Pesach Excess

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Cleaning a Rug for Passover

Cleaning a Rug for Passover

While my house gets turned upside-down in advance of Passover (and no, I won’t tell you where I’m “holding”), I’ve gathered yet more thoughts about Pesach.

First of all, it is hard. Even the minimum involves hard physical labor and more important, planning. Not everyone is blessed with organizational skills or the discipline to follow a strict schedule.

But because it’s Pesach, we let things get out of hand, and pay for it in all kinds of ways. Here are some examples:

  1. Too much kashering. I used to kasher my microwave just because I could, until I realized I only used it once or twice during Pesach. Now I have it available until the last minute. Same with some pots. After Pesach I plan to write down how much of these things I used.
  2. Too much space. I used to spend a lot of time preparing cabinets I didn’t need. This meant finding a place for the contents and preparing the cabinets. Sometimes it’s easier to make do with less storage space–if you have this luxury.
  3. Too much cleaning. We all want to sit down to the seder in a sparkling, clean house. Even if we know that there is no halachic need (according to Jewish law) to wash windows, we take pleasure in the view.  And  it’s a worthy goal, especially if you start early, have lots of help and no toddlers undoing your work. I’m convinced children can hear clean mirrors and windows calling out to them. Anyway, we are all aware by now, at least theoretically, of the dangers of taking on too many cleaning jobs too close to the holiday. But it can be hard to let go of the ideal.
  4. Too much clutter. I just realized I bought those cute little wine glasses because my parents had identical ones. Every year we take them out of the Pesach cabinet and back again, and hope they don’t break. But we never use them. Any takers?
  5. Too much time on detail. Some homemakers spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that the table settings are just so, or polishing the silver to perfection.
  6. Too much laundry. If you’re like me you wash most of the tablecloths and cloth napkins “just in case” (unless you have special ones set aside). Eventually I realized I could count them out according to meals and add an extra one in case. Throwing all the sheets and towels into the wash on erev Yom Tov is another custom to reconsider. We’re not eating off of them.
  7. Too much buying. Because we feel deprived by the holiday food restrictions, we add bottles of soft drinks or cake mixes to the cart. Then we are stuck with the leftovers after the holiday—in the pantry or worse, on our waists. And we feel the lack in our wallets.  The same goes for household items.
  8. Too many courses and dishes. It only comes once a year, and everyone is looking forward to their favorites. But unless you’re lucky enough to eat kitniyot (legumes), the food consists of potatoes, eggs, meat and matzah with some vegetables thrown in for variety. (Not to mention fat). So if you feel it’s worth the time to cook, clean, serve, and store leftovers of these items, enjoy. If not, consider spreading the joy over the course of the holiday.
  9. Too much stress. You have decided not to do the windows, but the dirt bothers you. Since you are more or less on schedule you do them anyway. Even if you technically have the time, this adds stress. This is the time to play with the kids, relax, or sleep. But we feel like we are shirking if we take a break. (This feeling lessens with age.)
  10. Too much guilt. We feel guilty if we occasionally lose patience with our kids, and we feel guilty if the house or meals aren’t up to some imaginary standard. We feel guilty that we can’t put Pesach together with a smile, like the neighbor down the street or the newspaper columnist.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a stunning table, clean windows or a choice of vegetable kugels. Not everything has to be simple. But we do have to keep our priorities straight. And our first priority is our family, and our family is counting on us. So we will make wise choices, pick a few extras that are meaningful and manageable, and remember that Pesach is a holiday of joy. And we want as much of that as we can get.

The checklist.

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Comments

  1. “This feeling lessens with age”.

    It sure does. And it feels great.

  2. Great common sense.
    I’ve been doing fine, except I didn’t plan a dinner for myself, just for my husband. How much yogurt can one eat in a day?

  3. Fine post.

  4. totally agree. i try to get more forgiving of myself and hope god understands. but it’s hard to let go of the guilt.

  5. excellent post. always good to remind ourselves that the holiday is for celebrating the exodus, not for killing ourselves with cleaning…it’s supposed to be joyous!!!

