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    A whole year of Pesach

    Dickens’ Uriah Heep, by Frank Reynolds, 1910

    All that effort to get the house ready for Pesach, and the festival is over in a week!

    Actually, there is a sense in which the observance of Pesach should continue for the whole year. Avoiding leavened food is done on Pesach in a literal, physical fashion, but refraining from leaven in the sense of puffed-up arrogance is a permanent part of Jewish ethics.

    There are two extremes to be avoided – being so arrogant and puffed-up that one is impossible to live with, and being so little concerned with one’s personal worth that one is too self-effacing.

    Modesty is a wonderful thing, but not when it turns someone into a nobody. At the same time one’s modesty should not be turned into an art form to such an extent that it’s a type of arrogance. Boasting of one’s modesty is still boasting.

    When Dickens creates the character of Uriah Heep, he deliberately makes him the sort of person who keeps on and on saying how ‘umble he is and as a result one gets the impression that Humble Heep is nothing but a show-off.

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