I’d venture to say that everyone from Martha Stewart to Target to Glamour Magazine all jumped on the annual Spring Cleaning craze thanks to us Jews. For millennia, we’ve been scrub-a-dub-dubbing around this time of year in preparation for Pesach (Passover) to completely rid our homes of every last spec of chametz (Passover unfriendly foods like bread, rice, most carbs essentially).
Still, getting the credit doesn’t convert the chore to a cinch…but, perspective does.
Zoom out: Passover gives us the opportunity to break free from our own personal Mitzrayim, the Hebrew word for Egypt. This insight hides within the word itself: Mitzrayim מצרים comes from the word m‘tzarim meaning, “narrow straits.” (mi = from,” tzar= narrow/tight).
When we left Egypt, we didn’t just leave a country—we left our limitations. Every generation is commanded to recount the story and feel they too left Mitzrayim, and this is possible because we each have a Mitzrayim to escape.
Zoom in: Whether a slave to doubt, fears, insecurity, the scale, your account balance, habits, addictions or other people’s opinions, that reality is not a sentence. The opportunity to break free exists during Pesach. That’s why we clean.
The external cleaning process facilitates an internal one. The cleaning serves as a meditation during which we take a personal inventory, identifying crumbs of old behaviors we feel reluctant to or powerless to change. You won’t find this soul-ular exfoliating scrub at Sephora—lather up!
Without this important cleaning process, the Passover seder could easily devolve into mere ritual! But with a personal purpose identified, the spiritual technology of the seder סדר, which literally translates to “order” can do just that: transform inner-and-outer limitation to order and light.
This awesome opportunity to exit Egypt ourselves is what we’re preparing for as we clean. By doing this work, we set ourselves up to leave our own Mitzrayim, split our own red sea, and boldly walk through it to freedom.