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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Repentance

Chametz during Pesach


Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 27, 5779
Hello Rabbi, I got very little sleep in one of the nights Pesach and had a workout as I am a student-athlete. I realized I did not have any breakfast and stopped by where I usually go before my workouts when I don't have time for breakfast because if I don't eat beforehand, I do not feel well. However, I ordered my usual and ate quickly and went to my workout. It wasn't until afterward that I realized that I had eaten Chametz. I was so tired that I just went into autopilot and did not consider what I was eating, and just the fact that it was my routine. I know I need to repent and do Teshuvah, but for such a serious transgression I do not know what is enough Teshuvah, please help a worried, sad, remorseful soul!
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Your sorrow and pain comes through your letter – may you be blessed with the light of complete teshuvah. Our Rabbi and Teacher, Rav A.I. Kook zt”l wrote a classic book about Teshuvah – Orot HaTeshuva (The Lights of Repentance – available also in English), that discusses your situation. The pain and sorrow of sin is felt by the soul, whose natural purity and holiness desires only to do Hashem's will. But this pain itself is a positive thing. The pain itself is an expression of the pure soul – and as such you are allowing your inner soul to grow stronger by expressing itself and it's true direction, to follow Torah. You shouldn't though make the mistake of thinking that this pain should lead you to depression. No, the opposite is true – now having felt the pain, you should find joy in the fact that you have a healthy soul that can express itself. Just as the body reacts with pain when it's not healthy, and that pain itself both shows us that the body's underlying vitality is still healthy, and also that the pain is the process of healing itself, just as the fever burns out the sickness. So, now having felt remorse you need to return your focus to the joy of knowing you have a healthy Jewish soul that wants to serve Hashem with added strength. Find more ways for your soul to express itself in Torah and Mitzvot – add a mitzvah, add some more Torah learning, add a good deed to your life. Through this you will allow the failure of sin to become an impetus for good – and the sin itself will become part of the good. May you have every blessing.
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