What is the difference between Passover cleaning and Spring cleaning? Both involve a lot of soap, water, and rags. Both require a lot of hard work, energy, and time. So what is the difference? I could ask you the same question about a lot of things. What is the difference between cooking and Shabbat cooking? Both involve ingredients and food, time and energy. So what is the difference?

This pain will eventually endFive years ago as I felt waves of pain rushing over my body and I rocked and swayed to this pain I came to realize the difference. You see five years ago, on the last day of Passover I gave birth to my son, my first born, my long awaited child, and my thought process during his birth changed everything.

As I fell to the floor like I cat I repeated to myself, "With each contraction I am opening up for my baby." I didn't just breathe, I "breathed my baby down." My pain was labor pain, good pain. Its purpose was so crystal clear to me. Through this pain my body became a vessel to expel my child into the world. As the intensity increased, the pain brought me closer and closer to my goal. I kept telling myself, "Soon, soon, I don't know exactly when, but this pain will eventually end."

And it did.

As I imagined the Nation of Israel crossing through the Red Sea my body opened up and Avraham Nissim entered into the world with a cry and a shriek.

"When Pharaoh's horse came with his chariots and horsemen into the sea and G‑d turned back the waters of the sea upon them, the Children of Israel walked on the dry land amid the sea. Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the tambourine in her hand and all the women went forth after her with tambourines and with dances. Miriam called out to them, 'Sing to G‑d for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea (Exodus 15:19-21).'"

How did Miriam and the women know to bring tambourines? They were forced to leave Egypt so quickly, there wasn't even enough time for their bread to rise (and thus the reason behind us eating flat unleavened matzah) and yet they took enough time to bring musical instruments including tambourines. The commentaries explain, "The righteous women of the generation were certain that the Holy One Blessed is He (G‑d) would perform miracles for them, so they took tambourines out of Egypt.

These were the women who, after an excruciating long day in the backbreaking fields would go home, dress beautifully and seduce their husbands with warm smiles and open arms ensuring the proliferation and survival of the Jewish nation. They were the same women who never gave up hope and this hope manifested itself in tambourines and dancing. The leader of the women was a woman named Miriam. Miriam's parents gave her the name Miriam because she was born during a time of great suffering and her name comes from the word, mar, which means bitter.

Stay focused on the goalWhen Miriam was a child Pharaoh made a decree that all the Jewish male babies born would be murdered. Upon hearing the decree her parents separated reasoning that it better not to bring any children into the world if Pharaoh was going to kill the males. Miriam confronted her parents and told them that what they were doing was worse than what Pharaoh intended to do. By separating they automatically prevented both males and females from entering the world, whereas Pharaoh threatened to "only" kill the males.

Miriam also prophesized about the birth of the future redeemer, Moses. Her parents remarried and her prophesy was fulfilled. Eighty years later Moses led the Nation out of Egypt and Miriam, with her steadfast faith and eyes which always looked ahead at the goal and the bigger picture danced and sang in praise to G‑d for His salvation open miracles. She took the bitterness out of her name and concentrated on the, "yam" (which means sea in Hebrew-alluding to the splitting of the Red Sea).

This year as I sit against a comfortable pillow at my Passover table, my home sparkling clean, my closets neatly organized and my home in order (at least for twenty-four hours) the smile that I sport on my face is genuine. Reaching this moment was not easy, but the whole time I told myself, "Stay focused on the goal."

You see with each drawer that I cleaned I sang and with this singing I know that I brought down holiness into the world. And this, my dear friends, is the difference between Passover cleaning and Spring cleaning, between cooking and Shabbat cooking. It's about focusing on the end goal and knowing that with each action that you do you can raise it up and make it holy. Sounds far-fetched and just a theory? Just try saying "in honor of Passover" the next time you mop and let me know what happens.