Sponsored by the Sussman and Stern Families in Honor of Rabbi Aryeh and Rebbetzin (Morah) Channy Citron And in Memory of Devorah bas Zev.
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Please note: All times given here are for the Miami Beach area. For times in other locations, please scroll down to the bottom of the article.
Special thanks to Rabbi Levi Silman for his helpful comments and additions to this article. Thank you as well to my mother, Mrs. Sterna Citron, for her superb editing.
The Month of Nissan
The month of Nissan is the first month of the year. In this month we emphasize using our power of speech to serve G-d. Indeed, by performing the Seder in the right manner, we can elevate and “fix” all of the words we said in the previous year.
No Tachnun or Fasting
No Tachnun (confessionary prayer) is said throughout the entire month of Nissan. The reason for this is that the first twelve days of Nissan are considered holidays due to the special sacrifices brought on these days by the tribal leaders during the consecration of the Mishkan. The fourteenth day is Erev Pesach which is a holiday because of the Pesach sacrifice which was sacrificed on that day. The fifteenth to the twenty-second of Nissan (or the 21st in Israel) is Pesach. Since most of the month is special, we consider the rest of the month to be joyous as well. For this reason, one should also not fast or deliver a eulogy during the entire month.
A Chattan and Kallah should fast on the day of their Chuppah if they get married during this month, even on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. (Please note that one may not get married on Chol HaMoed. Regarding after Pesach, there are differing customs regarding marriages. See below.) In fact, Rosh Chodesh Nissan is a day on which tzadikkim would fast since it was the day on which Nadav and Avihu passed away.
On the first twelve days of the month of Nissan we recite the Nasi every day after the morning davening. (Page 391 in the new Chabad Siddur). This recounts the sacrifices of each tribal leader (Nasi) during these days in the second year in the desert. We also say the Yehi Ratzon asking G-d that if we descend from the tribe of that day, He should shine the spiritual revelations associated with that tribe into our souls. Every Jew should say this even if he knows that he descends from a different tribe (e.g., he is a kohen or a levi) because one may also have an additional soul from that tribe as well.
On the thirteenth day we read the section of Zot Chanukat HaMizbe’ach until ken asah et HaMenorah. No Yehi Ratzon is said on that day.
In some Chassidic communities, the portion of the Nasi is read from a Sefer Torah after davening (without a bracha). This, however, is not the Chabad Minhag.
The first twelve days of the month of Nissan correspond to the twelve months of the year. The great tzaddikim were able to foretell the events of the upcoming year based on these days.
The Blessing on Fruit Trees
Since Nissan is the month of the spring, it is appropriate to make a blessing on the blossoming fruit trees. The text of the blessing can be found in the Artscroll Siddur. It is:
“ברוך אתה יי א-להינו מלך העולם, שלא חסר בעולמו כלום וברא בו בריות טובות ואילנות טובות, ליהנות בהם בני אדם.
Baruch…Ha’olam Shelo Chisar Be’olamo Klum Uvara Vo Briyot tovos Ve’ilanot Tovot Leyhanot Bahem Bnei Adam.” “Blessed are You, G-d, our Lord,
King of the Universe, that His world is not lacking anything, and He created in it good creations and good trees for the pleasure of mankind.” This Bracha can only be said the first time one sees such trees in that year. Some say that if one did not recite the beracha when seeing these trees for the first time, they may still do so as long as the blossoms have not yet become fruit. Some say it is best to say this beracha with at least two blossoming fruit trees in one’s view.
Although saying this bracha is only obligatory if one sees fruit trees, it is proper to seek out such trees in order to say the blessing since, according to the Kabbalists, this beracha has great significance and by saying it properly, one can elevate certain souls.
Sefardim have a custom to say this beracha in the field with a minyan and with certain additional prayers. (This is not a Chabad custom.)
Women may say this bracha as well.
It is incumbent upon every community to organize a Maot Chittim fund. All members of the community (who are able) must contribute to this fund which is then disbursed to poor members of the community to ensure that they have their Pesach needs.
10 Nissan/April 5 and 6
Wednesday Night and Thursday
This day is the yahrtzeit of Miriam, the prophetess. Tzadikkim fast on this day.
11 (Yud-Aleph) Nissan/April 6 and 7
Thursday Night and Friday
This day marks the 115th birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Chabad Chassidim will begin reciting Psalm 116 on a daily basis for the following year.
