Kosher Enough for Me

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I read a couple of my previous posts about Passover in past years and was amazed at how clean and organized I was and how not tired I was to clean the holy hell out of my apartment.

This year, I went Kosher Lite. Taking care of an infant involves not being able to clean your house for a wide variety of reasons:

  1. You’re tired as fuck.
  2. Your entire body aches from handling said infant for hours on end (that is an aching back, hips, legs, arms, neck…)
  3. You’re taking care of an infant and don’t have time for things like living your life, much less cleaning your house.
  4. Cleaning products produce toxic fumes that are dangerous to the baby and to nursing mothers.
  5. Your house gets dirty again within a couple of hours by which time you really couldn’t give a flying fuck.

And so it was that this year, my mom helped me out by cleaning the cupboards and the home appliances I NEVER clean, like the oven and the fridge.

My husband also did a bunch of cleaning. In fact, with his rubber gloves, a bucket in one hand and a sponge in the other, he would have made a perfect model for one of those “female porn” calendars. Such a cutie!

I still tried to do my part – washing the dishes and replacing them with kosher for Passover ones. But then I went back to the couch and resumed nursing my kid. I don’t really do much else. Frankly, I love nursing my kid so much that I prefer doing that more than anything else – writing, reading, watching TV, and definitely more than cleaning my house.

Anyway, the holiday provides no rest. Going back and forth from here to Be’er Sheva is a drag for my kid and her parents who would rather stay home where it’s quiet and comfy and dirty.

Peace, love and I’m at the office, missing my kid

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The Art of Housewifing

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Passover cleaning is now in high gear. While in previous years, I usually helped my mom clean the family house (in Canada) or helped her clean my house (in Israel), I am now all alone in my chores. This year, the Matriarch decided to help my grandmother clean her house. I think deep down, she’s trying to teach me a lesson. Something along the lines of: “So you think working is hard? Try being a housewife.”

My roommate is helping a bit with the fridge and cupboards, but I still feel somewhat overwhelmed. I think it’s because I’ve taken it upon myself to clean everything else, seeing as I can’t trust anybody else with the required thorough Passover kosherizing of the house. I mean I don’t go all crazy, scrubbing the crevices of the floor tiles with a toothbrush, but Passover cleaning still requires special effort and care.

Last night, I got home at 6:00 p.m. and got into the rags I wear when cleaning the house. I’ve used them to clean the windows a couple of days ago, so now, they’re full of dust and bleach stains. I had my CD player spinning the entire time I was cleaning. There is no experience like dancing around with a mop.

I started cleaning my bedroom at around 6:15 and finished at around 11:30, hungry, smelly and tired. I had just enough time to devour some makeshift supper, take a shower and hit the hay by midnight. But the fun part was in between those hours. I started cleaning from the top down. I removed all the books, magazines, notebooks, CDs, DVDs, bongs, candles, toys, stacks of incense, family photos, and a bunch of other random shit from my library and laid it all out on my bed.

Here is the result.

The library was filthy. Layers of dust and hair settled there since last year, and the stuff I set up in the various shelves made no sense. Since I have so much stuff and have a serious problem getting rid of things I know I don’t need, I use every inch of free space in my room as my storage space. Last night, I finally decided it’s ridiculous to keep empty lighters and dead batteries and tossed them out along with other useless shit. Once my library was clean, I replaced important items in a neat and tidy order:

1) A shelf for Stephen King books
2) A shelf for my folders, notebooks and sketch pads
3) A shelf for my DVDs
4) A shelf for religious books and miscellaneous literature
5) And my favorite: a shelf for music-related stuff

The music shelf contains my CD collection, the three Cobain books I have and Marilyn Manson’s autobiography, the Cobain figurine I bought from Amsterdam, my collection of guitar picks inside the porcelain sleeping cat, some music magazines behind the CD box and a picture of the King in the background on the right.

Since it took me nearly three hours to clean the library, I decided to skip cleaning the grrrlVIRUS library which is made of newspapers and can’t be polished anyway.

Next came the arduous task of clearing all portable items from my room so that I can sponja the floor. Just like a magician pulls out more and more things from his hat, I cleared more and more things out of my room. Three guitars, two amps, a huge-ass heater, a chair, two laptops, a record player, a laundry basket, two transformers, a typewriter, my big-ass portfolio, and stacks of garbage – you wouldn’t believe how much shit a single girl’s shelter room can contain. The only things I couldn’t move were the two libraries and my closet. I could move the bed (with enormous effort) but wasn’t up to taking it out of my room. So without further ado, here is what the living room sofa looked like after all my shit was cleared.

