The Preparation

Physical Cleaning

Family cleaning house.  © Nichizhenova Elena | AdobeStock

* Much of this was originally published as "Preparing for Pesach" on


The time leading up to Passover is a VERY hectic time for women. There is much organizing, cooking, and cleaning to be done! It also can be a time of confusion with many different traditions.  It is crucial to sit down as a couple with your spouse (or as a community) to determine what your family's standards will be concerning Passover and keep a journal about your discussion and activities.  Four years ago my husband and I did that very thing.  We found that if we did not, then we would likely forget what was agreed upon.

One of the big issues we discussed is "what exactly is leaven?"  Scripture uses two different words for "leaven": chametz and seor
Seor is a substance which, through fermentation, makes dough rise.  Yeast, baking powder, and baking soda are all leavening agents.  However, there are "kosher for Passover" baking powder and soda available.
Chametz is any product made with "seor" in it.  White, fluffy Wonderbread, donuts, and bagels are "chametz" because they have leaven in them.

Scripture tells us that leaven [seor] should be removed from our homes on the first day (Exodus 12:15) and that it should not be in our homes for seven days (Exodus 12:19).  Nothing leavened [chametz] should be seen among you or within your borders (Exodus 13:7).  We should not eat anything leavened [chametz] (Exodus 12:20).  (See Chag HaMatzot - The Feast of Unleavened Bread for more details.)

Since this article was originally written, some things have changed in our house regarding preparation for Passover.  We now prepare according to Ashkenazic [European Jewish] traditions.  We rekasher the kitchen... oven, sinks, countertops, anything that can be made "kosher for Passover".  What cannot be kashered is cleaned and stored in sealed containers.  We use only "kosher for passover" food items and we have a separate set of dishware and pans, etc., specifically for Passover.

As for the rest of the house, we do a thorough search/cleaning specifically for crumbs, crackers, pretzels, etc., which have infiltrated the various spaces of our habitat.  Dust is not necessarily the target.  However, this article is still an excellent place to start for newcomers.

To prepare our home for Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread [Chag HaMatzot] we have put together the following checklist for our cleaning cycle:

Children Helping Parents With Household Chores In Kitchen. © Monkey Business | AdobeStock

Things to Remember

  1. Planning
      1. Go through the pantry and label all things which are pasadik (contain seor/leaven)
      2. Put red stickers on pasadik items (red means warning: they must be removed) and green stickers on things that are safe.
        Color label dots can be found in the office/school supply area of Walmart or at Office Max/Office Depot.
      3. Make a section in the pantry for non-pasadik items.
      4. Make a list of non-pasadik items to help build your menu for the week of Unleavened Bread.
      Plan the seder:
      1. Who (how many people)?
      2. Where?
      3. Which haggadah? [we recommend ours!]
      4. Menu
        1. The day of Passover (Nisan 14- the seder)
        2. First day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15- a day of rest)
        3. Seventh day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 22- a day of rest)
        4. The week of Unleavened Bread
    3. Make a list/menu for the days leading up to Passover so you can use up all of the pasadik/leavened items.
  2. Making Menus
    Here are some sample menu items that do not contain leaven/seor:
    1. Breakfast
      1. Fruit drinks
      2. Matzah cinnamon toast
      3. Matzah frittata
      4. Apple muffin mix (kosher for Passover)
      5. Veggie & fruit cupcakes  (see this recipe for an example of kosher for Passover cupcakes)
    2. Lunch
      1. Matzah pizza
      2. Grilled chicken salad
      3. Passover style farfel and cheese
      4. Baked potato
    3. Dinner
      1. Shepherd's pie
        green beans
        apple crisp
      2. Roast beef
        potato kugel
        zucchini/ zucchini kugel
      3. Breaded chicken (breaded with matzo meal)
        french fries
        mixed vegetables
      4. Matzo meal & cottage cheese latkes
      5. Stew
        Prince Albert cake
      6. Three veggie kugel
      7. Matzah ball soup
      8. Spinach cheese lasagna
      9. Leftovers
  3. Cleaning
    1. When
      1. Start cleaning the day after Purim (unless, of course, it's Shabbat!)
      2. Reduce homeschool and other activities to allow for time to clean
    2. Where
      1. Tackle one room at a time (see list below)
      2. Closets can be time consuming.  Treat them as a separate "room".
    3. What
      1. Donate or throw away all items that have not been used.
        Honestly think:
        "Will I use this or is it just taking up space?"
        "Does someone I know need this more than I do?"
      2. Use this as an opportunity to organize, containerize, and label.

