The great Passover Olympics have begun

For some reason I don't feel like I can actually start the process of getting my house ready for Passover until I strip the old wax off the kitchen floor. According to halacha/ Jewish law if food is not even up to the standards of a dog, something a dog would not eat then it is OK to keep it around on Passover and it does not count as Chametz.

Although we do have someone come weekly to do most of the cleaning around here, I usually feel that this is to gross and difficult a job to give to someone else to do. So every year, i start my preparation for Passover on my hands and knees getting rid of waxy yellow (actually grey) build up on my kitchen floor and think about floor product advertisements from the 1960's, my father talking about ancient Canaanite spring practices of cleaning out dough bowls, Passover long ago,  the connection between the soul cleansing we do at the High Holiday season that is symbolized  by tashlich how there is a similar process of soul cleaning inherent in the housecleaning, and what I plan to cook for this year.

Stripping the wax is my body's signal that it's time to get ready. Last year my mother had died just a month before and I didn't have the emotional or physical energy to strip the floor. This year, for the first time, my husband joined me on the floor. He worked for a good long while and then went back to do other work. 

Like many other tasks, getting the wax off my floor is made up of many small bits of work. I can measure my progress by squares completed and compare the beautiful white tiles with the still schmutzy  and gross ones.

Nine hours later, the job was complete. 

We are now eating up the last of our chametz. A bread is rising on my kitchen counter made with the last bag of flour and the last of a box of Wheatena. For the next couple of days we wil eat meals dictated less by our appetites and and more by what needs to be finished up. growing up we called those last odd meals "Pesach starvation week". We didn't starve but the meals were definately weird. I think tonight we are eating rice and chicken gravy and vegetables. If you don't like it, eat somewhere else, there is work to do here. 

I also have some sewing work to do and felt like I was playing hooky from cleaning by working on this tallit yesterday.

The silver couching is supposed to indicate wind. The silk for this tallit has been dyed in may think layers of color. The thin layers reflect light differently and mess with my camera's brain. In some of the photos the color looks grayish and washed out. Actually it looks better in real life. I tried to play with color filters to get these photos to look like what I am actually seeing. I have been only slightly successful.

I wish all of my friends who are starting on their own Passover Olympics the physical strength to get through all of the prep. I have found that by seeing the work of getting ready for Passover  as part of my understanding the experience of both slavery and freedom changed my experience from one of drudgery to something else entirely. I come from a tradition that tended not to talk very much about spiritual experience, so I find it hugely embarrassing  to talk about spiritual experience directly. 

I find the physical prep for Passover to be a religiously profound experience. During the time that Beit Ha Mikdash. the Temple still existed most of Jewish prayer was essentially big cooking of animals. The Big Passover prep is about as close as we can get to the work/worship of our ancestors. 

Many years ago my kids and I were given the job of bringing prayer books to a Shiva house downtown. Each of us put on a backpack and we each took as many as we could carry on our backs. Between the four of us all thirty prayer books got downtown. My kids ranged in age from ten to about three or four.

As we walked to the subway, my older son turned to me and said "I am doing this mitzvah with my back, with my whole body".

Cleaning and cooking for Pesach is a mitzvah I do with my whole body, with my family and for my family and friends. It may look like housework...but it isn't exactly that. 


  1. I know this is late late late but I'm catching up on my blog reading. You may be having problems in photographing the colour because it is trying to correct the 'white balance'. Some cameras have a way of setting the white balance, you need to check the manual for how this is done. I try to have something white in shot to make my camera less confused without doing this setup step, then crop it off the final picture.

  2. Gabrielle!! THANK YOU!!!!An brilliant solution!


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