I have no idea how I managed to breathe in my room, especially considering the amount of dust and hair I uncovered after all items were out of my room. I started putting aside some stuff to give my parents – books in Hebrew I don’t intend on reading, some body products for my mom, etc. That’s because the stuff I keep in my room is only a small portion of the things I own. I have an extra closet in the common area with a bunch of dishes, pots, pans, jackets, coats and hoodies, plus a whole bunch of other things I don’t even want to look at, hidden in the compartment under the sofa. If moving in with my boyfriend pans out, I’m gonna have to part ways with much of my belongings. His apartment will surely explode if I don’t.

Moving on, I mopped the room, then moved the bed to mop the carpet of hair and dust from under it. I kid you not. Carpet of hair, dude. Check it out.

Then, I cleaned the window, dusted the curtain, and sponja’ed the room, still dancing around to some Michael Jackson tunes. I was quite pleased with the end result, but I know that at the rate that I am shedding, the carpet of hair under the bed will reclaim its throne within two weeks.

Despite my subsequent hunger, smell and fatigue, kosherizing my bedroom by myself for the first time in my life was definitely a learning experience (aside from being a good and cheap substitute for a workout at the gym).

Lesson 1: People say that dust is not chametz. But if you’re gonna clean your house, you might as well go for the full-assed job, not the half-assed one.

Lesson 2: Being a housewife is not a ride in the park.

Lesson 3: No matter how hard I try, I will never understand how my mom can cook like a chef, clean like a pro, knit me a dress, do the laundry better than the machine, do the dishes faster than I can break them, and iron the hell out of my dad’s shirts, and still manage to exercise in the morning. And she does that on a daily basis!

Lesson 4: No matter how hard I try, whatever I do, my mom can do better.

My mom definitely taught me a lesson.

Peace, love and next on the cleaning bill, the common area!

Shelo Asani Gever

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A feminist article in time for Passover (Miriam was Moses’ sister)

Enjoy!

Where is Miriam on the Seder plate?

By Yael Levine

Edah (the advocacy movement for a modern and relevant Orthodox Judaism)

April 11, 2006

YNetNews.com

In recent decades, feminists have looked at the Passover seder and said: Wait a minute! Where are all the women?  

The result has been several new rituals, which continue to gain acceptance and popularity. It turns out, however, that our contemporaries were not the first generation to look for a way to bring to the Seder table the role of women in Israel’s redemption…

After looking at some of the texts used centuries ago, it is clear that what we call the “traditional” Seder indeed has something fishy about it. What’s fishy is a missing person, a missing ritual, and actually, some missing fish.  

For many years, the Seder was a time when Miriam, and the achievements of women, were memorialized. The most basic practice was a piece of fish placed on the Seder plate to commemorate Miriam…

Rabbi Sherira Gaon of 10th-century Babylon noted a custom of putting three foods on the plate… “There are those who put an additional cooked food in memory of Miriam, as it says, “And I sent before you Moses, and Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6, 4).  According to this, Miriam and the role she fulfilled in the redemption from Egypt is represented by the third cooked food on the seder table… This tradition is worthy of renewal in our time, in recognition of the crucial role Miriam and the righteous women in Egypt played in the Exodus…  

Another rabbi cognizant of the importance of women to the Passover story was Rabbi Abraham Grate of Prague. His 1708 Haggadah commentary explained several seder rituals, including the initial hand washing, as referring to Pharaoh’s daughter Bitya and her rescue of Moses from the Nile. Several traditional sources have drawn a connection between the four cups of wine that punctuate the Seder and the four matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah…

And if these proto-feminist commentaries are from relatively forgotten sources, how to explain the fact that a basic interpretation of haroset revolves around women – and almost nobody knows it?  

According to the Talmud, haroset is in memory of the apple tree, and Rashi in his commentary makes reference to a midrash in which, the women would go to their working husbands and would conceive children between the fields. When the women were ready to give birth, they would leave their homes out of fear of the Egyptians. They would lie underneath the apple trees and give birth. Apple haroset, then, is about the fact that the Jewish women did not lose hope in those difficult times.

Rituals, even time-honored rituals like the Seder – can make room for change rooted in traditional sources – in fact, these “changes” are in fact historical corrections bringing the women’s voice back in after it was somehow dropped. As the haggadah itself reminds us, the more one expounds on the Exodus the more one is to be praised. In reviving these authentic and authoritative Seder rituals commemorating the role of our Jewish foremothers, we can more fully tell of the going out from Egypt.