As soon as Purim is behind us, we Jews start to worry about all the things that must be done before Passover. And there is a lot to learn and do. The two months that separates these holidays is just enough time to review all the rules necessary to cleanse all the chametz, or leaven (yeast), from our homes in time for this special biblical feast.
At this feast, certain dishes are eaten in a certain order in a certain way while the father of the household recites for the family the story of the Exodus from Egypt and answers the many questions of the children. Reliving the liberation from Egypt take the form of a kind of question-and-answer game, and in this way it is preserved from generation to generation.
For the woman of the house, this is an even more stressful time. She doesn’t have time to review or relearn the rule of Passover. She must already know them. As soon as Purim is over, the countdown begins, and there is much to do.
In many households, it’s as if the woman temporarily becomes dictator and orders everyone around to ensure we meet the deadline.
“We still need pots for Passover, what do we do if the shops don’t open again by then!?” she asked worriedly on the day after Purim.
“Don’t worry,” I replied, “we have almost two months left, I’ll buy some in good time.”
Now the two months are almost over, the shops are open again, but I still haven’t bought any pots. My otherwise good-humored wife doesn’t find that very funny, and has created a Google Calendar according to which everyone knows what they must do and by what day. It works pretty well. One week before Passover we had already cleared the chametz from the children’s room, our bedroom and the car. In the coming week the pressure will increase and it will be time to turn to the kitchen, a nightmare for everyone involved.
Of course I try to help, but I am not allowed to.
“Oh, you can’t do that!” they say as I am sent away with the younger children. Our poor David, who is older, will become his mother’s personal slave from next week as soon as he is released from school for the Passover vacation.
One positive aspect of this otherwise stressful process is that when Passover does finally begin next Saturday evening, we will truly know what it feels like to be freed from slavery.