Is it possible?
Reading my favorite blogs today and seeing that a number Jewish bloggers (well, mostly women since they are usually the ones in charge) seem to be getting hysterical about their Pesach cleaning or their lack of enthusiasm regarding the latter, I wonder if we are not missing the point somehow.
As always in Judaism, the physical goes hand in hand with the spiritual. In the case of Pesach, we are commanded to get rid of the chametz in our homes but also of the chametz in our hearts. Both are important nevertheless I don’t think Jewish women were meant to get obsessive, not to say frantic, about removing the chametz from their homes. What’s more, if our sages instituted Bittul (nullifying one’s chametz) and Mechirah (selling one’s chametz), they must have had in mind the idea that we should strive for the possible not the impossible.
The law even provides for those who would have failed to notice some chametz and don’t know what to do about it: according to Halakhah, if chametz is found during Yom Tov, it must be covered over until Chol HaMoed when it can be burned. Chametz found during Chol HaMoed should be burned immediately.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating laziness or negligence (I spent more than an hour cleaning the fridge this morning), but I do believe we should remain focused on what Pesach is: a Holy Day.
In that respect, I’ve always found it useful to read essays about the holidays so as to keep in mind that we are preparing for a Festival, a joyous occasion and one that ought to change something within us. After all we are commanded to see ourselves as if we, personally, were liberated from Egypt. In a response to a worried blogger, Frumteacher suggested getting a new haggadah every year so as to get a new perspective each time. Whatever you choose to do Chag Sameach!
My husband would like this post. He has always been helpful in reminding me that the required amount of cleaning is to get rid of chametz, not every little speck of dirt.
One thought I would like to add is there often is a lot of underlying anxiety about family dynamics in relation to Pesach. Some family member might be very strict about some aspect of the holiday, but not helpful in getting that done. Or just being with family members late at night sometimes can bring up old feelings and old tensions.
Nice idea about the new haggadah, if it works for you.
I agree with you 100%. This is NOT supposed to be spring cleaning. Years ago I realized that it was silly to clean the dust off the light fixtures before the holiday! Once I stopped (well, almost stopped!) combining Pesach cleaning and spring cleaning, I was much better off.
It doesn’t help, though, that in Israel all the stores try to make people WANT to do spring cleaning so they can sell more cleaning products!