Tuesday, April 5, 2011

About that Myth

It's time, once and for all, to get rid of that myth that Pesach is only eight days long (or seven days if you are in Israel). In no way, shape or form is this yom tov that short.

Apparently there are mystical--and quite likely mythical--beings that can wake up erev Pesach morning a bit earlier than usual, get rid of all of their chometz, clean their houses k'halacha, do all their shopping, run all necessary errands, do all of their cooking and sit down to the Seder with a smile on their faces. Right, and I believe in the tooth fairy also.

Even if you leave a whole lot of things to the last minute (for whatever your reasons) that last minute needs re-defining. Do you push everything necessary into 3 days? How about 4 or 5 days? If so, let's be realistic and add those days to how long Pesach lasts.

The kitchen cleanup and turning to Pesachdik is not accomplished in an hour or two--neither is the cooking. Given how Shabbos Ha'Gadol comes out this year, a whole lot of people will already be Pesachdik for Shabbos. In order to accomplish that the kitchen is going to be turned on Thursday, or even Wednesday. So you do the math. Pesach starts on Monday night, and you've been cooking Pesachdik since at least Thursday. Adds up to more than one week of yom tov. Once you're in your kitchen and it's Pesachdik, yom tov has arrived. Sort of like Chol Ha'Moed, followed by yom tov, followed by Chol Ha'Moed, followed by yom tov.

Even those who are not turning their kitchens before Shabbos will be doing so Motzoai Shabbos/Sunday morning. Okay, so they will be adding only two additional days to yom tov.

Someone might as well declare this yom tov to be two weeks. Since the really frenetic part of preparing seems to be the grocery shopping, kitchen cleaning, cooking and preparing, that would be out of the way the week before the sedorim. I know a lot of women who would be far more relaxed heading into the sedorim. They might even be able to enjoy some time together with their kids, who are all going to be off from school that week before Pesach as well as Pesach.

Truthfully I wouldn't mind a bit if Pesach was extended as I described above. All that work and in a blink of an eye it seems that yom tov is over.


Isreview said...

VERY GOOD POINT , I know I always said that but you just explained it perfectly and in detail, Thank you! Can I link to this post in an upcoming review I'm doing on my blog where I mention this "concept" of Pesach eating being more than 7/8 days?

ProfK said...

Sure Daniela, I'd be pleased by the link.

Isreview said...

Cool thanks -it's Thursadays post (I think):)

Miami Al said...

We have put more and more of an effort into learning what is required and trying to simplify the prep work, and the includes hosting Sedarim.

Wonderful Sedarim make a life long memory. A slightly cleaner curtain will not.

And if mom is tired and miserable at the Seder, that will sully the memories that the children/grandchildren have.

So while I think you should do as much as you want for Yom Tov Prep, it should not be one minute more. The second you start martyring yourself with your excess is the second you've moved from elevating the mitzvah to actually taking away from it.

Ilana said...

Al, what you call martyring yourself with excess is not what I call martyring or excess. I like clean, sparkly clean, all over clean. It does not take away from the mitzvah when I provide that clean. Not saying it's not a lot of work but so what? If I CHOOSE that work that's my choice and nobody's business to comment on.

And why put tired and miserable together at all? Sure, I'm tired when the first seder comes and it sure isn't all cleaning related. I'm cooking to feed 17 over yom tov and shopping for that cooking. I'm making up beds and doing all the routine stuff that needs doing also. Oh yes, and I have a job. I come by that tired legitimately, not because I'm martyring myself or doing things in excess. What I'm not is miserable.

Sullying the memories my kids and grandkids will have? You're joking right? You should see their faces when they come into the kitchen and see the special jellyrolls I only make for Pesach, or the other things I cook specially for this chag--absolute joy. Two years ago one of my daughters in law bought me an apron for Pesach that shows a picture of Wonder Woman on it, and when she gave it to me---with a smile on her face---everyone applauded. For my kids and grandkids what I do to prepare and celebrate yom tov meets with their approval--it doesn't have to meet with yours.

You want to do less? Your choice, just don't keep pointing out me and others like me as being out of step or oddities or martyrs. We're not. Just what about our being happy to do things this way is any of your business?

Miami Al said...


None. You should do absolutely everything that you want to do to make it special.

You should do no more than that.

You are attributing comments and thoughts to me that I don't have.

If you aren't tired and miserable, than why would you think that a statement "If you are tired and miserable" has anything to do with you?

If you CHOOSE to do the work, you're not martyring yourself.

I'm assuming you're tired and on a short fuse. No need to apologize for your putting words in my mouth.

tesyaa said...

I understand that there are some people who can't enjoy the seder if they haven't completed their spring cleaning. I am not one of those people. But if you are one of those people, you should go aheaad and do whatever you need to make your seder special to you.

Anonymous said...

May be a lone voice here but from what I've seen with friends and family if it wasn't for feeling they had to do a complete cleaning before Passover their houses would never see that complete cleaning. Call it spring cleaning or call it passover cleaning at some point it has to be done. Now's just as good a time as any because people are somehow in a cleaning mood.