  6. ashrayich!

  7. Before I got my (super expensive) Dyson vacuum, Pesach cleaning was a lot more work. That vacuum does all the work for you. I sound like a commercial. I’ve been making Pesach for 21 years (at least), and this is the 3rd year with the Dyson.

  8. Great post!
    The way I see it is – Since I’m not going to win the Baalebusta of the Year award anyway, there’s really no point in trying to compete… :-)

    Chag kasher v’same’ach!
    (With just as much emphasis on the “same’ach” as on the “kasher”!)

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more! I used to go crazy kashering that microwave, and then a few years ago I decided to just put it away instead because I can do without it over Pesach. Added bonus: more counter space where the microwave usually sits. And I used to go crazy emptying cabinets until I realized that I don’t really need all that room (and I hated shlepping all those things to another room and them shlepping them all back and putting them all away after Pesach). I actually keep some things on the counter- in the space vacated by the microwave! And you’re so right- the older you get, the less the non-chametz dirt bothers you. My windows aren’t sparkling but I really don’t care- I’m certainly not going to clean them before the holiday.

  10. A friend used to say, “You drive yourself crazy cleaning so at the Seder you can really feel like a free person.” But it ain’t so, and it was refreshing to hear it from another woman.

  11. A smart woman says:

    Not to be snotty but these tips were self evident. At least for me.

  12. regarding tablecloths – Every time I use a tablecloth from about Purim onwards, I wash it & put it away in a chametz-free cabinet. Then there’s a big pile of clean ones for Pesach with no additional effort.

  13. mominisrael says:

    I’m glad you all liked it. Smart woman, most of us know these things. But I still need to remind myself of every year. TC, usually I do that with the tablecloths, but forgot this year.
    Anyway I hope we’ve all recovered by now.

  14. How do you kasher a microwave?
    I’ve always made do with 2 shelves, a soup pot, frying pan and a wok. And that’s with guests almost every meal.

    • mominisrael says:

      Moshe, please share your methods. Do you use an oven? How do you keep the food warm? How many eat at each meal? Most rabbis permit kashering a microwave after a 24-hour rest and a good cleaning by boiling a cup of water for a few minutes. I’ve heard different things about the turntable.

  15. Gladly. No oven, mine’s not self cleaning and cleaning and kashering it is not something I’m very interested in doing.

    I make, for lack of a better word, Russian meatballs. Fry them quickly in the wok.
    Wife makes chicken soup in a big pot. For fish, used to make salmon gefilte fish but with the skyrocketing prices, decided to try something new this year, submitted the recipe to your blog carnival. You can make a cut in 4 or 8 chicken in the wok pretty quickly. Dump half a can of peach/apricot chicken sauce, cover, and turn occasionally.

    This year, I decided to replace my aging crock pot and got a new one on sale and used that for pesach. Put 2 chickens side by side, cover w bbq sauce and leave for 6-8 hours. Then you can use it for cholent.

    If you have room for a big pesach wok, I have a small one for pesach and big for the rest of the year, you can make curry. Curry spice contains kitniyos but OU had a recipe of how to mix together a substitute. Very cheap and feeds a lot of people. My recipe is a mix of Japanese curry and chicken masala.

    Prepare the ingredients beforehand.
    Chop and saute 1 onion.
    Add 2-3 potatoes, sliced into triangles and add salt and curry powder.
    Add a carrot or 2, sliced.
    When potatoes don’t look raw anymore, add cubed chicken breast, around 3 of them and add ground nutmeg.
    Continue cooking until chicken breast’s looks more or less cooked and add a can of tomato sauce and water to top of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, add tomatoes, cut into same size pieces as the potatoes. Also, add more curry powder and if you want, cayenne pepper and maybe dry whole chili peppers.
    Lower the temperature to minimum and let it simmer for 15 minutes or so.
    Stir in, preferably flavored, mashed potato mix, cover and let simmer for another 15+ minutes.

    Never thought of kashering the microwave. Gotta find out for next year.