My Nasty Pre-Pesach Mood, and What Got Me Out of It

My Nasty Pre-Pesach Mood, and What Got Me Out of It

Yesterday I spent the entire day busy getting ready for Pesach, and at around 5 PM I texted my husband, “I feel like I’ve been run over by a steamroller.”

By the time my husband came home, I was in one of the foulest moods I’ve been in all year. I went out to do something on my to-do list, and as I walked I listened to a pre-Passover peptalk by Rebbetzin Esther Baila Schwartz. And would you believe that after listening to her peptalk, I found myself in a truly great mood?

So, just in case you are also having a case of pre-Pesach-itis, I am sharing a shortened version of the peptalk here with you:

Esther Baila Schwartz taught:

Before I tell you what I want to tell you about Passover, I want to give you my annual pre-Passover peptalk.

I want to remind you sweety pies, it’s all good! It’s all magnificently, incredibly, stupendously wonderful.

People get overwhelmed before Passover. But I want to tell you something that is SO important: everything hinges on your attitude. And we can decide which attitude we want to have.

The first thing I want to tell you is that we are actually currently living what will one day be our memories.

Life does not stand still, it keeps chugging along, and we keep on getting older. And whatever age, stage, phase you are in now, you won’t be in it forever. One fine day you are going to look back with eyes full of nostalgia and say, “Remember when____.” Fill in the blank….

Remember when…It was so wonderful then. When I had more energy. When all my kids were still home.

If one day we’re going to look back with rose-colored glasses full of nostalgia, why not put on those rose-colored glasses right now? Enjoy it WHILE we’re living it.

Our attitude affects absolutely everything.

One time a few years ago, before I began teaching my class, the women were talking. And we began having a typical pre-Pesach kvetch session. At the class was a woman I’ve known for many years, an incredibly brave women, who never married, has no close family, and is very alone in the world.

And at one point during our kvetch session, she just lost it and burst out, “You have no idea how absolutely ridiculous you sound! Do you know what I would do to be running around like a chicken without a head getting ready for the holiday?” We didn’t know what to say because there was nothing to say. She was 100% right.

Not only are you living something that will one day be your fondest memories, you are also living someone else’s dream. Our lives are what other people can only dream about.

I recently came across a prayer that was written and recited during Passover by the Jews of Bergen-Belsen. It was a special prayer to say before eating chametz (leaven) on Passover. It was a prayer to G-d telling Him how badly they wanted to keep the laws of Pesach. But if they didn’t eat chametz for 8 days, they would starve to death, so they were eating it in order to stay alive, to fulfill the mitzvah of “v’Chai Bahem” (you shall live through them), the mitzvah of staying alive. And Hashem should please accept their eating chametz with the love and devotion with which they are doing it.

And here we are today, meriting to not eat chametz on Pesach, meriting to keep the laws of Pesach, to do it right. We are living other people’s dreams. Imagine our counterparts in the concentration camps, women our ages, and how they dreamed things could be like they used to be, to be celebrating Pesach again. It really and truly is all in our attitude.

If I focus on being overwhelmed, overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated, I’m going to feel miserable. And the truth is you probably will be overworked and underappreciated. But those women in the concentration camps would have preferred to be overworked and underappreciated, the people who recited that prayer before they ate chametz, many of them were women, and how they would have preferred to be busy in their Pesach kitchens or turning over their kitchens. It’s all in our attitude.

We can either have a stressful couple of days until Passover or a joyous couple of days. What we are experiencing now is abundant blessings, we need to see it for what it is.

Moods are contagious, so if we’re chilled, relaxed, happy people we will benefit everyone around us.

So that’s my pre-Pesach peptalk, it’s all wonderful, wonderful, wonderful…And whoever needs it to be busier next year, with G-d’s help, it will be, with more married couples, more babies underfoot, more grandchildren, we just want it to get crazier, please G-d.

19 comments

  1. Oh my goodness, way to snap some sense into me! Thank you so much, Chana Jenny. Yes, I am so blessed. I will enjoy this blessed mess right now.

