Dear reader,

It was a typical Sunday morning at the Weisberg home.

Shabbat had ended late the previous night. Though the Shabbat dishes had been loaded into the dishwasher, I had forgotten to start the washing cycle like I usually do before going to sleep. And so, on this Sunday morning, I momentarily glanced at the new bottle of dish detergent, noting that it looked different from our usual brand, before pressing the start button and rushing off to other waiting chores.

It was only when I was seated with my second steaming cup of coffee that I noticed the foamy bubbles forming . . . all over my kitchen floor! More bubbles were gathering by the moment, oozing out of the dishwasher door. A quick second glance at the soap confirmed that it was the culprit. I had poured lathering dish soap, and not detergent, into my dishwasher.

A frantic search on Google (“what to do if you pour dish soap instead of detergent?”) was followed by continuously draining the water, pouring vinegar and salt and lots more cold water onto the soap suds in the dishwasher, followed by more draining. Thankfully, the bubbles finally abated and the dishwasher was ready to resume normal operation.

When I finished mopping the floor, I realized just how grateful I should be that I hadn’t switched on the dishwasher the previous night, when I wouldn’t have been awake to notice the gathering suds, and the serious damage that would have been wreaked.

Nevertheless, I thought, there’s got to be more of a lesson from all this work . . . or, at the very least, an idea for an article!

And so, in my editor-in-search-of-an-article mode, I began considering the dishwashing process and how it can relate to us on different levels.

There are times in our lives, as parents, educators or friends, when we feel a need to “clean up” the “messy dishes,” or the actions of someone around us. During the cleaning process, however, we need to make sure we’re using the right brand of cleanser—appropriate words and tone of voice in our admonishments. We need to ensure that what we say is strong enough to help the other get the message to clean up his act, but not too strong as to create damage.

The wrong kind of cleanser—or even the right cleanser used in the wrong environment—can create far more trouble than we’ve ever anticipated. Squeaky-clean dishes are great, but not if you’ve created a mess all around you.

What a great lesson for this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, when a selfless individual uses his decisive passion appropriately in admonishing and stopping the wrongful acts of others.

So, that was the best message that I came up with. Now’s your turn to share what other lessons we can learn from my Sunday morning mishap—including to check, and perhaps recheck, the cleanser before blithely pouring it.

Wishing you a squeaky-clean week!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW