There is a definite chill in the air. Schedules have settled into a normal routine, and I find comfort in knowing that everybody is where they’re supposed to be; comfort in feeling the predictable rhythm of the weeks. I stand before the washing machine, wondering when the months flew by without much more than a glance fromOur stains tell so many different stories me and staring at the contents du jour of my trusty Rubbermaid laundry basket—mostly an assortment of school-uniform items. I check my watch, realize that I have less than an hour to get this underway and be at work, and yet this is the moment I choose to start taking stock?

Today’s laundry consists of a load of carefully sorted whites. I scan the cleaning products on the shelf in search of something that will work wonders on the stains that have already caught my eye and consider what will be my “go to” product this time. Perhaps it will be so effective that I will decide to stick with it for a few more months. After a short period of contemplation, I have made my decision. I reach for the bottle of Resolve.

The previous stain-removing product I tried was called Shout, a brand that also promised to remove stains, no matter how old. I often wondered which marketing genius (no offense to anyone in particular) concocted the names for some of these products. The advertisement probably went something along the lines of “Shout it out!” as stains were doused with the soapy product, then supposedly vanished magically in the wash. Shout came in a few different forms. There was the spray form—a little pump and the contents squirted all around, dousing the stained area and more. (After all, what harm can a little extra cleaner cause?) Then there was a stick form, reminiscent of a glue stick. The product was smeared, none too gently across the soiled area, leaving a residue that coated it, and hopefully, worked out the stains while the machine was agitating. I wasn’t very impressed.

Then I started thinking: Is that really how we can remove our stains? When I look at the majority of discolorations in my wash, I see the darkened collars and think of how my guys were probably sweaty from riding their bikes, sitting for too many hours in a warm classroom or nervous before a meeting or test. Looking harder, I see remnants of Kiddush wine, spilled tea or the food fight I heard about. Sometimes, skirts have smears of paint from art projects or ink from bored doodles. Our stains tell stories from daily life. Sometimes, we’re not so proud of these stories: When we lost our patience with other drivers and let our nasty thoughts spill out of our mouths; when we dumped the aggravation accumulated from a challenging day onto the kitchen floor; when we splattered negative comments on a child for not meeting expectations.

What the question boiled down to was: Can shouting at our stains really be an effective part of the treatment?

Being a Hebrew speaker, I was confident that I knew the Hebrew word for “shout.” It is generally used in an angry, loud context. In the book of Shemot (Exodus), it says that Moses tsa’ak at Hashem when B’nai Yisrael complained shortly after they had left Egypt because they had no more water. The assumption of an average Hebrew speaker would be that Moses yelled at Hashem. How shocking!

Upon further investigation, however, the term tsa’ak—the Hebrew word for “shout”—is translated (by people far wiser than I) in this verse, in the book of Exodus, as “cried.” Further reading reveals that in virtually every place where this word is used in ancient texts, it conveys “crying out.” This crying out, when it is to Hashem, is also described as prayer. The common theme seems to be the communication of deep emotion.

So is “shouting” the path to stain removal? Communication is certainly an essential element of living among other people, but shouting—whether in anger or tears—will never truly cleanse discolorations. If we should choose to accept the “shout” as a “prayer,” here, too, there is more than face value to consider.

And so, the last time I went looking for an effective stain remover, I chose to try a new product, one that I happened to have a coupon for (was this coupon placed in my possession, as a not very subtle, hint from Above? Our sages teach that there are no true coincidences). Perhaps what I was lacking in my stain-removal kit was Resolve.

Now that IIs shouting the path to stain removal? have had a chance to examine the alternative meanings associated with the Shout, I understand that it certainly serves a crucial purpose. Without the Resolve, however, my stain-removing process is really not effective. It has since become my brand of choice, with which I truly can treat the unsightly marks life has left on my laundry.

I take a few extra minutes to examine each item in my basket, liberally apply the Resolve, and have found that overall, the laundry has been emerging from the wash cycle brighter, sans stains. I have found myself deriving satisfaction from this process, as if I have truly accomplished something. I keep waiting for the proud wearers of the previously stained items to take notice of the difference in their clothing. Alas, the awareness is mine alone.

P.S. None of the above comments are meant to promote or discourage the purchase of any particular laundry products. They only reflect the simple musings of a Jewish mother.