My right arm is officially a hundred times stronger than my left,
still burning and smelling of bleach.
The home that is Machon Alte had a day of cleaning yesterday, in honor of the approaching holiday of Pesach. Every student was given a job around the "campus."
My job? To scrub. To scrub the floor. To scrub all thirty refrigerator racks. To scrub the counters. To scrub the dishes.
As I was removing layers of grime, mold, and rotting food from the surfaces of all the items I encountered, I struggled to use my overly-exposed-to-fumes brain to tap into the meaning and purpose of all the cleaning. Learning in Tzfas has taught me enough to expect more from the seemingly mundane in this world.
The Alter Rebbe is known to have spent an enormous amount of time intensely cleaning his house. The Mitzva of checking for Chametz (after the house is already cleaned) takes about twenty minutes, but he went all through the night - carefully guiding his candle along the floor in search of crumbs.
Clearly, there is something here that goes beyond spring cleaning.
The Alter Rebbe wasn't only searching his house. He was searching his soul. He was identifying what a person's motives should be when cleaning for Pesach - checking for the crumbs and layers of dirt that could possibly be covering our soul, stopping it from shining its full light.
There are many explanations for the Pesach cleaning that we have all come to dread. But for me, the Alter Rebbe's approach stands out.
So here I am scrubbing and scrubbing. I've got my soul on my mind. And I'm talking to myself. I'm saying, "Mimi, scrub it away."
Scrub away negativity. Let your soul shine. Scrub away the suggestive powers of society. Let your soul shine. Scrub away the barriers between your brothers and sisters. Let your soul shine. Scrub away your silly insecurities. Let your soul shine. Scrub away your ego. Let your soul shine. Scrub away laziness. Let your soul shine. Scrub away meaningless distractions. Let your soul shine.
Scrub away all the layers. Reveal the light, the shine. Reveal your mission. Reveal your powers. Reveal the meaning. Reveal the light inherit in the dark. Reveal the G-dliness. Reveal redemption.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. And the whole world, too, is with me. It is Nissan, the month of redemption, and Jews of every type and affiliation are cleaning away. Soul scrubbing and world scrubbing. The world is starting to freshen and sparkle. Pesach is on its way.
I'll see you in Israel.