Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Av 5761 - July 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
(Not Yet) Washed Out and (Not Yet) Washed Up
by Sue Tourkin-Komet

Learn to appreciate the pervasive power of water and washing and how these feature in our daily and yearly lives...

I hope our readers will absorb the spiritual undertones in this zippy piece, very appropriate for the Nine Days (but with lots of forgivable humor), that welcomes a new writer to our ranks.

I've spent much of my life washing.

And, don't get me wrong: no daily shampoos (twice a week at the pool will do) and no obsessive hand washings and no obsessive floor washings. I've got better things to do with my energies and my mitzvos.

Probably started doing dishes about age six -- was so short that my parents o.b.m. stood me on a step stool and as soon as they saw that I'd quickly mastered the art so well, so quickly, neither grease nor soap suds left behind -- my dishwashing career was installed. Many dozens of dishes later (and pots and pans and pitchers and silverware), I was hooked for life: my dishwashing was all `A's' -- an act of adventure, accomplishment and aesthetics. And a B-alancing act. I never needed to learn engineering or physics after that. Being a tiny child genius dishwasher (and never a child genius on my violin) freed me up from drying them all, which I learned to detest and resist and avoid. To this day, if I can help it, no drying of dishes. Let the air drafts dry my dishes. (As I am fond of saying: Dishes never catch cold.)

Somewhere during my academic childhood, I learned to wash windows. And mirrors. Squeaky clean, like my shampoos. Never a dreary task. The world always looks better and clearer and purer with washed windows. As for mirrors, I always had a better complexion in an unblemished mirror. How many thousands of hairdos, teeth brushings, eyebrow pluckings, (excuse me) pimple poppings, contact lens searches, hair snippings and washing those sleepers out of my hazel eyes in front of a friendly, washed mirror?

Washing, or trying to wash, the paints and chemicals off my hands and arms in the art classes where I spent precious hours.

Washing my paint brushes, buckets, palettes, silk screens, clay's implements and batik fabrics, washing with joy and exhaustion after creating works of art.

Washing the dust off my unused music stand and washing the covers of my unused, unfriendly computer, may it rest in peace.

Washing my floors in the style of minimalistic art: less is more -- better to sweep often with a broom than to push around sloppy, moppy buckets. Also saves water.

Washing the wool on my loom and the dirt out of my broom.

Washing my hand laundries: my real linens and real woolens (separately, to be halachically and texturally safe), my silky silks, velours and viscosas.

Washing after childbirth.

Washing my infant paraplegic daughter, home from her incubator, was probably the hardest wash of them all. But after that first time, all that followed was a breeze by comparison. As fate would have it, years later, washing her wheelchair of her bodily discharges, and of the vomit after she'd survived a head concussion; her school minibus driver had braked suddenly and she had been thrown backwards in her wheelchair -- onto her head. And washing the tears off my drenched face as I washed her post accident head trauma vomit off her bedroom wall, floor, carpet, closet. Not to mention her laundry -- two American-sized machine loads per day for countless years, while keeping my eyes quietly on her breathing and her reflexes.

Every motzei Shabbos, washing the wax out of my candelabra and implanting three new clean pure white candles for the next Sabbath. Definitely an act for a Saturday Night, to yearn for the next candle lighting on the coming Friday night.

Washing the dust off the rocking chair I used to nurse my daughter in for hours on end, for months on end . . . twenty years ago.

Washing my artsy arrangements of bottles and knick-knacks, my own homemade eyelet and pique'd lampshades. Washing my Jack & Jill dolls, my Suzy Homemaker doll.

Let it be clear: this is no Letter of Complaint, because I know very well that when I'll cease to do my dishes, cease to wash my loom and cease to wash my broom, cease to wash my windows and cease to wash my candlesticks, my silks and my linens... That's when they'll need to wash me and dress me -- in linen. Before the final purification. Before I'll be buried. Before I go to Heaven.


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