Laws and Customs of Pessah
Based on the teachings of the Reshin Letsion Hacham Mordechai Eliyahu
HAMETZ & MATZAH
Pesach products: One shouldn’t buy any product for Passover without certification from a reputable and responsible rabbinical organization that it is kosher for Passover.
Spices: Spices, if ground, should be bought only at places which have definitely checked that the spices contained no hametz whatsoever before grinding, and also checked that there are no traces of grain or flour in the mill. One cannot rely on the lenient people who say that mere traces of hametz from before Pessah are annulled.
Lipstick and toothpaste: Need certification for Pessah, and cannot be applied on Shabbat and Yom Tov.
It is absolutely prohibited to use Hametz pots pans and utensils for pessah use. Speak to the Rabbi how to kasher your utensils and kitchen and ready them for pessah. All newly bought utensils should be dipped in the mikveh unless you know without a doubt that it was produced by a Jew.
Selling of Hametz
Someone who keeps his hametz in his premises during Pessah transgresses the prohibition of maintaining hametz every minute. It is prohibited to derive any benefit from such hametz forevermore, even if he annulled it before Pessah. Therefore, someone who has a lot of hametz and cannot destroy it all has the option of selling it to a gentile before Pessah, during the time when it is still permissible to derive benefit from it.
Sale of hametz forms are enclosed and are also available from the synagogue or can be filled on our website
Preparing Sinks and Counter Tops For pessah
Metal sink: One cleans it, including all holes, cracks and crevices, and then pours on it boiling water.
Marble counters: One should clean the marble well and then pour on it boiling water. If it has holes or cracks, they should be plugged with sealant.
Other counter tops: Counter tops made out of other materials, including formica, corian, granorex, icestone, lavastone, silestone, Ceasarstone: If one doesn’t place hot food directly on them or bread dough on them, they may be koshered by cleaning them with a brush and then pouring on them boiling water. If hot food is placed directly on them, or one kneads dough on them, they can’t be koshered; they must be cleaned and covered with aluminium foil, stiff nylon, or the like.
Ranges, Ovens and Hot Plates
Baking ovens: Such an oven should be koshered only in very pressing circumstances , since pieces of hametz accumulate in the oven door. The oven itself requires libun (heating until it emits sparks), and regular ovens cannot reach nor withstand such an extreme heat. . Therefore one should not kosher any oven short of dire circumstances, and even then he will need rabbinical advice and direction. The same is true with “self-cleaning” ovens.
Microwave: It is proper not to kosher it, since it’s considered like an oven. Under very pressing circumstances one must follow four steps in order to kosher it. First, it must be cleaned well with a damp cloth. Secondly, one must then wait 24 hours without using it. Thirdly, one should boil a plate of water with detergenty in it until all of the water evaporates. Fourthly, during Pessah one should warm foods in closed containers only. A microwave oven that has an option to use a regular electrical heating element (e.g., grill) can’t be koshered.
Gas and electric ranges: All parts of a gas range should be cleaned well, and the grates on which the pots rest should be heated until libun kal. Boiling water should be poured over the range itself and knobs. Even after all of the above, it is appropriate to cover the range, knobs, and grates with aluminium foil. Alternativley a sheet of metal can be placed ontop of the cooktop and turned on for appro half an hour.
Electric ranges or burners should be cleaned well (ensuring that no water touches electric nodes), and then all parts must be covered with aluminium foil. Glass-top ranges can’t be used.
Dishwasher: One should clean the filter, trays, and racks, and it’s better to have separate ones exclusively for Pessah. After cleaning the racks etc., one should operate the dishwasher with the racks etc. inside while empty of dishes, on the highest heat possible, using soap. If one buys new racks etc., one should insert them only after one operates the dishwasher, while empty of dishes, on the highest heat possible, using soap.
Before the Search for Hametz
On the night before Pessah we search for hametz. One must start searching at the very beginning of the night, when stars appear. Therefore, immediately after Arvit (evening services) one should go home without delay and start the search.
Ten Pieces of Bread
According to the Ari”zal, it’s good that the wife or another family member (who won’t do the search) take ten pieces of bread, each less than the weight of an olive (27grm) and wrap each piece individually in a piece of paper or bag (so that they won’t fall apart and leave hametz in the house), and hide them in the house before the search. It’s worthwhile to write a list of where they’re hiding the hametz, so as not to forget. However, it’s not enough just to gather up these ten pieces – one must search the entire house for hametz.
