It’s Nissan; it’s time to clean. Chametz of both the physical and spiritual sorts need to be located, isolated, and destroyed. In some ways, that task must be completed before the search for chametz, and its related nullification, Kol Chamira, take place. In other ways, that task is a life’s work and necessarily will continue, IYH, for decades to come.
Consider that after all, it’s much easier to feed crumbs to the fishes during the weeks leading up to Pesach than it is to remove “leavening” from our lives once we are “swimming with the fishes.” That is, it is a far simpler to arrange our physical reality than it is to arrange our spiritual one. The time to organize our welfare is now.
Since many folks take advantage of cleaning for chametz by also cleaning, or, more exactingly, by inventorying their possessions, many opportunities for heightened awareness about the goings on of our lives occur during this period. As we find clothes in disrepair or of the wrong size, we might reflect on our fitness. As we sort through bills or other professional papers, we might reflect on our careers. As we locate random, apparently “runaway,” photos, we might consider our relative contributions to certain of our relationships.
Maybe, as we declutter yet one more closet and locate that cast off pair of crutches, we think, with gratitude, about renewed ambulation. Maybe, as we separate the contents of yet one more carton of our children’s school art, we think with gratitude, about their movement onward, respectively, to high school, to sherut leumi, to army, and to the chuppah. Maybe, as we go through the piles of papers gathered on our desks and find a misplaced thank-you note from a friend, we think, with gratitude, about the dear ones who came to our aid when our cars broke down, our dryers caught on fire, or our pets got lost.
It’s also possible, that in boxing our most breakable serving pieces, we think about weddings, brit milot, bnai mitzvot, and other happy events. Presents, at their highest level are iconic. We give and receive birthday cards, for instance, because we are wired to associate material goods with emotional landmarks.
What’s more, it’s possible, that when we at last unpack our Passover dishes and come across our stacks of “seder plates,” which were made at day school or yeshiva, by little hands, more than ten and less than twenty years earlier, we think more clearly about the sequencing that takes place as we travel this present span. The tantrums, to which we are audience, are fewer as our families grow, but so too are the hugs; while we can reach hearts across kilometers, we are hard put to reach arms.
There is the matter of readjudicating our priorities that gets looked at, too, during all of this current taking stock and rearranging. Whereas, on the one hand, some of the preschool art we, which we unpackage as we unwrap wine decanters or fish plates, is no longer worth using, so tattered have those keepsakes become, at least equally so is it the case that we can liberate ourselves from some of our etched glasses and crystal serving pieces, so tattered has the need to us impressive goods become. Decades are time enough to teach us that it is better to use disposable plates and thus to have five or ten extra minutes to chat with our families than to labor any longer that absolutely necessary to clean Passover finery during Mo’ed.
In contrast, the hand thrown ceramic plate, which was a gift from a young adult, BH, a Bat Bayit, must continue to get positioned with the Haggadot, must continue to represent that just as we love Hashem, we love each other. In the same regard, the yellowed Dvar Torah, written years ago by a close family friend, must be brought to the Seder table.