Getting out of Egypt in real time
In keeping with my apparent inability to do anything properly this year, my Pesach cleaning hasn’t been going so great guns.
Partially, it’s because I moved the day before Purim, and the kids swore to me by all they hold sacred that they will NOT be sneaking bags of Kariot, bourekas or cheese toasties into their rooms between now and Pesach. They know if they renege on this deal, they will be toast. And who needs more chametz to deal with right now?
But partially, I can’t seem to muster up the same paranoid tendencies and concern about finding a nano-particle of chametz buried deep in the crevices of my sofa this year. I am cleaning still, of course, but it’s just doesn’t seem to have the same urgency or importance that it’s often had in the past.
I think this is the first year that I realized that no-one ever ripped off the sofa cushions mid-way through the holiday and started licking the whole back of my armchair. Also, no-one ever dropped a piece of matza down there that they were so keen to retrieve and then carry on eating, even though it was now covered in fluff and strange hairs.
People just don’t do that.
Similarly, I realized that dogs don’t actually eat dust, and that whatever is it that went moldy under my car seat four months ago probably doesn’t count as chametz anymore. So I’m feeling much more chilled out than usual about the cleaning. Which maybe is a good thing, I don’t know?
Because I still have my work cut out for me on the ‘dealing with my bad middot’ side of things, which according to Rav Ofer Erez is the real work of Pesach. That’s why the whole holiday is so aggravating, don’t you see?
If we didn’t have to clean everything, and could continue to eat whatever we want, and we didn’t have to spend a ton of money buying new pots, pans, spices and tablecloths (not to mention the handmade shemura matza…), and we didn’t have to spend a whole night stuck around the table with our nearest and dearest rapturously listening to every single kid’s dvar Torah from gan – then we could make the mistake of thinking that we’re already fixed and that we got out of Egypt 3,300 years ago, already.
As it us, I’ve been stressing about how I’m meant to deal with guests with i-Phones on seder night for two months already; and stressing about what I’m meant to actually cook for 14 people that everyone will like without killing myself and still having energy to participate in the seder; and worrying about at least one of kids going weird on me, like has happened the last five years on Seder night.
And that’s even before we get into worrying about when I’m going to go and buy everything and how much it’s all going to cost, which is just a ‘bog standard’ stress and really nothing to write home about, at this stage. Except if the bank stops the credit card before I’ve stocked up on three million eggs and 50 bags of desiccated coconut, which has happened before.
And all that pre-Pesach stress has been specially designed by God to show me, really clearly, where my ‘middot chametz’ is still hiding out, because when I’m stressed, I find it so much harder to keep my negative feelings under control.
Pre-Pesach is the time when you blurt out things you’ll regret for the next 50 years, about ‘never liking his mother anyway!’ It’s the time when you jealously eye-up all those women who seem to have a live-in cleaner, or more kids happily helping them to clean, or a family who seems to take of everything for them, leaving them the time they need to find the perfect mitpachat to wear at the Seder.
It’s the time when your urge to control – everything!!! – starts really slugging it out with your desire to do God’s will and to submit to the other people in your life calmly, the way God really wants.
“Yes dear, let’s carry on doing the seder until 5am this year. That’s a wonderful idea! Yes, let’s invite every single one of your distant family members, especially the ones who unfailingly make comments about the exodus being a bunch of bubbe meises in the middle of the 10 plagues. That’s sounds wonderful! Yes, let’s try to do completely non-gebrochts this year, just as an experiment, because eating knaidels in chicken soup is just a meaningless sentimental practice. You’re completely right!”
I’m exaggerating of course. My husband already knows that my middot are so bad, that if he tossed any of these particular challenges my way my head would explode so loudly it would blow a hole in the wall.
But you get the idea.
So, BH, this will be the year when I stop holding grudges, and when I stop getting so angry at people for not doing exactly what I want, when I want it, and when I stop being so moany about having to cook a whole seder and I actually appreciate the mitzvah, for a change.
That’s what I’m hoping. Because the pyramids are nice and all, but spending 3,300 years in exile is enough for anyone.