While searching for crumbs, let’s not make our family members feel like crumbs!
Vessels for Pesach
Rebbe Nachman taught that Purim is the portal through which we prepare ourselves to receive the grandeur of Pesach. While chronologically the exodus from Egypt occurred many generations before the miracles of Purim unfolded, in order to relive the exodus on a spiritual level, one needs to first experience Purim. Rebbe Nachman concluded his lesson on the subject by proclaiming that Pesach used to be the main infusion of spirituality and emunah, but now Purim is a prerequisite to experience Pesach.
Purim is the holiday most associated with joy. As Rebbe Nachman’s most well known axiom, “It is a great mitzvah to be happy, always”. Rebbe Nachman is teaching us that the vessel that is able to contain the awesome spiritual treasures that Hashem dolls out for free on Pesach is joy.
Simcha (happiness, joy) is the prerequisite for all spiritual attainment and it is an awesome spiritual attainment in and of itself.
This model is a paradigm for chinuch (education). In order to create an atmosphere and give our children tools with which to achieve and contain spirituality, they must be in a state of joy. Not the “spoil child syndrome” so common in our generation, but rather, a true joy in which the child recognizes their infinite Godly good inherent within them.
In Hebrew the word payrurim means crumbs, Rebbe Nachman taught that one of the meanings of Purim is payrurim, crumbs. The Jews of Shushan recognized that Hashem cherishes each good deed of ours no matter how small it is – even the size of a crumb. This idea is beautifully expressed in a letter Reb Nosson wrote to his son in “Alim L’Treufah” (Letter 63): Just as a bird keeps itself alive by picking at crumbs, until it consumes five times it’s body weight in crumbs everyday, a Jew can keep himself alive spiritually by consuming even tiny pieces, crumbs of mitzvot and chessed. Rebbe Natan quotes the Gemara (Avodah Zara), which explains that when we perform what we think is a “small” mitzvah, Hashem looks at it as a great and valuable accomplishment. It is as if we deposit a nickel into our bank account and the bank enters our deposit as a million dollars.
To further illustrate this point, consider the stars. From down here on planet Earth, the stars look like tiny dots. However, many of those stars that we perceive as tiny are larger than the Earth.
Even small crumbs make a difference.
We realize how significant each crumb is during the Pesach preparation. This thought however can drive many mothers to loose touch with the real message of Pesach preparations. In the search for crumbs, there is a great danger in making our children feel crumby.
Preparing for Pesach, Crumb by Crumb
Our goal is to lead the family to Seder night with joy. Therefore it is incumbent upon us to carefully focus on the positive acts of our children, even the tiny “crumbs” and point out to them how each of their contributions to preparing for Pesach are truly significant.
Pick out the things the children, including teenagers, do right. An example: In the pre-Pesach preparation in which we strive to eliminate all crumbs of chametz, it is easy to fall pry into the trap of making our children feel quite “crumby”. Strong words of criticism and rebuke easily fly out a parent’s mouth. “You don’t help enough!”, “You call that clean!” We need to refocus and highlight the “crumbs of good”.
You ask your 12 year old daughter to clean out her closet, you estimate that it will take her two hours to get the job done right. After two hours you walk into to her room, to find all of the contents of her closet dumped on her bed. Your immediate reaction: Yell! Scream! Doesn’t she understand that Pesach is only a few weeks away? What takes her so long? What does the above reaction accomplish? It reinforces the idea that the child is incompetent. A parent who can take a deep breath, and say, “I see that you have gotten started and are heading in the right direction, you have already taken everything out of the closet and began sorting through your belongings, I am sure you found a lot of things in there you didn’t know you had! I am going to need your help for other jobs and I want to make a schedule, do you think you’ll be finished within an hour?” In the second reaction the parent has gathered the positive “crumbs”- little things the child has done right, communicated to the child that they are capable, thus infusing the child with more energy to continue there work and perhaps even work harder.
It might be a helpful to keep a diary of the different tasks, no matter how small they are that each member of the family does in honor of Pesach. You can write down what you do to! (If there is enough paper!) Read the diary to the children on each Shabbat leading to Pesach and feel the joy spread.
So, when striving to rid our homes of those significant crumbs, let’s daven to Hashem to highlight the significance of every act and movement that a Jew does for Hashem, to rejoice over every crumb we rid our houses of, to rejoice over each “crumby” task our children complete to help get ready for the holiday. Happy Pesach!
Shoshie Nissenbaum, of Beit Shemesh teaches women and girls in Ramat Beit Shemsh and Jerusalem, translated the book “Escape from India”, and will be serving as the principal of Azamra Seminary, a new post-high school girls seminary opening in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Contact Shoshie at firstname.lastname@example.org.