Pesach: The Mother of Invention for the Prevention of Chametz
I know of women who spend weeks, and I mean actual weeks, preparing their homes to be chametz-free. Women — there may be men out there doing it too, but I haven’t encountered any — who clean out every closet long in advance, who diligently cover every kitchen surface with aluminum foil and whose couch cushions have long been free of crumbs.
Me, as the working mother of three children whose need for my assistance counter-intuitively seems to grow, not diminish, as they get older, I’m going to cram it all into two days when I have help at the end of this week. Karlene and I are going to be blurs of crevice-picking, surface-scrubbing, cabinet-cleaning, oven koshering, window washing, ceiling fan-blade cleaning efficiency. And, yes, I know that Passover prep does not require spring cleaning, but it seems as good a time as any to get it done.
Of course, I’m not as obsessed as my haredi friend T, who was telling me she “just” cleans out her china cabinet, polishes the silver and locks it up, putting away the key for Pesach so no one can get into the chametzdik piece of furniture. Her sister was critical because she was not only cleaning out her cabinets, but covering them up with opaque paper afterward so that no one should somehow be unclear that they were unfit for Passover use. I thought of her when I saw this Web site, which features every widget and aid the chumra-obsessed could possibly require.
Not only are there Pesach sink inserts and refrigerator shelf liners — these I’d seen before. You can also buy these little mitts to cover your sink knobs and faucets and cabinet handles. The label promises that they are guaranteed to be chametz-free. But the piece de resistance, in my (telephone) book are the plastic telephone and handset covers (available for purchase separately), designed to keep any sneaky chametz particles from touching your kosher-for-Pesach skin, I guess.
But even that may be surpassed by the “Bedikas Chometz Bread” package of 10 slices for the low, low price of just $1.49 — just in case you forget to set aside some of the regular bread you’ve been eating up until the day before Passover, to use in the ritual search for the last of the leaven.
Me? I’m going to wipe down the phone with a nice chemically cleaning wipe and leave it at that. My chametzdik cabinets will be cleaned out and then closed shut with masking tape as they are every year. My husband will shlep out the Pesach cooking and dining gear, we’ll put them in one cleaned out and lined dish cabinet and stuff everything else into the other, and close it with a little tape for good measure.
I’ll wait for next year to buy the latest and greatest Pesach innovation. That’s when I fully expect to find for sale a super-giant roll of plastic sheeting, designed to cover every surface in your kitchen in one ginormous shrink wrap.
This Passover may we all feel connected to the Exodus, and find liberation from all of our compulsions and anxieties.
What do you hope to be liberated from?
"This holiday we take for ourselves, no longer silent servers behind the curtain, but singers of the seder, with voices of gladness, creating our own convocation, and leaving ‘The Narrow Place’ together."— E.M. Broner
"The idea of opening the door is that we hope Elijah might actually be there this year – that we might actually have done enough to change the world to have had him arrive. And, if we don’t have even the tiniest bit in us that thinks he might be there, that thinks we have tried our hardest to bring around a messianic time, with no hunger, no war, no conflict, no pain – if we don’t believe that we have tried to end those broken parts in the world – well, then I tell my students – don’t do any of it."— Rabbi Leora Kaye
"The whole seder, for me, is the tension between two statements: We say, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and now we’re free,' but before that, we pick up the matzoh, we invite the hungry in and we say, 'This year we are slaves, next year may we be free.' We are the most fortunate, liberated Jews in history. But on the other hand, there are lots of things that enslave us."— Rabbi Arthur Green