Pesach Guide, Slifka Center for Jewish Life 5773
Compiled by Rabbi Noah Cheses, Yale University
I. Laws of the preparing for Pesach
Mechirat Chametz (Sale of Chametz)
During the eight days of Pesach, our homes must cleared of all chametz products and all products that have any chametz content. All such items are to be placed in designated areas and sold for the eight-day period to a non-Jew. During the entire Pesach, the designated cabinets should not be opened, and no items in the designated areas should be used during this period. Many authorities maintain that this method should only be used for mixtures containing some chametz ingredients. In their view, pure chametz such as bread and cookies should be physically destroyed or given permanently to a non-Jew.
Note: Those who sold their Chametz with me, should wait until 9:00 PM before using it after pesach has concluded.
Chametz of Roommates
Jews living with non-Jewish roommates often have shared chametz, and it is sometimes ambiguous which chametz belongs to the Jew. To remove doubt, one should physically hand all of the chametz to the non-Jew prior to Pesach as a gift, stating, “I give this to you as an unconditional gift, and accept no responsibility for storing or guarding it.” The non-Jew may then continue to own and use the chametz over Pesach. Once this is done, there is no further need to sell the chametz. If the Jew will be in the room over Pesach, the chametz should be stored in some specifically designated area, to prevent confusion.
The Torah forbids us not only to eat, but also even to own Chametz on Pesach. We remove any Chametz unknown to us by “nullifying” it through Bittul Chametz, thus making the Chametz ownerless. Our chachamim, however, further mandated a thorough check of the house on the night before Pesach a) in case we have not truly nullified our Chametz in our hearts and b) lest one find and eat Chametz on Pesach. This is not just a perfunctory check of our homes! While the custom of putting out 10 pieces of bread has some basis, finding only those pieces does not fulfill one’s obligation. Places to check include drawers, coat pockets, garages and cars. One should try to do the bedikah as soon as possible after nightfall; it is improper to push it off until late at night. The Bedika is done in the dark, using a candle or flashlight to explore everywhere.
One leaving Yale before the night of Bedikat Chametz should do the bedika the night before they leave, without a beracha, but with the “Kol Chamira” declaration: “All Chametz and leavening in my possession which I have not seen and have not destroyed shall be considered nullified and ownerless, as the dust of the earth.” They should check dorm rooms, closets, desks, lockers and vehicles that belong to them for chametz. Lockers where one never stores chametz during the year do not need to be checked. Students should also participate in bedikat and biur chametz in their parents’ homes.
Pesach is a very expensive holiday, between the Matza, the wine, and all of the other peripheral expenses. There is an ancient tradition of donating money to charity to provide for the needs of the poor on this occasion. The Rambam writes that we are obligated to bring joy on the holidays not only to ourselves and our own families, but also to those who are less fortunate this year.
Maot Chitim can be donated online by credit card to many worthy organizations, including Yad Eliezer which supports the poor of Israel.
II. Mizvot of Pesach
Sunday Night March, 24th 2013 – 13 Nisan, 5773
Bedikat Chametz: After dark, i.e., 7:49PM. Our custom is to place ten pieces of chametz for which we search by flashlight. You may use a candle, but candles are fire hazards, and do not allow for free-and-close-up searches. The berakhah “al biur chametz” and kol chamira are recited.
Hopefully, by now, our homes are for the most part free from chametz. Nonetheless, this is supposed to be a bona fide search and not just an educational game. One should utilize this opportunity to search through coat pockets, medicine cabinets, pocket books, desk drawers, utility closets, etc… Invariably, every year I find, heretofore, unaccounted for chametz during this search: little candies in pockets, a bottle of Nyquil, cheerios under the radiator etc.
Erev Pesach, Monday Morning, March 25th, 2013 – 14 Nisan, 5773
Ta’anit Bechorim – Fast of the First Born:
The fast starts at 5:24 AM. Participating in a siyyum exempts one from fasting. Any significant amount of learning suffices for making a siyyum for such purposes.
Sof Zeman Achilat Chametz – Last Time to Eat Chametz
By now, our homes should be virtually chametz free and all set for Pesach.
