Ask women what is the most stressful time of year and many will tell you “Erev Pesach.” We all have our methods of madness that determine how we handle the situation. There are those who start months in advance and those who wait for the last minute. Some women work randomly, while others work by their carefully plotted schedules and lists. I am one of the latter. I really don’t do well with the carefree, relaxed approach to making Pesach. I’m definitely not a last-minute person and like to feel in control of the situation. Well, as my grandmother used to say, “Man plans, and G-d laughs.” (It sounds better in Yiddish.)
Nissan, 2008. I had diligently worked my way through all the cleaning, culminating in an intense motza’ei Shabbos and Sunday of The Kitchen. Sunday night, we finally finished. What a good feeling! The kitchen was all cleaned, scrubbed, and scoured; ready for the massive line-the-counters/cabinets/etc. project, which would commence the following morning. We settled down for a night of well deserved sleep. Four a.m., the phone rang. It was my husband’s little sister informing us that their mother had passed away.
Now, for a bit of background: We live in Israel; my husband’s family lives in the United States. Oh, and his passport was expired. Ooops. In cases of emergency, it’s not really a problem. One just goes to the embassy or consulate and gets an emergency temporary passport. The problem is that, in order to do so, you must hand in the expired passport, which we no longer had. We had taken advantage of the embassy’s special service, in which you mail in the expired passport, along with payment, proper forms, and documentation, and receive a renewed passport by mail, without ever having to waste the day by appearing in person and waiting in line. Brilliant!
We had mailed my husband’s passport in for renewal and had not yet gotten the new one. I called the embassy and was told: “We cannot process an emergency renewal, because we don’t have the expired document.” Nor could they issue a new passport on the claim that the old one was lost, as it was not lost; it was just in a pile of 3,000 other passports awaiting processing.
My husband started sitting shiva in Israel, in our apartment. For the next two days, I ran back and forth – calling the embassy, consulate, and any community activist who could possibly help us out – and trying to keep the children occupied and quiet and out of the shiva room. And I kept thinking, Pesach is rapidly approaching! Help! Here I am, less than a week before Pesach, and I don’t know what to do! Should I start lining the kitchen and unpacking all the pots, pans, and dishes? Should I shop? Should I cook? But perhaps we’ll be traveling to America and won’t need all that!
Day one: I waited; Day two: I waited; Day two, evening: Panic! We may really be here for Pesach! I had better get moving! I quickly unpacked my Pesach kitchen and even started shopping. The next morning we worked out the passport issue and later that day flew off to America for Pesach, arriving Wednesday evening. Thursday night was bedikas chometz.
Let me tell you, there’s nothing as exciting as coming home after a long, tiring, emotionally exhausting trip half-way around the world with tired, cranky, jet-lagged children, only to discover that you have to “put away Pesach” before you can have anything to eat. Oh, and let’s not go into the expensive Pesachdik products that are no longer worth their weight in gold. Who wants separated palm oil mayonnaise the day after?!
You’d think after that I’d learned my lesson and given up the need to be in control come Pesach. But no, the following year, I made sure to have everything ready for Pesach really early. You see, I was due on Pesach, but have a tendency to give birth early. Better safe than sorry! And besides, we just knew we were going to have a girl on my mother-in-law’s first yahrtzeit.
So much for being ready early. Pesach arrived and baby did not. Next issue of worry: What would happen if I was in the hospital and my husband had to put away Pesach by himself? How would he manage? How would I ever find anything the following year if I didn’t put it away myself in an organized fashion? How would I manage next year without my lists of what I put away, how much I put away, what I bought that year, and how much of it we actually used, etc. After all, I’m the woman of the lists.
Well, motza’ei Yom Tov arrived, and baby still did not. I was able to put everything away as I like. Yes, baby did eventually arrive. And no, we did not name the baby after my mother-in-law. It would have been odd to give a girl’s name to a boy.
As my grandmother, used to say, “Man plans, and G-d laughs.”