This week Jews all over the world are cleaning up their homes in preparation for the festival of Passover (Pessach in Hebrew).
On Passover one cannot own, in their home, an edible amount of leavened bread.
What does this consist of?
Take one of the five following grains, wheat, barley, spelt oats and rye, and let it sit in moisture for longer than 18 minutes. This includes any derivative of any of these products, so no beer either.
So if you think about it, what can you eat? Well, if you mix up a dough and before 18 minutes have passed you bake it in such a way that it does not rise, you get matza, a cardboard-like wafer with little taste. But is pretty good with butter.
Because one cannot own any leavened bread over Passover, for the month before Passover, religious Jews comb through their house for any remnants of leavened bread, which is a good opportunity for regular spring cleaning. I think it’s a good chance to think about reducing, reusing and recycling…
One can find a beautiful prayer in the Tractate Berakhot (17a) which explains that man sins as a result of the leavening of his heart. When a man’s heart becomes to full of hot air, that’s when we sin. One spiritual explanation of this Passover ritual is that for one week we abstain for eating leavened bread in order to contemplate the leavening of our hearts that takes place throughout the year.
In this vane, I personally find that cleaning anything is a good way to not only put my home in order, but also to put my thoughts in order. I find myself cleaning up when I need to figure out a difficult problem (my wife LOVES that).
In lieu of that thought, I would like to suggest that while you are cleaning your house this year for Passover, take stock of your home, and life. See how you can include ways to heal our planet in your day-to-day life, specifically, how you can implement the three ‘R’s of environmental awareness: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
When cleaning out your closet (figuratively) it is a good time to look through your house and see where you can do a little better, and when have you been shoveling junk under the carpet.
Is there any way you can reuse things that you normally would throw out?
Can you cut costs anywhere by using less?
Do you know where your nearest recycling bins are?