We’re deep into a season for spiritual growth. Jewish households worldwide are in a frenzy of cleaning. Other Jewish households are guiltily thinking they should be in a frenzy of cleaning. This raises the question, “Where is the spiritual benefit in all this mundane activity?
Passover is an experiential holiday: if you are not a “text person,” this is the holiday for you! Every step of the way, we are offered multi-sensory experiences for learning truths about life and Judaism: tastes, smells, textures, sights, and sounds.
During the seder, we hold up the maror, the bitter herb, symbolizing the bitterness of slavery. We say, “In every generation a person is obligated to regard himself as if he had come out of Egypt.” The bitter taste of horseradish is one way to taste that experience.
Cleaning for Passover is another. We feel the mop handle in our hands, and hear the vacuum cleaner. It isn’t fun to do the whole house at once, to search out every possible crumb. If every member of a household pitches in on Passover prep, cleaning and cleaning in our “free” time, shlepping goods to the food drive, digging out the boxes of Passover dishes, boxing up things that shouldn’t be used during Passover, vacuuming everywhere, we get a little taste of manual labor, no matter how sedentary our day jobs. It’s hard work that we are commanded to do: a taste (just a taste) of servanthood. Our sore muscles will read us the Haggadah, if we do it right.
We are seeking out every crumb of stale, puffed-up junk in our lives: not just the cookie crumbs in the toddler’s pockets, but the old grudges in our hearts and the stale notions in our heads. (Trust me, these things smell.) The mindless work of cleaning offers us undistracted time to reflect on what stinks, if we are brave enough to take it.
This kind of cleaning is humbling. We see our slavery to bad habits, whether they are eating habits or housekeeping habits. We must notice our clutter. We must notice everything, because we have to look for chametz in it!
Now perhaps you are not a person who cleans for Passover. But I encourage you to do at least a little, because it is a uniquely Jewish spiritual task. If you are thinking, “but I just can’t!” try reading Cleaning for Passover: Begin in Egypt. It’s a beginner’s approach to the spiritual journey of Passover.
If we do this, when we reach the 14th of Nisan, we’ll be ready for a fresh beginning, ready to walk out into a life renewed, unburdened by chametz. Then, indeed, we can celebrate!
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2 thoughts on “Mop Bucket Enlightenment? – Yes, Really!”
There is a lot to be said for seeking the spiritual within the physical. I notice a distinct shift in my attitude toward day-to-day housework when I deliberately pause to say, “Okay, this [vacuuming/mopping/sink-scrubbing/what-have-you] is for the sake of having a clean, peaceful home come Shabbat.” I look forward to seeing what happens when the cleaning intensifies in anticipation of Pesach.
I leave a leave a response when I appreciate a article
on a website or if I have something to valuable to contribute to the discussion.
It’s caused by the passion displayed in the article I read.
And on this post Mop Bucket Enlightenment?
– Yes, Really! | Coffee Shop Rabbi. I was excited enough to create
a leave a responsea response 😉 I actually do have a couple of questions
for you if you don’t mind. Is it only me or does it seem like some of these responses look like left by brain dead visitors?
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