12 Nissan/April 7 and 8
Friday Night and Shabbos
•On this Shabbos we commemorate the miracle of the firstborn Egyptians fighting against the other Egyptians in a civil war in the days before the Exodus.
•It is called Shabbat HaGadol (the great Shabbat) to commemorate this great miracle.
•Another reason for the name is that this is the first Shabbat when Jewish people began to keep the Shabbat and other mitzvot.
•On Shabbat afternoon after Minchah, it is customary to recite part of the Haggadah (from “Avadim Hayinu” until “lechaper al kol avonoteinu”). This is printed in the new Chabad Siddur on page 398.
•In many communities, the rabbi gives a scholarly drasha (discourse) on this Shabbat. The most important thing is for him to teach the practical Halachot of Pesach.
•The drasha is reminiscent of the one that Moshe gave to the Jewish people in Egypt in which he taught them the laws of the very first Pesach.
•We do not recite Viyhi No’am nor Ve’atah Kadosh after this Shabbat, as there are not six work days in the upcoming week.
13 Nissan/April 8 and 9
Motzoei Shabbat and Sunday
This day is the Yahrtzeit of the Tzemach Tzedek, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe. He passed away in Lubavitch and was buried there in the year 1866 (5626).
The Rebbe encouraged his Chassidim, especially those in leadership positions, to distribute Shmurah Matzot for the Seders to their acquaintances (who may otherwise not have Shmurah Matzah).
If one owns Chametz that one does not wish to destroy or consume before Pesach, one may sell it to a gentile before the beginning of the sixth hour of the day on Monday, Erev Pesach (12:18 p.m. Miami time). In order for this sale to be valid, it must be conducted in a very specific manner. For this reason, one should authorize a competent rabbi to conduct the sale for him. This should be done early enough so that the rabbi will be able to complete the sale before the above time. In the contract, one should specify any addresses where one is keeping chametz. The chametz in those locations should be kept in a separate area (e.g. room or cupboard). One should tape or seal the entrance to that area to indicate that it was sold, and one should not enter that area during Pesach.
Some are particular to give the gentile the keys to the areas that contain the chametz. This is a stringent opinion and is not necessary by the letter of the law. Even those that are particular in their observance of the laws are no longer strict regarding this. Some write the information as to where the key is in the document of sale.
Some of the products that one might want to include in this sale are grain-based vodka, whiskey or beer, pastas, dry cereal, flour, and crackers. The standard contracts of chametz sale also include the chametz utensils. Nevertheless, it is not necessary to immerse one’s utensils in a Mikvah after buying them back after Pesach.
• Separate Area
◦Chometz belonging to a non-Jew that is in the home of a Jew must be sectioned off with a mechitzah that is 10 tefachim high. This rule applies to the ‘sold’ Chometz too. Draping a cloth over the Chometz is insufficient. Even a curtain is only acceptable if secured at the bottom as well as at the top. If an entire room is being sold, the door should be closed and locked or a marker should be placed on it as a reminder that it was sold.
◦The kitchen units in which Chometz is stored will often be 10 tefachim high, thus qualifying as a mechitzah. However, one cannot ‘sell’ the Chometz in one drawer of the refrigerator or freezer, while retaining full access to the rest of the unit.
◦In line with the above, it is insufficient to merely cover a display of miniature whiskeys. One should either separate them with a valid mechitzah or pack them away.
◦Despite this, if one did leave Chametz in the rest of the house, it is still included in the sale. When one realizes, they should simply move it to the area where the rest of the chametz is stored. (Chametz is muktzah on Yom Tov.)
◦If one finds Chametz in their home during Chol HaMo’ed Pesach, the halacha states that they should burn it. If they find it during Yom Tov, they should cover it and then burn it after Yom Tov. Nowadays, when we sell all of our Chametz, some say that one should simply transfer the chametz one finds, to the area that the sold chametz is being stored. In fact, they say that one may not burn the Chametz as it belongs to the gentile. The common custom, however is to burn the Chametz and to rely on the fact that the gentile will not mind that this small amount of Chametz is being destroyed.
Some are strict and only sell products that are not actually chametz, and they consume or get rid of products with real chametz before Pesach. Chabad custom is to permit the sale of real chametz.
