A little humility is great for all humanity
On March 20, Spring 2017 will officially begin in the Northern Hemisphere. I’m not sure if that means tens of millions will run out to their local stores to stock up on cleaning supplies for “Spring Cleaning” but I can tell that we will have a full one-week head start.
Our sages tell us that 30 days before a Jewish holiday we must begin preparing. And so, according to Jewish law this year, on March 13 corresponding to the 15th of Adar, it is incumbent upon us to start getting ready for the holiday of Pesach, Passover, the season of our liberation from Egypt.
The number one item on the agenda is to get rid of all the chametz. I know that for some families, mine included, we can use more than a month to get rid of all the chametz that has accumulated, not just over the year, but especially from Purim. Somehow, each year, we manage to get it done.
As we make all the necessary practical preparations for the holiday we need to remember to work on the spiritual ones too. The matzah reminds us of the importance of bringing humility into our lives. While a little light dispels much darkness, I’d venture to say a little humility is great for all humanity.
It is important to note that leading up to the holiday of Passover, the Lubavitcher Rebbe of Righteous Memory, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, encouraged everyone to fulfill what is written in the Shulchan Aruch, Code of Jewish law, namely to make contributions for Maos Chittim. Though its translates literally as “money for wheat” and refers to charity that back in the day was given to the less fortunate to buy wheat for Passover matzos, nowadays its meaning has gone on to encompass all ones holiday needs.
In April of 1951 the Rebbe sent a letter of thanks to my great uncle, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Hecht. He thanked all of the congregants in his shul in Chicago, for their contribution to the “Maos Chittim” fund.
The Rebbe writes in part: “The beginning of the celebration of Pesach starts with the announcement: ‘Let all who are hungry come and eat; let all who are needy, come and celebrate Pesach.’ In other words, even before we begin our own Seder, we tell all those who are needy that we will give them everything they need. Afterwards, we proceed to the Seder. This generates the merit for us to truly celebrate ‘the Season of our Freedom.’ This is one of the effects generated by tzedakah in general and maos chittim in particular. We do more for ourselves by giving tzedakah or maos chittim than we do for the recipient of these funds. For by making these gifts, we merit to be freed from material and spiritual worries, and each one of us, individually, truly celebrates the Season of our Freedom.”
Before the holiday please call your rabbi and find out how you can participate in this great Mitzvah. And then, when you sit down to your Seder you’ll be able to smile when you begin reading the haggadah knowing that you have given the opportunity for those less fortunate to do the same tonight.
Wishing you and all your loved ones a Kosher and Happy Passover.
The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press. Columns are assigned on a rotating basis by the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. The views expressed in this guest column are those of the rabbi and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jewish Press or the Board of Rabbis.