    Reminder! Once you have cleaned a room/area be sure to tell the rest of your family that food is off limits in that area.
  4. Teaching
    1. Plan Scripture memorization during cleaning time.
      1. Select verses that pertain to the Passover.
      2. Select verses dealing with the leaven/sin that the Lord is trying to deal with in your family.
      3. Make these verses into a poster and place the poster in a high traffic area to keep them front and center.
    2. Have Passover journals ready.  Use this season as a time of personal growth and introspection!
  5. Purchasing
    Get these as soon as possible after Purim
    1. Lining paper for pantry and drawers
    2. Green and red labels for food items
    3. New toothbrushes
    4. New scrubbie for kitchen sink (the old one likely has chametz on it!)
    5. Matzah meal
    6. Matzah cake meal
    7. Chicken broth
    8. Matzah (about 1-2 boxes per person for the week).  Consider buying in bulk with other families.
    9. Mayonnaise
    10. Many larger grocery chains will have stores with special "kosher for Passover" products.
  6. Searching
    1. Consider using the The Master's Table from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) for children's teaching. 
      Also include lamb symbol.
      1. 7 pieces of chametz that are wrapped
      2. Lamb picture
      3. Red marker
      4. Cotton balls and glue
  7. Passover event
    1. Meal- prepare only enough for one night.  Limit leftovers to the absolute minimum.
    2. Decorate with the "plagues" of the Exodus (plastic toy frogs, insects, mice, etc).


Cleaning List


Sort through books
Sort through drawers
Sort through closets
Wash bedding, bed skirts, and curtains
Vacuum mattress, turn over, and vacuum again
Clean ceiling fans
Clean light switches, doors, and door knobs
Vacuum room
Wash windows (remove screens and clean gutter areas also)



Clean out linen closets
Go through cabinets
Clean shower/bathtub
Clean toilet (recaulk base)
Clean counter and mirror
Clean and oil cabinets
Vacuum and mop floors


Living areas

Vacuum upholstered furniture, vacuum underneath cushions, wash cushion covers (if possible)
Move furniture and vacuum underneath
Clean ceiling fans
Wash windows (remove screens and clean gutter areas also)
Clean fireplace
Wash curtains


Dining room

Go through drawers in cabinets and furniture
Clean glass on curio/china cabinets
Clean mirrors
Sweep/mop/vacuum floors
Wash windows (remove screens and clean gutter areas also)



Label all pasadik items
Dust and wash shelves
Use up all leaven items in pantry, freezer, and refrigerator
Sweep/mop/vacuum floors


Kitchen (save for last!)

Clean inside and tops of cabinets and drawers
Oil cabinets
Remove toaster/toaster oven... anything that would have toasted bread
Wash cookie jars (keep empty)
Wash counters
Clean the stove
Wash windows (remove screens and clean gutter areas also)
Wash curtains
Sweep/mop/vacuum floors


If you have any other thoughts or recommendations on household cleaning, please contact us and share!

And now on to...

Spiritual Cleaning

Group therapy in session. © Nichizhenova Elena | AdobeStock

Introspection.  Openness.  Self-awareness. Restoring relationships.

Although it is not explicitly a part of the commandments regarding the Passover, it is essential that we prepare our hearts and our minds to meet with the Most High during the time of His Passover.  Not only should we remove the chametz from our homes but we should remove the chametz from our souls: those things that cause us to feel prideful or puffed up when we should instead be thankful and humble.

Echoing Kerry M. Olitzky's "Preparing Your Heart for Passover: A Guide for Spiritual Readiness", we've drawn from the elements of the Passover Seder to create these recommendations in your journey of spiritual cleansing.


Search for the chametz of the soul

If you aren't already in regular prayer, set aside five minutes when you are least likely to be interrupted and read through one psalm each day.  Using the light of G-d's Word, pray and ask the Lord to reveal areas of unrepentant sin that should be removed before Passover.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)


Purge the chametz you find

Once G-d has revealed the leaven/sin in your life, you much choose to take action on what He has shown you.  Purging deeply rooted behaviors is rarely easy and requires additional time in prayer for the strength and courage to do what must be done: changing your behavior, removing certain physical items from your life, and (most difficult) making peace with others- admitting when you are wrong- and accepting personal responsibility for your actions.  Consider the words of the Messiah:

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.  (Matthew 5:23-24)


Set the table of your heart

Just like we prepare the table for the seder, we should also prepare our hearts with the right elements.  Consider the exhortation of Scripture:

