Tradition dictates that all chametz (leavened bread, including cookies, cakes, stale ends of rye your daughter has insisted on saving for the ducks and the old pizza at the back of the fridge) be banished from the house before the holiday, a mitzvah called bedikat chametz. This Mother of All Spring Cleanings is to prepare our homes and bodies for eight days of eating only the sacred giant flat cracker that reminds us that our ancestors were once slaves, and for the price of freedom a little tidying up and some constipation isn’t so much to ask.
Technically, the actual bread removal should be done the evening before the seder by candlelight. (That’s always fun until someone steps on a stray Moon-Pie and squishes marshmallow fluff into the carpet.) You don’t have to toss it in the garbage; some rabbinical authorities say you can “sell” your chametz without having to destroy it, but I don’t listen to rabbis very well and don’t quite understand the halachic principles behind taking cash for your moldy old bread.
I had to get a jump on the whole Pesach preparations since the Family Yenta is heading westward for the holiday, which starts on Monday. Even though as a Lackadaisical Jewish Mother I could probably have closed up the house and not given the cereal in the pantry another thought since the Torah says you can leave the chametz where it is as long as it’s “dust in your mind,” the control nerd in me can’t pass up an opportunity use God as an excuse to make everyone clean their rooms.
Little did I know that Yenta Boy’s room was going to take TWO DAYS after I moved one little piece of furniture and found a posse of dust bunnies that looked like they might jump the dog with switchblades and nunchuks.
We spent the first part of this week cleaning, sorting, sweeping, dusting, mopping, throwing out and wiping down. We donated books, clothes and toys. We “sold” a big ol’ box of slightly stale hamburger buns, muffins and pita to our neighbors for a dollar. Everything was shiny and quiet and breadless.
Then hell’s bells broke loose and ran a Egyptian chariot through the front door: Both kids came down with strep, the accountant’s lost our taxes and the pug came limping out of the bedroom with something hideous hanging out of her tush. In a few short hours, the house is a disaster again, and I’ve already thrown out all the comfort food.
The filth I can handle. All I want now is a cupcake.