Friday, March 19, 2010

Misery May Love Company But Kindly Leave Me Off Your Guest List!

I was at a wedding this week (actually TWO weddings, so don't think you necessarily know which one I'm talking about) and I experienced something quite disturbing.

The table conversation was not the typical "wedding variety". You see, after those seated had finished discussing whose shiur their particular sons were in at The Mir (an exhaustive topic to be sure considering it is always followed up with proud assurances that said Maggid Shiur would indeed be able to pick their tachshit out in a lineup), conversations turned to loftier matters.

Keep in mind, this was a WEDDING. People were supposed to be b'SIMCHA - not grumbling. Must I be subjected to detailed descriptions of buckets containing soapy water in the basement. Do I need to be informed in unappetizing detail where and underneath what and in what condition actual, real, "honest to G-d" chametz was found?


I am busy cleaning too. Cleaning is hard. It requires mesiras nefesh. In addition to that, it requires a careful balancing act in order to be able to complete the task at hand and still be able to look upon Yom Tov as Yom Tov (which is a required mitzvah). Why must people add insult to injury by harping on their "pain"? Do I tell you what my cuticles look like? Do I feel the need to describe my puzzlement at what that strange sticky concoction under the refrigerator could be comprised of? Can we not spend ONE - just ONE quiet evening out (OK... not quiet... but I've ranted about bands before....{and then eaten crow when I hired the exact same band for a simcha of my own...with instructions to be moderate though...}) and ENJOY ourselves?

Or have some people forgotten that martyring themselves is neither a competitive sport, nor a form of relaxation...?


Gavi said...

Why do people never realize that Pesach cleaning is NOT spring cleaning?

The pre-Pesach madness time is the WORST time to embark on a spring cleaning frenzy...

G6 said...

Gavi -
Well put as always.
It is not necessary to clean places that never see food.
And if you choose to do so because you are already in the mood - DON'T BEMOAN IT!
It's time to become more machmir on the fact that at seder night, we are mandated to feel like royalty!

EJB said...

Maschil bignus umsayem bishevach.
The gnus is "avadim hayinu" (with prepesach cleaning). The shevach is enjoying the fact that it will be almost a year until you are next subjugated to such intense labor.

rickismom said...

If I can't clean without gripping, so some of the cleaning has to go. Pesach cleaning is a mitzvah, and I, for one, am glad I have the push needed to tackle the job.....

Staying Afloat said...

Some people really do have to check absolutely everywhere for chametz. (We've got ourselves a halachik rodent this year, who really carries food wherever, whenever). But if you don't find it, you move on and leave the dust.

BTW, my husband is very careful about which years he stays up all night on Shavuos. He says, "Learning all night is a minhag, and simchas yom tov is a mitzvah d'oraisah. You can't do the first if it's m'akev the second."

EJB said...

SA -
For some people, simchas yom tov IS staying up all night.

Staying Afloat said...

EJB, very true. That's why I said he's careful about what years he does it. He loves it, but if he knows he'll be too exhausted to function with the family during the rest of the chag,including the meals, he'll think twice.

G6 said...

Staying Afloat -
You bring up a very interesting point.
My husband sings in the shul choir and he is always mindful of not staying up past the time at which he will be able to properly fulfill his duties in shul the next morning.

FBB said...

I do not Spring clean (and if I do, I keep quiet about it), and I don't kvetch about the cleaning.

That said, I think two issues are at play:

1) If a tree falls in the forest..... So if a woman kills herself to tackle a particularly nasty job (not spring cleaning, but with little kids there really can be bad chometz spots), she may just need some validation, so she announces it in the form of griping.

2)Some women get really nervous around this time and bring up Pesach cleaning as way to find out what others are doing, or even here from some women that it's OK not to vacuum the drapes.

There's a lot of peer pressure for some people when it comes to this.

ProfK said...