One who forgot to sell their Chametz until after the time of burning Chametz must immediately burn all of the actual chametz that is in their possession.
The rabbi who conducts the sale will also buy it all back after Pesach. One should not consume any of the sold products immediately after Pesach, but rather wait at least one half hour after Yomtov is over for the buying-back to be completed. In some sale-chametz-contracts, a condition is added that the gentile will not mind if the Jew eats some of his chametz before he buys it back after Pesach. One who sold their chametz with such a contract need not wait but may eat the Chametz immediately.
If one is in a later time zone than the place where his chametz was sold, his chametz may not be bought back until Pesach is over in his location. Some say that this need not be specified to the non-Jew but that since the Jew does not want to acquire it until Pesach is over for him, he does not acquire it, despite the fact that the Rav went through the motions of buying it back. Some say that it is best for the Rav to specify to the non-Jew when buying the chametz back, that the buyback of each individual chametz owner is not effective until Pesach is over for him.
Entering the Gentile-Owned Zone
Technically, the sale of chametz includes the area that the chametz is in. One may therefore not use the areas that were included in the sale. Nevertheless, if necessary, one may enter into such an area to get something but he must leave immediately.
Certainly, one who is leaving town may not sell his entire house to a gentile in order to not have to check it and then allow someone else to stay in that house. One who does this is making a joke of the sale of his chametz. If he wishes to allow someone else to stay in the house, he (or the tenant) must check the house (or the parts of the house that he will use) for chametz.
Selling Holy Food
The Chabad custom is to not sell food items received from a Rebbe to a gentile. Such food items should be consumed before Pesach.
What if the Non-Jew Wants to Keep it?
If the non-Jew chooses to not sell the chametz back to the Jews after Pesach, we may not force him to do so. He may take possession of all of the chametz that he purchased. But he must pay the fair market value of each and every item he wishes to keep.
If the non-Jew dies during Pesach, the chametz can be bought back from his heirs.
The Spiritual Benefit of Cleaning for Chametz
Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kaidanover records a tradition of his: Any work that one labors in honor of Yom Tov of Pesach, especially if he is exhausted and worn out from the labor, destroys all of the avenging angels that are called “the plague of men.” Whoever toils in the mitzvah of Pesach is fixing the sin of wasted seed from which almost no man is free. It is therefore incumbent upon every person to fix what he can. G-d, in His great mercy, should accept the good intentions of His nation, the Jewish people, and redeem us speedily.
Ordering on Pesach
It is best to not order any Chametz during Pesach or even before Pesach if it will not be delivered before Pesach and included in the sale of Chametz.
A One Day Pesach Clean
Here is an interesting article that I came across. While I don’t agree with everything there, the general concept is correct.
• It is best to complete the kashering of one’s vessels before the time for burning chametz (in Miami, 12:18 p.m).
To Kasher a
• Metal Sink
◦One may kasher a metal sink with a blowtorch by heating the metal to the extent that a straw on the other side of it would burn. Practically, one should rotate the lit blowtorch in small circles over a small area for a few seconds and then move on to the next area. The same should be done for the faucet and the drain area.
◦Alternatively, one may kasher a metal sink by pouring boiling water over it and then “ironing” the wet metal with a hot, unplugged iron. The same should be done regarding the faucet of the sink. One should then pour cold water over the sink.
◦When using the second method, one should not use the sink with any hot water for the 24 hours prior to kashering.
• Porcelain or China Sink
◦ If one has a porcelain sink, it cannot be kashered. In this case, it is best to not use any hot water in that sink when washing dishes for the entire Pesach. One should line the sink and place a new wire rack on the bottom and a new plastic or rubber tub on the rack. If one uses a plastic tub without a hole in it, they may use hot water.
◦One may kasher a self-cleaning oven by running a self-clean cycle on the oven. As the door of the oven does not reach the same heat as the oven itself, one should cover the inside of the door with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
• Counter tops
◦If the countertop is made of silestone, porcelain enamel, corian, linoleum, plastic/formica or granite composite, it cannot be kashered. One should clean it well and cover it with a thick cover.
◦In theory, one may kasher countertops made of pure granite, marble, or metal. In practice, one must ascertain what kind of sealant was used on the granite or marble countertops and whether or not this material may be kashered. If it is kasherable, it can be done by a blowtorch (in the case of metal), or by pouring hot water and “ironing” it (see above). If one cannot pass a hot iron over it for fear that he may ruin it, he should simply clean it and cover it with a thick cover (e.g., an acrylic sheet). Alternatively, one can pour hot water on it and then cover it with aluminum foil (see below).
