I smell a little bit like smoke today. A Judaism for G+ treatise.
In preparing for Pesach (Passover), which begins tonight, we have to clean our homes and offices thoroughly to remove all traces of chometz (leavening). Some Jews spend weeks doing this; we took about two weeks and have this big paroxysmal rush to finish at the end.
All chometz must be out of our possession by 12:08 PM here in Cleveland. Any chometz that we want to be able to use after the holiday has to be sold to a Gentile for the duration. He sells it back to us after the holiday. (That's a very simplified version of the transactions involved - I don't know if I'll have time, and I certainly don't have the rabbinic expertise, to give this the full treatment).
But to symbolize (and concretize, really) the removal of chometz that we don't want to keep, we are commanded to dispose of it. There are several accepted methods of disposing of chometz on the eve of Pesach. These are to flush it out to sea (or down a toilet, in modern society); to grind it to dust and cast it to the wind; and to burn it.
Burning the chometz is the preferred method. So individuals and communities kindle fires for this purpose. I have crafted a small chimney stove - two coffee cans screwed together end to end - and light a fire therein. Then we throw in the scraps of bread and crackers that we accumulated last night during our last pass through the house. Burn, chometz, burn. (By the way, if the eve of Pesach falls on the Sabbath, burning is not an option, so flushing is the preferred method.)
Today there were brisk winds whipping through our yard - the smoke moved everywhere and seemed to follow our every move. And since I was already dressed for work, and didn't have time to change, I sit at my desk today smelling like a camp fire.
So my apologies to my cubicle-mates - and to my wife, who told me I should have changed first.
Have a Chag Kasher v'Sameach - a kosher and joyous holiday - to all of my fellow celebrants!