One of our students at Our Best Words, Yehudit Rouzaud, wrote a great blog post: “Cleaning My Head While Cleaning for Pesach”. Not only is the blog post nicely crafted, it is also entertaining, and fits our upcoming Chag.
The Our Best Words team wishes you and your loved ones a wonderful Pesach. Enjoy reading Yehudit’s blog post below!
Cleaning My Head While Cleaning for Pesach
“Moving from room to room, drawer to drawer, shelf to shelf turning over each, wiping down every area in the yearly hunt for chometz, I only find some token stashes of candy in the boys’ room. The days of cereal poked into the air conditioner vents by tiny hands to spray across the Seder table when the air conditioner timer turned on, generating pandemonium, sheilot and memories are gone, at least until the grandchildren come. Nevertheless, I marvel at how much stuff I find that seemed very important to keep “just in case” that I haven’t put a hand on or given a single thought to since I put it away. It doesn’t take care of me now and isn’t likely to do in the future, but I spend all kinds of time and effort taking care of it. When I made Aliyah, I jettisoned so much to make my way light; but I seem to have replaced it all. Yet the idea of redistributing what might be useful to others or plain throwing it away lot of true garbage makes me feel amazingly insecure. It’ not just that it’s easier not to bother to throw away the empty bag or outgrown shirt; it actually hurts.
Apparently I’ve absorbed more than I thought of my mother’s worldview, formed from growing up poor in the middle of the Great Depression that made a first-degree felony from discarding anything that might have a potential use at any possible future time. We laughed at her when she saved hundreds of egg crates and strung them together to make a bathroom partition around the basement toilet and made fun of her as she saved every rubber band, twist-tie, slightly used aluminum foil (separated by chalavi and basari of course) or bit of string in several kitchen drawers (while helping ourselves whenever we needed to without thinking twice. There were always rubber bands. I was 40 before I went into a store and bought a bag of rubber bands (which I still have….), but at least you could see a point and admire her creativity.
The reflex amused us less when she filled a two- car garage floor to ceiling with 50 years of old school supplies left when she retired from a half-century of teaching plus box upon box of yarn and crafts supplies picked up because “they were such good bargains”, that made splendid nests for generations of rats that we heard scrabbling, scratching and squeaking on the shelves through the walls when we sat in the family room at night, but mostly never found their way into any project. Her solution to running out of space? Build another 2-car garage, which I understand, is well on its way to being filled with junk as well. At 75, unable to permit herself to escape to the comfort of a smaller and more appropriate home because she can’t bear to part with a single cabinet full of curios and artwork or the moldering piles of rotting crafts supplies, arthritic, and unable to keep up with the chores demanded to maintain all that, the house owns her.
No surprise – after all, 80% of the Jews couldn’t manage to free themselves from life as they knew it enough to leave Egypt. And the rest were ready to run back if they could just get onions. Things, especially familiar things, have a powerful pull, better than chains.
I am reminded of a story about a mixed group of construction workers, white and Indian, employed to build the Hoover Dam nearly a century ago. An accident resulted in a breech in the dam turning loose a torrential wall of water that oddly enough, only the Indians workers escaped. When asked what happened, the Indians said that when they saw the flood bearing down on them, they ran and survived. Their white co-workers ran back to save their belongings and drowned. Thinking about the weight of things and who actually owns whom, I brought an armload of trash bags into the bedrooms and began to fill them.”
(Image courtesy of www.ohr.edu)