How Much Money I Found While Cleaning for Pesach

How Much Money I Found While Cleaning for Pesach

Yesterday I set the timer for 40 minutes and cleaned out my “drawer of important things” (yes, that’s actually what we call it. In distinct contrast to the “box of important things” in an upper kitchen cupboard.)

The drawer of important things had become so full of things that were anything but, that over the last few weeks I’d had to squish down the accumulated mess with my hand in order to close it shut.

And that’s why I chose this drawer for my first Pesach cleaning project.

Yesterday afternoon I opened up the drawer of important things and removed a screwdriver, plyers, two bags of screws (small ones and smaller ones)– and then climbed up the ladder to place them in the toolbox in the attic. I removed 4 magic markers and 3 crayons which I placed in Tsoofy’s coloring box on the living room table. I threw away a second copy of the still unpaid property tax bill, around 8 broken pens and pencils, some old test review sheets and art projects, and a single purple hair elastic which was on the verge of snapping.

By the time I had finished, 40 minutes later (actually 60 minutes later, since those 40 minutes were interrupted by two requests for cornflakes, a fight in need of refereeing, a knock at the door, and a phone call that required my full attention) my drawer of important things had been restored to exactly that, occupied only by the family calendar, a single still unpaid property tax bill, a few current medical referrals, about 20 working pens and pencils, 4 pairs of scissors, 2 library cards, and a phone charger.

Oh, and I forgot to mention. My reward for those 40 minutes was 600 NIS! 150 dollars which I found in an unlabeled envelope stuffed into the corner of the drawer.

And if I hadn’t found those $150? Would those 40 minutes have been reward-less?

Over the last two decades of cleaning for Pesach (some years more, some years less), I have come to feel that Passover cleaning has some serious rewards of its own.

First of all, for most of the year, my home and the stuff it contains feel somewhat overwhelming to me and even somewhat OUT OF CONTROL, on account of the mess sprouting in most Weisberg family cabinets, drawers, and corners. And I love that during the month before Pesach, my family members and I make order all over (Even if that order, in this house, usually doesn’t last especially long…)

Secondly, I love that this cleaning links me with the Festival of Miraculous Freedom just a month away. Sort of like the discomfort mixed with intense anticipation of the ninth month and the pain of labor leading up to the glory of smelling a fuzzy new baby.

I once heard that the only way to the access the spiritual lights of Passover is through physical hard work.

Which I think means that an inspired Passover doesn’t fall into our laps. We have to clean our way there.


  1. Lauren Adilev

    Jenny: The best way to clean for Pesach is to corral the clutter the whole year. At Maxxstock, superstock etc. they have fabric-covered boxes for 20 shekels. I bought nicer ones for about 49 shekels at Etzmaleh. Assign two boxes/child. Every Thursday have the kids empty their backpacks and clean their rooms, everything must be off the floor and in a home i.e. one of the boxes. Remember artwork and such can be photographed and tossed. Also have the kids look through their clothes, have a basic wardrobe, mend things immediately, have them vacuum their beds and clean underneath every week. Pair off older kids with younger and everything will be done in 2 hours. Reward with pizza and music. Pesach will be purr-fect, as soothing as a cat’s whisper, because you’ll only have to deep-clean the kitchen.

  2. My drawer (which i call “my drawer” and everyone else calls “mommy’s drawer”) has almost the same itens that your does (after you cleaned)! Very cool that you found $$

  3. Our drawer is called “the important papers drawer”, and I can really relate to everything you wrote! Thanks for keeping us inspired!

  4. i started official pesach cleaning 2 nights ago. i went through the drawers and closets in my bedroom, throwing out whatever hadn’t been worn in a year. i wiped the shelves and drawers, and vacuumed the closet floor and under the beds. in the end i had a contractor bag’s worth of stuff to throw away. i felt SO liberated–at least 55 gallons lighter!
    if anyone feels overweight (in addition to feeling overwhelmed) i HIGHLY recommend throwing stuff out– it is the fastest weight loss i have ever experienced!

