Passover is coming up soon. One of the most recognizable factors of Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread is the removal of all leavening from our homes. Leavening is a symbol of sin. The diligent act of getting rid of leavening out of our homes is how we should be when getting leavening out of our lives and our hearts.
It might seem like a lot of work to get rid of all the leavening from our homes, but if you break up the process into steps it won’t be so overwhelming!
Identifying leavened foods
Leavening or Chametz in Hebrew means “to be sour or to be leavened”. Chametz refers to the process of souring or leavening bread (Bible Hub “Chametz“).
The Hebrews would make sourdough bread, this process sours, and leavenings the flour to create the bread. During our preparation for Passover God commands us to remove all leavening from our homes.
Shemoth (Exodus) 12: 15: “Seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread, and from the first day ye shall utterly remove leaven from your houses, whoever shall eat leaven, that soul shall be utterly destroyed from Israel, from the first day until the seventh day.”
19: “Seven days leaven shall not be found in your houses: whosoever shall eat anything leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, both among the occupiers of the land and the original inhabitants. 20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened, but in every habitation of your ye shall eat unleavened bread.”
We see from these scriptures the importance of removing leavening from our houses. We are not supposed to eat anything that is leavened or to have it in our homes at all during this time. Instead, we are to eat unleavened bread every day of the festival.
Now, what are the chametz items in our homes that we need to use up before the festival? My family and I get rid of all the items in our home that contain baking soda/ sodium bicarbonate, baking powder, and yeast – both dry active yeast and sourdough starter. We get rid of both the leaveners and the leavened food items, in accordance with the Torah.
Shemoth ( Exodus ) 13: 6 – 10 :
“ 6 Six days ye shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day is a feast to the Lord. 7 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; nothing leavened shall be seen with thee, neither shalt thou have leaven in thy borders.”
“ 8 And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying, therefore the Lord dealt thus with me, as I was going out of Egypt. 9 And it shall be to thee a sign upon thy hand and a memorial before thine eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in thy mouth, for with a strong hand the Lord God brought thee out of Egypt. 10 And preserve ye this law according to the times of the seasons, from year to year.”
Of course, there are the obvious foods that have these leaveners in them – bread, cookies, pretzels, etc, but there are also foods that have “hidden leaveners”. Leaveners are commonly used as flavorings, so I always check bags of chips, condiments, salad dressings, and any packaged foods for leaveners in the ingredients.
Once we have identified the foods that have leavening in them, we start to try to use them up and not buy more before Passover. We usually start this process 2 – 3 weeks before Passover so that we don’t end up wasting food.
Cleaning for Passover
Once we have identified the leaveners and have started to use up leavened foods, next it is time to clean the house. This is the process of removing the leavening from our living areas. I don’t believe God wants us to try to make every nook and cranny of our homes spotless, but we should strive to do a good job. I believe we should remember during this process that the cleaning portion should remind us to get rid of the sin in our lives.
Now to cleaning!
Over the last few years, I started cleaning the areas that were least likely to have Chametz/ leavening and worked my way to the most used areas. Ideally, you want to start your Passover cleaning a couple of weeks beforehand. By starting early, you can slowly clean each area of your house and not be stressed out in the process.
There are four main areas that you can start working on – the bathrooms, bedrooms/ closets, living room/ family room, and the kitchen. There may be other areas to consider as well.
Personally, I wouldn’t spend too much time cleaning the bathrooms. Most likely there won’t be much Chametz in these areas. But it’s nice to have a clean bathroom and to have this area out of the way!
Bedrooms and closets
Next are the bedrooms and closets, these areas will most likely have a lot of crumbs. I usually move the beds, dressers, desks, bookshelves, etc, around in order to vacuum behind everything. I also like to wipe down any surfaces as well. Vacuuming the floors where your shoes are kept is also a good idea.
Living and Family rooms
The living and family rooms are very used rooms in our house. We try to wait until a week before Passover to clean these areas. Don’t forget to move your couch, you will be surprised how many crumbs are under your couch!
The kitchen might be the most time-consuming part of Passover cleaning. I like to split it up in few days increments.
- On the first day, I will go through all the cabinets, the refrigerator, and the freezer to see what remaining Chametz products we still have left to use. Then we either throw away what’s left or make plans to use it up soon.
- The next day I will clean out all the cabinets and drawers.
- And on the last day, I will clean out the refrigerator and freezer.
One area you might not think about cleaning is your car. My family and I have been keeping Passover for over 5 years and we didn’t even think about cleaning the car until last year! The Lord knows we are all a work in progress!
You might have old snacks you forgot about in your seat pockets or cookie crumbs under the floor mats. Just give your car a good vacuum and you’re good to go!
The oven and the drawer beneath the oven are other places we have overlooked in the past.
We are commanded to remove Chametz from our homes in preparation for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Cleaning for Passover doesn’t mean we have to drive ourselves crazy in order to accomplish this goal. Some might jump through hoops to make sure their homes are spotless. However, I believe this starts to breed resentment and frustration which can cause us to forget the bigger picture and cause us to lose sight of the joy of this time. We can never fully remove the sin in our lives, likewise, we can never fully remove the chametz from our homes. We should try our best and believe that God will help us with the rest. Passover prep is fun and it leads up to a wonderful time. We should keep it that way and not allow the cleaning part to ruin the blessing in this holiday season. Shalom!