Although this question certainly needs to be discussed with a personal Rav I would like to hear how others approach the matter.

My wife and I come from very different backgrounds and Pesach often accentuates our difference in approach to cleaning the house for Pesach. I am very much a man of compromise but I see that my wife gets over stressed and burdened by the extra restrictions that she places on herself at this time of year - in particular with regards to clearing the house for chametz.

There are many things that are done (which we of course do together) which are far beyond the letter of the law (at times not necessary) and causes (I feel) preparations for a glorious week of chag to be dampened in spirit because of this.

Having said this, her enthusiasm for getting things right are good, however, I fear this stems from 'paranoia' rather than getting into the spirit of the chag. I, of course want to enhance our 'Jewish' experiences and wouldn't want to retract from her avodah in this way. I don't feel that things should be overburdensome but I do understand that it is hard to change the ways in which we were brought up.

If anyone has advice that would be much appreciated.

  • What is your question? The only thing I think you might be asking is Primarily Opinion Based anyway. – Double AA Apr 13 '14 at 2:14

Based on 45+ years of marriage, I can assure you that whatever you say to your wife (other than the two most important words in a marriage) would probably not help. Rabbi Moshe Heinemann in his pre-pesach shiurim will emphasize that you do not have to go overboard (and the women do not accept that). Rabbi Avigdor Miller in his tapes on the subject tries to explain that it is counterproductive to be paranoid about chametz and even more counterproductive for you to 'tell your wife what to do'. The then Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel once told us about a different matter (about 20 years ago) that when he told his about to be wed students that prewedding pictures are mutar, they would not listen to him.

If your wife has a rav that she respects and listens to, you might try to get him to get her to ease off. However, this might just cause her to go to someone else for advice and would just make it more difficult for her to accept advice in other matters.

One cannot change a person's character and the husband is often the last person a wife will listen to regarding the difference between "Spring Cleaning" and "Getting Rid of Chametz". Of course some women consider the prePasach time the best time for Spring Cleaning in any event.

The only way I can suggest is to find the appropriate Avigdor Miller tape to play for her (without letting her think you are criticizing her) and remember what he says are the two most important words in a marriage.

Oh yes, those two words? Yes Dear

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  • Are those are the most important words in marriage for the wife too? – Double AA Apr 13 '14 at 15:02
  • @DoubleAA Rabbi Miller says that each one should regard this phrase as the two most important words to say but not to hear from the other. Thus each man should concentrate on treating his wife like queen but not 'require' that she treat him like a king. Each women should treat her husband like a king and not 'require' that she be treated like a queen. If they each concentrate on their responsibilities and not their 'rights', they will wind up creating shalom bayis. – sabbahillel Apr 13 '14 at 16:23
  • Oh, I thought the two most important words were "I'm sorry." – Mike Supports Monica Apr 14 '14 at 1:04
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    Proper use of the other two prevents the necessity of those two. – sabbahillel Apr 14 '14 at 1:07

Aish.com’s article on Passover Cleaning Made Easy says in part:

I'd like to not only make Passover cleaning a little easier, but above all to change the attitude once and for all to stop being frightened. Passover is not a monster. It's the most beautiful time of the year.

One crumb of edible chametz cannot remain in your house and you've got to destroy it. Also, anything that contains ethyl alcohol, since it can be distilled, is called "edible chametz" and must also be disposed of.

We are also looking for something that is more than a kezayit -- regardless of whether you would consider it food or not. If it's less than a kezayit of non-edible chametz, you don't have to get rid of it because you consider it dirt. Also, if it's something even a dog wouldn't eat, then even more than a kezayit is not problematic.

When you're cleaning for Passover, all the goodies in your freezer and cabinets -- bread, cakes, crackers -- all of that is chametz. You have to get rid of it one way or another. But aside from that, you probably won't find much edible chametz in your house. Bedikat chametz, therefore, is not so difficult. In the bedrooms, for example, you don't have to sit with a pin scraping the corners!

Even further: Let's say you have gook stuck to your chametz dishes. If the stuff is non-edible, then you can forget about it -- as long as it does not total a kezayit of gook. But there is no need sit there and scrub the dishes with steel wool. Just make sure there is no edible stuff on them, and no kezayit of gook -- and put them away.

One important point: If you feel like going beyond the limit and scraping the walls and ceiling, go right ahead. Of course it's not required, but the halacha is actually stated in Shulchan Aruch that no one is allowed to laugh at you. In the words of the rabbis, Yisrael kedoshim heim -- "Jews are holy" when they go beyond the letter of the law.

Be careful, however, not to go so far that you develop an antagonistic attitude toward Passover. If all this extra, non-required cleaning is going to make you dread the holiday, then forget about it. And certainly you should not clean so much that you're exhausted for the Passover Seder. Part of being "holy" is appreciating the holiday, too!

This rational approach is for your wife with the paragraph in bold especially for you.

Extracts from the Chabad article, “An Easy Life” are for both of you:

Weeks of intense labor have brought us to this moment. There is so much to do, so little time, and failure to finish not an option.

And this is when the thought first occurs to me. What an incredibly easy religion. I don't say it aloud; to do so would elicit hostile stares from all the exhausted people in the room. They're all thinking, "I can't do this anymore, this is insane, remind me next year to move to Antarctica." My body feels close to collapse as well, but my mind is thinking, Man, He is one smart G-d.

The forty minutes are drawing to a close and we gather around the fire to see the final stage in the banishment of chametz from our homes, and to recite the prayer banishing the chametz from our hearts. The brief lull brings the realization of this as the apex of our labors, and there is a light in the eyes of my family that isn't just a reflection of the dying flames.

And then there's Judaism, unchanged and unchanging for over three millennia, that teaches theory and philosophy and inner journeys, but demands action. Passover represents the freeing of the soul from the things which clog it up and obstruct its brightness. How do we do that? By meditating about it? Sure, that too. But mostly with back-breaking, hand-chaffing labor. The physical kind.

How does this replace the spiritual journey? It doesn't. It takes the spiritual journey out of heaven, and makes it real by bringing it down to this world. I can sit and contemplate for hours, but when all is said and done (or rather, thought) I know I remain, essentially, unchanged. But then I take a physical broom and chase the chametz from my room, use my physical hands to clean, my physical body to do. And day by day, I feel the chametz being chased from my heart.

If it is not impertinent to say, I think your relationship with your wife is all-important.

I wish that we may all together free our souls from the things which clog them up!

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