The latest time to eat chametz on Friday morning is at 10:54 AM (GR”A).
Sof Zeman Biur Chametz — Last Time to Disposses/Burn Chametz
Chametz must be disposed by11:56 AM GR”A. Despite the fact that we will nullify our possession of any remaining chametz with our recitation of Kol Chamira, our custom is to burn a tiny bit of our chametz to fulfull Rabbi Akiva’s opinion that one must burn chametz to destroy it. Kol Chamira is recited at the time of burning. We will host a chametz burning fest at Slifka right after breakfast, around 9:15.
Eating on Erev Pesach
We are prohibited from eating Matzah or anything baked with Matzah on Erev Pesach. This is in order to differentiate between mitzvat matzah and discretionary eating of matzah. This prohibition includes cakes and cookies made from matzah meal. However, cooked matzah products, such as knaidlach (Matzah balls) are permitted. Other foods should only be eaten in moderation from mid-afternoon and on in order to have an appetite for the Seder.
Candle Lighting Times:
For the first night, the berakhot to be recited are “le-hadlik ner shel Yom Tov” and “Shehechiyanu.” It is a proper custom to give Tzedakah before candle lighting on Yom Tov, and also to see the moment of candle lighting as a moment of transcendence and an opportunity to compose personal prayers to Hashem.
For the second night, candles should not be lit and preparations for the 2nd day should not begin until after 7:52 pm. Before lighting, please remember to say The berakhot to be recited are “le-hadlik ner shel Yom Tov” and “Shehechiyanu.”
III. Cleaning and Kashering a Kitchen for Pesach
*Please note that many of the matters discussed below are subject to debate, and your family may follow a different opinion than what appears in this guide.*
If you will not be cooking during Pesach, you do not need to Kasher your cooking appliances in the manner described below. Rather, you simply need to eliminate all physical chametz in your possession, including bits of bread in toasters, spills on surfaces, etc. Pieces that are both smaller than an olive and inedible do not count, so the easiest thing to do is to dispose of all the large pieces, then clean your surfaces with a strong, inedible chemical cleaner. If anything remains after this, it is not edible chametz and you need not destroy it. This is the simplest method for counters, cooking appliances, refrigerators, and floors.
It is good to launder clothes or check their pockets for chametz if you ever put food in their pockets.
Don’t forget to clean the chametz out of lockers, desks, vehicles, and other locations around campus where you store personal property.
In my opinion, as will be elaborated below, one need not be concerned about owning cosmetics, shampoos, inedible solid medicines, etc. on Pesach. This is despite what some guide books print.
Although it is nice to neaten up one’s coin collection, wash windows, etc, these are not really related to Pesach. One should focus primarily on chametz elimination.
In a conventional oven, gas or electric, the oven must be completely clean before kashering can begin. Oven cleaner may be necessary to remove baked on grease. If a caustic type of oven cleaner (such as Easy-Off) was used to clean the oven and some stubborn spots remain after the caustic cleaner has been applied a second time with similar results, the remaining spots may be disregarded. Once the oven and racks have been cleaned, they may be kashered by Libbun Kal. Turning the oven to the broil setting for 2 hours satisfies the requirement of Libbun Kal. In a gas oven the broil setting will allow the flame to burn continuously. In a conventional electric oven the highest setting, broil or 550oF, kashers the oven.
In a continuous cleaning oven, one cannot assume that such an oven is clean because the manufacturer claims it to be continuously clean. A visual inspection is required. Since caustic or abrasive oven cleaners, e.g. Easy-Off, cannot be used without destroying the continuous clean properties of the oven, a non-abrasive, and non-caustic, cleaner must be used to clean the oven. Grease spots will usually disappear if the top layer of grease is cleaned with Fantastic and a nylon brush. Then the oven should be turned on to 450oF for 2 hours so that the continuous clean mechanism can work. If the spots don’t disappear the oven should be left on for a few hours to allow the continuous clean mechanism to deep clean. If the spots do not disappear, the spots should be removed with oven cleaner or steel wool. If the spots are dark spots that crumble, they can be disregarded. In all of the above cases the oven should then be kashered by turning the oven to the broil setting for 2 hours.