Candle for the Search
ONE SHOULD USE A SINGLE WICK CANDLE FOR THE SEARCH. ONE IS PERMITTED TO LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON AND OR USE A TOURCH IN ADDITION TO A CANDLE WHERE IT MAY POSE A DANGER
Places to Search
One must search all of the rooms in which hametz might be found, even cellars, attics, stores and automobiles. Similarly, one must search all cupboards, closets, and the refrigerator in which hametz is stored. School bags, purses, briefcases, and lunchboxes must also be searched for hametz. Pockets in the clothes of adults and children must also be checked, since sometimes people put cookies or sweets in them.
Every place in which hametz might be found must be searched. Therefore one should search also under beds, and especially in a house with children.
Annulling the Hametz
Immediately after the search one should annul the hametz. The main annulment is in one’s heart, that one firmly decides that all hametz in his possession is as though it’s nothing, it’s totally worthless, it’s like dust and is something totally useless. Our sages decreed that one should say this out loud, by saying Kol chamira etc. Someone who doesn’t understand the words should say them in the language that he understands: “All hametz (leavened items) and s’or (leaven) that is in my possession that I didn’t see and I didn’t destroy should be annulled and considered like dust of the earth.” B’di’avad (after the fact), if one said it in Aramaic and didn’t understand the words but knew that it’s meant to annul the hametz, one fulfilled the obligation to annul the hametz.
BURNING THE CHAMETZ
Who burns it? On the morning of the fourteenth of Nissan one burns the ten pieces of hametz and any other hametz that one found during the search as well as all other hametz in the house, in order to fulfill the mitzvah “you shall destroy all leaven from your houses. One should burn the hametz to the point that it’s totally inedible.
When to burn:
One must burn the hametz before 10:24 am on the 14 april 2014
The custom is to burn the hametz, and only after it’s burnt, to annul it. One says three times the Kol chamira etc. that’s printed in the Machzor. If one doesn’t understand Aramaic, then one should say, “All hametz (leavened items) and leaven that’s in my possession that I saw or didn’t see, that I destroyed or didn’t destroy, should be nullified and considered like dust of the earth.
Throwing in the garbage: Before the time of the prohibition of hametz, one can throw the hametz in public garbage containers in the public domain (i.e., the street). However, after the prohibition to derive benefit from hametz takes effect, one is obligated to burn the hametz.
THE MORNING BEFORE PESACH
Eating Hametz and Matzah
Eating hametz: On the morning before Pessah it’s permitted to eat hametz during the first third of the day only. This year until 9:20 am disposing of hametz should be done by no later than 10:24 am
Eating matzah: It’s forbidden to eat matzah on the morning and afternoon before Pessah.
Some have the custom not to eat matzah thirty days before Pessah. Some have the custom to abstain from matzah as of Rosh Chodesh Nissan.
THE NIGHT OF THE SEDER
Laws and customs
Telling the Story of the Exodus
It’s a mitzvah from the Torah for both men and women to retell on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan the miracles and wonders that were done for our forefathers in Egypt, as it is written, “Remember this day, when you left Egypt.” For this we use the haggadah
It’s a mitzvah to teach one’s children about the Exodus from Egypt.
The hardboiled egg is customarily eaten after Kiddush or during the reading of the Haggadah, and one says, “In memory of the Chagigah (holiday) offering.” Some have the custom that only the firstborn eat it. In any case, one egg should remain on the plate during the entire reading of the Haggadah, so that the plate will remain complete until Korech.
Those who have the custom to eat the egg during the meal don’t make a blessing before or after eating it. Those who eat it before the meal (during the reading of the Haggadah) bless Shehakol before eating it, and eat a piece less than a k’zayit (olive; 28 grams) in order to not have doubt as to whether they need to bless after eating it, or not. If they ate a k’zayit, they shouldn’t bless anything after eating it.
Leaning to the left
Both men and women are obligated to eat their four portions of matzot and to drink four cups of wine on the night of the Seder whilst leaning to the left as a symbol of freedom.
If one forgot one needs to eat or drink again leaning to the left.