    • love that!

    • One of my Israeli friends calls that – Ripui be-nipui – therapy through throwing things away. It is SO true. Wish I could push myself to get started.

  5. Lol! I have always Pesach cleaned my house, even in the early years, while still going to parents and in-laws. Just my natural inclination to take advantage of all that cleaning opportunity. I found out years later about an added benefit I had never realized in doing that. Talking with friends, they mentioned that they never bothered cleaning if they can just lock the door, sell it all, and be done with it. They were in for a very unpleasant surprise waiting for them that first Pesach they were home and actually needed to clean. They had an eight or ten year accumulation to tackle that was absolutely overwhelming. So besides for cleaning all year to make it somewhat more manageable Pesach time, the yearly Pesach overhaul does make it easier for the next time around, though it may not seem like it! I still have to officially get started, we’re still digging out of Purim nosh, but I can’t wait! It really is liberating to get to all the nitty gritty build-up, clutter and grime wise!

  6. One of my son’s erev shabbos chores is to take things out of the fridge and wipe it down, when you get to pesach cleaning it is much easier.

  7. I love de-cluttering as much as the rest of us BUT….I thought we all
    learned that pesach cleaning is NOT de-cluttering, although it helps sometimes 🙂 In order for people not to get super stressed out about the cleaning lets keep this in mind.
    Thanks for the great article!

    • JewishMom

      that’s a very good point…until rosh hodesh (two weeks before pesach) I do mostly decluttering and organizing. The real chametz searching/cleaning I start on rosh hodesh. but I have a lot more help (i.e. big kids) than a lot of JewishMOMs who might want to skip the decluttering and focus just on cleaning.

  8. Malka Krames

    Very true. But I do find that you generally have to dig through the clutter to get to the chometz, and once you’re doing that, you may as well throw the junk you find holding in your hands, or wading through, into the nearest garbage…..

  9. Pessy Leah

    In my house when cleaning for Pesach the big reward is when someone finds even a single piece of chometz. No matter how big or small, someone, holding the prize such as a single cheerio, pretzel piece or crumb of bread, cries out “Look what I found!” Then everyone high-fives and says something like: “Good job,” “Kudos” or “Yesher Koach!” The mitzvah itself of removing chometz for Pesach is the real prize, the booby prize of achdus and teamwork we feel as a family ain’t bad either. Of course, while we clean for Pesach we may also get the house cleaned and organized and that is a nice side benefit too.

  10. Chana Schboenberg

    Years ago, erev Pesach, I was cleaning my top drawer. I found about 30 quarters hidden amidst all sorts of chazzerai. it was funny as I kept finding them, one by one. I think I treated myself to a latte at Starbucks and the rest dropped into a pushka. So many good things are right in our own backyard..a nice serendipitous find.

  11. Did you ever figure out how/why the money was there? hopefully no unpaid bill or loan…

    • JewishMom

      that was where I used to keep spending money when we first moved here…

  12. Savta Ima

    Great story and lesson. I never looked forward to cleaning my car, especially since so often the N.Y. weather was still so chilly! I devised a plan to motivate the kids to do it: I got a roll of dimes and nickles from the bank and scattered them in all kinds of cracks and crevices and told the kids they could keep what they find. There was always more money found than I planted, of course, and the car? Spic and span! It is actually an idea I borrowed from the legend of how the Turks or Ottomans (not sure anymore) were “motivated” to clean up the trash the Kotel had been buried in at the time. Familiar story anyone?

  13. Savta Ima

    On a more philosophical note, you got me thinking – interesting how many of us, like you, begin Pesach cleaning by going to the item that is the worst cluttered and disorganized. Almost as if we feel it somehow an extension of ourselves, so that in the process of organizing and sorting we are straightening ourselves out internally as well? Yet when it is that time of year when teshuva and resolutions are on our minds, we are always advised not to tackle the heavy-duty work, as it could lead to Yi-ush. Make reasonable small changes, a little at a time. I don’t have a conclusion, just something you got me thinking about!

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