Good morning and welcome to another edition where an Atheist Queer Jewess named Faith explains it all!
Our topic this morning is cleaning for Pesach, which starts Saturday night, (not the cleaning, the holiday). Why am I concerned with cleaning for Pesach? Well, in Jewish communities, it's a big deal. The reason for the cleaning is called bedikat chametz which literally translates to search for chametz. What is chametz? That all depends on who you ask.
Wheat, barley, spelt, rye or oats are the 5 prohibited grains during Passover. Once these come in contact with water = chametz. That's the technical side. It gets a lot more complicated from there. I’m not even going to go into it…it would be like the longest blog post in history. Back to cleaning. You thought your grandmother did spring cleaning?
Cleaning for Passover involves making sure there is no chametz in your home. Any crumb of old food in any corner of your home that might have touched chametz and still be edible is considered chametz. In my home, we would throw out all of the bread and crackers, cookies and cereal. Anything that had a carby ring to it was gone. Clean out the pantry, refrigerator, freezer, oven, microwave, appliances and check every crack and crevice for edible chametz. And that’s just the beginning.
According to an article in the New York Times, some families start a month ahead of time with a wash of every Lego that may have a crust of chametzy saliva.
Don’t forget to copy all the recipes from your cookbooks that you may need during the 8 days because if a cookbook full of cookie crumbs gets loose, all is lost. Lest you think you are done – go out to the garage and get your specially made Formica countertops to sit atop your regular everyday countertops for fear that you have chametz permeating the pores in your Corian.
Put all of your starched shirts in storage, for fear you may get water on them, lick your shirt and get a little chametz that way. Finally after getting out your candle and feather, searching for the last crumbs, burning them and nullifying all the chametz that may have inadvertently been left behind, then you can get out the Passover dishes.
“WTF?” You may be thinking.
Well, as nothing in Judaism is just as it is, chametz is more than just the little crumbs of carboliciousness that are prohibited during these 8 days. Chametz is said to symbolize the egocentricity that threatens to eclipse our essential selves. It is also seen as a symbol of the yetzer hara (our inclination toward evil). We spend this time searching for the parts of ourselves that are not ourselves. Those things that we hang onto because our mother wanted us to marry well, because our peers thought would make us more popular, more fun or just more interesting, but we couldn’t have cared less about.
This weekend, I am going to do a little inventory of my internal chametz. Then, I might just do a little burning.