There I was, proudly washing my Jerusalem-apartment floor. I had followed all the rules carefully:

  • Drive up north to the Kinneret and take half of it home.
  • Add lots of bleach to the water.
  • Pour it all over the floor.
  • Squeegee it into a hole in the bathroom floor.
  • Wipe everything over with a dry rag.

Now you’ve got a clean floor!

On this particular Friday afternoon, I had gotten to the part when you pour the Kinneret all over your floor. With my sponga stick, I was swooshing the water to and fro, watching the water pick up the dirt and day dreaming about my mother’s cleaning lady.

I had Galgalatz playing on my computer and I was clearly in the sponga zone.

Until suddenly I was shocked out of my reverie by a loud crack and the feeling of my stick giving way. I looked down to see the stick broken into two useless pieces.

I stood rigidly in the middle of the floor, for fear of slipping, wondering, “So, what happens now? May I please see the script?”

Finally I decided to head over to the hardware store to try to buy a new sponga stick.

I walked along in my bleach-stained cleaning clothes and flip-flops and was not at all surprised when I found it closed because it was so close to Shabbat.

And so, I set out on Plan B: makolet-hopping.

But, alas, none of the makolets sold sponga sticks.

Amused and distraught, and with no clear Plan C, I started heading home.

I started thinking how this was all clearly a sign that I really shouldn’t ever do sponga. I almost never clean my floor and it was obvious that that’s the way it should stay.

Or, the other side of me thought, maybe it’s actually the opposite. Maybe sponga sticks are like bones. If you don’t put enough weight on them on a regular basis, they become brittle and break.

With all this deep philosophy swirling threw my head like dirty sponga water, I almost missed my last chance at salvation.

I walked into one final makolet and with a prayer in my heart, I asked the owner if he sells sponga sticks.

“Why, do you need for Shabbat?” he asked me.

As I thought how nice it was that he assumed I clean my floor every week, I explained that mine had broken in the middle of the job.

And then he did something that hadn’t crossed my mind. He pulled out his own sponga stick, handed it to me and said, “Here you go. You can give it back on Sunday.”

I thanked him like crazy and left.

And that is how it ended. Me half-skipping home, thinking how I’d stood before the great unknown with wet floors two hours before Shabbat, and then, thanks to the kind makolet owner, my floor would be clean and, most importantly, I would have a story to tell.

The glorious story of sponga.