Dear friends, Covoid-19 is dominating everything, but I want for a moment to think more deeply about the meaning of Passover, however difficult it will be to celebrate this year.

The great Chassidic masters were less interested in which brand of chrayne was the strongest to go with, than about ‘Avodat Hashem’ –serving G-d. The 19th Century Rebbe Moshe of Kubrin (of the Slonim Chassidim from Belarus) once asked his disciple Reb Mordechai, “Have you prepared an Etrog for Pesach? “An Etrog’s for Succot,” said Reb Mordechai. “What does it have to do with Pesach?” Rebbe Moshe explained, “The Zohar (the mystical book of the Kabbalists) teaches that the Etrog represents the heart. We have to prepare our hearts not just for Succot but for Pesach as well. And it’s all to do with ‘Bedikat Chametz’ –searching the night before Seder night for any chametz that might not have been cleared away. It’s not just about looking for crumbs: Chametz, the air that puffs up dough into bread, represents our ego. Just as chametz makes bread look bigger than it is without adding any substance, so too, an ego filled with self-importance is ultimately nothing but hot air. So, Pesach is also the time to remove excessive pride and negative impulses from our hearts.”

I wish you all a healthy and safe Shabbat Hagadol!