Letter: A Crisis

It’s the season…. not to scare you or anything but Pesach prep is here to frazzle the nerves for the next few weeks for better or for worse.

And that comes with the cleaning lady crisis.

No, I don’t mean there aren’t cleaning ladies to be found. I’m referring to the trick or trap game that the ladies play where they know people are desperate for help so they put themselves out there as available for a higher price (be it $18, $20, $25 or more) as they know they can demand it from desperate frazzled nerves.

So Mrs Desperate gets a text from her neighbors cleaning lady that says “Hi Mrs I’m looking for work” to which Mrs D replies “How much do you charge?”

“$20”. Hmmm that’s more than Mrs D would like to pay but Pesach is coming and cleaning needs to happen. So she agrees. Unknown to her, her neighbor now has no cleaning help anymore. At this point her neighbor also doesn’t know that as she goes about her day calmly as she knows at least she has a cleaning lady that is coming tomorrow to help her start the Pesach Frenzy. Except that she doesn’t and she is going to find that out either today or tomorrow.

Meanwhile Mrs D welcomes her new help to her house shortly after Mrs Neighbor has been informed by her cleaning lady that she either can’t work anymore due to a child in the hospital or that she got a better job.

Mrs Neighbor sadly looks out her window wondering what she will do and davening for Hashem to send her a yeshua fast. As she looks out her window she notices her cleaning lady walking up the steps to Mrs D’s house.

Wait, Whaaaat?!?! How could it be? How could Mrs D be so cruel as to steal her cleaning lady from her. Doesn’t she know that this is completely Gezaila and Genaiva and Shefichas damim??? The chutzpah!!!

She catches herself and tries to be Dan Lekaf Zechus. Maybe, just maybe her neighbor had no idea that she was stealing her lady. Maybe her neighbor was just looking for a lady and her apparently not so loyal cleaning lady knew she could find a better paying job before Pesach and went after her neighbor.

She decided to let her neighbor kindly know that her new cleaning lady was really her old cleaning help and let her decide morally how she wants to handle that.

She then decided to forgive her neighbor for doing what she did and sent a prayer Heavenwards for a new cleaning help to arrive at her door. Though she faced the bitter truth that now she would probably have to pay a new lady more (than she can afford). She resolved to make sure to try her best though to find out if any ladies she comes across are currently working for someone else and trying to grab at more money – though she realized it may be impossible to find out.

And that is the end of our fictitious but true story.

My dear fellow yiddishe Mamas – of course none of us would ever purposely steal from someone else. Let’s keep in mind though while we are shopping for cleaning help that we maybe, just maybe, taking away help from someone else and try to make a drop of effort to research before grabbing whatever you can get at whatever price they throw at you.

I hope you enjoyed the story of the Pesach cleaning lady crisis and I hope that you all have a chag kasher vesameach, kasher with food, and kasher with actions, regardless of the cleaning help you have or don’t have.

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  1. Now people will probably post about supply and demand, and how we can do nothing about….

    Let’s all be mekabel to keep sholom between each other, and not fight or overpay other person’s cleaning help. Cleaning ladies cause so so much machlokes between people, and they are the only one winning, because we lose both the money and the relationship with people. Let’s agree at least not to take the neighbors cleaning lady for the higher price if you clearly know she works for someone else, I know people who do it, but I’m sure if we keep in mind to be mentchlich to each other, Hashem will repay us all. Let us try to never have fights over such issue, I saw it ruins relationship forever. Everyone needs cleaning help, but offering another person’s cleaning lady more money ( if you are aware that she works for other Jewish family)in this sensitive time of year is not the best way to get your cleaning done.

    • Not EVERYONE needs cleaning help.
      And it’s not a need for some… it’s a luxury. Can we try not to sound too entitled please.

  2. One part of the story that needs correction is that many times, for weeks, Mrs Neighbor will still think she has help since she’ll be told that her help cant come today. She wont necessarily be told that her help cant come ever.

  3. Can we please stop calling everything a crisis. This is not a communal crisis. It might be a concern for a specific family… but even to them it’s not a real crisis. Everyone is alive and well and calling this a crisis diminishes real crises with a boy who cried wolf situation.