• Glass cook tops
◦There are opinions that these cannot be kashered. The Star K recommends that one turn the “burners” on to the highest temperature. Then, one should cover the actual cooking area with a metal disc and make sure not to put down the pot or any food on the area between the “burners.”
• Stovetop with Electric Coils
◦The electric coils can be kashered by being turned to the highest temperature until they turn red hot. The metal drip pans and other metal components should be well cleaned and covered.
◦The area between the burners should be kashered (if possible) or well covered with heavy – duty aluminum foil.
• Gas Stoves
◦The grates of a gas stovetop can be koshered by being left in an oven during a self-clean cycle. Alternatively, one can kasher them by rotating them (with a pair of tongs) over an open flame.
◦The area between the burners should kashered or covered, as above.
• Microwaves and dishwashers
◦It is not recommended that one kasher these items for Pesach, especially if they are made of plastic.
◦Many communities have a custom not to kasher knives for Pesach lest some chametz be stuck between the blade and the handle.
• Kashering False Teeth
◦One who has a denture should kasher it for Pesach. If one is afraid that boiling water will ruin the denture, he can place it in a paper cup and pour very hot (but not boiling) water on it. Rinse immediately with cold water.
◦Some people who have fillings are strict to not eat or drink hot chametz within 24 hours of when chametz will become forbidden. In addition, some say that one who has fillings should not eat garlic or other sharp foods on Pesach as these may extract some of the “taste” absorbed in the fillings.
To Cover, Kasher or Do Both?
When preparing their kitchens for Pesach, many people both kasher their counter tops and cover them with foil or other coverings. Although this is not necessary by the letter of the law, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach would, in fact, advise this method.
This stringency only applies if one is using a thin material such as aluminum foil to cover the counters. If, however, one is using a thick material to cover one’s counter, one need not be strict to kasher the counter before covering.
•The reason for covering after kashering is in case the kashering was not done in the best way. (It is best to kasher a countertop with a hot stone or iron in addition to the hot water. This is not possible with all counter tops.)
•The reason for kashering despite the fact that it will be covered is in case the liquid gets underneath the covering. If a hot pot is then placed on top of that area, it can heat up the liquid, and this can extract the chametz from the countertop and pass it through the cover into the pot (if there is also liquid between the cover and the pot). When there is liquid and heat connecting two utensils, taste can be transferred. Whereas if the covering is thick, even if liquid gets underneath the covering, the pot will not be able to heat it up.
Immersing New Utensils
One who purchases new utensils for Pesach should make sure to immerse them in a Mikvah before using them.
For more on this topic, see here
Seder Shopping and Preparation List
It is best to use handmade Shmurah Matzah throughout Pesach. If this is not possible, one should purchase Shmurah machine-matzah. If this is not possible and one is purchasing regular machine matzah, one should make sure that there is reliable Rabbinic supervision on the Matzah.
Some people prepare plastic baggies that contain one kezayit of matzah for each participant of the Seder. This is to save time during the Seder when one would have to take time to measure and distribute these. (See below for the volume of a kezayit.) These baggies should be kept on the side rather than on the Seder table itself during the recitation of the Hagaddah.
When preparing matzah for the Seder, one should make sure that the matzot do not have a fold in them as they may be considered Chametz. That part of the Matzah should be discarded together with an additional inch around that area. The same applies to a matzah with a large bubble in it. (The matzah bakery is supposed to check for these problems, so it is not so common to find these.)
According to Ashkenazic custom, the marror (bitter herbs) may consist of either romaine lettuce, horseradish or a combination of both. The Chabad custom is to use a combination of romaine lettuce and horseradish. As romaine lettuce is occasionally infested with bugs, one must wash each leaf thoroughly and check the leaves individually. The horseradish must be grated before Shabbat begins. If one runs out of grated horseradish and needs some for the second seder, some permit to grate with a shinuy (an unusual way) after Shabbat ends. According to Sefardic custom, endives may also be used.
One may not use store-bought horseradish from a jar for the Seder that contains ingredients other than horseradish (e.g., vinegar) as these invalidate their use.
