Why My Daughter Flunked Her Test

Why My Daughter Flunked Her Test

My daughter, Moriah, is in 7th grade, which means her grades this year and next will largely determine whether she will be accepted into her high school-of-choice or not.

So I wasn’t so surprised to see Moriah taking her studies more seriously this year. But I WAS surprised a few weeks ago when she told me that she had a big test coming up the following Sunday, so she was skipping her beloved gymnastics class and youth group so she could study. She studied every day, on her own or with her best friend. For hours.

And then, last week, Moriah came home crying. Sobbing! “Eema, you told me that I could succeed at anything I worked hard at…Well, IT’S NOT TRUE!”

“I got a 68 on that test!”

OY. Moriah cried and cried. In fact, I can’t remember ever seeing her quite that stormy and upset.

And then, yesterday, Moriah came home from school smiling from ear to ear. “Eema, guess what grades I got on those 2 tests I just took…”

“Yes! And on the other test I got a 90!”
“Woooow! So what did you do differently this time around?”

The words rushed out of Moriah’s mouth with excitement, “This time, the night before the tests, after I got ready for bed, I lay down and read over the material that would be on the test. And then I put the book under my pillow, and I dreamed about what I had read. And that’s what I’m going to do from now on, it works!”

This morning, I was thinking about Moriah’s test-taking experience and I realized it reminded me of preparing for Pesach.

I remembered how one year I thought I had cleaned the entire house, pushing myself week after week… And a few hours before the seder my husband found a loaf of bread in our backyard.

Another year, the same story, pushing myself week after week, and the night before the seder, my husband found a bag of chocolate wafers that had gotten pushed way back above the kitchen cabinets.

This year, I’ve been more relaxed about cleaning for Passover. And I assume this year my husband will also find a soup nut or a bisli or a package of spaghetti while searching for leaven with a candle during Bedikat Chametz.

But I’ve come to believe that this is a job that is too big for a human being to do 100%.

Yesterday, a JewishMOM reader sent me this video, an exquisite version of Kol Chamira sung by JewishMOM and singer Kaley Halperin.

The words of the Kol Chamira prayer are:

כל חמירא וחמיעא דאיכא ברשותי, דלא חזיתיה ודלא בערתיה, לבטיל ולהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא.

All ĥametz and leaven in my possession that I have not seen and have not eliminated shall be nullified and become ownerless, like the dust of the earth.

Before I watched this video, it hadn’t occurred to me that this prayer, recited a few hours before Passover starts, is particularly beautiful or moving.

But after seeing this prayer sung with clear emotion by a fellow Jewish mother who has also cleaned her home year after year, I see why this prayer is so powerful. A lesson for Passover cleaning and life itself.

Kaley Halperin explains in the video’s description: “Right before Pesach, after we cleaned, and searched, and worked hard, and tried to get rid of every crumb…Comes this prayer that says, ‘That’s it! Enough! Now’s it’s time to let go…’


  1. Thank you, Chana, for this post! I needed this, especially for the day of bedikat chametz! I’ll need to re-read it a few times! I alwayz got so irritated by the way my husband checked & checked, inspected, really. I always felt that I was under scrutiny, me & my cleaning ability, my (non) attention to detay. &, oh, the feeling of inadequacy if he found something. This year i’ll be repeating to myself that I did my best, v’zehu! The cleaning was in preparation for bedikat chametz, to make it easier for my husband to check. Happy fun cleaning! & chag kasher v’same’ach!

  2. Elana Mira Mizrahi

    Beautiful Jenny!

  3. Stunning!!!

  4. I was waiting to hear that you slept with haggadah under your pillow! Happy cleaning! Chag Kosher v’sameach!

  5. Somehow I missed this when you posted it 4 years ago. It’s a really important message, please post it again before next Pesach!
    I always felt a sense of relief when we said כל חמירא, knowing that any chametz found just didn’t count. I had a mental picture of chametz in grayscale, with everyting kosher for Pesach in living color. I think I just accepted that chametz always exists, but sometimes you just have to let it go and ignore it. Which, of course, is a life lesson. Especially for us mothers who work so hard to help our kids have good lives. Next erev Pesach, though, I will try to focus on the words דלא ברשותי not in my possession, to release control (and stress!) where possible.

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