And now it starts!!

The pre-pesach insanity. The minute Purim is over, for most balabustas, it’s full steam ahead for pesach preparations. Suddenly you cannot eat anywhere but the kitchen, the dining room is off limits. Closets must be emptied and reorganized. Light fixtures have to be taken down and scrubbed. The moms are on a mission to rid the house of anything chametzdik. In some houses there is not much decent to eat between now and Pesach.

But really, this craziness goes so much further than that. Most of this Pesach cleaning is really spring cleaning, but using Pesach as the excuse. According to the halacha, you don’t need to take down each individual crystal from your chandelier and scrub it in hot soapy water. There will be no chametz there, and certainly no recognizable or edible chametz. Just plenty of dust. Women who are not machmir on many things year round, suddenly in the month before Pesach are incredibly strict on what can pass muster as being clean for Pesach.

I like my home to be clean even when not preparing for Pesach. When I have the energy and the inclination I might take down the light fixtures (even though I am Hungarian I have no chandeliers) and clean them, but it will not be explained as cleaning for Pesach. Taking everything out of the closets in my room so I can wipe down the walls and ceilings and vacuum the floors – that’s nothing to do with Pesach – I don’t keep bread in my bedroom closet. To clean for Pesach you need to just get rid of chametz. Dust is not chametz. Lint is not chametz. A disorganized closet is not chametz.

If you keep your house organized and clean year round, then cleaning for Pesach should be no great hassle, and doesn’t really need to be thought about till the week before. Rooms where you know there has been no chametz don’t even need to be cleaned for Pesach. The kitchen and dining areas are really the only places that need a thorough going over and you can’t really do that until just before the holiday.

I have made Pesach annually since I got married the first time around. I have it down to a science. I would like to think that I don’t make the kids insane for weeks in advance. That I am not a dictator who has a panic attack every time someone walks out of the kitchen with a cookie in hand. When the kids were babies, yes, I found cheerios etc in interesting places. Soon enough they learned to do the chametz wiggle before leaving the kitchen in the week before Pesach.

So many times I hear women complain about how exhausted they are by the time they sit down for the seder. It’s unnecessary to be that tired. It’s a holiday. I want to enjoy my holiday with my family, not be a burned out wreck because I have been a cleaning and scrubbing fiend for a month!!! “Avadim Hayinu” – we were slaves – in Egypt, not in present day 2010! Please, get it all into perspective, ladies, and show up at the seder in your yomtov finery, with a smile showing naturally on your face, and know that you will enjoy yourself, not fall asleep by the second cup of wine.

Yes – once the house is Pesachdik there is a lot of work to be done. The changing over the kitchen, the shopping and the cooking. Food preparation for Pesach is a lot more time consuming. Get everyone involved. Plan your meals. You CAN cook on yomtov, it doesn’t all need to be prepared before hand. There is no need for us women to be zombies – let’s enjoy every part of the pesach preps.

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13 responses to “And now it starts!!

  1. batya from NJ

    I truly dislike pesach especially when there is little Chol Hamoed in between the first & second days to catch a breather. This yr, it’s like that b/c it starts on Monday night thru Wed nite (everywhere out of Israel) & that leaves Thursday & Friday to shop & cook for shabbos & then Sunday to start preparing for the second days. It’s so NOT my idea of a good time, i can’t begin to tell you!!

    Even without doing major spring cleaning, it is still such a pain & somehow i usually end up feeling like a slave in Egypt (although maybe not quite as bad ;)! Between the shopping for pesach products, the changeover a few days in advance of pesach (& the inconvenience that ensues), the kashering of the kitchens, & all the cooking is in my opinion most overwhelming. add to that, having guests & having to cook & clean even more & you really have me wishing that my dream at the end of the sdarim last pesach that “L’shana Haba’ah B’malon B’yerushalayim” (Next yr in a hotel in Jerusalem” would have come true but alas it has not :(!!

