A major dimension of the Pesach experience, probably a more prominent feature in our post-industrial society than ever before, is the elimination of chametz from our homes during Pesach. Preparing for Pesach is a daunting task, and warrants a holiday just to celebrate its successful completion!
As we enjoy our chametz-free Yom Tov, having struggled through these agonizing preparatory days, we ought to absorb some of the impressions that the elimination process is meant to leave with us.
One interesting halachah we come across in our obligation of searching for the chametz pertains to chametz shenafal alav mapoles, chametz that is inaccessible because it is buried under a heavy object. One is not required to search for and destroy this chametz, but may rely instead upon his verbal nullification to resolve any problems posed by its existence on his property.
The lesson presented by this halachah is far reaching. Chametz is the representation of the yetzer hara, man's evil impulse. Thus, while we are required to mount a frontal assault against the yetzer hara in the guise of chametz, we know too well that we will fall short in our desire to reach every nook and cranny.
Just as some of the chametz in our possession may be impossible to destroy, the complete elimination of our evil inclinations is beyond our grasp as humans. In such cases, we must rely on help from Above to complete the task. Divine assistance will come in response to our prayers, our verbal nullification of the yetzer hara, as we ask G-d each morning to "compel our inclination to be dedicated to You."
A passage from Mishlei reinforces the concept that the Almighty completes the task of spiritual soul cleansing begun in earnest by us mere mortals: "Ner Hashem nishmas adam chopeis kol chadrei baten, The lamp of G-d searches the innermost chambers of man's soul."
It is for us to begin the duty of self cleansing, aware that G-d is our partner in completing the task.
Rabbi Ilan Feldman
Rabbi Feldman is the Rabbi of Congregation Beth Jacob, Atlanta, Georgia