Pesach Cleaning for the Soul

By Israel Krasnianski
You’ve cleaned out the chometz from the attic; now its time to clean your spiritual chometz.

Those of you who are regular readers of my articles know that I try to find a lot of meaning in the holidays and the change of the seasons. While we all (especially the unwilling children) probably feel some measure of the rejuvenation and inspiration associated with Pesach-cleaning, I am also committed to putting that feeling into action in the form of Pesach-cleaning for the soul.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So, too, does one’s spiritual Pesach-cleaning. True, the month of Elul and Rosh Hashanah are the real times of spiritual reassessment and cleaning, but many months have passed since then and Pesach’s cleaning is as good a reminder as any to once again clean out the spiritual chometz that has gathered since. Clearing the mess from our home, mind, life and soul is a great way to ready ourselves for welcoming the fresh energies of Pesach and Shavuot.

An advantage of physical Pesach-cleaning is that changes for the better, in any form, tend to generalize to other aspects of your life. Physical cleanliness can inspire spiritual cleansing. It’s like cleaning the kitchen and finding out the bathroom also got a little cleaner in the process.

It may seem like a big burdensome chore, much like Pesach-cleaning is, but I have a tip to help you tackle it:

Much like Pesach-cleaning, if it seems too daunting and you find yourself procrastinating, then break the task into smaller, more manageable steps. Rather than thinking about the whole house or apartment, focus on one room at a time or even one drawer at a time. Similarly, instead of focusing on all your spiritual messes and disorders, focus on only one at a time.

During Pesach-cleaning I am always amazed at the little bundles of dirt that I find in corners and underneath chairs. Well, the soul isn’t much different and needs to be periodically cleaned out to see what unholy behaviors have drifted back into our lifestyles which need to be swept out again. Most people, including me, seem to have their “favorite” unholy behaviors that come back again and again. If you haven’t been diligent and consistent about the spiritual cleansing from the Elul-Tishrei time, you will find that much spiritual chometz has crept back in to your daily habits.

I know I have a few nagging acts of unholy nature that I’ve struggled with for the past few months. Some are small, even silly. But they are like that piece of chewing gum stuck in the corner of the ceiling that I notice every day but never bother to get up on the stepladder to clean away. But now it is time to clean, a special time put aside for cleaning away every last bit of chometz. Hopefully, by cleaning them away during this designated time and keeping it clean for a week or so, I will learn something about the pure, clean and holy side of myself and be able to maintain it for the future.

Faith is also another major idea associated with Pesach. Matzah, as the Zohar tells us, is a food of faith. For a Jew, the holiday of Pesach evokes rebirth of faith and religious freedom. For those of us who enjoy nature and the beauty of the world we inhabit, Pesach (which occurs in the spring) carries the same message. During the dark and cold months of winter, we oftentimes tend to put our souls into hibernate mode in which the power running in the background keeps our lives and behaviors moving habitually and we are too “cold” to make any changes, including to the unholy behaviors. In springtime we can re-emerge and challenge those habits with renewed resolve and strength, connecting us to that sense that there is a G-d who put us in this beautiful world, to never stop climbing further up the heights, to challenge our daily habits and not be satisfied with a status-quo, remembering to fulfill the holy purpose which we were intended to, His holy purpose.

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