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply
moral excellence, and in your moral excellence,
knowledge, and in your knowledge,
self-control, and in your self-control,
perseverance, and in your perseverance,
godliness, and in your godliness,
brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness,

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8)


During the week leading up to Passover, find one thing to do in your day that corresponds to each of these seven moral pillars and do it:

  • Day one- moral excellence
  • Day two- knowledge
  • Day three- self-control
  • etc


Kadesh- Make your behavior holy

Like the seder begins with kadesh–the practice of setting something aside as holy and separate to G-d–we should, too, should set our feet to the holy paths we are called to follow.  The work of Messiah has changed our identity in Him to one of being holy.  It is the work each of us is called to do to make our doing (our behavior) to one of holiness that matches our identity.  As Scripture reminds us:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NASB emphasis mine)


Where is it written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."?
Those words are found in Exodus 22:31, Leviticus 11:45, and Leviticus 19:2.

Read these chapters for the behaviors associated with G-d's call to holiness.


Urchatz- Spiritual Cleansing

We cleanse our hands during the urchatz section of the seder in preparation taking hold of holy things.  We should also cleanse our spirits as we prepare to take hold of the holiness of the Passover season:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
(2 Corinthians 7:1 NASB)


Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:1-11)


The Bible lays out several things to address in our lives: anger, wrath, malice, slander (including gossip!), and abusive speech.  The Word provides this:

The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
(1 Peter 3:10 NASB quoting Psalm 34:12-13)

Karpas- Being Spiritually Renewed

The karpas of Passover is bright green, symbolic of the physical renewal that occurs in springtime.   In a similar way, we need to be spiritually renewed.  That spiritual renewal, however, is reflected in our physical lives.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Romans 12:1-2 NASB)
Paul exhorts his readers to present their BODIES (their behaviors- their physical actions) as a living and holy sacrifice.  In the days leading up to Passover, find things you already do that could be spiritually elevated to G-d's standards ("so that you may prove what the will of God is").  They don't have to be special things.  In fact, they may be mundane, every-day kinds of things: waking up in the morning (giving thanks that G-d has given you another day of life), what you choose to wear, what (or how much) you choose to eat.
Spiritual renewal will always manifest itself in physical behaviors (pursuing what is good and abstaining from what is not good).

Yachatz- Finding What is Lost

In your walk with G-d, what is the most valuable thing you once had but seem to have lost? 
Time in prayer? 
Service to others?
A mind toward holiness? 
Study of the Word? 
“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:4-10 NASB)
In the month leading up to Passover, seek out that which was lost.  Pursue those things which are valuable in your walk of faith.
For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. (Luke 11:10 NASB)


Maggid- Telling the Story

Everyone has a story.  Believers have a special story: the story of G-d's work of personal redemption in their lives.  We are called to share our stories as witnesses to what G-d has done.
“You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. (Isaiah 43:10 NASB)
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:7-9 NASB)
Tell the story of the Passover during the seder but also take time to share your own personal testimony of the unique and beautiful work G-d has done in you.

Rachtzah- Cleansing Again

In the seder, rachtzah follows the eating of bitter herbs and precedes the actual meal.
If you've made it this far and have done any of the things outlined above, you may be feeling pretty good about yourself and feel like patting yourself on the back for all the things you've done.
Oh, look... there's that pride/leaven thing cropping up again.
Alternately, you might have tried to do some of the things outlined above and utterly failed to accomplish anything.  You're feeling discouraged and dejected.  Self-pity is also a leaven thing cropping up again.  Those in Messiah are overcomers (Romans 8:37) and He grants to those who persevere the privilege to eat of the tree of life (Revelation 2:7)
Whether you have succeeded or failed thus far, choose once again who you will serve: your pride, your ego, your self-pity... or your Creator.
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.  For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.  But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:1-7)


HaMotzi- Accepting the Manna From Heaven

During the Seder, we eat unleavened bread in obedience to G-d's command.  This physical food sustains our physical bodies.  Is there a spiritual equivalent?
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”  So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?  Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’”

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”  Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.  All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:29-40 NASB)


More to come in these sections!

Maror- Blessing Even In the Midst of Bitterness


Korech- Adapting To Our Circumstances


Shulchan Orech- Eating the Food of the Father's Will


Tzafun- Finding Our True Self Hidden in Messiah


Barech- Thanking the Most High


Hallel- Praising Without Ceasing


Nirtzah- Accepting Our Current State


End- Focusing on the Coming Kingdom