    And what exactly is the point of penning these letters which outline an issue but not a remedy? Is there one? These are after all free people who have every right to look for better employment.

    And besides… unless one knowingly contacts someone else’s employee with an offer… there is nothing improper happening. There is no way of knowing if a person contacting you is currently employed or not.

    And perhaps our “crisis” is that we have thousands of HS girls galavanting through town and not helping their mothers get ready for pesach…. necessitating the high numbers of cleaning ladies in the first place. It’s supply and demand. We can’t control the supply… but we can to some degree control the demand. So lets do that.

    • +100000000 to the “HS girls galavanting through town”
      They could be helpful and givin, they could offer to clean people’s houses out of the goodness of their hearts becuase they want to help out their fellow Jews. Even non high school girls are able to do this as well. Torah techilasah chesed vesofah chesed.

    • Yes, thousands of girls, 6th grade and up, who think it is below them to clean, because its a cleaning ladies job!! They do help, a little but each day, but the real job is saved for the lady

  4. Here we go! We needed you to invalidate all the Jewish women who cannot afford to pay more, who don’t have girls in HS yet,and who are too busy and pressured to do Pesach. Your comment just solved the issue, thank you very much!. Im sure you employ your cleaning help legally, pay taxes for her, or manage just fine to raise a family without cleaning help. Or you have too much money and dont understand the sensitivity.

    And, besides, what is the point of your comments under pointless letters? I am sure you could do so much chesed with your free time, and help someone, instead of being invalidating. Unless your family is dealing with something terrible, your comments are just invalidating and off topic.

    • BB… I am sorry if my comment came off as flippant or insensitive… it wasn’t meant as such. My point regarding HS girls was that if everyone with HS aged daughters would utilize their help in pesach and everyday cleaning… demand would go down and
      people with no girls would have a much easier time funding the help they really need.

  5. I know most women work out of the home and really rely on their cleaning help, but, with organization and getting everyone in the family on board, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Get your husband and children involved. Give them all jobs to do according to teir age level, even if you have to promise them a reward. (it could be much cheaper than cleaning help, maybe an extravagant chol hamoed outing or super duper game)

  6. There happens to be a surplus of cleaning ladies right now due to the border influx. The cleaning ladys’ WhatsApp chat has names of dozens and dozens of women looking for work at lower prices than last Pesach.

  7. This issue comes up every year & there’s really no solution. These are human beings doing hard work to better their lives.
    If a Jewish woman was working as a cleaning person & sending money to her dirt poor always hungry relatives in the Shtetl would she turn down an extra $5/hr out of loyalty when she can send her family extra money so her cousins can have shoes without holes? I doubt it & you can’t blame her. The women we hire are no different.

  8. My cleaning lady informed me she will be charging $25 / hr for Pesach cleaning. I didnt take her up on her offer. Shes usually charges $18. If we all band together, then they just wont have customers. EVERYONE should say no. I will need to Pesach clean myself.

  9. Unbelievable how this letter and the comments dehumanize people coming to clean your houses. These women live in poverty and are trying to support their own families. This is how capitalism works, dimwits. If demand is high, the prices go up. And should I even note how misogynist this entire thing is too? Men can clean as well!

  10. Start the cleaning for Pesah ’24 the day after Pesah ’23 concludes. That should be more than enough time to prepare & without cleaning ladies.

  11. Friendly reminder: Pesach cleaning means vacuuming and looking for cheerio sized pieces of chometz.
    NOT crumbs, dust or dirt, wall washing, or organizing.

  12. It’s all about commoditizing people. With enough abstraction you don’t need to think about the person and can instead focus on the function.

  13. I was looking for cleaning help a month ago and put out an ad on their chat. I got over 40 responses. Don’t be held hostage to prices higher than the market rate. I found a wonderful new lady who is sweet and a very good cleaner.

  14. I am grateful for the help i get from the woman who cleans for me. This is her business and income, and she has the right to charge what she thinks is fair for her work. If it’s more than I want to pay, or more than I can afford, I should not hire her.

    She is not ” my ” cleaning woman. She is a human being with needs and rights, just like the rest of us, including the right to seek better paying employment.

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