In a self-cleaning oven, the self-cleaning cycle will clean and kasher the oven simultaneously. This is true for convection ovens with a self-cleaning feature as well. The oven need not be cleaned well before the process begins because everything inside of the oven is reduced to ash. The oven door and rubber around the door should, however, be completely clean before beginning the self-clean cycle.
Oven Racks are very difficult to thoroughly clean. It is therefore recommended that they either be placed into a self-cleaning oven or covered with foil (punching holes though to allow the air to circulate.)
Oven Broiler: The broiler pan and grill cannot be kashered by just turning on the gas or electricity. Since food is cooked directly on the pan or grill, they must be heated to a glow in order to be used on Pesach. An alternate method is to replace the pan with a new pan and Kasher the empty broiler cavity by cleaning and setting it to broil for 2 hours. If one does not intend to use the broiler on Pesach, one may still use the oven, even without koshering the broiler, provided that the broiler has been thoroughly cleaned. Similarly, other cooktop inserts such as a griddle or a barbecue broiler would require “Libbun Gamur” heating the surface to a red glow before usage. If not, the insert should be cleaned and covered and not used for Pesach
Cooktop: On a gas range the cast iron or metal grates upon which the pots on the range sit may be inserted into the oven after they have been thoroughly cleaned. (If one has a self-cleaning oven one need not clean the grates first.) The grates can be kashered simultaneously with the oven. Another method of kashering the burners is to place a blech (all year round belch may be used) or heavy foil over each burner and turn on highest temperature for 15 minutes. (For safety concerns it is recommended to do one burner at a time.) The rest of the range should be cleaned and covered with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. (Stainless steel stove tops may be purged with boiling water and need not be covered.) The burners themselves do not need Kashering or covering but should be thoroughly cleaned. The drip pans should be thoroughly cleaned and need not bekashered. Kashering a Glass, Corning, Halogen or Ceran electric range top for Pesach is a very difficult task. The elements of the stove can be turned on until they come to a glow. The burner areas are now considered Kosher for Pesach. However, the rest of the cook top presents a seriousKashering problem. The unheated area of glass top ranges cannot be covered with foil like conventional or porcelain tops. Since glass tops are made of tempered glass, and are not meant to be covered, there is a risk that the glass cooktop will shatter if it is covered. Therefore, one should check with the company before attempting to kasher a Corning stove top. In an electric cooktop, one only needs to turn the burners on the high heat setting for 5 minutes in order to kasher them, since the burners come to a glow in a few minutes. The remaining cooktop areas should be covered. Theknobs with which the gas or electricity is turned on should be cleaned. No other process is necessary to kasher the knobs.
Clean the microwave thoroughly and do not use for 24 hours. Then boil a cup of water on the highest setting for 20 minutes, or until all the water has boiled off. The glass plate (if you have one) should be replaced, covered with saran wrap, or cleaned and kashered in boiling water. Food should not be heated directly on the glass plate on Pesach. If your microwave walls have holes or grates through which food has fallen and cannot be removed, it’s best to cover all foods that you heat in the microwave on Pesach.
Refrigerator and Freezers
Each shelf should be removed and cleaned thoroughly. If hot chamtez was spilled on a shelf then that shelf should be covered (make sure to perforate any covers to allow for air circulation). Otherwise, covering shelves is not necessary.
Should be cleaned thoroughly and the tray should be covered with contact paper.
Metal Utensils that have been used for cooking, serving or eating hot Chametz may be kasheredby cleaning them thoroughly, waiting twenty-four (24) hours and then immersing them, one by one, into a Kosher for Pesach pot of water which has been heated and is maintaining a rolling boil when the vessel is immersed. Note that Teflon coated pots can not be kashered.
The utensils undergoing the kashering process may not touch each other on the way in to the pot. In other words, if a set of flatware is being kashered for Pesach, one cannot take all the knives, forks and spoons and put them in the boiling water together. They should be placed into the boiling water one by one. The process is finalized by rinsing the kashered items in cold water. If tongs are used to grip the utensil, they should be loosened for a moment while the utensil is underwater. Otherwise, the utensil will have to be immersed a second time with the tong in a different position so that the boiling water will touch the initially gripped area. The entire utensil does not have to be kashered at once; it may be done in parts.
