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    Now that Purim is
    behind us, the
    countdown to Pesach
    has official begun
    complete with its angst,
    anxiety, stress, and
    Sadly, many people
    associate Pesach with backbreaking work,
    exorbitant expenses, endless preparation,
    and bread deprivation. It is not unusual to
    hear moans, groans, and krechts coming
    from both men and women when mentioning
    the upcoming holiday. Many describe
    themselves as rolling into Pesach ‘like a
    shmatta,’ unable to enjoy the festive
    atmosphere, meaningful Sedarim, or even
    quality time with friends and family. The
    consequences of this attitude, don’t just
    impact us, they negatively influence our
    children and those around us.
    The Haggadah quotes the rasha, the wicked
    son who challenges – what is all of this work
    to you? Why the seder as the time to
    question and challenge?
    The seder is filled with good wine, good
    food and good conversation. Wouldn’t it
    make more sense for the rasha to issue his
    challenge on Yom Kippur, when we are
    fasting and abstaining from pleasure? In his
    new Hagaddah, Rav Avraham Elimelech
    Biderman answers (thank you R’ Naftali
    Lavenda for pointing it out to me) that the
    work the turned off child is referring to, is
    not the seder, it is all of the preparation and
    lead up to Pesach. After hearing his parents
    complain about the cleaning and hard work,
    after being yelled at neurotically not to bring
    chametz anywhere in the house, after
    overhearing the moaning about the cost of
    making Pesach, he comes to the table and
    challenges, why would I want all of this
    avodah, this work that YOU do and don’t
    stop complaining about?
    This is not the way the Torah or our Rabbis
    intended it. I believe that the bulk of the
    stress, aches, and pains that result from
    Pesach preparation is self-induced and
    utterly unnecessary. True, there is a high
    cost of matzah, wine, and Kosher-for-Pesach

    groceries that cannot be avoided and are
    challenging particular during these
    challenging economic times. However, the
    overly labor-intensive house preparations
    and extensive,arguably overly complicated
    menus and recipes can all be avoided. For
    some reason, Pesach has gotten away from
    us with the purely voluntary now becoming
    mandated standards and what should be the
    primary goals becoming almost entirely
    neglected and dismissed.
    Undoubtedly, halacha demands that we
    seek and destroy all chametz in our
    possesion. Definitions of “chametz” “seek,”
    and “in our possession” are all very clear
    and require a preparation of a home that
    should take only a few hours total. Areas and
    places where chametz is never brought don’t
    need to be cleaned or checked (Shulchan
    Aruch o.c. 433:3). Appliances that will not
    be accessed or used need not be cleaned or
    checked; they simply need to be put away
    and sealed.
    Any food that is not categorized as edible (a
    dog would not eat it) is not considered
    chametz(Shulchan Aruch 442:2). There is
    no need to check for crumbs that are less
    than a k’zias if they are dirty or soiled and
    wouldn’t be edible by a human (Mishna
    Berura 442:33).
    Practically speaking, any cabinet, closet or
    room that will not be entered on Pesach, can
    simply be closed with a piece of tape across
    the door and any chametz contents in it sold.
    Any kitchen cabinet, drawer, or cupboard
    that will not be used on Pesach need not be
    cleaned at all; it just needs to be taped shut.
    Any appliance, food processor, sandwich
    maker, mixer, bread machine, etc. that will
    not be used, need not be cleaned whatsoever.
    They just need to be put away for Pesach in
    a sealed space.
    Nevertheless, at some point in recent
    Jewish history, Pesach preparation was
    substituted with spring-cleaning. If one is
    moving a refrigerator, oven, or any other
    heavy appliance, he is spring cleaning, not
    preparing for Pesach. If one is climbing on a
    ladder to clean a ceiling fan, taking a

