Welcome to the Adas Israel, Mason City, Iowa. As part of our efforts to educate and engage our community we offer some thoughts on our faith and culture. Thank you for visiting.
For as long as there have been advertisements there have been ads about "Spring House Cleaning". Many have just assumed it was/is part of the natural order of life. The long winter is over and it's time to dig in and get the house clean. Hold on there Mr. Clean...there is more to this.
For centuries, In Jewish homes all over the world, we follow the commandment that our homes must be free of hametz or food made with any sort of leaven products. In Exodus 12:19 we find,"Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; ad whever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation, whether he be a stranger or a citizen of the land."
Pretty stright forward stuff...
So at least a week before Passover many Jewish homes are a flurry of activity. Every cupboard is cleaned, the stove and oven are cleaned and kashered for Passover use. Eating utensils are often changed out for different dishes and pots and pans that have never come into contact with hametz. It's that busy.
Being Clean Can Mean...Trouble
While it sounds like a great idea...not all peoples found it necessary to keep clean. In 1347 CE the great Bubonic Plague made it's way to Europe. People died by the thousands each day of the three year Black Death. While Jews also died from the plague their attention to family purity, regular hygiene, the quick burial of the dead and living seperate from the non-Jewish community reduced their mortality numbers. That was not lost on others.
During the plague thousands of Jews were murdered for a host of reasons many of them tied to the illness that raveged Europe.
Next week, following all the "spring house cleaning" there is one final ritual, Bedikat Hametz or the search for hametz. On the night before Passover a careful and intensive search of the home is carried out. Since it's unlikely that crumbs or other hametz will be found a crumb or two are placed in obvious places so when the children find it...they can claim to have saved the family from having hametz in the house. (Sounds like an Easter Egg Hunt?) The "found" hametz is then placed in a separate bag and burned the next morning.
It's quite a production... Welcome to Spring...er...Passover!
Here is wishing you and your family the very best for Pesach and beyond. A reminder of our annual community Passover Seder this coming Monday Evening. Contact us by e-mail to check availability. We have limited seating.