Please watch out for utensils that are rusty or difficult to clean properly. Even silverware made of two parts (a handle and a blade, for instance) should most often not be kashered.
Technically, a non-Kosher for Pesach pot may also be used for the purpose of kashering, provided that it is thoroughly clean and has not been used for twenty-four (24) hours. However, it is the custom to make the pot Kosher for Pesach before using it for kashering. This can be accomplished by cleaning the pot, leaving it for 24 hours, filling the pot completely with water, waiting until the water comes to a rolling boil, and throwing in a hot stone or brick which has been heated on another burner. The hot rock will cause the water to bubble more furiously and run over the top ridge of the pot on all sides at one time. The pot is now kashered.
There are different opinions about whether plastic utensils can be kashered in the same manner as metal.
Ashkenazim today do not kasher glass utensils used with hot chametz for Pesach. Arcolac, Pyrex, Duralex & Corelle should be treated as glass for kashering purposes. Glassware used with cold chametz may be kashered. Each utensil should be soaked in room temperature water for 72 hours. The water should be changed every 24 hours.
China sinks cannot be kashered at all. Porcelain or corian sinks should also be considered like a china sink, since there is a controversy whether these materials can be kashered. These sinks should be cleaned, and completely lined with contact paper or foil. The dishes that are to be washed should not be placed directly into the sink. They must be washed in a Pesach dishpan that is placed on a Pesach rack. Alternatively, a sink insert can be purchased, allowing for the placement of either dairy or meat dishes directly into the sink. Dishes can also simply be washed holding them in the air, not placing them on the surface of the sink at all.
Stainless steel sinks can be kashered by the following method. Clean the sink thoroughly. Hot water should not be used or poured in the sink for twenty-four (24) hours prior to kashering. (It is recommended that the sink be covered or the hot water knob covered or removed, etc. to insure that it is not used.) Kashering is accomplished by pouring boiling hot water from a Pesach kettle/pot overevery part of the stainless steel sink. The poured water must touch every part of the sink including the drain and the spout of the water faucet. It is likely that the kashering kettle(s) will need to be refilled a few times before the kashering can be completed.
Granite sinks can be kashered like a stainless steel sink.
Countertops made of granite may also be kashered. Formica countertops should be cleaned and covered with a waterproof material. The same goes for tables with synthetic tops. Wood tables could theoretically be kashered with boiling water, but the custom is to clean and cover them.
Porcelain and enamel dishwashers can not be kashered for Pesach. Stainless steel dishwashers may be kashered but the racks should be replaced. These dishwashers must be thoroughly cleaned. Please contact a rabbi before doing so.
IV. Halachik Requirements of the Seder
While it would be impossible to list all of the Halachot of the Seder in this Guide, certain Halachot deserve special attention.
The Sedarim should start as early as possible, but after it has become fully dark. After 7:50 in New Haven this year.
Minimum Size of Wine Cup (Kosot)
For the four cups of wine (including Kiddush) the cup must be at least 2.9 fluid ounces in size. This is the size of a Dixie cup (the little disposable ones for mouthwash).
One must drink at least “rov kos”, more than half of the cup of wine. The same Halacha applies to each of the 4 cups. If you don’t want to drink a lot of wine, get a cup that is only a little bigger than the minimum size.
Minimum Strength of Wine:
1. If health reasons preclude the use of wine or a person’s appreciation of the Seder is significantly diminished by using wine, grape juice may be drunk.
2. One may also dilute the wine with a small amount of grape juice or water. The ratio should not exceed 2/3 cup water to 1/3 cup grape juice/wine.
Minimum Amount of Matzah Shmurah
Men and women must eat the minimum amount of Matzah Shmurah the following three times during the Seder: 1) After the Bracha Al Achilat Matzah 2) for Korech 3) for the Afikomen.
For 1 & 3: After reciting the Bracha, Al Achilat Matzah and for Afikomen – a piece equivalent in size to 7 inches by 6 3/8 inches. This is about the size of two medium hands, with the fingers held loosely.
For 2 – a piece equivalent in size to 7 inches by 4 inches. This is about the size of one medium hand, with the fingers held very loosely.