  2. Thank you so much for writing this out! My attention span for audio or video is at an all-time low and it’s so good to get a written pep talk!

    • This is an incredible post – one of the very best!
      I suggest re-posting it next year (in Jerusalem iy”H) for the reminder many of us may need.
      THANK YOU, Chana Jenny, and Chag Kasher v’Seame’ach!

  3. Rachel D

    Absolutely, exactly what I needed to hear right now. Here I was feeling bad for myself needing to prep pesach with a newborn and 3 other kids home and no parents to help [as they were supposed to — canceled their trip last minute due to a health issue]. But there are so many blessings inherent in all that. Thank you!!

    • JewishMom

      you’re very welcome…hope everything goes smoothly and mazal tov!

  4. This was great-thank you!

  5. Speaking of newborns Chana Jenny, we’re having our new baby boy’s bris tomorrow IYH. Talk about crazy Pesachs! Yes, I am the Sara who thought Hashem’s plans were for us to have no more children 3 babies ago. Thanks again for all your tefillos!

    • JewishMom

      wow, b”H!! thanks for telling me and mazal tov! I remember davening for you at the kever of the zviller rebbe a few years ago:)

  6. Elisheva

    I’ve had a rotten attitude today.
    What you said really has set me straight. Five generations ago was the last time anyone in my family celebrated Passover. That was back in Poland. Now I get to pick up where they left off. So what if we are going to fall incredibly short of how we should be doing it. At least we get to.😀

  7. yasher koach chana jenny
    i agree with you, it’s all in the attitude
    my dear cousin Chanchy used to work very hard before Pesach
    her husband had many chumros and she of course implemented them all
    plus she was a meticulous balabusta
    and then she became sick and she had to sit there and watch her daughters do it all
    oh how she wished she could rush around and work hard as in previous years
    watching her watching her daughters made me realize (as you realized) how LUCKY we hardworking, exhausted mothers are
    lucky, lucky, lucky
    well Chanchy a”h passed away
    but i didn’t forget the lesson she taught me
    to be happy you can work hard, be happy you are tired from making Pesach
    it’s the greatest gift
    one she no longer has

  8. I second what someone else said: this is one of the best posts here!

    In my house, my husband does almost all the Pesach cleaning (by his own choice: he wants it to be done his way, he can get time off from work for it and he does the kitchen as late as possible so it doesn’t affect what I can cook until the day before Pesach). We have a family situation which means we always go away for sedarim to be with extended family, which saves us the cooking beforehand and makes Pesach automatically a wonderful joyous family time. Also we just moved which means that most of the cleaning was already done when we moved and most of the house is already chametz-free. This means that normally and especially this year my pre-Pesach time is pretty stress-free.

    And guess what? I still get stressed. Not because of everything I have to do but because I’m full of guilt that I am not as stressed and pressured as everyone else!! I feel like I’m not a true wife if I am not stressed before Pesach. What a crazy false belief that is. I am hoping to get rid of it to not pass it onto the next generation: is being stressed and worn-out before Pesach really a great legacy for being a woman? Aren’t the joy and anticipation of a beautiful holiday and the appreciation of the wonderful gifts of having a household and a family so much better legacies to pass on?

  9. Wonderful post. This year I challenged myself not to start cleaning until the week before pesach for two reasons:
    1. Pesach is 8 days, not 2 months
    2. It’s always stressed out the last week anyway no matter how much in advance I was. So lets just be stressed that last week and relax until then….
    You know what?
    It worked!

    • I should clarify that I work full time but I had a very helpful daughter and husband at home for that week……

  10. just catching up on my reading and boy was this a treat, reading Esther Baila’s words. Esther Baila and I go way back and we have shared a lot over the years, and I”H over many many more. Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Loved it. Thank you so much for posting. I enjoy listening to Esther Baila Shwartz’s shiurim.

  12. So uplifting even way after pesach, thank you

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