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by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
The rebbe known as the Rav of Apta made exceptional preparations for Pesach (Passover). He invested tremendous physical and spiritual effort in the preparation of his matzot for the seder. Who are we to even speak of such levels of holiness as the Rav invested in his matzot?
As the Rav went to synagogue the morning of Erev Pesach (the day before Passover), his wife was preparing the items for the seder table. The specially prepared matzot were wrapped up in napkins and set on the counter in the kitchen. The Rav's wife headed off to the other room to direct preparing of the silver for the table when a poor man came to the kitchen door. His knock was answered by a servant, and he begged that that Rav should help him as he had no matzah for his seder. The servant knew that no beggar was turned away, so she looked around and saw a pack of matzot on the counter. She quickly grabbed the pack of matzah, gave them to the beggar and returned to her duties as directed by the Rav's wife.
A few hours later the Rav's wife went to get the matzot and bring them to the table. She looked couldn't find them! She looked all over, not sure where they could be...and eventually realized they were gone! She asked the servants and it was quickly determined what had happened. Regardless, the special matzot where gone with no chance of recovery. Without any other choice, the Rav's wife wrapped up a set of regular matzah and placed them on the table by the Rav's place.
On his return from synagogue and beginning of the seder, the Rav paused a moment and looked slightly confused as he grabbed the matzot, but then continued with the seder as normal.
After Pesach a husband and wife came before the Rav. The husband was completely upset and determined to divorce his wife! He complained to the Rav, "Rav, my wife refuses to keep the custom of not-gebrokt in food preparation on Pesach!" (The extra-stringent custom of not using any matzah as an ingredient, not allowing any matzah to become wet under the possibility that a particle of flour may not have been completely or properly baked - therefore creating chametz on Pesach, G-d forbid. This custom is common among chassidim.)
The Rav thought for a moment and then called for his wife. The Rav said to his wife, "Dear, please tell this couple what happened to my matzot this Passover." The Rav's wife turned white and began to shake. "Don't be concerned," said the Rav, "I'm not angry, but tell the story to help this couple." His wife said what happened...
The Rav then turned to the husband and said, "I ate regular matzah at the seder and didn't say a word, for shalom bayis. And you want to divorce your wife over a custom?"
There are many many customs for Passover. Traditions, family traditions of generations, traditions from communities generations ago. And there are many a new stringency that we happily apply to try to increase the holiness and correctness and height of our Pesach.
But we have a LAW to be HAPPY on the holiday. We have a LAW of shalom bayis, peace in the house between husband and wife. NO STRINGENCY is worth breaking a law. Nor is any custom.
Keep the happy in the kosher and happy Passover!
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא