The Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchek, was one of the greatest Torah personalities of the last century. His commitment to truth, come-what-may, is legend.
He was once delivered a supply of flour for baking matzos, a scarce commodity in pre-war Belarus. The messenger proudly showed him a nasty finger wound he sustained during the delivery.
“Rabbi So-and-so warned me about falling asleep during the train ride here,” said the messenger, “lest the flour become unguarded.”
(Jewish law requires that flour used to make matzo be “guarded” from the time of its harvest lest it undergo even accidental leavening.)
“I was so afraid I’d fall asleep on the overnight ride that I tied a cord tightly around this finger,” explained the messenger.
The Brisker Rav became pensive.
“I can’t use this flour,” he announced.
The messenger was shocked.
“Matzos made through causing pain to another are not suitable for Pesach.”
Our sages teach that leavening signifies arrogance. Arrogance is the essence of enslavement because it a priori shackles our ability to choose a good life. You can’t choose good if you can’t see it.
But there are two expressions of self-centeredness – the inability to see the reality of what’s greater than us and the inability to see the reality of someone other than ourselves.
I speak primarily to myself here though I hope this message resonates with you, too. The ability to see and experience another’s lot, feelings, difficulties, and joy is such a precious gift. There is no one in the world whose riches and opportunities won’t seem greater and whose deficiencies and trials won’t seem smaller through the gift of seeing beyond himself.
May we merit to prepare and yearn sincerely for and receive the gift of freedom this Passover.