Mandatory Deflation

dirty flat tireRecently at a Conservative synagogue, I watched as drop-jawed coworkers listened to a fellow teacher describe her intensive process of Passover cleaning. Starting two weeks before Pesac, this teacher had already washed curtains, vacuumed closets, and shampooed carpets.
Watching, I think to myself, of course she is doing all of this. I am trying to do the same. Yesterday was the carpets, on Sunday I do the car. Its ridiculous but we are commanded to find every bit of hametz and be rid of it all. You get dirty and sweaty in the process, and that’s partly the point.  For this, all the rest of life screeches to a halt.  The days of obsessive Passover cleaning are humbling and exhausting.  It’s very possible that our spiritual and relational health for the entire year rests on our willingness to vacuum and scrub.

In our preparation for Passover, we prostrate ourselves before the history of slavery that we must relive, we bow to centuries of halachah and its fences around the Torah.  We submit to the irony and the absurd and the crazy excess.  It’s mandatory deflation, a physical/spiritual exercise designed to flatten our egos, deflate our pride, and puncture our self-centeredness.  Once a year, our headlong rush into self hits this mandatory pothole.

In eight days, when we can eat humetz again, we are ready to rebuild our ids and egos in freedom, mostly from ourselves.

This is where I end my imperfect post.  Less writing.  More cleaning.

May your Passover be what it must be in your life.  Don’t spare the elbow grease.

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