4 Cheshvan 5781 / Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Torah Reading: Noach
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Cleaning for Pesach    

Cleaning for Pesach

However, even with doing all of this, I was not even close to being done with the cleaning, and Pesach was to start the next day! What should I do?


Pesach, to me, always involved a Seder, the family coming together, and lots of matzah over the course of the holiday. However, one thing that we never did in my house while growing up was clean for the holiday. As I started to learn more about Judaism, I discovered that Pesach was not only about eating matzah during the eight days of Pesach, but also about the preparations prior to the Seder. Several years ago, therefore, I decided to institute the tradition of cleaning my apartment before the start of Pesach.

Cleaning for Pesach was no easy task (embarrassingly enough). I was living with two other women, and although we did clean our apartment regularly, we certainly did not usually do the extremely thorough cleaning that Pesach requires. In addition, my roommates were not into this business of cleaning for Pesach, so I had to do it on my own. Of course, they did not complain - they were going to get a thoroughly spotless apartment, after all!
Thus, giving myself about three days before the start of Pesach, I started to empty my cabinets in the kitchen and scrub down the surfaces. I also removed the coats from the hallway closet, swept it out, and searched in all corners for any traces of chametz (leaven and any product in which wheat, oat, barley, spelt or rye come in contact with water for 18 minutes or longer without kneading or manipulating). Then I mopped the kitchen and living room floors.
However, even with doing all of this, I was not even close to being done with the cleaning, and Pesach was to start the next day! What should I do? The effort to clean my entire apartment was genuine, but it just seemed impossible in the amount of time that I had given myself.
You may think -- why all this cleaning anyway? Why not eat the matzah for the eight days of Pesach and then move on with life?
Well, that fateful year of my first Pesach cleaning, I had learned something that resonated within me. In cleaning for Pesach, not only are we physically cleaning our houses or apartments, but we should be looking inside of ourselves and "cleaning out" the parts of our lives or our personalities that need to be changed. We look into the corners of our souls and see what needs to be scrubbed out of our own lives.

The year of my first Pesach cleaning, I did not finish cleaning the whole apartment. However, I did investigate and sanitize areas that had not been looked at in months. Similarly, as I searched for chametz in my residence, I was able to search for things in my life that were holding me back personally, and attempt to rid them from my life (or at least make a concerted effort to do so).
I did not get to the "whole house" that year, but that may be because I did not give myself enough time. It could very well be that I may not have been ready to clean out the entire apartment. Similarly, I may have been ready to change and improve parts of my life but, perhaps, I was not ready to start on others, or did not have enough time to do so.
Now, several years later, I clean my whole apartment each Pesach. I have help from my current roommates and yet I still, at times, forget to check certain areas of the house for chametz. As we clean this year, may all we try to eradicate from our lives the chametz that is holding us back, but realize that it may be okay if we are not yet ready to rid ourselves of all of the "bad stuff." The essence, after all, is in the effort to clean and the attempt to get rid of all of the chametz that may be obvious or hidden.     

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  Pesach Cleaning
Jennifer Shurtleff4/11/2019 5:56:36 PM

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