The meat for the shank bone can be made from a chicken or a lamb. Chabad custom is to use the chicken neck which somewhat resembles an arm. Some use the leg or the wing of the chicken. One should roast it and (according to Chabad custom) strip off most of the meat. This is in order to ensure that no one actually mistakes this meat for the meat of the real Korban Pesach (Pesach sacrifice). The zro’ah should be roasted over coals, an open flame or directly above an electric burner. One should roast the zro’ah (shank bone) before nightfall.
One should make sure to have enough boiled eggs both for every Seder plate as well as for all of the participants to eat during the meal (according to the Ashkenaz custom).
The charoset is a reminder of the mortar that the Jews had to mix while enslaved in Egypt. According to Chabad custom, the charoset is made of apples or pears, nuts (walnuts and/or almonds), and wine. The apples are reminiscent of the apple trees that were near the fields in Egypt, as the verse says, “Under the apple trees I roused you” (Song of Songs, 8, 5). The tartness of the apple signifies that the Jewish people’s teeth were weakened from labor. The wine represents the blood of the Jewish babies that were actually built into some of the walls as bricks. Some say that it also represents the blood of the first plague which was a punishment for the Egyptians having spilt the blood of the Jewish children. Normally, the wine is added later, before the dipping of the maror. This year, since the first Seder is on Shabbat, one should add the wine before Shabbat. According to Sephardic custom, the charoset may include dates, figs, and pomegranates as the Jewish people are compared to these fruit. Many also include strips of cinnamon and ginger in order to resemble the straw that Jewish people had to (find and) add to the mortar they were compelled to make.
According to Chabad custom, the vegetable used for Karpas should be either potatoes or onion. According to other customs it may be other vegetables that are used for dipping, e.g., celery, parsley, radish, and any vegetable whose bracha is Ha’adamah when raw. (I have heard that some people use bananas for Karpas since their bracha is Ha’adamah. This seems to me to be incorrect. The point of having a raw vegetable is that these are normally used for dipping. Certainly bananas are not usually dipped in salt water or in any dip. It would seem that the only reason cooked potatoes are used, according to Chabad custom, is that there was a dearth of raw vegetables in Eastern Europe in earlier generations.) One may not use lettuce or any of the species that may be used for maror (see above).
It is preferable to use red wine for the Seder. This is because red wine is considered a more important product and because it reminds us of the blood of the murdered Jewish babies in which Pharaoh would bathe. One who is unable to drink wine may dilute it with grape juice or simply use grape juice.
If one will have guests at his Seder table who are not Shabbat-observant, it is best to use wine that is mevushal (cooked).
Please be aware that not all grape juices are mevushal. See here.
See also here for a comprehensive article regarding what makes wine mevushal.
If one purchases wine from Israel that is from the year 2008 or 2015, it may be from Shmittah produce. (Check the label.) Although such wine is kosher, it may not be wasted. When pouring a cup of such wine, one should not make the cup overflow. In addition, one may not use this wine for the second cup of the Seder as some of that cup is poured out. See here.
•The minimum size of each of the four cups of wine should be 3 or 3.2 oz. Some say the cups should contain 5 ounces.
According to Ashkenazic custom, no roasted meat or chicken should be served at the seder. This is to ensure that no one thinks that the actual Korban Pesach (Paschal lamb), which was roasted, is being served. Chicken or meat marinated and cooked in a considerable amount of liquid is considered cooked and is acceptable.
Sefardic tradition permits roasted meat as long as it is not a lamb or a goat that is roasted whole (as the Korban Pesach was).
14 Nissan/April 10
Bedikat Chametz (The Search for Chametz)
•Immediately after nightfall (8:05 p.m., Miami time), we search for the Chametz (leavened bread and grain products).
•The Minyan in Shul (or one that ordinarily davens Maariv with a Minyan) should daven Maariv (the evening service) before doing the bedika (search). However, one who normally davens Maariv at home should first do the search, and then daven Maariv.
•One who usually takes a long time to do the search should daven before the search, lest he forget to daven later.
•It is forbidden to work, eat, or even learn Torah from sundown (7:41 pm) until completing the search. If one wishes to study Torah at that time, he should appoint someone to remind him at nightfall that he must stop his study and search for Chametz. During the half hour before the stars emerge, one may eat a snack (i.e., fruit or grain foods that are less than the size of an egg). After nightfall, however, one should not eat anything until after checking.
