June 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Every year when you clean for Pesach, the same question occurs to you: “Should I start cleaning even earlier next year?”

This is the only Yom Tov that people want to go beyond the 30-day thing. Thirty days is not enough for Pesach. As it is, you’ve already been cheating—starting more than 30 days before—and you still don’t have enough time. You have this standard of how clean you want the house to be, and you start off cleaning very thoroughly—brushing off every item, shaking out every sefer—and then you realize that there’s one week until Pesach and you still have 61 shelves left in the kitchen, all of which you’re going to tape up for Pesach anyway, plus every time you clean a new area of the house, you find a pile of stuff that has to go in areas you’ve already cleaned and organized and that don’t have room for a single new item, and the whole system breaks down.

But maybe if you started earlier.

But how long before Pesach can you really start cleaning anyway? You might say, “Oh, I can clean a lot of things!” But you’re going to end up recleaning them.

This is because the obvious downside to cleaning early is that everyone in your family is going to mess it up. As it is, if you tell your kids to clean their room even two weeks before Pesach, you work with them for hours—mostly folding clothes and finding wrappers that belong to no one—and then finally, they’re like, “Look, Mommy! It’s clean!” And you say, “Great!” And you walk out to get a sign that you can post saying that it’s clean, and you come back in and it’s a mess again. Worse than before you started.

“What happened?!”

“What?! It was clean!”

“For Pesach?!”

“Wait, so it has to stay clean until Pesach?”

Not to mention guests. You don’t want to be one of those people who never let anyone eat anywhere in the house except the dining room. If you tell your guests Chanukah-time, “Don’t eat in your room; we already cleaned it,” they’re going to stop coming for Shabbos. Because in general, if I’m a guest in your house, I am eating in your guest room. That’s the plan. I brought nosh for the car, I didn’t finish it in the car, and I didn’t bring enough for everybody.

But I guess if you have a spot in the house that your kids are scared to go into alone, such as the basement, you can clean that a little bit earlier. Or the attic. All the places that there is probably no chametz anyway. The higher bookshelves! But not the guest room.

But for example, you can’t say, “Today’s a good day; let me clean my car.” Your kids don’t go into the car without you, right? So that should be fine.

But yes, I suppose you can clean early, though people won’t really understand. If you clean too early, you don’t really have enough time in any given day to get anything done, because cleaning is very time-consuming, and people expect you to honor your commitments, and if it’s close to Pesach, you can say, “I was cleaning for Pesach,” and they’ll understand. But imagine Chanukah time, someone’s like, “How come you didn’t come to my thing?” “I was cleaning for Pesach!” That sounds like a sarcastic answer that somebody would give if he didn’t want to go to their thing. Even though it’s the honest truth. It doesn’t matter; you can only use that excuse in that last month.

In fact, maybe you should push off your cleaning every year to even closer to Pesach than it is, and then I guess do all of your cooking after Pesach for the next Pesach while the kitchen is still Pesachdik. Provided you don’t mind eating food that’s been in the freezer for a year. And tying up both of your freezers indefinitely. And then, at whatever point in the year you feel like it, you can tell people, “What, you haven’t started cooking for Pesach? I’m done!” You can be done. Freeze your salt water!

Unless maybe you do a little bit of cleaning every day for the entire year—like one drawer a day or something—and live your whole life for Pesach, kind of like Yosef Mokir Shabbos, who every day did something for Shabbos. You can be like “Shprintzy Mokir Pesach,” who every time she found a strong chemical, she would buy it and say, “This is for Pesach cleaning!”

The issue is that if you start cleaning for Pesach too early (or bragging about having your cooking done too early) people will think you’re crazy. Yet for some reason, you can make plans for six Shabbosos from now, and no one will bat an eye. Even if you don’t have plans yet for this coming Shabbos. You don’t even have to go in order. But try telling people you’re cleaning for even two Pesachs from now. For some reason, no one’s going to admire you, or say, “Hey, it’s like Yosef Mokir Shabbos!” No one’s going to write songs about you:

Let me tell you folks the tale of a woman named Tzipporah,

Who started Pesach cleaning the night after Simchas Torah.

She started with the kitchen, before one could even blink,

And for six months they ate all their chometz meals over the sink.

Her neighbors said, “You’re crazy!” Her siblings said, “A nut!”

Her husband, he was smart enough to keep his big mouth shut.

(From Tzipporah Mokir Pesach)


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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