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In light of what is written above, it should take about an hour for the dining room, two-three hours to kasher the kitchen, and another hour to clean the rest of the house. In short, about one day!
All the rest of the cleaning jobs are either strictures or just made up. When we work hard, we use up our energy and get mad at the kids. You have to educate the kids — but not to educate them to be aggravated: “I told you not to go into this room anymore! Why did you go in?! Eat on the porch! Eat standing up! Don’t touch!” The whole kitchen looks like it was overturned by vandals; the husband and kids are trembling in fear in some corner and eating; the mother looks at them like a drill sergeant; there’s anger between husband and wife. This is preparation for Pesach?! This is educating the kids? This is definitely not setting a positive example! Our memories of Pesach should not be of a reign of terror.
If you clean together with the kids, that is great, but it must be a happy adventure. First of all, you have to clean what you must – taking half a day – and after that if you want to do other things, you can clean with happiness and joy. Clean, sing, pour water and “you will clean with joy from the wellsprings of salvation” (based on Yeshayahu 12:3).
The Rama rules in the Shulchan Aruch: “Every person should sweep his room before Bedikat Chametz, and check his pockets for chametz, and the pockets or cuffs where you sometimes put chametz also need to be checked” (Orach Chaim 433:11) The Mishnah Berurah (#46) adds: “It is the custom to sweep the whole house on thirteenth of Nisan, so that it will be ready to check immediately after nightfall on the fourteenth.” This custom is enough. Beyond that, “whoever is strict deserves a blessing” — as far as Pesach goes, but not as far as the kids go.
It is understood that I am not forcing my opinion on anyone. I am simply stating my humble opinion with explanations. Whoever accepts the explanations will listen and whoever does not accept them will not. I heard most of the practical suggestions about how to shorten the cleaning from women themselves. It is possible that a woman has a strong desire not to shorten this work, and just the opposite, she finds joy in it. That is okay. Even she will benefit from all of the above, because she will not feel pressured that she might violate the Halachah, but rather she will clean with satisfaction and tranquility.
The essential point is the distinction between chametz, which there is an obligation to clean with all the severity of the Halachah, and dirt – which should obviously be removed, but not necessarily before Pesach. You can spread out the work of removing dirt over the whole year, so that we and our families do not suffer before Pesach. I am not advocating poor housekeeping. We should stand before chametz with awe and fear, but not all dirt is chametz. Do not treat chametz cavalierly, G-d forbid, but at the same time, not everything that is accepted as Pesach cleaning is directed at chametz.
Have a kosher and happy Pesach. We should ensure that we have a HAPPY Pesach and a KOSHER Purim (!). We should arrive at the Seder night neither tired nor aching but happy, so that this night will be a powerful experience for the kids, and a great source of faith in Hashem, the Redeemer of Israel.
“Dirt is not chametz and children are not the Pesach sacrifice!”
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