Passover Cleaning Your Life

photo_spring-cleaning1It’s a very busy time of the year for traditional Jews. We are cleaning like crazy trying to rid our homes of any spec of hametz–aka “leavened bread” before Passover which begins, Monday night, March 24th. That means cheerios on the car floor, crumbs in the couch, backpacks, and the dreaded kitchen. We will sweep, vacuum, wash, and scrub to make our homes “hametz-free” for 8 days.  All this may sound a bit obsessive, and it is, but all part of “turning over” the house to Passover.  Call it Extreme Spring Cleaning.

At the same time, the rabbis caution that we shouldn’t focus completely on just the physical preparation: we have to prep ourselves. We need to get rid of the “spiritual hametz“–the parts of ourselves get in the way of growth. Think addictions. Bad habits. Negative thoughts that enslave us.

For me, personal hametz is an ongoing battle with perfectionism.  Perfectionism makes me my own worst taskmaster. And since Passover is a time of freedom and redemption, letting go of perfectionism is a fitting goal. (Notice I didn’t say “perfect” goal?) 

When I learned that Passover is considered another Jewish New Year, I figured it was a good time for spring cleaning your life.  If you didn’t make New Year’s Resolutions on Dec. 31st, maybe the arrival of spring is a more meaningful time for you to make changes.  A non-Jewish friend told me she makes her resolutions in the weeks before Easter since that is a time for rebirth.  Another friend says he takes stock of his life every year on his birthday. What a great idea!

Do you have a special time of the year for renewal?

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4 responses

    • Rituals are personal–that’s the point, so they can’t be pointless. You don’t have to believe in God to find meaning or comfort in rituals. Ever hear of spring cleaning? How about eating turkey on Thanksgiving? Throwing rice at a wedding? Coming-of-age ceremonies? There are studies that back up the importance of rituals to our psychological and spiritual needs. “The rituals serve a need within us to have regular, expected responses to pain and suffering. The rituals give us a way to express joy and appreciation. These are very important human needs.” (Rabbi Eliyahu Fink) Cheers!

  1. Yes! It was this “second chance” to get it right for the year that inspired me to be less addicted to my phone (and to write about it for The Forward).

    I really like the layout of your site by the way. Very clean and sharp.

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