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Why I Love Cleaning for Passover
Mom with a View

Why I Love Cleaning for Passover

And it’s not that I’m a martyr.


This morning I got the call that no Jewish woman wants to receive right before Passover. “Your cleaning lady isn’t feeling well and won’t be able to come this week.” (She only comes every other week to start with so this is a dramatic loss!)

“I’m not going to cry,” I bravely told my husband, my shaky voice betraying my resolution. “Please go out and buy rubber gloves for the whole family; we’ve got a lot of scrubbing to do.”

Of course, everyone would be involved in the cleaning anyway. I just wanted some extra help with the stove…and the refrigerator…and the dining room…

But I wouldn’t want to hire a cleaning crew and have them do all my Passover cleaning for me (At least that’s what I tell myself!) I would miss the opportunity of fully immersing myself in Passover preparations.

It’s not that I’m a martyr (whatever my husband may tell you) or a glutton for punishment. It’s just that the more I do ahead of time, the greater sense of accomplishment and connection to the holiday I feel (I’m telling myself that the Almighty really wanted to deepen my connection this year!).

Just as inherited money is not as appreciated as money earned, a Seder without the advance cleaning and cooking doesn’t seem to have the same impact – even if I would be more awake for it!

Although there are moments when I want to throw up my hands in frustration (like when a certain unnamed child was reaching for a container in the closet and broke a one-of-a-kind ceramic bowl that I had just stored there), in general, I enjoy the whole cleaning process.

I like editing out the extraneous and narrowing our home down to its essentials. I like the clean feel and the clear thoughts. I like the sense of starting a fresh and I revel in the struggle to rid ourselves of ego as we eliminate leaven from our homes (not that you’d know that if you look at all the “I” sentences!).

We live in a world that promotes comfort and ease, a world that encourages us not to work too hard and that holds out the constant promise of luxurious vacations. But there are a lot of things lost in that attitude, one of them being the authentic Passover experience.

When we reap the rewards of our hard work at our Passover Seder, when our family oohs and aahs over the experience we’ve created, when our children finish all the food and beg to take one more pan of brownies out of the freezer, when the conversation is meaningful and centers on our development as a people, on how to free ourselves (even today) to serve the Almighty with a full heart, then we know that all the effort – all the cleaning, shopping, cooking, serving – was worth it. (If our eyes are still open!)

March 31, 2012

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Visitor Comments: 14

(10) Dinah, April 4, 2012 12:24 PM


same story, cleaning lady quit , everyone is pitching in. same feelings! added bonus, my husband took the boys on a camping and sailing trip after the house was ready for Pesach and I have a day or two to recover before the Big cook up! Love having the house clean and tidy and love getting rid of the all the extra baggage. Wouldn't want to spend Pesach at a hotel with lots of others and then come home to a house that wasn't 'cleaned for Pesach' Have a happy and kosher chag

(9) Rivka, April 3, 2012 5:46 PM

Pesach cleaning-more than just housework

I can't relate to a cleaning lady and I am just a one-person household, so my circumstances are a bit different. I do, however, have several disabling illnesses which make cleaning at any time a real chore.But cleaning for Pesach is different. Pesach, for me, is a healing experience. I try to pace myself so I'm not panicking at the last minute, and as time goes by my depression has lifted, I am thinking more positively, and I am happy in my work and with life in general. Oh yes, I have pain, and severe fatigue, but in ridding my home of hametz I am ridding my soul of hametz as well. And I feel God is with me, cheering me on. Hag Sameach to all!

Michael, April 8, 2012 11:36 PM

You story was beatiful You reside alone and still clean for Pesach. The A-Mighty is in your heart Ricka. May the A-Mighty Bess your always.

(8) Anonymous, April 2, 2012 11:39 PM

on the other hand

Ok, I don't relate to this at all. If you're like her,great but I just want to add that if you hate and are not good at cleaning and organizing, (like me) another way to relate to the preparation for this holiday is to use it as an opportunity to tell G-d, "I may not enjoy everything You want me to do, but I'll try my best to do it with joy anyway." And I have the satisfaction of knowing that it's a completely selfless mitzvah: I do it only out of devotion to Him, no ulterior motive:) And the reward will be great.

(7) Theolog, April 2, 2012 10:08 PM

'Cleaning ladies'

There should be more concern expressed re the cleaning lady not feeling well. (Did she get a phone call and/or a Get Well card?) And is she going to be invited to the celebrations? If she's good enough to do the family's cleaning, she (and eg, her husband) should frequently be the family's guest. It's good that the writer of the article and her family would be joining in and helping with the cleaning for Passover, as they should also, and probably do, throughout the year. Doubtless, cleaning ladies in our day are very well paid yet they still shouldn't be left like slaves to do all the cleaning in a family's home without any help by family members. While people have jobs suitable for their skills, experience, life situation - often doubtless to survive financially - employers need to counter wherever possible, the idea of jobs defining social class divisions, instead, through practical means, emphasizing the equal dignity of all people, whatever their line of work, and this is a fundamental concept in Judaism.

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