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A Timely Torah Message By Shaya Gross

Elevating Chometz

If Chometz represents the Yetzer Hara, why is it only forbidden on Pesach and not all year round?

The Gemara tells us that we should serve Hashem with both our Yetzer Tov and our Yetzer Hara. How does one serve Hashem with his Yetzer Hara??

I suggest that serving Hashem with one’s Yetzer Hara means that we shouldn’t stunt all of our animalistic drives and passions, rather we should elevate them and incorporate them into our Avodas Hashem. When we eat a delicious meal, instead of eating it solely because it tastes good, we should eat it to give ourselves the nutrients we need. When we play sports or exercise, instead of doing it solely because it’s enjoyable, we should do it to keep ourselves healthy physically. The same is true with all drives and passions.
To answer the first question let me begin by sharing a Torah thought based on a Shiur given by Rav Yonah Sklare.

Mitzrayim was a land that hid Hashem’s presence. Their sustenance was provided for them by the Nile River. They had no need to daven to Hashem for any rain whatsoever, as the Nile provided the irrigation for their crops to grow. Since Klal Yisroel had lived in that place for so long, they were exposed to and influenced by the false ideology that we are in control of our sustenance and it has nothing to do with G-d. The Rambam tells us that when one is struggling with a bad mida one should go to the opposite extreme for a while until he can get back to middle ground. Hence that is why when Hashem took them into the Midbar, He performed open miracles which proved without a doubt that there was a G-d in total control, which was the the exact opposite of Mitzrayim’s belief. But relying on open miracles wasn’t the ideal. The ideal was the middle ground: to go into Eretz Yisroel, a land of nature, work the land, and see Hashem there in the nature without any open miracles. They just needed that short period of time in the Midbar to go to that extreme in order to be able to get back to the golden middle path.

Hence I suggest that on Pesach when we are reliving Klal Yisroel’s experience when they were leaving Mitzrayim, we have to go to the extreme of refraining from all chometz, as chometz symbolizes the Yetzer Hara, and at this point we aren’t ready to incorporate the Yetzer Hara into Avodas Hashem. But after the holy Yom Tov of Pesach and eight days of going to the extreme of refraining from all chometz, we can now hopefully get back to the golden path of taking our animalistic drives and elevating them by incorporating them into our Avodas Hashem.

May we all succeed in elevating all of our passions and drives, and thus fulfill serving Hashem with both our Yetzer Tov and our Yetzer Hara.

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