Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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22 Adar 5766 - March 22, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Pesach Tips
by Dena Newman

Just a few short weeks ago, in Parshas Bo, the Torah tells us how to prepare for the korbon Pesach. The korbon was to be brought by an extended family; and if this group was too small to ensure that the lamb would be consumed with no leftovers, then families were to join together.

Would it take too large a stretch of the imagination to suggest that we use this prototype for our Pesach preparations? Pre-Pesach tips abound, but many families, blessed with many little children, cannot begin to use these ideas! They can barely get through a normal day; Shabbos is hard and Pesach seems impossible.

So Tip #1 is, if you are able to help out a neighbor, friend or relative, do so! It may be in shopping, inviting them over for Shabbos Hagodol, bringing over a meal, or sending over your daughters to help clean up. Don't think, incidentally, that your daughters are only there to help YOU. Remember that our children are given to us a pikodon, and really, since Jews are all mutually responsible, they are fulfilling a mitzvah if they help out others as well as you.

Of course they have a bigger obligation at home, but as the mother, you can model for them this exemplary trait of sharing. Bear in mind that Hashem has many messengers. Many times I have found that when I took extra time off to help someone, or sent my daughter out, other things fell into place, so that the time was compensated for. You won't lose out; your daughter will appreciate your gesture, and will find time for both.

Which leads to Tip #2. If you do have an older daughter, allow her to get together with a friend, and they can Pesach- clean at her house, and later at your own. The girls will enjoy working together, and can also pick up new cleaning methods, etc, at each other's homes.

Now for some tried and true cleaning ideas. Let me begin by sharing the witticism of my Aunt Rose of v.b.m. She used to point out that there are two time slots for washing the dishes — when you finish eating, or before the next meal. It's late to point out this obvious idea for this year, but bear in mind for next Pesach: wherever you disallow eating and by extension, crumbs, you will save on heavy Pesach cleaning.

Of course it makes sense, time allowing, to clean out bathroom drawers, and whatever areas were kept chometz- free all year, but it is not anything like going through the car, stroller, toy boxes and books, and finding them jam- packed with chometz.

I once read of a family that had set the air-conditioner to go on for the first time that season during their seder. It is hard to imagine their shock, as it turned on and began spewing forth Cheerios! In another incident, a family was enjoying their seder, when one of the guests looked up at the chandelier and noticed a wad of gum hanging from it! Certainly, the parents never told their children that it was OK to play with Cheerios on the air conditioner, and once your kids are chewing gum, it seems you would allow them to do so at the dining room table, but it is probable that in those homes, as in many, eating was permitted all over. Which is just one of the decisions each of us has to make — whether to be vigilant all year around, or to work like our forebears in Mitzrayim for a few weeks. And those anecdotes certainly remind us to think of unlikely but possible places where chometz may be lurking!

After the fact, all we can conclude with is Tip #3: Concentrate on cleaning areas that will be used on Pesach. Start with the kitchen, specifically the areas that will become Pesachdik. The drawers and cabinets that will be filled with Pesach items, the refrigerator, highchair, table and chairs. Although you may think it is too early to do these areas, some of them may have a lot of built up chometz (depending on when you cleaned them last and how thoroughly . . . ). If they are thoroughly cleaned a few weeks before Pesach, even if they become chometz-dik again, the final cleaning up will be a cinch. It truly is more difficult to remove dirt/chometz that has been attached for months than crumbs that have been just dropped off.

Tip #4: Even if you allow eating in your car all year long, once it is cleaned out (after Purim makes sense), you can insist on no more eating there until after Yom Tov. Once you enforce it for these few weeks, you may even want to make it a year-round rule! While you are in your vehicle, don't forget the car seats. Usually the pads can be removed, and you may find quite a bit of leftover snacks there! Likewise for your strollers. Recliners and couches. Purses, backpacks, anything that will be used on Pesach.

