Mishpacha Pesach Cleaning Schedule, Part II

It’s a good thing I saved last week’s Pesach cleaning schedule from Mishpacha magazine, because you won’t find the “de-stressors” in the column below. (Something Different aptly named them distressors.) Instead Lowinger gives us “Clutter-Control Activities.”

Glossary at the end.

It’s probably not a good idea to tackle the piles of clutter so close to Yom Tov. [Can we go with that instinct?] Still, spend a few minutes each day getting all the extra “stuff” out of the way.

  • Sunday. Our peripheral areas should be Pesachdig. It’s time to tackle the nitty-gritty. Today, the living room. Vacuum the couches. Ask the men to do the bookcases. [I think that’s cheating.] Clutter-Control Activity: Collect all old periodicals. Clip anything you still need and file it. Get rid of everything else, after checking for sheimes. Consider donating old magazines to a local hospital or bikur cholim.
  • Monday. Once you’ve determined that remaining pre-Pesach Shabbos chometz will be eaten elsewhere, it’s time to begin the dining room. First work on the breakfront, polishing the silver, wiping the shelves, and rearranging knicknacks. Then clean chandeliers or lighting fixtures with an appropriate cleanser. [!!] Clutter-Control Activity: Do you really need six bud vases? Eight candy dishes? Thirty-two bechers? Instead of them collecting dust, offer them to a young couple just starting out or to an organization that might need them. [What if I did that last year?]
  • Tuesday. Cleaning the dining room table and chairs is a real “job,” and deserves an entire day’s attention. If your cleaning lady comes today, enlist her assistance. [More cheating. Where was the cleaning lady last week when we needed her?] Clean all surfaces meticulously. If your table has leaves, clean between the sections. Don’t forget to clean thoroughly underneath the pedestal or legs. Clutter-Control Activity: All mail should be sorted as soon as it comes to the house. Junk mail should be trashed immediately, invitations should be filed as well as bills, tzedaka envelopes, and anything else that needs attention.
  • Wednesday. By now, you should have a chometz area for anything that needs to be put away over Yom Tov, like the challah board and challah covers. Clean them thoroughly first. Clutter-Control Activity: Those lower shelves and drawers of your bookcase or breakfront are “clutter” magnets. Any tchatchkeh that has no place ends up there. Don’t be scared to throw away or give away intriguing, but useless, items.
  • Thursday. If you’re like the rest of us [I’m not], you have a collection of bentschers from every wedding since 1977. [Okay, I am. But 1977?] Put those that are hopelessly ruined in sheimos. Clean and store the usable ones in the chometz area. Clutter-Control Activity: If your bentschers are sorted, that’s your clutter-control activity for the day.
  • Friday. Another successful week of cleaning done. Keep Shabbos prep in the kitchen. Explain to children that the dining room is off limits to chometz. Many families are already using Pesachdig Shabbos treats, just in case. Others cover the dining room table with large plastic bags until Erev Pesach. Clutter-Control Activity: Clutter can happen anywhere. In fact, there’s probably some serious clutter in your fridge. Use up or discard open jars of sauerkraut, sauce, and pickled herring. Enjoy Shabbos. Next week we tackle the kitchen!

I find myself more annoyed than amused by this column. There’s nothing wrong with starting early, nor with her basic schedule. True,  I won’t dedicate a whole day to the dining room table and chairs, and I can’t fit everyone into my kitchen for Shabbos meals.  But (far) underneath, all she’s saying is to distribute the heavy work among different days and helpers, and start thinking about how to keep the house clean when you are busy cooking for the holiday.

My main objection is the  “Boro Parkiness” oozing through, including the cleaning lady, pedestals, chandeliers, 32 bechers, and the sheitel cut from last week. I’m surprised that Mishpacha isn’t interested in appealing to a broader audience.

And if your chandeliers aren’t sparkling by now, better wait until next year.


Pesachdig: Kosher for Passover; Sheimes: Pages with Jewish holy writings disposed of by burial; Bechers: Silver wine cups. Bikur Cholim: A society that arranges visiting the sick; Shabbos: Sabbath; Chometz: Leavened food, forbidden to eat or even own on Passover; Tzedakah: Charity; Tzatchkehs:  Decorative objects; Bentschers: Booklets containing the prayers after meals, usually imprinted as favors and distributed at weddings and bar mitzvahs. Sheitel: Wig often worn by married, observant Jewish women.


Four Pre-Passover Questions

Pesach Crisis Cleaning

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  1. “Ask the men to do the bookcases”. I think we should ask the men to do the whole house. After all, they’re the ones who led us into Egypt in the first place.