Asked a friend who goes away for passover when she does that deep cleaning if she's not home for the holiday. Her answer was why should I have to do that type of cleaning if it's not for passover. Lots and lots of people just like that. Not that you see dirt when you walk into their houses 9although I've seen that too) but they are maybe neat instead of clean.

Miami Al said...

We try to do an annual clean & purge before Rosh Hashana. We clean (although we obviously don't Kasher) everything in the kitchen, clean/purge the home, etc.

It's not like you don't have 7 days of Yom Tov in less than a month...

And it's not mixed in with the need to Kasher for Pesach.

If you want to Spring Clean, go nuts. If it adds to your enjoyment of Pesach, wonderful. If you want to "Fall Clean" to add to your enjoyment of Sukkot, go nuts.

The only thing I object to is making women go overboard, without spousal support (but perhaps spousal insistence) and entering Yom Tov tired and exhausted.

It takes away from the Seder if the hostess is tired and cranky (see that word IF Ilana, that means conditionally true), and that to me is counter productive. You want to spend a month or two preparing for Pesach to have a home that sparkles, that's wonderful. If you don't want to spend that, you should still enjoy Yom Tov.

But I see so many tired, cranky, worn out mothers that seem to loath this holiday, the season, and generally complain the entire time. I can only wonder what their daughters think about this.

And then there are women who turn their kitchen over one week after Purim and are baking/cooking ahead to have meals with fresh cakes for all 8 days. They are in heaven as their entire family fills their home.

Shifra said...

Al, you are sooo right about the spousal support. When we were still going away to parents for Pesach I did my heavy cleaning that month before the holiday but I had none of the other stuff to have to do. The first year we stayed at home I resembled your tired and cranky mom that first night. Then I had a talk with my husband.

He likes seeing Broadway type shows and is willing to spend the money for them as our treat a few times a year. I told him that every year there is going to be an opening night in our house--Pesach. If he wanted the theatre ready for the performance it was going to cost--money and time. It is still our joke that he is buying box seats for five when I hire as much cleaniing help as I need to do what I want without killing myself completely plus buy what I need for the meals and the house without running around to 50 different stores to price compare and save 13 cents on an item. And he also tells me, as WE are packing up the Pesach things and HE is shlepping them up to the attic that it was a great performance this year and he can't wait to see next year's offering.

Miami Al said...


So glad you and your spouse are on the same page.

I was the one insisting that my wife do less. Pesach was her favorite holiday growing up. One of our first married Pesachs, pre-kids, we hosted a Seder with all our friends also stuck in town. She was up all night cleaning for days, sending me to the store 2 to 3 times a day to pick stuff up, etc. We got to the Seder and rather than being into things and excited, she was a tired and whiney and complaining the entire time.

I had a chat with her, but that I really found this unacceptable. Especially over the years, with children, etc., there was no way that our Passover prep work involved her being cranky and complaining the entire time.

If that meant more "help," less "extra," whatever. If she wanted to do excess, it had to start earlier. She had to let me help. But there was zero point in going overboard and not enjoying the holiday.

Again, none of this suggests that Ilana can't do whatever she wants, none of my business. But pushing herself to the point of exhaustion, like my wife did that first year, is in my opinion, wrong.

I see lots of husbands pushing their wives to do crazier and crazier things, because their younger brother's friend's cousin's wife's cousin in Kollel does this (in a 500 sq. ft. apartment), they should to.

And as a result, I see families that INSIST you cannot have a seder at home and it needs to be in a hotel. Or you need a dedicated Pesach kitchen, or whatever nonsense of the week.

Trudy said...

Let's not put dedicated Pesach kitchens into the category of nonsense of the week. I bless that kitchen every year of the 26 years we own our house.

We bought an older Victorian type of house that had a porch across the back screened in on its top half. It ran across the dining room, kitchen and laundry room. We took the part that was by the dining room, enclosed it with walls and put in a Pesach kitchen. Nothing fancy. We got used cabinets and appliances for everything but the stoves. 26 years ago that remodel cost us $3200 and it has more than paid for itself, although we have moved appliances from the regular kitchen into the Pesach one as things died and bought new for the regular kitchen. All I have to do is sweep the floors, throw out any food that can't be kept and close the door to the chometz kitchen.

Thanks to the way that manufacturers send out Pesach products so early I'm in my Pesach kitchen an easy 5-6 weeks before the holiday and can do any baking and cooking ahead at my leisure.

For the past few years a few of my friends come over and we have a Pesach baking day way before the holiday. Since there is a freezer in that kitchen we all freeze what we've baked and have it ready to go when yom tov arrives.

You could take away a lot of things I own but try and take away that Pesach kitchen and I'd fight you to the death.

Miami Al said...


I'm glad you enjoy your luxurious home with room for a spare Kitchen. Seriously, no sarcasm here. I have plenty of "extras" in my house.

I have an issue with "needing a Pesach" kitchen.

I have no issue with "wanting a Pesach kitchen" or "having a Pesach kitchen."

I've seen people have keg fridges and full commercial wet bars in their home. It's really cool for entertaining.

If people were insisting that you NEED to have beer on tap in order to relax after work, I'd put it in the same category.

A Pesach Kitchen is a wonderful luxury.

A necessity to being observant it is not.