HaDevri HaIvrit, or The Hebrew Word, is a word that is of utmost importance at this time of year at Pesach, or Passover.
CHOMETZ – pronounce with the guttural "ch," a short "o," and a short "e." The accent is on the first syllable.
CHOMETZ – Hebrew for "leaven."
Jewish housewives are very busy at this time of year thoroughly cleaning their homes of chometz (some believe this is where spring cleaning originated!). Pesach, or Passover, will be observed April 2 – April 10 (Nisan 14-22 in the Jewish calendar), and the homes must be chometz-free as God commanded in Shemot (Exodus) 12:15-20 and Vayyikra(Leviticus) 23:6-8 – the Feast of Unleavened Bread. God’s people were to eat only unleavened bread to remind them of how they were delivered out of Egypt in a hurry – so much in a hurry that the dough in their kneading troughs on their shoulders was unleavened, and they did not even have time to let it rise – Shemot 12:34, 39; Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:1-4. They baked unleavened cakes, or matzos, from this dough.
There is a deeper reason, though, why God wanted the Jewish people to eat unleavened bread, or matzos, for seven days. In Scripture, leaven symbolizes impurity, malice, wickedness. In Bereshit (Genesis) 19:3, Lot baked unleavened bread for the two angels sent from God. Under the Mosaic Law, no chometz was offered along with the sacrifices on the altar – Shemot 23:18; Shemot 34:25; Vayyikra 2:11; Vayyikra 6:14-17. The only exceptions were the two wave loaves offered on Shavuos (Shavuot), or the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost – Acts 2!), in Vayyikra 23:15-22, and some of the cakes offered with the thank offerings – Vayyikra 7:13.
In the Brit Chadasha, or New Covenant, chometz is symbolic of the sin and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and also of Herod – Matthew 16:6 -12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1. In Galatians 5:1-9, leaven is likened to the act of a Jewish believer trying to keep the Law when he or she is, in fact, now free from the Law in Messiah Jesus – the One who fulfilled the whole Law.
In these next few weeks before Pesach, Jewish people will be very busy thoroughly cleansing their homes of chometz. How they have that "zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" spoken of in Romans 10:2! Jewish owners of bakeries will sell their chometzdik (containing chometz) pastries to a non-Jewish person before Passover begins. Special tablecloths, dishes, glassware, silverware, pots and pans and cooking utensils – all which are used only at Pesach (free of chometz!) are brought out from storage. The refrigerator, sink, stove, dishwasher, microwave, etc. all have to be kashered (made kosher) for Passover.
Religious Jewish people believe that everything that enters their mouth or that may merely touch the food they eat must be free of chometz. Some of the hundreds of products that must be kosher ("fit") for Passover are the following: baking powder, spices (including salt substitutes), sweetners, beverages, cleansers, scouring pads, detergents (including dishwasher detergents), oven cleaners, aluminum foil, plastic wrap and bags, paper goods, silver polish, medicine, soap, toothpaste, dental adhesive powders, lozenges, rubbing alchohol, colognes, laxatives, antacids, aspirin, and lipstick! There is even kosher for Passover catfood and dogfood! Remember, nothing in the home can have chometz in it, even catfood and dogfood! Ever heard of "Passovite Tablets" – Essential Multi-Vitamins for Passover?! Nothing that enters the mouth can have come into contact with leaven or anything containing leaven! There are guides and directories of "kosher for Passover" products. Medicine containing leaven may be taken only if a person really needs it. In Judaism, preservation of life always supersedes the law – Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah, illustrated this principle when He healed the man with the paralyzed hand on the Sabbath!
In the evening of April 1, the night before the first night of Passover, the religious will practice a very interesting ceremony called "Search for Chometz." After the lights in the home are extinguished, the father will take a candle, a feather, and a wooden spoon and go through the house accompanied by the rest of the family searching for chometz by the light of the candle. The search is carried out in silence. Earlier in the day, the mother and daughters placed several small pieces of bread in different places in the home. As the father finds each piece of chometz, he sweeps it onto the wooden spoon with the feather. When all the pieces have been gathered up, he makes a statement to the effect that all chometz in his possession which he has not seen, is annulled and of no value. The chometz is then wrapped or put in a paper bag, together with the feather and wooden spoon, and laid aside. The next morning before 10 A.M., the chometz, the wooden spoon, and feather are burned. This is done after the father states that all chometz in the house, seen or unseen, is annulled and regarded as "the dust of the earth." That same morning, no more chometz may be eaten after about 10 A.M. since Pesach begins the evening of that same day.
How our hearts ache for these people who so thoroughly clean the chometz out of their homes, even with a candle! Won’t you pray that HaRuach HaKodesh, the Spirit of God, like a candle, will enlighten these dear people so that they will come to the Passover Lamb of God and have their hearts purged of leaven by the One who is totally without leaven!
How we all need to always clean the chometz out of the homes of our hearts, as the following Scriptures warns us:
"Purge out, therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us.
Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
— I Corinthians 5:7,8 – Brit Chadasha, New Covenant