  2. I admit it, I do have a cleaning woman. Is that perhaps balanced out by the fact that I have naked light bulbs hanging from the ceilings as opposed to actual fixtures?

    What are peripheral areas? I don’t think Israeli apartments have them. It’s useless for me to vacuum the couches two weeks before Pesach. As for the dining room table, where are we supposed to eat for the next two weeks? (No kitchen table).

    At the risk of admitting my age, I have benchers from 1975.

  3. mominisrael says

    Raizy, good point.
    RA, I’d pick a cleaning lady over the light fixtures too.

  4. Here’s my opinion: Dusting and cleaning things like chandeliers is a real health hazard. When the dust is settled, it just stays where it is; when you dry to clean it, it all moves around in the air and the particles infiltrate the lungs, causing pulmonary injury. I don’t think G-d wants us to risk our lives for Pesach. So stay safe and leave that chandelier (or naked light bulb, in my case) alone.

    Oh and when we made Aliya, I counted 358 benchers since 1981. I couldn’t give them away, my shul nor the local kosher restaurants wanted them so we put 320 benchers in Genizah.

  5. mominisrael says

    Baila: How do you manage with only 38 bentschers???

  6. I almost never take benchers any more. We have enough. Why clutter up the house? My kids have come home with a couple of laminated ones that we leave in the Succah, and we also have a few from a Pesach Sheva Brachot that we save for Pesach. And we picked up a couple at a Bat Mitzvah recently that also had Megillat Esther — that was handy. At my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah the caterer provided their own Benchers, and I expect we would do the same for my sons, too.

    As to the Mishpacha magazine column, I couldn’t adopt her schedule. But I don’t really see anything wrong with it. It probably helps some people cope with an overwhelming task. I am also spreading out my Pesach prep over more days and weeks than usual. Readers of the article can take what works for them and leave the rest. I don’t think anyone takes it too seriously.

  7. explain how polishing silver gets chametz out of my house.

  8. A day for the dining table and chairs? Admittedly we have a very simple table and chairs, but I can’t see myself spending over half and hour on it. I am not being facetious – I want to know if I am missing something?

    I do think that the suggestion to de-clutter is great, as a year round mission and I constantly work on giving away/throwing away/repurposing anything not essential to our home and life.

    • mominisrael says

      SP, I hardly take them either. I’m sure you’re right about the article.
      TC, You could ask the same about her other suggestions.
      Laura, I was also wondering. Doesn’t she keep the table covered? Doesn’t her cleaning lady pay attention to the chairs once in a while? I think a) she must have intricate chairs and b) she wants them clean enough to eat off of, even underneath the seat.

  9. Thank G-d we don’t on any furniture that is so difficult to clean. I regularly give a deep clean our dining room set motzei Shabbat. If I’m working without “help,” it is a 20 minute job.

    I’d like to know how the writer garners the energy to “make Shabbat” after such a schedule!

  10. I think what is really harmful about articles like this is that it gets people thinking that they need to do more.

    I know that my cleaning is enough and that my house is ready for Pesah, but I still read things like this and wonder for just a moment if I’m not doing enough. I don’t clean the light fixtures or window sills more than the usual swipe they get every so often. I just don’t find that it takes a full month on 8 hour days to get the house ready.

    After reading this article (I subscribe to Mishpacha) on Shabbat I had that thought that I should cancel our playdates this week and scrub some more. I really don’t need to, but being hammered with the idea that we must slave away to get it done is something tough to withstand.

  11. I don’t know how the author can write that with a straight face. Last week she suggested that chometz might be hiding on my windows, and now I am supposed to believe that it might be in the light fixture above my dining table? What kind of people is she writing this article for? Some weird foreign race that stands on the table and sprinkles bread crumbs over their chandeliers?

  12. Ok. I wasn’t done. Covering the Shabbos table with large plastic trash bags two weeks before Pesach? Are you kidding me?! I am getting the point of this series of articles. You are supposed to live in completely clean, hermetically sealed misery for the month before Pesach so that eating matza for a week doesn’t seem so bad.

  13. Wow, I am so excited at all the time I’m saving. No chandeliers. One becher per male. No bud vases or candy dishes. Marbeh nechasim, marbeh daaga.

    No wonder it takes me (that means me plus children) a day to do the dining room instead of a week. But I have to admit to laziness – I stick all the benchers in a plastic bag and sell them. I guess it’s because I didn’t get my (?) cleaning lady’s help.

  14. Love it that we have one day for dining room and chairs (which will take me the better part of a month to clean) and one day for benchers. ‘Cause those are almost equal in terms of complexity…