Saturday, March 25, 2006

How To Clean For Pesach and Enjoy The Seder

In a tape on Hilchot Pesach that I heard in 2004, Rabbi Mordechai Willig recommended the following article on cleaning for Pesach. With permission, I am posting the first part here.
You can read the entire article here.

CLEAN FOR PESACH AND ENJOY THE SEDER
Edited by Rabbi Moshe Finkelstein
Kiryat Matterdorf, Jerusalem

These notes are based on the responsa of Moreinu v'Rabbeinu HaGaon HaRav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva Torah Ore, to questions posed by women attending his regular chizuk talks. They have been compiled by a group of his Talmidim.

PREFACE

In former times, wealthy people who had large houses also had many servants who did their every bidding, while poor people, who could not afford servants, lived in small homes with one or two rooms. Understandably, the pre-Pessach chores of the rich were performed by the servants, while the poor, who had only their one or two rooms to clean, a few pieces of furniture, a minimum of utensils, and some clothing, took care of their needs themselves. In those days, the cleaning was hard. Tables were made of raw wood, requiring them to be scrubbed or even to be shaven to ensure that no pieces of food were hidden in the cracks. Earthen or wooden floors also needed to be thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed.

Today, we seem to be caught in a trap. The average modern home is larger than formerly. Furniture, utensils and clothing are much more plentiful. The average home today could compare with the more affluent homes of previous generations. However, we do not have the servants that they had, so that, today, all the chores fall on the housewife. At the same time, she feels obligated to clean and scrub as they did formerly, even though she has laminated furniture and tiled floors, making this type of cleaning unnecessary. As a result of this, the pressure of pre-Pessach cleaning has reached unnecessary and overwhelming levels. The housewife often becomes overly nervous, unable to enjoy the Simchas Yom Tov of Pessach and unable to perform the mitzvahs and obligations of the Seder night.


INTRODUCTION

Pessach, like every other Yom Tov, must be enjoyed by every member of the family, including women. This is an obligation clearly defined in the Torah as explained by Chazal zt"l. We can understand a person dreading Tisha B'Av but Pessach is to be looked forward to and anticipated with joy. Every woman should be well rested, relaxed, and alert at the Seder table so that she can fulfill all the Torah and Rabbinical obligations and follow the Hagadah with the rest of the family. Clearly, the performance of her pre-Pessach duties must be balanced against her Pessach obligations. Pre-Pessach cleaning is required to avoid the danger of transgressing any Torah or Rabbinical prohibition of having chometz in the house on Pessach. It is evident from the responsa of the Rosh HaYeshiva, shlita, that this need not be excessive. It is not the intention here to abolish Minhagim which have been passed down by Klal Yisroel from generation to generation. Nevertheless, some practices adopted by women in the Pessach cleaning today, are not an actual continuation of the old Minhagim. For example, if a person does not sell his chometz, of course it is necessary to check his utensils and to wash off any chometz left on them, or render the chometz inedible. But, if the chometz is sold, then washing the pots and pans and dishes which are going to be locked away is not necessary. One might be tempted to insist on doing the extra work anyway-to be "machmir" (stringent). However, in these stringency's lies the grave danger of causing many laxities and brushing aside many mitzvahs completely, Torah and Rabbinical obligations which women are required to do on Pessach and particularly during the Seder.

Many women like to do more "cleaning" than the bare minimum, to such an extent, that some even incorporate their general "spring cleaning" into the required Pre-Pessach chores. These extra exertions should not prevent them from fulfilling their obligations on Pessach, and particularly, on the Seder night.

To read General Notes and Practical Applications, go directly to the site.

On a lighter note--see this short video

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