Tip #5: As time allows, with these major sources of chometz taken care of, you can get to the rest of the house, Again, start with areas that must be accessed over Pesach. Crumbs behind the bookcase are not a real halachic problem for Pesach, but in your clothing drawer they are. Areas that are to be sealed off or not used should either be done before Purim or just locked up. With this method, you will hopefully not trip on any chometz over Pesach, and the rest is really nullified Erev Pesach. To begin with, it is a great idea to remove every crumb, but for that you need to really start early or have a lot of help. As you get closer to Yom Tov, it is important to prioritize, and perhaps make up some notes and ideas for next year!

As you clean, constantly bear in mind that all pre-Pesach cleaning is a mitzvah. You are doing Hashem's will while at the same time praying as you work; these are wonderful thoughts to keep in our heads as we go through the next few weeks. If you have a lot to clean up, then be thankful for your many possessions.

Tip #6: if you haven't used something all year, give it away or dispose of it. If you cannot bear to part with it because your children may need it when they get married, or your grandchildren . . . clean it and pack it up in a clearly marked box. You won't have to look at it again until you need it.

Tip #7: turn your `liabilities' into assets. Your children. The little ones, that is. OK, if they are under two, you cannot get any help out of them, I'll admit, but even very young children can get involved in the 'Pesach fun.' Start by sitting them down, with a snack of apples, popcorn or whatever you need to do to get them to sit quietly. Tell them how big a mitzvah it is to get rid of all the chometz, and how they can help.

Use a chart, stickers, or try a dry erase board; my children love it! Try to make a game, such as they are able to advance their marker along a path you have drawn, after each chore they fulfill. Then offer tasks, broken down to their ability, for them to do. They are able to clean off Lego, wooden blocks, puzzles, books, especially if you are planning to seal them off for Yom Tov, anyway. If they are old enough, they can clean out their clothing drawers, closets, schoolbags, etc. Of course you can inspect before all is done, but they will have a feeling of accomplishment and keep busy while you can work.

Consider letting them scrub up with you. My four- and six- year-olds actually did a decent job on the refrigerator shelves, while I worked near them to supervise and help get shelves and food in and out. They can clean the outside cabinet doors, appliances, corners on the floor, and more. If you cannot supervise all of your workers at once, try to set up shifts, where some play while others work. Don't forget to thank, praise, and offer prizes. Be sure to tell their Tatty, Zaidy & Bubby, Uncles and Aunts about how nicely your Pesach cleaning is coming along, especially while your helpers are around!

Tip #8: Save time, money and calories by preparing simple meals (before and during Pesach). Whenever you see someone old enough to use a peeler sitting and talking, give him or her a peeler, bowl and potatoes. That way, you are ready . . . don't forget that potatoes, generally speaking, cost a lot less than matzo! And there are lots of recipes for potatoes that do not require too much time. Try cutting them into French fry size, sprinkle with oil, salt, paprika, add some water to quicken the process, and bake. Most ovens can handle two trays at the time (if you don't have two trays, invert a baking dish on the oven bottom and put a tray on that)! You can add sliced onions and have a side dish in 20 minutes.

For a full meal, put some chicken on top. Kugels are very time consuming and need lots of oil and eggs, so you may want to limit them. Mashed potatoes, potato salad, vegetable/potato salad, even plain whole baked potatoes, each have a slightly different taste and can be put up with for just one week.

Soups can be very filling and provide a lot of vegetables. You can cut up whichever you have on hand, and make a vegetable soup, serving it either as is or blended. Of course, if you want to do more, you can, but your family might enjoy having their mommy sit with them, and forgoing kugels and time-consuming dishes is a small price to pay.

[Ed. Can't help putting in my two cents' worth. Quick kugels can be made by grating five big potatoes potatoes on the big holes of your grater or processor, add two eggs, a bit of oil in a hot frying pan, cook about ten minutes on each side with cover on, high-ish fire. Add a bit of water at the end and drain off the oil.]


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