post my ideas on this topic before Passover, but, alas, my idea came not to fruition before the holiday. Nevertheless, it's never too late to post it now in anticipation of next year's Passover.
As we know, Jews are commanded from the book of Exodus to get rid of their leavened bread and bread products (חמץ). I had seen that instead of people actually getting rid of their leavened breadstuffs, they did some cleaning, but ended up selling it off, perhaps by putting stuff away in cupboards and refrigerators and signing some contract with their local rabbi. Nowadays, there's also online selling of this, as well. I thought the selling of the חמץ was just some osrt of legal fiction - that people were technically selling off their חמץ and getting it back at the end (although it's not like they went anywhere).
However, last year, I was awakened to the awareness that it wasn't meant to be a legal fiction, but actually a real deal, selling the חמץ to a gentile. One of my rebbeim at his shul would work with Jews to sell their חמץ to a gentile and collect a key. The purpose was that this gentile would be able to go in and look at or even partake of some of the food that they had legally acquired. He mentioned that he's had them go and take a drink of something or eat some of the food, because, in any event, it was legally theirs.
Having realized this, it makes sense: really one is to follow the Torah and get rid of their חמץ, unless there is some sort of significant loss (both this year and last, I have gotten rid of my חמץ (not that, as a single guy, I have a lot of foodstuffs with which to begin, so it's not a tremendous loss)). Have Jews lost their sense of the literal meaning of the verse and instead focused on the homiletical play on the verse to understand that the חמץ of which we are to rid ourselves is not the physical type as mentioned in the Torah, commemorating our departure from Egypt, but the personal sort of hubris that has gathered?
Speaking of Passover (פסח), I want to hope that people had a meaningful holiday. I finally figured out what it means. The idea of זמן חרותחנו (the time of our freedom) (one of the ways that this holiday is named) is that this is a holiday celebrating our independence (Independence Week?), as we went from being a people who were public servants in Egypt to being our own nation on our own terms.
I was thinking that for future פסחs, it would be rather relevant to consider Jewish identity.
Okay, now back to eating your חמץ. :)
Tags: Passover, Pesah, Pessah, Pessach, hamez, hametz, chametz, freedom
Posted by Drew Kaplan