Regarding Passover, the Shelah writes that all of the actions we do at the Seder are indications of the freedom of souls, not just the freedom of our bodies. We have been redeemed from within the kelipot, the "husks", the place where we were slaves to the temporal reality by virtue of our lack of consciousness. In the days of the Egyptian exile we sank to the 49th (out of 50) level of impurity. Chametz…is the pride and haughtiness that filter into all aspects of our daily lives…

Today each person is stuck in his or her own unique set of difficulties. On the night of Passover this is reversed and we are "freed". We are overcome with the joy of the mitzvot, rejoicing in each of the details of the Seder, like a person released from prison is overcome by the desire to dance. All the mitzvot and customs constitute our dance.

To enter into this unique sanctity, we must first prepare ourselves by removing and then destroying all of the chametz (leavened bread), that it not be seen nor found in our homes. Then when Passover arrives we may go from darkness to light. What is this chametz? Physical chametz is even the smallest particle of any leavened product or leavening agent. Spiritually, chametz is like leavened breads and cakes which are puffed up and extra tasty: it is the pride and haughtiness that filter into all aspects of our daily lives leaving no space to love or truly acknowledge anything outside of ourselves, particularly G‑d.

To get back to the true reality, that G‑d is the boss and that all of our accomplishments are through Him (and even failures -depression is also a dimension of pride!), once in a while we have to purge ourselves. This is why, once a year, when the eve of Passover comes, we have to check for physical and spiritual chametz, eradicating it even in its most minute quantities.

This process is embodied in the "cleaning" that goes on for weeks before the holiday, the search for chametz that takes place the final evening before Passover, and the burning of the results of our search on the following morning. And then for seven (or eight, outside of Israel) days, we guard ourselves and our homes that we will not see or possess any chametz. The four cups of wine…correspond to our separate stages of deliverance…

The early book of Kabbala "Tolaat Yakov" writes that the four cups of wine that we drink on the Seder night correspond to our separate stages of deliverance from the four husks. This is why our forefather Jacob feared to go to Egypt until the Holy One Blessed be He said to him "Do not be afraid.... I will go down with you and I will most certainly go out with you" (Gen.46:3-4). This is an eternal promise that whenever we go into exile the Divine Presence is with us and that when the Almighty comes to redeem Himself, He redeems all of Israel with Him.

In each case and particularly during Passover, when the redemption arrives, the Almighty requires the destruction of the husks, the coverings of the truth. This is the reason the Jewish people were given two commandments on the eve of their departure from Egypt. The first was the offering of the Paschal lamb, the first level of the destruction of the husks: the destruction of the false gods of our enemies. The second was circumcision, to remove the foreskin from ourselves, which is also like a husk that conceals. Just as the juice of the grape…so also we have been released from the four husks…

Each year again, as we come closer to Passover, we have to put ourselves through this dual process again. That is why we were commanded to drink four cups of wine, while reclining, like kings. Just as the juice of the grape was contained within its skin and then released to become wine, so also we have been released from the four husks, also referred to as the foreskin of Egypt. And before drinking the fourth cup we complete the recital of Hallel, the song of thanksgiving, because with the conclusion of the Seder we have become servants of G‑d rather than the slaves of Pharaoh.

This is integrally connected to the eating of matza, unleavened bread, at the Seder. The Zohar calls matza both "bread of faith", and "bread of health". "Faith", because once we have cleansed ourselves of all of the chametz, matza gives us the ability to experience G‑d in the world; "health", because from this place of faith, all true health is rooted. Without salt and leaven it is "bread of the poor", helping us to become humble so that the faith and healing can enter.

In the Hagadah it is written, "Whoever does not explain three certain concepts, does not fulfill the requirements of the Seder." These are:
(1) Passover (the Paschal Lamb that our fathers ate during the time that the Temple stood to remind us that the Holy One Blessed Be He "skipped over" (Passover) the homes of the Jews, sparing them, and killed only the firstborn of the Egyptians),
(2) matza (that was eaten with the offering and is now in place of it), and
(3) maror, reminding us of the bitterness of the exile. Eating of matza on this night is a Biblical command, the eating of maror is a Rabbinical command, and the mentioning of the Paschal offering is now only a custom to remind us of Temple times. G‑d transcends…all distinctions of past, present and future…

All of Passover is an exercise in letting G‑dly consciousness enter us. G‑d transcends time, and all distinctions of past, present and future. The Shelah writes that the Passover offering hints at the concept of the past in an active sense. The Passover offering is to remind us that our G‑d comes before everything, that all other deities are nothing before Him, and that He destroyed the gods of the Egyptians. G‑d is the cause of all causes, prior to all, immeasurable, Who brings forth all that exists. Matza stands for the present because it hints at the constant involvement of G‑d in the world. Just as matza is humble, so G‑d hides Himself from being easily seen; just like matza consists of only flour and water, so G‑d is also a unified reality, the utmost in simplicity. This is why the matza is sometimes hidden and sometimes revealed at the Seder. Maror hints to the future because when the complete redemption will happen, we will see how all the negative events of the past were not only necessary, but will be transformed into sweetness.

Rebbe Michael of Zlotshov asks a simple question: why does the Hagadah require of us to say these three ideas? It should ask if we did them! His answer is that before we do any action, especially ones as important as these, we have to pray that we will do them properly. This is what it means that all who did not "say": if someone did not pray to G‑d that these actions will come out properly, he did not fulfill the requirements of the Seder. First and foremost, our responsibility at the Seder is to educate our children…

The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that these three elements relate to different dimensions in educating a Jewish child. Matza, unleavened bread, is a staple, just like the teaching of Torah is the most basic requirement of education. And just as with matza we must be careful that it does not leaven, so also Torah must be taught with humility, without adding our ego to it. Maror stands for the negative influences around us from which a child must be protected, and also to the strict hand that we must sometimes employ to protect our children and maintain them on the correct path. The Passover offering was eaten at the end of the meal, as "dessert", reclining like a king. This represents less important series of events and experiences in our children's education that must be added sparingly after the primary aspects have been fulfilled. I have added this to remind everyone, including myself, that first and foremost, our responsibility at the Seder is to educate our children.

Blessings for a kosher and happy Passover. Chag Sameach, Shaul

P.S. Please, do not forget to start counting Omer on Tuesday night. Sefirat HaOmer is the 49 day countdown from our redemption to the giving of the Torah on the 6th of Sivan, the holiday of Shavuot.

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