PESACH CLEANING FOR THE WISE WOMAN
BY ARIELLA BRACHA WALDINGER
There are many faces to the “Pesach Project,” as I call it. In order for the project to be successful, it is best to have a plan of action with a time deadline. I have found that there are women who dislike the Project, those who tolerate the Project and those who enjoy and even savor the Project because they find great joy and satisfaction in the entire process of the transformative work. These women tend to excel at organizing and know how to prioritize. Each woman needs to know her capabilities as the Pesach Project is not a competition. Whichever type you are, I hope the following insights will give you cause for reflection.
First and foremost I want to share with you wisdom from two great Rabbis. The Gaon HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Shlita, states in a Pesach Torah disseminated by Rabbi Moshe Finkelstein, “The pre- Pesach pressure has reached unnecessary and overwhelming levels. The housewife often becomes overly nervous and is unable to enjoy the Simchat Yom Tov of Pesach and is unable to perform the mitzvot and obligations of the Seder night.” He reminds us that Pesach is to be looked forward to and anticipated with joy. He also states that every woman should be rested, relaxed and alert at the Pesach Seder.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner Shlita, chief Rabbi of Beit El, Israel states in his Sefer, “Moadim LeSimcha, Exploration Into the Jewish Holidays” that Pesach is not a time to take on stringencies at the expense of the happiness of the family and the joy of the holiday. He clearly states that to take on extra housework, which we are not capable of handling, will deplete our energy and will cause us to be short-tempered with our family. Not only can this cause increased tension between the husband and wife but it creates negative memories for the children. Rav Aviner believes the goal of Pesach preparations should be to involve the entire family and make it a happy occasion, so that the Seder is an unforgettable, inspiring experience for all. He reminds us to set our priorities before we begin and to save the spring cleaning for another time. “WE WERE NOT FREED FROM BONDAGE IN EGYPT IN ORDER TO RECREATE OUR OWN SLAVERY,” says Rav Aviner. He advises us not to be so fatigued that we are unable to enjoy the depth and beauty of the Seder and the Pesach holiday. Rav Aviner urges families to spend time taking family trips both before and after the Seder because Nisan is a time of joy.
Now, I want to address the perfectionists out there. This character trait should be avoided during Pesach preparations because it is a negative impulse that cannot be satisfied. Pesach is not the time to set excessively high standards at the expense of self and family. It is impossible to attain perfection, which is a rigorous rejection of anything less than perfect. It lends itself to frayed nerves, tearful children, and distressed husbands. Perfectionism is all about striving for flawlessness which does not exist. It has its roots in low self-worth. I have personally witnessed the phenomenon of the syndrome called, “I AM NOT ENOUGH” where women believe that unless they are constantly proving their worth by overdoing, they are not enough. In a delightful book called, “You Are Enough” By David Walker, he says the following, “If we do not accept the fact that what we are is more important than what we do, we will live a lifetime with the self-inflicted pressure to perform. Most of us have been taught that the only time we have the right to feel like we are enough is when we have won the approval of a person or group of people i.e., parents, teachers, employers, friends or religion. We have been taught that we must work at the feelings of being enough. This is a myth that must be destroyed because it creates a never ending feeling of inadequacy, rather than a never ending feeling of joy.”
People who do not accept themselves as being complete are vulnerable in two areas: 1) They will always look for validation from something outside themselves—acceptance, compliments, and recognition from others and 2) they place the thoughts and opinions of others over their own. This state of mind is never satisfied because it has within itself a deep hole that can never be filled and the hole is called: I AM NOT ENOUGH…..NOT SMART ENOUGH, PRETTY ENOUGH, GOOD ENOUGH, NOT HOLY ENOUGH and so on. We MUST LIVE as if we recognize that we are SACRED. Our sacredness cannot be bought or sold, won or lost because it is a G-D GIVEN FACT. The author sums it up by saying, “Life is an exercise in first remembering that we are complete and then using our completeness to create the kind of life that is soul satisfying. He finalizes his book by saying that there is nothing wrong with feeling great because you have accomplished something…but remember even the greatest accomplishment doesn’t change the nature of your sacred being. Encourage yourself to feel good about what you accomplished but don’t think that what you have accomplished makes you more of what you already are. Completeness cannot be bought or sold, won or lost COMPLETENESS IS.”
Nisan is THE MONTH to leave our personal restrictions. It is THE MONTH to begin to do new things in our lives and go forward with our deepest desires. It is THE MONTH in which we celebrate our freedom and our redemption. There is a powerful, heavenly influx of movement towards freedom and rebirth that enables us to go forward in our lives. It is intensely heightened during the actual holiday of Pesach. Knowing this, we can choose to perform our entire Pesach preparations with an abundant flow of inner joy, vitality and personal power all the while drawing down enormous blessings into our homes and into the world. Just as G-d gifted the Jewish nation with freedom from slavery, we can return the gift to Him by freeing ourselves from any slavery that has us in its grip.
Our Sages teach that the purpose of the Pesach cleaning is to rid the house of Chametz—leavening. Chametz is representative of the evil impulses deep within a person’s soul. This entire cleaning process translates into ridding our souls of any spiritual impurities. This is the integration of the cleaning of our physical house to the cleaning of our inner, spiritual house. This concept is extraordinary! WE are given the ability to clean out our inner spaces through ridding our homes of Chametz and all that it symbolizes. Doing this work has the ability to reward us with the gift of Freedom of body and spirit on THE SACRED NIGHT OF THE SEDER!
This year, choose to perform your Pesach Preparations with wisdom. Your soul will thank you and so will your family, and G-d will richly Bless you.
With Blessings for stress free preparations, a wondrous, gentle cleansing of physical and spiritual spaces and a deep, joyous, transformative Pesach Seder and Holiday.
With Love, Ariella Bracha