On the physical or outer level, preparing for Passover includes the cleaning of the house and the removing of leaven. On the spiritual or inner level, these physical rituals can be transformed into a clearing away of our inner obstacles to personal freedom, through conscious intention, ritual and prayer.
Cleaning the Inner and Outer HouseBeginning on the new moon, two weeks before the start of Passover, we begin to simultaneously clean our physical house (spring cleaning) while we begin “…a serious exploration of the meaning of freedom, creativity, the birth and rebirth of identity” (Waskow, 1982). We ask ourselves: What mitzrayim, what tight spots, do we need to leave behind us this year? What buds and sprouts of inner change do we see in ourselves and in the world around us?
As we clean our physical home of dust and dirt, we can imagine we are cleaning our inner home (inner being) of the perceptions and habits that keep us from living life fully…our narrowness of mind and heart. Depending on your level of observance, this house cleaning could also include changing over your entire kitchen to include Kosher for Passover foods, dishes, silverware, utensils, etc.
The Search for ChametzAt the same time as we clean our inner and outer house, we search for and remove all the leaven from our homes. On the physical level, leaven or Chametz, refers to “…any mixture of flour and water that has been allowed to ferment for more than 18 minutes” (Rabinowicz, 1982); this includes all breads, cereals, and other foods made from wheat, barley, spelt, oats, rye and corn. On the spiritual level, leaven refers to those aspects of ourselves that lead to self-inflation, possessiveness, competitiveness, jealously, and lust (Waskow, 1982).
The process of this inner and outer removal of the leaven begins with a search throughout the house for any physical leaven while we search within ourselves for our psycho-spiritual leaven. Once we collect the leaven, we nullify it through ritual and prayer, and then remove it from our possession either by selling it, burning it or donating it to charity. As you collect each piece of leaven in your home you can imagine that it is a part of your self that is inflated, selfish, forgetful or fearful, and that as you remove it from your home, you are also removing it from your psyche.
Excerpt from A Mystical Passover: A Transformational Passover Haggadah by Mark Allan Kaplan Ph.D. with mandala art by Maja Apolonia Rode. Available at AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, and other sources.