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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pesach and Shalom Bayit:
Maybe My Readers Have Some Solutions

In the previous post, a reader posting under the name "Pesach Stinks" writes of a scenario that I believe is rather common:
What do you do when your dear spouse insists on every chumra in thebook for Pesach? Only chalav yisrael cheese/milk since regular OU-Pisn't good enough on Pesach. Other food must be KAJ or CRC as a second choice. I almost die when we HAVE to buy brand X for $2.99 whennational brand Y with an OU-P is on sale for $1.49. Or the fact that we must buy Glicks Dishwashing soap for $1.69 instead of a brnad new bottle of Joy on sale for $.99 plus a coupon.HELP!!! I've been fighting this battle for fifteen years. Pesach is areally bad time for shalom bayis!

Another reader thought this question was worthy of a follow up wrote:

What if one person in the family is concerned about the budget but the other has gotten talked into keeping expensive chumras? (We resolved this when the other spouse finally got more realistic about expenses, otherwise would still be in that exact situation.)

Since I believe that Pesach can make shalom bayit issues rear their heads, I thought I'd put the question out to my own readers to share their own experiences and (hopefully successful) resolutions.

10 comments:

ProfK said...

Maybe not the advice you were hoping for SL, but I think that in both examples you give the problem has nothing to do with finance and a whole lot to do with a problem in marital communication, knowing how to compromise and religious differences. Even if we were to address only the financial aspects, there is a lot of information missing that would be needed before any advice could be of practical use.

In the first case, 15 years of sholom bayis problems over what products are used for Pesach should have long ago been taken to a marriage professional or to their Rav. If it's gone on this long then it's not just about Pesach anymore. What else would we need to know? Is it only Pesach when the husband insists on cholov Yisroel? Do they eat OU products the rest of the year? What minhagim are there in the husband's house--does his father do this as well? Does the husband have a personal Rav or Rosh Yeshiva who has told him that this is what he should be doing? Does the wife agree to this Rav's psak in other areas? And if we want to discuss the money, despite not having all the facts, then there is an answer available. If you know you are going to be spending more for Pesach because of the type of products a husband wants in the house, you've got 51 weeks during the rest of the year to put away that extra money that will be needed.

Frankly, it's a really bad scene when one spouse plays the finance card against the other spouse's level of religiosity or religious practices. No husband and wife are 100% identical in their religious practices but expect rocky weather ahead when one spouse places his/her financial position in opposition to the other spouse's religious position. Expect a tsunami when the argument gets couched in terms of "I am financially responsible and you are the dupe of every chumrah out there."

aml said...

I agree with the Prof. These are not financial issues. These are bigger problems.

rosie said...

I am of the understanding that while most chumras today are modern re-inventions, people have always been chumradik with regard to Pesach. Rabbi Blumenkrantz (OBM), with his guide to Pesach seemed to feed some of the frenzy while at the same time giving needed halachic advice. For example, rabbonim now posken that all pills can be used on Pesach but Rabbi Blumenkrantz only OK'd certain ones, leaving one to think that he might have to change medications on Pesach. We used to lock up soaps and shampoos and now the websites of the hashkacha agencies say that any shampoo is usable. (We are not planning to use Aveeno oatmeal baby wash though). I would have the machmir husband consult the kashrus website of his choice before overspending on Pesach supplies but if it makes him feel better to spend it on heimish brands, buy it and save what is left over for next year. We save unopened shmura matza from year to year.

rosie said...

I feel like a geek myself. I just looked up our vaad's directory of Pesach products and Listerine is approved for Pesach use. I bought that expensive heimish brand. Oh well, any guest that uses our bathroom will see how holy we are!

Al said...

Agreed, this is a marriage problems. If you know that you're going to spend an extra $1000 on Pesach for Chumrot, you need to agree on that, and budget year round. Setup an online savings account with ING or someone else, and transfer the $20/week to the Pesach account, and it is untouched. If the spouse won't give up the money year round and the lifestyle hit, then they are unreasonable, and you need to consult a marriage counselor and work through the problems.

They need to decide if they want to live a little better year round, or have more Chumrot for Pesach. We've gradually cut back on the Pesach expenses each year as we've learned more about what is required.

My big chumra is that we don't sell Chometz except the home bar (we have a nice one for entertaining). I have a lot of liquor that gets used 1-2 times/year for mixed drinks, and I don't feel the need to replace it, so we seal the area off.