    toothpick to a toaster or food processor,
    scrubbing grout with a toothbrush,
    emptying and wiping all dressers, closets,
    linen pantries, crawl spaces, or shaking
    out books that haven’t been opened in
    years, she is spring cleaning, not preparing
    for Pesach.
    Halacha demands that we go room to to
    room confiming that there is no chametz
    that is larger than 30 grams that is larger
    than 30 grams and edible. That can
    realistically be accomplished in a few
    hours at most in almost all of our homes.
    If you are spending days, weeks, or over a
    month cleaning, if you are worn down,
    exhausted and your back aches, blame your
    proclivity for spring cleaning, don’t dare
    blame God or His wonderful holiday of
    Make no mistake, this substitution of
    spring-cleaning instead of Pesach
    preparation comes at a great cost and it will
    likely hurt our community’s attitude towards
    Pesach in the future. Rather than enter
    Pesach excited, enthusiastic, and energized
    to spend time with family and share divrei
    Torah at our Sedarim, we are increasingly
    becoming resentful and negative about
    being observant and burdened by Pesach.
    Rather than happy people eating bitter herbs
    to celebrate freedom, we are becoming bitter
    people exchanging our freedom for
    unnecessary burdens in anticipation of
    Pesach, more than any other holiday or time
    of year, is designed to communicate our
    values, priorities and lifestyles to the next
    generation. Pesach, and the days leading up
    to it, should leave our children with sights,
    smells, flavors, traditions and experiences
    they will draw from and seek to emulate in
    their own homes for the rest of their lives. It
    should provide memories and recollections
    that will inspire and charge the next
    generation in their Judaism and commitment
    to the beauty of a Torah lifestyle.

    Bedikas chametz, complete with its hide-
    and-seek nature, should be fun, exciting, and

    adventurous. Instead, for many it has
    become a chore that we unburden
    ourselves from as quickly as possible.
    Burning chametz, rolling matzah balls
    by hand, chopping charoses,grinding
    marror, setting the regal seder table,
    reenacting the Pesach story at our
    seders, welcoming visiting family, are
    among the activities that can be carried
    out with joy, enthusiasm, nostalgia, and
    Depleting ourselves of energy and joy
    by engaging in spring cleaning rather
    than Pesach preparation is not only
    depriving us of the simcha, joy, we are
    capable of feeling, but it is indelibly
    impressing on our children negative
    memories and associations that will
    likely haunt them and shape their own

    attitude toward Pesach preparation and
    By exerting all of our energy into that
    which is unnecessary, we have little left to
    do the things that make Pesach preparation
    fun and create the memories that our
    children and grandchildren will draw from
    throughout their lives. Today, you can buy
    bedikas chametzkits complete with
    numbered pieces of bread, packaged finely
    chopped charoses and even a jar of kosher
    for Pesach salt water.
    With all respect to the companies that have
    commercialized those mitzvos, I implore
    you, don’t cave. I vividly remember how we
    prepared and hid the bread for bedikas
    chametzand that is how I taught my children
    to do it. I can easily picture my siblings and
    me competing over who got to chop the
    charoses and how my mother and
    grandmother lovingly added all the
    ingredients in their special recipe and it is
    that experience we try to create for our
    children today. Is adding salt to water so
    laborious that we can’t put in even that effort
    to prepare for our seder table?
    As we enter the final countdown of Pesach
    this year, I beg you to ask yourself the
    question – which sounds will ring in your
    children’s ears in the future when they think
    back to Pesach in their home? Will it be
    moans, groans, bitterness and complaints or
    will they remember the joyous sounds of an
    energized family eagerly preparing for a
    meaningful Yom Tov?
    The Shulchan Aruch (529:2) tells us,
    “Chayav adom liheyos sameach v’tov leiv
    b’moed. A person is obligated to be joyous
    and happy on the holiday.” The Mishna
    Berura is quick to add that being happy on
    the holiday is a Biblical mandate and applies
    equally to men and women.
    Let’s not allow spring cleaning or
    unnecessary stringencies to get in the way of
    fullfilin gour duty to G-d, our children and
    ourselves of being happy, joyous, energetic,
    and enthusiastic.
    Over the next few weeks as we prepare for
    Pesach, let’s remember what is essential and
    what is unnecessary, what is an obligation
    and what isn’t even a mitzvah and most
    importantly, what will make our children
    love Pesach and what will cause them to
    resent it.