Mishnah Berurah Tiferet
By: Ellen Kamaras
Though the Pesach holiday is drawing near, there is still time to implementstrategies that will repel Pesach Overwhelm.
Here’s one suggestion: Practice mindfulness. One of my favorite definitions of being mindfulis “paying attention on purpose in a non-judgmental manner.” The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessnessor “being on autopilot.”
So many of us are on autopilot when we prepare for Pesach. We often perform our tasks in a grudging manner and place a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves. Let’s turn off autopilot mode now and focus on how we can approach our preparation in a more relaxed and meaningful fashion.
With that in mind, I’m going to ask you to take a deep breath, and gently close your eyes.
With your eyes closed, recall one happy Passover memory. What brought you pride, joy, fun, or fulfillment? Lean into that feeling, and fill yourself with the sensations of that experience.
Next, with that memory present in your mind, consider a WORD or THEME that might inspire those feelings again during this coming Pesach. For example, say your theme is family bonding. Can you use that phrase to stave away exhaustion and remain fully present for your children and family at the Seder?
The primary purpose of the Sederis to educate our children, telling them all about the events that took place in Egypt (Shemot; 13:8“and you shall tell your son”.) The Haggadah encourages our sons and daughters to ask questions during the Seders. If we run ourselves ragged preparing for the Hag,we will not be able to
fulfill the mitzvahof the Haggadah and respond to our children’s questions in a valuable and coherent manner.
How can you get ready for Pesach in a way that allows you to enjoy the Hag rather than experience dread at the work
Of all the Hagim, Pesach appears to bring with it the most labor and toil for women.Isn’t there something a little “off” about that? If Pesach celebrates Bnai Yisrael’semancipation from slavery in Egypt, then why do we women work so hard to prepare for the Hagof Freedom?
My mother, A”H, did not sleep at all the night before Pesach andI remember how hard it was for her to keep her eyes open at the first Seder.As a young mother, I initially followed my mother’s example in preparing for Pesach. Then I started attending shiurimon Pesach halachot and became more mindful about what was really important and what I should focus my energies on.
I began striving for “balance” as I got ready for Pesach. The Rambam’s shviel hazahav– the “golden” or middle path – a concept first taught to me by my father, A”H, has been my compass for most of my adult life. I often hear my father’s voice in my head, reminding me that Jews are encouraged to take the middle path and not be extreme in their actions. Let’s be mindful about the messages we send our children when we are not balanced. If we are nervous and irritable during our Pesach preparations and exhausted during the Sederand Hag, we are sending a negative message about a Hagthat is intended to be joyful.
Below are four of my favorite tools to use in avoiding Pesach Overwhelm:
Delay Spring Cleaning– There is no halachic requirement to do spring cleaning while preparing for Pesach. It only doubles the work! This year, put off spring cleaning. Defer washing those windows, chandeliers, or curtains until May or June. Let go of all those self-limiting beliefs that insist the house has to be sparkling clean for Pesach. The mitzvahis to remove hametz– not dust – from our homes. For your own sanity, focus only on cleaning areas of your home where you know hametzwas brought.
Keep It Simple–As a favorite Rebetzin of mine often says, you don’t need to experiment with new gourmet dishes or buy new cookbooks every year for Pesach. Nor do you have to include mock hametz dishes such as Passover rolls or bagels on your menu. Doesn’t it make more sense to eat matzahin its natural form? Matzahand Pesach go hand-in-hand, after all. Remember: It’s only eight days. Keep it simple!
Enlist Family Support–Avoid falling into martyr or victim mode. Don’t “go it alone.” Let your husband and children have skin in the game and feel proud that they helped you prepare for the Hag. Getting your children to help you with Hagimpreparations is a great way to teach them about ownership and responsibility. It will also help you avoid the feelings of rage and resentment that will inevitably come if you do everything by yourself. It’s totally reasonable to ask your loved ones for help. Asking for support is a strength, not a weakness.
Practice Self-care–During busy phases of our lives, it is a necessity to schedule some kind of self-care – a little bit of Me Timeto recharge our batteries and manage our stress levels. You can’t work on Pesach tasks for hours on end. Get out into nature for a half an hour, walk on a treadmill, treat yourself to a smoothie or check in with a friend.
Wishing you all a Hag Kasher ve’Sameach!
Here is a handy mnemonic
for PESACH that can help you
stay focused and positive
while you prepare for the Hag.
Positivity and Preparation – Make a
plan and focus on the positive aspects
of the Hag. Be Prepared. Make a list
of essential and non-essential tasks.
Devise your menus before you go grocery
shopping, so you don’t buy food items
you won’t need.
Enjoythe Hag – Engage your family and
get empowered. Replace those negative
thoughts and anxieties about Pesach
with positive ones.
Simple– Keep it simple. Refrain from
planning seven-course gourmet meals.
Stay focused on what is meaningful
about the Hag. Do you really need to
bake or cook foods that mimic hametz?
How about sticking to matzah? It’s only
eight days and it’s a mitzvah to eat
matzah during this time.
Attitude– It’s all about attitude and
perception; the way you think influences
every facet of your life. When a person
has a positive attitude, he views
challenges as opportunities rather than
threats. Reframe your mindset, view
the Hag in a positive light AND take
Collaborate and Communicate.
Communicate your Pesach vision to
your family. Get their feedback and work
as a team. Participating in the Pesach
prep will get your family members
motivated and invested in the Hag.
Help– It’s okay to ask for support. Don’t
be a martyr or victim. Enlist the services
of your spouse and children or hire help
if you can afford it.