One needn’t lean when eating the Karpas since it represents the pain of our subjugation in Egypt, and leaning is a sign of liberty,nor the Marror the bitter herbs—Romain Lettuce
Kiddush—the 4 cups
How much should one drink? Ideally (l’chatchilah), one should drink the entire cup each time in one, two, or three swigs. If one drinks most of the cup, one fulfills one’s obligation. In any case, one should drink no less than most of a r’vi’it (86 mls). If the cup is large, then one must drink most of the wine in the cup. Someone who has difficulty drinking wine, and finds it difficult to drink most of the wine in a large cup, should use a smaller cup, that contains exactly a r’vi’it – 86 mls but not less.
One shouldn’t take a long time to drink the wine. If one delayed more than the usual time it takes to drink, one should drink again.
Women are also obligated to drink four cups, as well as all of the mitzvot on the night of the Seder. Boys and girls who understand the story of the Exodus also need to fulfill the mitzvot of the Seder night.
The cup should be at least the size of a r’vi’it, which is 86 mls.
Red wine: It’s best to choose red wine for Kiddush and all of the four cups. Someone who has difficulty drinking wine can use red grape juice.
When one blesses Hamotzi one holds onto the two complete matzot, with the broken matzah in between them. After completing Hamotzi, one puts down the bottom matzah, and blesses Al achilat matzah while holding on to the top matzah and the broken matzah. One should take a k’zayit from the top matzah and another k’zayit from the broken matzah.
One should taste some matzah before distributing matzah to others. The same amount of matzah should be distributed to all participants, namely 2 portion each being 27grms
One is obligated to eat from both matzot within the time span of four minutes. If one can’t eat two k’zeitim (olive weights) within four minutes, one should eat at least one k’zayit in that time span. In that case, it’s good that the k’zayit be from the top matzah.
Somebody elderly or ill may eat one k’zayit. He should have in mind to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah.
A k’zayit is 27 grams. Concerning somebody elderly or ill, we are lenient and consider 20 grams to be a k’zayit. There are many respected opinions that hold that 20 grams is sufficient to fulfill the mitzvah even in the first instance and is the true volume of a k’zayit.
Blessing on the matzah: When eating matzah during the rest of the holiday, one blesses only Hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz on it. We say the blessing Al achilat matzah only on the night(s) of the Seder.
Maror: Afterwards, he should take a k’zayit of Maror, and distribute a k’zayit of Maror to each person. He dips it in Haroset (Halek), and then shakes off the Haroset so that it won’t negate the taste of the Maror, and blesses Al achilat Maror, and eats it, without leaning.Again 27grms is the correct measurement.
Our custom is to take Romaine Lettuce, which is called chazeret in the Gemara, and is the best choice of the acceptable types of Maror. One should clean it extremely well of bugs. If one can’t check it, then one should use the stalks only.
Afterwards, one takes a k’zayit of the bottom matzah, breaks it into two halves, and places a k’zayit of Maror between them, dips them in Charoset and says Zeicher lamikdash k’Hillel (in memory of the Temple as Hillel did) etc. and eats it all leaning. If one doesn’t have enough of the bottom matzah for all those assembled, one may give them other matzah sh’murah. Some add a small piece of the bottom matzah to this. Again the correct measurement used should be 27 grm for the matza and 27grm for the marror
Tzafun – Afikoman
After finishing the meal, one takes the broken matzah that was set aside for Afikoman and divides it among all assembled, each person receiving a k’zayit (27 grm in memory of the Pessah sacrifice that was eaten at the end of the meal, after one has eaten well.
Since this half a matzah from the beginning of the Seder is insufficient for a k’zayit for every
person, one should supplement it with other matzot, and one should be sure that they are matzah sh’murah.
The main mitzvah of Afikoman is to eat one k’zayit. Some are stringent, and eat an additional k’zayit in memory of the matzah that was eaten together with the Pessah sacrifice. Somebody who’s stringent will be blessed.
The Afikoman is eaten leaning, without a blessing, in the course of four minutes.
Eating after the Afikoman:
After the Afikoman one may not eat or drink anything else, except the next two cups of wine, and water. This is in order that one will go to sleep with the taste of the Afikoman in one’s mouth.
NOTE: A k’zayit of matzah is approximately ¼ of a round hand matzah and ½ of a square matzah.