•The house must be thoroughly cleaned before doing the search. This should be done in the days and weeks leading up to Pesach. One should take a candle with a single wick (preferably a beeswax candle) along with a feather and a wooden spoon and search throughout the entire house. This bedika should include garages, cars, and businesses. One must check any room where Chametz may possibly have been brought. In a house with small children this includes the bathrooms. Purses, pockets, children’s furniture, etc., must also be cleaned out and checked to make sure that there is no Chametz in them.
•One should also check their medicine chest (see below).
•It has been pointed out that many dried flower arrangements have stalks of wheat added, as do some mixtures of potpourri. Also: it is common for children to use macaroni for art projects. One should make sure to dispose of (or sell) them before Pesach.
•Any area which will be sold to a gentile for the duration of Pesach (see below) need not be checked.
•The front and back yards need not be checked as the assumption is that the birds would have consumed any chametz left there.
•If one left chametz there for the birds to eat, one should check that area at the time of the burning of chametz to make sure that the birds actually consumed (or removed) the chametz.
•Shuls and study halls (Batei Knesset and Battei Midrash) must be checked with a Bracha. This is the responsibility of the shamash (shul attendant) or whoever is in charge of the Shul.
◦It is best for the shamash (or whoever is charged with checking the shul) to refrain from eating before doing the bedikah.
•Any Chametz that will be eaten, up until Friday morning, should be put away in a designated secure area before the search begins.
•Before the search, it is customary to place 10 (hard) pieces of bread wrapped in paper in different parts of the house.
◦The reason for this custom is to ensure there will be some chametz found during the checking. This in turn ensures that that one will burn the chametz the next day and nullify the chametz at that time.
◦In addition, since chametz represents the Yetzer Hara, we put out these pieces to symbolize that no one should be so presumptuous to say that they have conquered their Yetzer Harah and that they have no evil desires. Anyone who thinks that they are perfect has not even begun to serve G-d.
◦The number 10 corresponds to the 10 levels of evil that we ask G-d to eradicate from the world as well as the 10 makot (plagues) G-d brought upon the Egyptians and will bring upon our enemies in the future. G-d will also usher us into 10 corresponding levels of holiness.
•Those who hide these pieces should make sure to remember where they are hidden in case the one checking has difficulty finding them.
•Before beginning the search we recite the Brachah “Asher Kidshanu B’mitzvotav V’tzivonu Al Biur Chometz.”
◦We make the Bracha – “al biur chametz – on the destroying the Chametz” rather than “al bedikat chametz – on the checking of chametz” because the objective of the checking is to find and destroy the chametz.
◦We do not recite the blessing of shehechiyanu on this mitzvah since it is a mitzvah that is performed in preparation for the Yom Tov (holiday). It is therefore included in the shehechiyanu blessing which we will say on Yom Tov.
•Some have a custom to wash their hands before reciting this Bracha.
•One may not talk between saying the Brachah and the start of the Bedika. It is preferable not to talk throughout the entire search unless it is something pertaining to the search.
◦One who goes to the bathroom in the middle of the Bedikah should say the blessing of Asher Yatzar and not delay the blessing until later.
•One should say the Brachah in the room where he will begin his search. If many people will participate in checking the house, they should all hear the blessing and start checking near that location. They may then spread throughout the house.
•It is proper for all (male) household members to personally participate in the checking of at least one area. Although by the letter of the law, one may rely on the checking of a child under Bar Mitzvah, it is best not to do so.
•Following the search, the Chabad custom is to tie a string around the bag containing the Chametz. One should put the feather, the remains of the candle, and the wooden spoon, in the bag as well. The handle of the spoon should protrude from the bag. The bag should be put away in a secure place until the next morning, at which time it should be burnt (see below).
Searching Your Heart
The Talmud says, that when checking for chametz, if there is hole in the wall that is too high or one that is too deep so that the hand cannot reach there, one should simply nullify the chametz in his hear and that is sufficient.
The search for chametz symbolizes our search for negative actions and traits within ourselves. A person may say, “How can I possibly correct all my mistakes and sins if I don’t remember all of them.” The Talmud alludes to this by saying whatever you cannot reach, you need only nullify in your heart. This means that one does not need to actively repent on the misdeeds that he cannot remember. One need only repent on the sins that he is aware of. G-d, who knows all of one’s misdeeds from the day he was born, considers that since we did our best and repented on the sins that we recalled, had we remembered the others, we certainly would have repented on those as well. He therefore forgives us for all our sins.