We use up all the flours and pastas from Purim->Pesach. Most of the issues in my house are Kitniyot, that we just move from the pantry into a single cabinet that holds all the Kitniyot.

We replace all our spices at Pesach, which isn't strictly required, definitely a stringency. But spices lose their strength over time, and I see no reason to keep things more than a year. I tend to buy my fish from a Kosher place instead of a fish market for Pesach, an unnecessary stringency, but it only costs me an extra $1/pound... so for $5 and slightly less fresh of fish, I'm being "stringent." To each there own.

For Pesach, we eat a HUGE amount of vegetables (though we do year round), so we just sub out the Kitniyot ones for others.

I think that last year we got our Pesach expenses < $500, including hosting my secular family for a seder (they won't do two with us). We've cut back on the meat, ditched the kugels, and do a vegetable heavy week. Everyone feels better, and the seder meal doesn't take three hours. :)

But if you want to buy overpriced crappy products, I won't judge you, plenty of people do that with the "green" products that don't work all that well either. However, you need to know your budget and save for it year round.

Pesach is only a week, I'm hard pressed to justify spending what we would normally spend on a month of groceries for it. I'm also hard pressed to turn my house into Pesach prep for a month.

The holiday is supposed to be about teaching your children the Haggadah, not enriching wealthy NYC snake oil salesmen in the name of frumkeit.

Shorty said...

a couple of ideas:

vinegar and baking soda are cheap and make for good cleaners

i minimize the prep food spending and go for fresh...i am going to be doing this with herbs, rather than spend extra on special Passover ones...

Anon819 said...

Of course if this is going on all the time, there is a bigger marriage issue. But as Rosie points out, a lot of people just do the chumra thing for Pesach, where they would not normally the rest of the year.

One thing that has worked to bring the cost issue to my DH's attention is saying, if we spend $x more on this, what are you planning to spend $x less on? (And sometimes he even comes up with a good solution to make a cut somewhere else in the budget.) Or, instead of buying the heimish brand of (ketchup, mayo, etc), how about we just skip it altogether for the week? (As suggested in the previous post.)

Pesach Stinks said...

I made the original comment that was quoted.

Let me set a few things straight. I'm the husband. My wife is the one with the chumrahs. I believe she has no good reason for them, other than that her mother does it, and her mother did it and therefore it's the only way.

Generally, we do not have shalom bayit / marriage problems, and the extra $$$ spent B"H we can deal with (we're not rich, far from it, but if she spends an extra $150 on this nonsense, it's not going to kill us).

I have more of an issue with the why then the what. Her reasons for holding these chumrahs is really only because that's what she grew up with.

I simply see no reason to pay G-d knows what for crappy Adwe toothpaste that tastes like #$*&# when a brand new tube of Aqua Fresh /Crest / Colgate / whatever is really perfectly fine (and better and cheaper).

The issue of communication is just that she can't provide a good case for this other than "that's what she believes is right" and she refuses to discuss any further. She thinks I'm just cheap and that's why I care so much. But she's right. I AM cheap. If I wouldn't be cheap, then we probably wouldn't get by with all the expenses.

And for the record, neither of us grew up wealthy or even comfortable, by any stretch.

I just accept it because I know it's a losing battle but it really irritates me to no end. And for the record, my father in law goes thru the same thing I do. He hates it probably even more than I do.

I just can't justify spending a premium on items that are inflated at Pesach time to feed the frenzy of people taking on more and more of these chumrahs. I have no problem keeping cholov yisroel for 8 days, even though it costs (much) more and the milk ALWAYS spoils. It's really the other stuff. The toothpaste, dish soap, etc.

Anonymous said...

Let me set a few things straight. I'm the husband. My wife is the one with the chumrahs. I believe she has no good reason for them, other than that her mother does it, and her mother did it and therefore it's the only way.

Generally, we do not have shalom bayit / marriage problems, and the extra $$$ spent B"H we can deal with (we're not rich, far from it, but if she spends an extra $150 on this nonsense, it's not going to kill us).

I have more of an issue with the why then the what. Her reasons for holding these chumrahs is really only because that's what she grew up with.


I always thought that traditionally (or maybe even halachically), the wife took the husbands customs (and chumras, if any). For example, my sister-in-law, a completely Ashkenazi girl married a completely Temani (Yemenite) guy, and now she holds by their customs, including eating some kinds of kitniyot on Pesach.

Mark

I love Pesach anyways said...

To Pesach Stinks:

Wow! I'm in the same boat as you. I just have to learn to keep my mouth shut for the few weeks preceding Pesach.