If for health reasons, one cannot eat Matzah, then Matzah Shmurah Meal (upon which one is permitted to recite the Hamotze) may be substituted as follows: 1&3. After reciting the Bracha, AlAchilat Matzah and Afikomen – an amount of meal that can be compacted into a vessel measuring 1.5 ounces. For Korech – an amount of meal that can be compacted into a vessel holding 1.1 fluid ounces.
Matza and Maror should both be eaten at a steady clip, without taking major breaks. However, theyshould not be gobbled down in an abnormally fast manner.
Minimum Amount of Maror
Each person must eat a minimum amount of Maror twice during the Seder. Once after the Bracha, AlAchilat Maror, and once for Korech.
The use of Romaine Lettuce is preferable for Maror (even though it doesn’t hurt going down). However, one absolutely must check for bugs on this lettuce, before Yom Tov. The lettuce should be soaked rinsed thoroughly and then checked leaf by leaf for bugs. One can also clean one’s lettuce by rubbing each side forcefully with a sponge and soap. The leaves can then be rinsed off and do not need to be checked. Some lettuce is sold pre-checked.
Romaine lettuce, whole leaves: Enough leaves to cover an area 8 x 10 inches. This is slightly less than a sheet of standard paper.
Romaine lettuce, stalks only: Enough stalks to cover an area of 3 x 5 inches. This is the size of an index card.
Pure grated horseradish:
1. After reciting the Bracha, Al Achilat Maror, an amount that can be compacted into a vessel measuring 1.1 fluid ounces. This is the size of a disposable shot glass, slightly overfilled.
2. For Korech, an amount that can be compacted into a vessel measuring .7 fluid ounces. This is a shot glass about 2/3 filled.
If you have trouble eating horseradish in these quantities, you can just have a little, then eat lettuce in the quantities described above.
Remember that Shulchan Orech (the meal) is part of the Seder and part of our praise of Hashem. This should be reflected in the tone of the meal and conversation at the meal. One should be sure to leave a little room for the Afikomen so that it not be eaten after one is already stuffed. We do not eat after the Seder in order to allow the taste of the Matza to remain in our mouths.
V. Laws of the Omer
The period from Pesach until Shavuot is known as the Omer. Each night, beginning with the second night of Pesach, we count the day of the Omer, starting with 1 and going up to 49. The text is found insiddurim. You only need to say the blessing and the “Hayom ____ LaOmer part,” although some have the custom to add on additional psalms and declarations.
If you forgot to count one night, you can count the following day without saying the blessing. That makes you still be eligible to count the Omer with a blessing the following nights.
If you totally missed a 24 hour period, you can’t count the Omer with a blessing anymore. However, you are still obligated to count the Omer without a Bracha. Ideally, one in this situation should hear thebracha recited by someone else, say Amen, and then count the Omer. For this reason, in synagogues, the rabbi or chazzan recites the bracha out loud every night at Maariv.
Rabbi Akiva’s students died out during the Omer, because they were not respectful to one another. We should use the Omer as a time to work on mutual respect, and keep it up even after the Omer is over.
In memory of Rabbi Akiva’s students, there are several mourning customs that apply during the Omer
1) Not getting haircuts (even on Fridays)
2) Men – not shaving (some shave on Fridays in honor of Shabbat)
3) Not listening to live music
4) Not going to parties, even without live music
Going to movies is obviously not discussed in the Gemara or Shulchan Aruch, but some have the practice of refraining from this as well. This seems appropriate if you consider going to a movie to be a festive activity, which may depend on the person and the specific movie in question.
There are two customs about when these restrictions apply:
1) From after Pesach until Lag Ba’omer
2) From Rosh Chodesh Iyar until Shavuot
The restrictions of the Omer (except getting a haircut) are suspended on Pesach, Shabbat, and YomHa’atzmaut.
VI. List of foods that require Kosher for Pesach Certification
SEE the CRC Website: http://www.crcweb.org/passover2012.php
VII. Buying Chametz After Pesach
All major grocery stores are non-Jewish owned and Chametz may be bought immediately after the close of Pesach.
A Chag Kasher v’Sameach to all!!