The Home Kvetch: Why My Passover Cleaning Is Going Into Extra Innings

I must have a gazillion different lists floating around the house. If you should find them, you’ll see the same items listed over and over,”clean car on Sunday, closets on Tuesday, drawers on Wednesday, high chairs, car seats, strollers, purses, diaper bag, coat pockets, etc.” All of areas can store the remains of animal crackers, pretzels, bagels, and candy bars. Sure, I had saved my lists from the past couple of years, that’s not the problem. The list hasn’t change, the amount of  “chometz” has doubled. If you’re not familiar with the term Chometz, I googled it and found afact friendly description on BeingJewish.com .

“The Torah defines chometz as any mixture that contains flour and water that has been allowed to ferment. The Torah defines five types of grain that can become chometz when mixed with liquid: grain: wheat, spelt, oats, barley, and rye, or any of their derivatives. That includes, cookies, bagels, pizza, crackers, and challah.”

 If you’re kids are like mine, they love all of these fluffy, tasty, snack foods. They love them so much that they leave little pieces behind everywhere they go. The car, strollers, kitchen floor, living room floor, books, toys, and toy boxes. 

So, if matzah is made with flour, why isn’t it considered chometz ? The message is in the minutes. If unbaked flour and water remain together for a period of 18 minutes, they automatically begin to leaven and rise. It is critical that every step of the matzah baking process is exact. From mixing, baking, and scraping every morsel from the previous batch of matzah is key. With all of this seriousness, what is so fun about matzah? It is very fun. My 4 yr. old went on a tour of a Chabad Matzah bakerywith her nursery class and she had so much fun. After all, how else could you get a kid excited about eating flat, tasteless,  squares for eight straight days (that’s why I love chocolate covered matzahs). Once kids have a “tangible”, hands-on experience making matzah, they feel more connected to the mitzvah of eating matzah. So, enough kvetching already. Why is it taking me so much time to clean for Passover this year?

Last year I had, Baruch Hashem, a lot of help (my son was just 5 weeks old during Passover last year). Even if a babysitter was just “sitting”, I’d ask her to pitch in and clean out a drawer or fold some laundry. With the constant reminder of how financially challenged our economy is, we’ve had to cut way back. In fact, my husband and I spent yesterday afternoon outside and cleaned out our minivan. We flled up several garbage bags with empty juice boxes, plastic wrappers, sand, a bag of opened crackers, and crumbs in various shapes and sizes. Let’s not forget the coffee holder in the front seat. Yep, also stained with many waisted sips of delecious, hot coffee. Baby wipes (the duct tape of cleaning) removed dust from the dashboard and wheel. Then, the moment we were all waiting for, the big sweep. That’s right, what our vacuum couldn’t pick up, the broom finished. Finally, the car seats. They weren’t as bad as I thought. I’m actually quite strict about keeping the car clean (a very welcome trait to have this time of year). I banned all cookies, crackers and pretzels from the car a couple of weeks ago. This hands-on experience prepared us more than ever for Passover. The kids even tried to help, it was very cute.

Initially, I was kvetching up a storm about having to do more Passover cleaning by myself this year (this is in addition to organizing a communal seder the first night, and a seder at our house second night with 15 guests) and having less time for my own things. The reason why we have Passover is to remember what our ancestors had to endure for their freedom. I imagine myself in their shoes (wait, they didn’t have shoes), you know what I mean. If this is all I have to worry about this Passover, extra cleaning will be done “kvetch” free!

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