Jewish Soul Journey

CHECKING IN — PESACH STYLE

 

                     It’s just a just time before
takeoff, friends have dropped off packages of gifts for their loved ones. We
wondered how we were going to fit them all into our bulging suitcases. Before
we knew it the car service driver was beeping. We quickly stuffed our cases
closed and hoped the zippers would hold out. At the airport, bags in tow we
followed an interminable line weaving towards the ticket counter. Upon reaching
what was to be the first of many checkpoints the flight security attendant said
with a polite, but serious smile:  “How
are you today”? Passports and tickets please! Where are going? Is this your
first trip there? Where will you be staying? Do you have any relatives there?
Oh yes, who? Where do they live? ” He made light conversation but all the while
his eyes were locked on ours without a flicker. They felt like x-rays and we
got flustered. Somehow we even hesitated over the names of the places are
relatives lived.  

As the grilling continued all  that was needed was a strong white light
focused in our eyes to turn  it  into a full blown interrogation. “Tell me, did
any one pack your bags for you? Do you have any electronic equipment inside
your bags? Where did you get it? Did you take it from a shelf of the store by
yourself or did someone give it to you? Was the package torn? Did anyone give
you anything?” 

After the initial screening the security officer directed
us over to yet another line to have our suitcases ex-rayed in what looked like
a giant MRI machine. After our bags came out unscathed with a negative
diagnosis, we proceeded to the check in counter. As we struggled to lift our
suitcases onto the scales, they seemed to feel quite a bit heavier than they
did at home – maybe it’s the gravity at the airport we chuckled. Miraculously
the employee did not impose a fine for being overweight and with a sigh of
relief we set off to scale our next hurdle.

             Moving further along
the assembly line we were required to place outer garments, hand bags and all
metal possessions on a rolling conveyer belt which passed them through another
x-ray machine. Now, hatless, shoeless, jacketless, feeling slightly vulnerable
and somewhat intimidated, we walk through the metal archway, which will
determine whether we will be “pat searched”. We fortunately passed with good
marks but we couldn’t help but notice another frum passenger who was sent to
the side for a full blown pat down. Admirably he never lost his pleasant smile
as he chatted cordially with the officer, adding after he was exonerated his
appreciation for the fine work that the security personal provided. This was a
real Kiddush Hashem that both we and that guard will never forget.

         
Since everything that exists in the world is founded in the Torah, where
can we find a Torah source for the
interrogation
and search of travelers? Yes. The first such search was conducted by Lavan –
Jacob’s father-in-law.  When Lavan saw
that (Ya’akov) Jacob has taken his family and left , he  chased after them,  bombarded them with a barrage of
questions  and then, unsatisfied with the
answers, made his own intrusive and thorough search of their possessions – (Parshas
Vayeitzei). Some years later, the sons of Ya’akov are subjected to an interrogation
and search at the hands of the second most powerful man in all of Egypt, not
realizing at the time that that imposing personage was none other than  their brother (Yosef). (Parshas Mikeitz).

What lesson could we
possibly learn from these two similar events? 
Perhaps the key lies in the intentions of the searchers even more than
the search itself. Lavan is the prototype of a clever swindler whose expertise lies
in appearing to be superficially (lavan) pure even while his intentions were
self-serving and even nefarious. We of course should do our best to steer clear
of such people but when unavoidable we should always make the best out of the
situation as our forefather Ya’akov did in the house of Lavan.

Of course when well
intended loving relatives, true friends and dedicated people “question” our intentions
and “search” into our motivations, like Yosef had done with his brothers, we
should not resent but actually cherish their words and actions. Now also before
Pesach, while we are checking very closely our homes and possessions, let us
also check (bodek) every “nock and cranny” of our attitudes for any “leavened” behavior
that has become “chumatz  or saor”. This
vital search and removal mission is one of the hallmarks of the Pesach
transformation that helps free us from the bondage of corporeal constraints and
limitations thereby allowing us to travel vertically up the Pesach “ladder”.

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia

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