  2. On Sunday I went through my kitchen and took everything out and put it on the dining room table and spread it out. I will go through and break it up into different categories and figure out my next month’s meals based on that. Last night I made beer battered fish, I used up beer and bread crumbs in one shot 🙂

  3. I love this! Great pep talk – I should send my mother over here.

  4. I got tired just reading your post. And there is no chametz in my light fixtures. Just dust, which is better left undisturbed, IMHO.

  5. It is worth remembering that it is Chametz, not dust or broken toys that is assur on Pesach. Although we also do a spring cleaning you don’t have to be fanatical about dust.

    My mother knew a woman who got divorced over pesach cleaning. Her yungerman husband decided she (she, not he, although she was 7 mo. pregnant at the time) needed to scrub the driveway on hand and knee. I am sure this was just the straw (or maybe the I-beam) that broke the camel’s back, but still there is a limit even for pesach.

    On the other hand, I always manage to cook for sedarim (my job in our house since I can take the day off more easily than my wife the professor) on erev pesach without driving myself to exhaustion. This year will be more challenging than the last few since all my kids of driving age will be in Israel. Although my youngest is old enough to take some money and walk to the store for extra fruits and vegetables.

  6. Lady Lock and Load

    When I was a teacher, I asked my students to write a composition about their favorate holiday…for most children it was Pesach! A few chose Chanukah, but Pesach won by a land slide. I also love Pesach, I love having a fresh clean house and I also love matzah. I always have one day which I call my “mental breakdown” where I am totally freaking out, but once that day is over it’s clean sailing!
    Next year your boys should dress up as the Arbah Banim from the sedar for Purim! Except noone will want to be the Roshah!

  7. At this point, I’m thinking of getting a leaf-blower and just go room to room until I can blow it all out the balcony door.
    And Pesach and I have a long-standing love-hate relationship. Most of my major medical issues happened either right before or on the first two days of Pesach, so it doesn’t mean the same thing to me anymore.
    Thank G-d, since we moved here, we’ve gone back to Chicago (by my parents) for Pesach, which means the cleaning doesn’t need to be so outrageous for us.

  8. When I was single and ran out of dishes, I would use the light fixtures covers as plates and bowls. Now we don’t have that problem anymore so we don’t have to clean the fixtures out for Pesach. On the other hand, I still think I should Kosher the clothes iron in case I slipped and made pizza on it again. I just can’t remember……

  9. In my personal halachic opinion, people go overboard on Pesach cleaning. Pesach cleaning is NOT spring cleaning – and the Rema says as much in his discussion of what needs to be cleaned.

  10. Yes, washing down the walls isn’t necessary- nice, but totally unecessary.

    I don’t freak out by the cleaning, but it is a bit harder for me because we always host a kiddush the Shabbos before Pesach for the community in honour of my FIL’s yartzeit. The neighbours love it cuz we still suply a chametz cholent, but it means I cannot clean the dining/living room or kitchen until the last minute.

  11. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner says Pesah cleaning shouldn’t take more than a day. He adds that Pesah isn’t meant to be a time when the husband and children are cowering in the corner, while Pharaohess is being a tyrannical dictator, lording everyone into abject terror. Yes, he says this! ROFL

  12. And I remember I was at a shul*** where the rabbi said very clearly and very explicitly that you do NOT have to clean in a place where there’s no hametz expected. His example: you do NOT have to clean under the fridge, because there’s no hametz there, and even if there is, there’s no fear that during Pesah, you’ll be so famished that you’ll move the fridge over to get at the hametz.

    *** The Chabad of Potomac, MD. Rabbi Bluming there gives some of the best sermons I have ever heard of any rabbi. I just now went online and checked their schedule of events, and of their events is a lecture in honor of the Rebbe’s yahrzeit. Yes, his YAHRZEIT. Sometimes, you’re ready to lose hope in mankind, but then, G-d sends you something to remind you that not all of mankind is lost. V’ha-meivin yavin.

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