Last night I had an unusual dream. The reason it was so unusual is because it had nothing to do with anything I was thinking about the whole day, and at first glance seems to just be a funny dream.
In the dream it was Shabbos, and we were eating Challah. It must have been an early morning Shabbos meal. I don’t recall seeing guests in the dream at first, but for whatever reason I suddenly became aware that it was erev Pesach and we hadn’t gotten rid of the chametz! We were just sitting there eating regular challah, getting crumbs all over as if it was any other Shabbos.
I frantically ran around the house, clearing out all the chametz I could find. I found myself in this large open area (that doesn’t exist in my real house) that had ארונות (Israeli style stand-alone closets) near the walls. I knew that some bochurim had left their old half-eaten sandwiches up there and I quickly pulled them down, continuing in my frenzy to gather as much chametz as I could. I deposited all the chametz in a large green dumpster outside of my house in some kind of large yard, and returned to my house where my guests (!) were all eating… more chametz! I knew that these guests were not religious, so they were unaware that Pesach was coming and the clock was slowly ticking closer to the time we would be unable to eat the chametz. They didn’t seem to have an issue with the fact that I grabbed the challah away from them and quickly proceeded to dispose of it.
At some point in the dream I also knew that I was still chewing on chametz and that there was chametz in my teeth and this made me very nervous.
When I woke up it became clear to me what the message of the dream could be. One of the deep meanings behind our cleaning for Pesach is that we are supposed to be doing a soul searching – cleaning our neshamas from the chametz, i.e. the negative things we have done in our life. The Yetzer Hara is called the שאור שבעיסה – the yeast in the dough – because he convinces us that evil is good when really it is just hot air.
The sudden realization I had in the dream that it was erev Pesach represents the fact that sometimes we wake up to do teshuvah and clean our souls properly at the last second. When we do that it becomes a frantic search, and hopefully we will finish in time, before סוף זמן אכילת חמץ – the last time we can eat chametz. If we are too busy eating the pieces of ‘chametz’ (ie doing the aveiros) even as we are cleaning and trying to eradicate them, we may find some chametz left in our mouths even after the time when we are supposed to have stopped.
The final message for me of the dream was that there are many people out there who don’t even realize that there will be an accounting or that they are doing something wrong, nevertheless we can help them, either by davening for them or by showing them a better way. If we are sensitive to them, not only will they not complain, they will certainly be happy we have prayed on their behalf and/or shown them the proper path so that they too would not be found with ‘chametz’ in their mouths on Pesach.