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Home > Holidays > Passover's Guide to Passover
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Cleaning for Passover
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Passover: Cleaning for Passover

Passover may be known foremost for the seder, but the preparations required for the holiday are equally significant. Many people begin cleaning for Passover a month in advance. For children who hate to clean their rooms, Passover is their worst nightmare.

The source of this madness is right in the Torah, beginning with Exodus 12:15, when the Torah says no unleavened bread-chametz-should be eaten during Passover. Four verses later, it adds that no chametz should be found in the home.

But chametz is more than bread; it includes any grains that rise when combined with water. That box of crackers on the counter? Chametz. Cookies the kids kicked under the sofa? That's chametz, too. Leftover couscous in the fridge? You guessed it: chametz.

In preparation for Passover, people clean all the rooms they may have brought chametz into, giving the most attention to the kitchen. The countertops and cabinets are lined. The tables are covered. The oven is scrubbed and scrubbed again. A separate set of dishes, silverware, and pots and pans are used.

Because people may have chametz they cannot use up before Passover, the practice of selling it was instituted. People put away their extra food so that they won't see it on Passover, and rabbis sell it collectively to a non-Jew for a nominal amount (you can't really get that much for 2,300 boxes of Tam-Tams, you know); after Passover they buy it back. This must be done because the Torah prohibits owning chametz in addition to eating it.

On the night of the 14th of Nisan, families conduct the bedikat chametz, searching their house by candlelight; ten small pieces of bread are put out in order to ensure that some will be found. The next morning that chametz is burned. Heads of households recite a short disclaimer that relinquishes their ownership of anything they may have overlooked.

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