I understand what you're saying G6 but is talking about cleaning at the table an less being m'sameach choson v'kallah then the other two usual topics that always come up when a group of parents are sitting down together--the sad case of shidduch making and the cost of yeshiva tuition?

G6 said...

You are right ProfK, but two wrongs definitely do not make a right.

Let's all, as a group, find some *positive* things to discuss!

G6 said...


You bring up some very valid points but I will posit that there is a "time and place" for everything.

Anonymous said...

I will posit that this topic (and the Mir maggid shiut topic too) would not come up nearly as much at a mixed seating wedding. Just saying.

G6 said...

Anonymous -
I agree with you 100%

Mystery Woman said...

I think it's not as much griping as boasting. It's kinda like the breast feeding topic. Women love to talk about how long they nursed their babies. It's an ego thing. "I nursed my baby for 6 long did you? Hmmm?" Similar to..."I already washed all the ceilings...What are YOU up to>"

G6 said...

Mystery Woman -
For some that IS the (equally tiresome) motivation.
I can add to your list the "toilet trainers": "My 16 month old has been toilet trained forever...."

ProfK said...

Or we could be just a tad l'chav zechus and say that the women are taking an opportunity to kvetch with others (women in the same position) who might better understand the need to let off a bit of steam now so that they can enjoy the fruits of their labor later when it's actually Pesach. Not so much misery loving company as much as being sure of receiving understanding from people in the same boat.

At a mixed seating table of course you won't get this--half the people at the table would be unable to relate to the topic. And then there would be the ubiquitous statement so often uttered by a male voice "You women do this to yourselves." What, they think we don't know this? But there is a difference when another woman says this to you--sort of a shared affection of the sisterhood--and when a man says this.

G6 said...

ProfK -

This is not a matter of being Dan L'kaf Zechus.

The issue is that it is not necessarily healthy to get as mired in the cycle of complaints as many women do. This behavior ceases to be therapeutic at a certain point - something which the men seem to recognize easier from their vantage point. You are *right* that men cannot say it, but WOMEN CAN (shared affection and sisterhood and all...), which is why I am!

As the famous quote goes, "If you want to be happy, be happy".

cuzzin buzzin said...

never mind all that, I find it so boring to always talk about the same mundane household topics. when I broach the subject of the (then) upcoming health care bill, or other timely issues in the news, even local news, the conversation falls flat. and I seem like the odd one out. yawn

BLD said...

BLD is tired of Pesach cleaning and would like some new Pesach topics.

ProfK said...

Been thinking about this one for a bit, so, what topics of conversation, given that dinner is going to last a few hours, would be b'simchadik? Oh, and which would be likely to be discussable by all at the table?

Anonymous said...

Leave the subject of dating at the door, particularly if you have single people at the table! We hear about dating ALL the time. Whether it is friends commiserating, people harping about our dating lives, or our own joy or anxiety, it is a subject that gets old and it doesn't generally make us feel b'sameach. Unless we bring it up, we don't generally want to have it the topic of family conversation, it just gets depressing.
Talk about books that people have enjoyed recently, talk about pesach--there are a million divrei torah that are interesting and thought provoking and can encourage everyone at the table to participate, talk about how delicious the food is and acknowledge and verbally express appreciation of the work that went into all of the preparation, tell funny stories about pesachs past. There are so many things to talk about and frankly, when the table is really big, people aren't all going to be able to be in one conversation anyway, so topics can be chosen based on the smaller subgroup's interests.

R' Levi Yosef Breuer Z"tl said...

I just came across the following essay entitled "Seder Night" by Rav Breuer:

"An evening full of restless activity precedes the Seder Night. We owe this restlessness to the mothers of our people. For they taught us how one removes Chometz from the Jewish houses, how one erases Chometz from the Jewish hearts..."

By the way, this has recently been released:


G6 said...

Our copies of this wonderful book arrived in the mail Friday.
Thanks for pointing out this timely article :D