The Mystery of The Lit Candle
Have you ever wondered why we light a candle during the Bedikat Chametz or Searching for the Leavened Bread? To the outsider, this looks like an ancient ceremony, but as always there may be reasons for it and it should be something for us to look into.
On the night of Bedikat Chametz we use a candle and look for 10 pieces of bread that we hid before, and also let me mention here - that we use the lit candle on Motzeh Shabbat during the Havdalah. Why do we do that? Is there a connection between these two candles? I believe there's, so let's examine it closely.
The first time the fire is mentioned is in the Midrash for Parashat Bereshit, when Adam and Chavah went out of Gan Eden. When the night has fallen it says, that Adam got scared, since this would be the first time he has experienced - the nighttime. Hashem told him not to worry since it is a normal occurrence. He taught him how to start a fire with stones, and this gave Adam peace of mind and calmed him down. But I believe there's more that could be added to this Midrash or may be explained from a different angle.
Let's start with a question, how come Adam and Chavah ended up outside of Gan Eden?
In Parashat Bereshit, right after Hashem created the world, Hashem has told Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, in turn, Adam has told Chavah not to touch the tree. Later when Adam wasn't around, Chavah was approached by a nachash, a primordial snake. And this is when the snake persuaded her - by telling Lashon Hara or slander about Hashem - to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, and she fell for it. There are several opinions about the fruit that the tree had - apple, grape, bread, etc.., but I strongly believe this tree had a ready-to-eat bread growing as fruits.
So there was Chavah - she took the fruit of that tree - a piece of bread from the Tree of Knowledge, and right before she ate it - the snake placed his poison into it - and Chavah ate the poisoned bread. And at that moment, the Yetzer Hara went into her, and then she made Adam eat it as well, and there they were with Yetzer Hara also known as - the bad character traits - jealousy, hatred, dishonesty, rudeness, and more - deeply rooted in them, and which are passed on to billions of people throughout the generations until today all across the world.
Hashem wasn't happy about this. He punished Adam, Chavah, and the snake, but humanity was still infected, and Hashem had to figure out a way to somehow cleanse the people from it.
And this is what Hashem did.
Remember the time when Moshe Rabbeinu came to Egypt and took the Jewish nation out of Mitzrayim? In Parashat Beshalach, Hashem has given us manna in the dessert - a pure bread - food for the angels. A bread that was digested by the body fully with no waste. There's a reason why Hashem has put millions of people in the desert on this diet - only one reason - to raise the nation spiritually to the level Adam HaRishon was at when he was in Gan Eden.
But later when we get to Parashat Shelach, suddenly the selected few get this idea of spying out the Land. Hashem is not so excited about this idea, but He still lets Moshe send out an expedition, which he does. After forty days when they come back, what do they do? They say Lashon Hara or slander only this time on the Land of Israel. Hashem tried to cleanse the nation from that original sin, and raise them to high spiritual levels, but they fell for the same sin again, and this time Hashem decided to kill the males between ages 20 to 60 of that generation, and their children went into Israel years later.
But the Yetzer Hara was still inside those people that went to Eretz Yisrael.
So, in Parashat Bo 12:11 it says, "So shall you eat it: your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You shall eat it in haste. It is a Passover offering to G-d." It continues in 12:34 & 39: "The people picked up its dough before it could become leavened, their leftovers bound up in their garments upon their shoulders. They baked the dough that they took out of Egypt into unleavened cakes, for they could not be leavened, for they were driven from Egypt for they could not delay."
So, it was set as a Holiday of Pesach for generations till today, to eat the unleavened bread - matzah, a bread that is pure and has no chametz in it. The Sages teach us that we should celebrate the night of Pesach, and we should feel that we leave Mitzrayim. But I don't believe that by leaving Mitzrayim, they meant that we should leave any physical location. Our Mitzrayim is our OK with the current situation, our contentment with it, and our will to continue living in it. Because the moment we understand what happened, we understand that we have lost - and we have lost BIG.
On Motzeh Shabbat when we make the blessing for a lit candle, we look at our fingernails, which reminds us of Adam HaRishon, since it says in the Midrash that his whole skin was covered by fingernails like skin, but now we have nails only on our fingers and toes. But this is not the only loss it should remind us of. It should remind us of the fact that we no longer live in the Gan Eden, we no longer have ready-to-eat bread growing on the trees, and we have to toil hard for a piece of bread daily. We no longer have a close relationship with Hashem and thus live in the darkness. No Bet Hamikdash, and no Eretz Yisrael, with wars, diseases, hunger, death, conflicts, and a whole lot of troubles across the globe.
Therefore, while we look for chametz with a lit candle, and gather the pieces of chametz - the leavened bread, we realize: Chametz, it is because of you we have lost so much. The life we have, and the life the whole world has is not what Hashem initially intended it to be - and instead, we suffer today because of the poison the snake put into the bread - which is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge - which in turn has infected us, humans, with the Yetzer Hara from which we suffer daily. We take that bread and we burn it, and with it, we annul all the chametz, that may be in our possession -- thus weakening its influence over us for the next 7 days.
And to all those that think, that G-d has abandoned the Jewish nation - should know that He has neither abandoned nor has given up on us.
He has commanded us to celebrate the Holiday of Pesach for 7 days. And on this holiday we are commanded to eat the unleavened bread for 7 days. The bread that has zero chametz - the matzah. And when we eat the matzah - we grow in our belief in G-d, and most importantly we grow in holiness, which eventually will lead to the ultimate redemption, Mashiach, and Third Bet Hamikdash speedily in our days...amen.