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Passover Q and A

April 6, 2014 | by Mordechai Schmutter

Yes, Cheerios were invented by anti-Semites who totally don’t care about Pesach.

This week, in honor of the holiday, I am presenting my very first Pesach-advice column. I feel compelled to do this in question-and-answer format, but I’m not sure why.

Q: What is a good time to start cleaning for Pesach?

Q: What is a good time to start cleaning for Pesach?

Q: Yeah, I thought…
A: Go clean!

Q: Fine. Don’t answer my question.
A: As far as the rest of you, there are varying opinions as to when one should start cleaning, based the size of your house, how many people are helping, whether or not you have a day job, and how many little kids are following you around eating pretzels. But most of us end up starting the day after Purim.

Q: Is there any news this year in the world of cleaning?
A: Yes. A museum was recently opened in Britain, called “The Museum of Vacuum Cleaners.” So we figure that going there will provide inspiration for your family, as far as cleaning for Pesach.

“If you don’t help with the cleaning,” you can say to your kids, by way of inspiration, “we’re going to take you to the Museum of Vacuum Cleaners.”

Q: According to my custom, I don’t sell real chometz. But when I clean my kitchen a week before Pesach, I suddenly find hundreds of boxes of cookies and crackers and noodles that I’d bought and then buried in the back of the closet, and then forgot that I’d bought, so I bought some more, and now I have no idea what to do with them. So my question is this: Do you want some of my noodles?
A: We find that the best thing to do is to go through all of your cabinets several weeks before Pesach, and to take out everything that is real chometz, and then put it all into one cabinet.

Q: And this will help?
A: Not really. You’re not going to finish the foods at the back of that cabinet either.

Q: How about all these cookies? If I gain weight before Pesach, what hope do I have on Pesach itself?
A: Cookies are easy to get rid of. Just leave an open package on your kitchen table every night before you go to sleep. When you wake up, the package will be empty, and your kids will feel like they got away with something.

Q: Are there any specific things I should look out for while I’m cleaning?
A: Cheerios. Even if you don’t eat Cheerios, you will still find them all over your house. Cheerios were invented by anti-Semites who totally don’t care about Pesach. They said, “Hey! Let’s make a product that cannot possibly be any more chometzdik, and we’ll make it really tiny, and the perfect shape to hit the ground rolling, and we’ll market it to toddlers!”

Q: What should I do about my children?
A: The best thing to do is to get them to help you clean, and to make sure they understand what you’re doing. Take a lesson from my life: One year, the night before Pesach, we were down to our very last box of Cheerios, and I decided to leave it on the table when I went out to afternoon services so my kids could make it “mysteriously disappear”, like they did with all the cookies. And when I got home, I noticed that half the box was gone. Great job, right? But then the next morning, right before I went out to burn the chometz, my wife happened to open up my 2-year-old son’s riding toy, and she found the other half of the box. Apparently, our son was worried about all of his foods disappearing, so he decided to stash some away, just in case.

Q: My friend told me that she was cleaning her house the other day, and she found a hundred dollars. Am I cleaning the wrong house?
A: Don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of things also. Most likely you will find little plastic pieces that you have no idea which toys they go with, or an embarrassing amount of chocolate wrappers, or the floor of your kids’ room.

Q: Is there any specific place that I should not forget to clean?
A: Under the couch cushions. You’d be surprised at what you can find down there. There was a woman in Spokane who bought a used couch for $27 last year, and she noticed, as soon as she brought it home, that there was a weird noise coming from somewhere in the house. After days of searching for the source of the noise, she got her husband to flip over the couch, and they found that there was a cat living under the cushions. So you definitely want to check underneath your couch cushions, or your kids will be in for a real surprise when they try to hide the afikoman.

Q: I’m making Pesach for the very first time. Which kitchen utensils should I buy?
A: You should probably make a menu first, and then buy the tools that you need to prepare those foods. But whatever you do, don’t forget to buy several peelers, and some containers to put things in after you make them. If you can’t find any that are big enough, I would suggest those sealed-plastic containers that people use to store clothing in the attic. And if you’re hosting the Seder, for goodness sakes don’t forget a corkscrew.

Q: How do I keep my kids from stealing my afikoman?
A: I would say you could offer them a prize not to steal it, but I’m assuming the reason you’re asking in the first place is that you don’t want to buy them a prize. But even if they steal it, you can always take spare matzah from one of the boxes and eat that instead.

Q: I am a third grade boy, and my friends and I take great pride in coming into school and announcing what time our Seders were over. Do you have any advice for making the Seder take even longer?
A: There are a few tactics you can use: 1) Ask your father some really good questions that you’ve looked up beforehand. 2) Hide all the boxes of spare matzah. 3) Hide the corkscrew.

Q: I have no clue how much of anything I bought last year, because I threw out all the receipts during Pesach cleaning.
A: What a lot of people do is they sit down after Pesach every year, and they write themselves a letter:

Dear Future Me;

This year we had a really exciting Pesach. Our Seder went until four in the morning, because first we couldn’t find the corkscrew, and then one of the kids hid all the spare matzah before we even washed. We bought enough matzah to have one matzah per person per meal, but we have tons of extras because we couldn’t actually find the boxes for the first couple of days. We also bought a can of potato starch, because my parents always have it in the house, so I think it’s our custom. But we didn’t use it for anything, because I’m pretty sure that it’s not even a food. Where is it the rest of the year?

And what is that crunching sound coming from under the couch cushions?

Eh; I don’t care. I’ll get to it next Pesach. Future Me can deal with it.

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