My Pesach Cleaning Ceasefire

My Pesach Cleaning Ceasefire

4 hours of Passover cleaning = a hamburger with a side order of onion rings and an hour curled up with a magazine.

The first three days I actually enjoyed my daily hour of cleaning. How exciting to finally have a few hours to hammer away at this fossilized mountain of clutter—Mt. Weisberg—and whittle it down to size.

But by the fourth day, I didn’t really want to clean out Yaakov’s closet and its environs. But those hamburger and onion rings and magazine kept me going, like the medal that pushes an Olympic runner in the killer final stretch.

So yesterday, after my littlest kids were in bed, I brought home a hamburger and onion rings and a side order of fries for whomever wanted.

And I set up my plate with hamburger and onion rings and gave the French fries over to my kids to nosh on. And then a neighbor knocked on the door…

I returned to my plate less than two minutes later. But something was different than when I’d left it.

My package of onion rings, that had cost me four hours of Pesach cleaning, was no longer full!

Not only that…As I stood there gaping at my meal, a child reached over to grab another one!

I grabbed their hand, and said “No more! I worked very hard for these onion rings!”

And as I sat there eating my hard-earned meal, I felt such burning anger at that child. Why don’t they appreciate how hard I’ve worked? And all I wanted was a hamburger and onion rings, and even that they take from me!

But I held my tongue. It wasn’t worth it to make a battle over two onion rings.

And while it’s embarrassing to admit, I will confess that this morning I was still angry at that child over those two onion rings. And I wanted to yell at them—loud and long…

But then I remembered a story I just heard from Rabbi Fischel Schachter….

One year the Maggid of Mezrich told his Chassidim that all of their prayers and elevated mystical kavanot on Seder night had made little impression in Heaven that year. But there was one Jew named Ber’ke who had the angels dancing up a storm on seder night.

And this was Ber’ke’s story.

The week before Passover, Ber’ke’s boss said that he would not be paying salaries that month. So Ber’ke came home with empty pockets. His wife was beside herself.

How would she pay for matzot? For wine? For meat? For ANYTHING?

So the day before the seder she borrowed money from a neighbor, and bought everything they needed.

On Erev Pesach, the wife placed a white tablecloth over the table that Ber’ke had hammered together by attaching legs to a plank of wood and she smiled as she set up a seder table that was fit for a king. The Pesach china. The matzot. The bowl of hardboiled eggs. Nothing was missing.

But a few minutes before Ber’ke arrived home from shul on Friday night, as his wife walked by the table, her skirt got caught on a nail that was sticking out of the table, and she dragged down the entire tablecloth and everything, EVERYTHING crashed to the floor in a broken heap.

When Ber’ke walked in the door, his wife was waiting for him.

“You are a fool! An incompetent worthless idiot! Look at this terrible table you made—and now the Seder is destroyed!”

The blood flowed into Ber’ke face. The curses and insults and accusations were sitting on the tip of his tongue…

But then, at that moment, he took a deep breath and said to himself, “Hashem, I’m in your hands now.”

And he told his wife, “I’m sorry. I apologize. But you know, we can make Passover with broken matzot. And we can make Passover with broken china. But we have to be happy today. We cannot make Passover with broken hearts.” And she forgave him. And he forgave her. And they made their seder.

And the angels were circling and singing along with Ber’ke and his wife that seder night.

And that was what I was thinking of this morning, as I felt the anger bubbling up within me.

And I decided that I needed to do anything possible so I wouldn’t feel angry. And I promised to buy myself another package of onion rings later today….

And maybe when I dip them into the ketchup and mayo and say the bracha, the angels above will be saying “Amen.”

Just kidding. But who knows?:)


  1. Chana Jenny, I loved this post! In my husband’s family, it is unacceptable to feel the way you described in this article… mothers are expected to sacrifice everything for their children, including (especially?) things like treats or things the mother was saving for herself. I loved the way you described your feelings and how you overcame them. I feel validated and inspired 🙂

    • I second that! Incentives really work for me and when I’m denied them I resent it.

      I appreciated how you dealt with the situation & loved the story of Berke.

      Keep up your great work, Chana Jenny!

  2. very enjoyable reading, thank you :)!!

  3. I so identify with your missing onion ring story! Thank you for reminding me about Berke, it’s good to have that in my mind right now.

  4. Thank you Jenny, It is so good that you put my feeling into words! Some of us cant start cleaning because it is so hard. Some of us are cleaning, and find it hard. Some dont have children to clean for or that can eat their onionrings. May we al be besimche with what we DO have. May that bring our personal yetsiat mitsraim and Moshiach for us all 🙂

  5. Oh I loved your story today. I really needed it. Thanks for taking the time to find the right words!

  6. My reward for cleaning is sitting down to read your blog with a cup of coffee…. I’m sure I’m not the only one! Thanks for taking time out for us too!

  7. This was delightful and inspiring- thank you, Chana Jenny! Hey, I have an idea- how about offering to buy onion rings for whichever kid does jobs x, y and z?

    • or have an auction – let them choose jobs off a list – you put the price you would pay to have it done. Then if two want the same job the one who will do it for less wins! (doesn’t have to be paid in $ can be treats such as a walk with mom to feed the ducks or whatever goes.)

  8. After my terrible day yesterday, you put into words my feelings. Your onion rings are my symbol. I needed the chizuk and reminder that Hashem is in charge.

  9. I’ve been giving myself incentives too these days. Find it hard to control my tongue when my kids (especially the toddler) upsets me. Especially on a long Shabbos day. But I’ve earned three points so far! Funny how it works to be competitive with myself…

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