The prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbi, the late Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg a few years ago said:
“The pressure of pre-Pesach cleaning has reached unnecessary and overwhelming levels. The housewife often becomes totally nervous, unable to enjoy the simchaof yomtov and unable to perform the mitzvot of the Seder night.”
Going up to the most important event of the year we should be very careful not to overstress everything.
We can understand the person dreading Tisha B’av, but Pesach is to be looked forward to and anticipated with joy. When we look around us we can see certain people doing to much, even women doing things that are unnecessary, such as cleaning out clothes closets, dressers and chests and even basements where there is little, if any, possibility that chometz was used there during the year.
Another rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who is the Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Kohanim and the rabbi of Beit El in Israel, goes even further when he writes in his book, Moadim Lesimcha:
“It shouldn’t take more than a day to clean the entire house, including the kitchen. Anything more than that is a stringency. If we take on an extra workload which we are not capable of dealing with, we deplete our energy and take out our exhaustion on our families.”
The fact of the matter is Pesach is referred to as
“Zeman Chereisenu – the time of our freedom.”
Not our slavery! And down through the ages the attempt was always made to make Pesach observance easier, not harder. The idea of selling our chometz so that we needn’t throw away our leftover chometz, or even to clean the cabinets in which they’re kept; the concept of machine-made matzohs which made unlimited amounts of matzoh available to the masses; the introduction of countless dairy products which were not available until the mid-20thcentury … all of these were meant to make Pesach more festive. And that’s the way it is supposed to be: happy, not buggy!
So let’s do what we can to make Pesach more enjoyable. But at the same time, let’s make sure that the new does not replace the old.
Let’s enjoy the new foods now available that are Kosher L’Pesach, but let’s not play games with the matzoh and maror. Let the Seder have contemporary readings that speak to us individually … but let’s not forget to turn back to that “old” Haggadah to retell that monumental story of the exodus from Egypt that speaks to us collectively.
Let us sing the new songs that will put a smile on our faces … but let us not forget that song,“Tradition, tradition,” and sing songs like “Adir Hu” and all the others that bring a tear to our eyes.
Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg thinks in that way we will be blessed with both a “chag kosher” and “sameach.”