When asked what law is most important in the baking of matza, Rav Yisroel Salanter the 19 th century founder of the Mussar (ethical refinement) movement, responded that the employees of matza factories be treated properly . While we often think of religiosity in terms of ritual, the truly religious Jew is focused even more on his behaviour towards humankind. Therefore the first law codified in the Shulchan Aruch on Pesach is the obligation to give Maot Chitim (Tzeddaka) to the poor before this most expensive of holidays. Only at this point does eating matza have significance. In fact in our meritorious desire to carefully observe the many obligations of Pesach we often lose sight that Pesach is a Yom Tov meant to be enjoyed as we celebrate the forming of the Jewish nation and the blessings of freedom. It thus appears to me that the excessive cleaning that many do for Pesach may actually be counter-productive, especially if it takes away from the joy of Pesach and makes the wife and her helping husband dread the arrival of the holiday.
This misplaced focus is all too common. We must ensure the proper balance between meticulous observance of ritual and the even more important concern for the economic well being of the Jewish people. Thus in an effort to control price gouging, the Talmudic sage Shmuel ordered merchants not to raise their prices after Pesach lest he change the accepted law and permit Chametz SheAvar Alav HaPesach , ( chametz owned by a Jew during Pesach) something which under normal circumstances is strictly prohibited. Without such a ruling the average income earner would have willingly but in the end unnecessarily spent excessive funds maintaining kashrut standards at the cost of economic standards.
It is inappropriate to adopt stringencies which place undue financial strain on a family budget, stringencies which are most widespread during the Passover season. Throughout the generations our rabbinic leaders forbade the purchase of items whose prices were excessive, including such basic necessities as fish, even for those to whom price was not an issue. It is not by chance that we start the Seder with the words "let all who are hungry come and eat".