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April 1, 2011 12:11 pm

O.C.D. Passover Cleaning

avatar by Chava Tombosky

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Recently a friend called to tell me her housekeeper mistakenly dumped all her hanging clothes on her bed and attempted to wash the walls of her closet in an effort to help clean her house for Passover.  It reminded me of a saying my mother-in-law reiterates every year before this holiday- “Dirt is not Chametz.”*

I’m all for cleaning the house. I regularly organize, sift, throw out and heave in order to keep my house tidy.  But cleaning the house for Passover can be taken to a whole new level for over compulsive cleaners who are challenged with the Jewish “I don’t want to make a mistake” syndrome.

Although I advocate cleaning the house thoroughly, there might be a few places that we assume have bread lying around that really would never ever – and I mean NEVER – have bread come near it’s circumference, and yet we may bring ourselves to the task of cleaning those areas once we’re on a roll.

Here’s a top ten list of unnecessary chores we may have mistaken for “Passover cleaning”, vs. “Spring cleaning.”

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1. Hiring a cleaning crew to clean the windows.  (Good excuse to see through the windows after a bout of snow or rain has left a thick residue of soot, but really, I promise there are NO crumbs hiding between the windowpanes, unless your five year old regularly wipes the windows with his graham cracker crusty hands.)

2. Cleaning out the fireplace. (Last I recall I didn’t serve sandwiches inside the chimney. For those who roast marshmallows regularly, this chore should still apply.)

3. Sweeping the rooftop.  (Really?)

4. Refreshing indoor plants with new topsoil.  (This will help your foliage but will not change your chametz status unless you use your plant pots to bake bread pudding.)

5. Refinishing furniture (Now you’re just being compulsive.)

6. Tossing out newspapers and mail. (Unless you’ve gotten a Yeshiva newsletter that has sent you several letters with honey cake attached before Rosh Hashanah- leave your mail alone and forget about those overdue bills, you don’t need the added stress.)

7. Cleaning out the toilets. (This should be done because you are human, not just in honor of Passover.)

8. Changing the light bulbs. (This should be done before Passover to help you find the crumbs hidden between your tennis shoes, hairbrushes, and armoires just incase you have eaten snacks while exercising at the gym, styling your hair, or assembling your latest Ikea purchase.)

9. Washing the curtains. (I regularly use my curtains as tablecloths- you?)

10. Steaming the TV screen.  (You never know. Those who sit too close to the TV while inhaling their popcorn, chips, or taco snacks could have flicked their chametz onto the flat screen. For those who sit at an appropriate distance, this would apply as excessive Passover cleaning, vs. appropriate spring-cleaning.)

For those of you who still insist on getting to these chores before Passover, no judgement will be cast by the rest of us heathens who are too lazy.

*Chametz- A hebrew word meaning “leavened bread.”

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  • Jo Shafer

    I chuckled over your listed items of farfetched places that just might have been infected with chametz. Yes, one can go overboard, but I still like the idea of a really “spring clean” house for Passover season, including decluttering my heart and mind of any spiritual or mental chametz–i.e., unhealthy attitudes and thought patterns.

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