Why I Think Pesach Cleaning is Spiritual
You might have noticed that I’ve been posting a lot about Passover cleaning recently. And one dear, long-time reader left a comment to protest. She wrote: “My main gripe about the month before Pesach is that all we women talk about is cleaning. Could you post one or two thoughts about women’s spiritual preparation for Pesach?”
And I, in response, wrote something that might sound irreparably strange to some of you. I wrote: “For me, cleaning for Pesach IS my spiritual preparation for Pesach.”
Let me explain why I could possibly believe something like that…
The great Chassidic Rebbe, the Aish Kodesh, taught that a Jew can only connect with the holy inner essence of Passover through the scrubbing and sorting and cleaning in the days and weeks leading up to Seder night.
Just as we cannot feel our internal organs, our hearts, our lungs, our muscles until we move our bodies and we suddenly feel them pumping and beating and straining within us, so, too, the Aish Kodesh wrote, we will only be able to experience the hidden holiness and light of Passover after we have moved our bodies and prepared our homes on a physical level.
A woman once told my teacher, Rabbi Nivin, “I hate cleaning! I can’t wait to finish it so I can get to the holy part!”
And Rabbi Nivin told her that, in fact, the cleaning itself IS the holy part.
Cleaning for Passover is a mitzvah, which means that every moment you and I spend scraping grime out of our stoves or searching behind our children’s bunk beds for well-hidden chocolate-covered wafers, we are performing Hashem’s exact will at that moment.
That means that every minute we spend cleaning until Passover, we are engaged in the holiest activity in the world.
I also do other things to prepare spiritually for Passover– like listening to lots of classes (while I clean;) about the deeper meaning of the holiday. But I still believe that my most meaningful spiritual preparation for the holiday is actually physically preparing for it–cleaning and organizing my home, shopping, cooking. Because sometimes the holiest act possible doesn’t feel holy at all!
But it IS holy, because it is Hashem’s exact and perfect will for me right now.