Thursday, April 3, 2014

RE-POSTED: getting the leaven out: THE HEART/the leaven is out, but is it out?

Note: This post is part of a series. Please scroll down for other posts and introduction.

"Any leaven that may still be in the house, which I have not seen or have not removed, shall be as if it does not exist, and as the dust of the earth"... from the Haggadah

"It is a positive commandment of the Torah to remove the leaven before the time when it is forbidden to eat it, as it is said: 'the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses' (Exodus 12:15)... What is this removal of which the Torah speaks? It is that one should annul the leaven in his heart and consider it as dust; and he should take to heart that there is no leaven at all in his possession and that all the leaven in his possession is as dust, and as something of which there is no need whatsoever..." -Moses ben Maimon

Now in the middle of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I am nearing the end of this series of posts. As we consider the words above, if we have indeed thoroughly cleansed our homes and neglected to cleanse our hearts in preparation for Passover, we have prepared in vain. Fortunately, it is never too late nor too time-consuming to cleanse your heart before a loving G-d. This Passover season, as we remember and celebrate our own redemption from slavery and bondage to sin, let us also use this ever-appropriate time to get our hearts right with the Master who granted us our freedom. Although we are saints who still sin, He is always waiting, willing, and able to forgive us for our sins. Take some time over these remaining days of this Feast to confess, and ask for forgiveness for, your transgressions... and I plan to do the same.
Here are some Scriptural verses on the benefits of confession of sin: Proverbs 28:13, Psalm 32:3,5, Isaiah 1:18, Psalm 103:12, 2 Chronicles 30:9, 1 John 1:6-7, Romans 8:1, and Hebrews 10:19, 22.
For those of us who celebrating Passover, eating unleavened bread (matzah) and have tasted the bitterness of the herbs (horseradish) on the seder plate, these are excellent physical representations of the heart of Pesach for believers. Our Messiah, our Passover Lamb, died because of our sins, so sometimes remembering that can truly give us the strength we need to continue striving with a sinful nature and living for Him in a sinful world. While recalling our past sins and confessing our current ones, our gratitude to G-d for His deliverance is multiplied. As Philo of Alexandria wrote so many years ago, "and so, we who desire repentance eat the unleavened bread with bitter herbs, that is, we first eat bitterness over our old and unendurable life, and then [we eat] the opposite of overboastful arrogance through meditation on humility, which is called reverence. For the memory of former sins causes fear, and by restraining it through recollection brings no little profit to the mind..."
With that said, I wish you a bitter and sweet... solemn and joyous... tearful and freeing... Feast of Unleavened Bread! Let's celebrate our beautiful redemption and our wonderful Savior! Chag Sameach!

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