Bitul Chametz – Nullifying the Chametz
•Following the Bedika one should recite Kol Chamira (nullification of Chametz) which is found on page 406 in the Siddur. In this paragraph, one declares ownerless (hefker) any Chametz not found during the search. It is of utmost importance to understand the meaning of Kol Chamira. If one does not understand the Aramaic, one should say the declaration of Kol Chamira in a language that one does understand.
•The text in English is: “All kinds of chametz or yeast that is in my possession, that I haven’t seen or that I haven’t eliminated, should be considered nullified and ownerless, as the dust of the earth.”
Forgot to Check
•If one forgot to check any of the above areas, one should do so on Monday morning or even during the holiday of Pesach itself (but not on Shabbat, as a candle is muktzeh on Shabbat). One should say a bracha before this second checking. Chametz found on the actual Yom Tov or Shabbat days (Shabbat, Sunday, Friday and the following Shabbat) should be covered immediately (but not moved as it is muktzah). Chametz found on Chol HaMoed (April 13 -16) should be burned or put into the area sold to a gentile.
Going Away for the Holiday?
•If one is at a hotel for Yom Tov, one must check the room in which he is staying. If one arrives with time to check on Sunday night or early Monday morning, one should do so with a bracha, a candle or flashlight, as well as with the ten pieces of bread, recite the kol Chamirah etc.
•If one arrives on Sunday, Erev Pesach, after the time of burning chametz or during Chol HaMoed for that matter, one still must check with a bracha, but should not put out any bread as it is forbidden to possess any bread after the time for burning chametz.
•If one checks into a hotel room on Chol HaMo’ed, one should check the room immediately upon arrival with a candle after saying a bracha.
•Some say that if one arrives at a clean hotel room after the time of burning chametz (or during Chol HaMoed), they need not check for chametz as the chametz that may be there does not belong to them nor are they likely to eat it (if it is there) since it is probably not kosher and not appetizing.
Day of Erev Pesach
14 Nissan/April 10
On this day Ashkenazim do not recite the prayer of Mizmor LeTodah, Psalm 100 that is normally recited in the morning prayers after Baruch She’omar. Since this paragraph corresponds to the thanksgiving offering which could not be offered on this day, it is omitted. (The thanksgiving offering included 10 loaves of Chametz and could therefore not be offered on Erev Pesach when there is very little time to eat Chametz.) The prayer is also omitted on Chol HaMoe’ed.
Sefardic custom is to recite this prayer both on Erev Pesach and on Chol HaMo’ed Pesach.
Taanit Bechorim (Fast of the Firstborn)
•It is customary for all firstborn males (of either or both parents) to fast in commemoration of the miracle of G-d’s saving the firstborn Jews in Egypt.
•If one partakes in a Seudat Mitzvah (Brit Milah, Pidyon Haben or Siyum (completion of a Talmudic Tractate), one becomes exempt from fasting.
•Even if one is not a firstborn, one must fast (or take part in a Siyum) on behalf of one’s firstborn son who is too young to fast. If one is a firstborn and has a firstborn son under bar Mitzvah, some say that the mother should fast (or hear a siyum etc.) in the place of her young son. Some say this is not necessary. If the fast is difficult, one may rely on the lenient opinion.
•It is forbidden to eat or drink from dawn (5:48 a.m., Miami time) until participating in the Siyum.
Eating Matzah and Other Seder Victuals
It is forbidden to eat Matzah on this day as this is not yet the time of the mitzvah, and eating would diminish the importance of eating it at the proper time.Some have the custom to refrain from eating Matzah from the beginning of the month of Nissan. Others refrain from after Purim.
One may eat cooked Matzah (e.g. kneidlach) on Erev Pesach. One who does not eat gebrochts should not eat this after the last time for eating chametz (11:14 a.m. in Miami).
Some say one should not eat baked products made with matzah meal on this day as these would be Hamotzie if one were to eat large quantities of them.
One may eat egg Matzah until the last time for eating chametz (11:14 a.m. in Miami) Sefardim may eat egg Matzah on Erev Pesach and throughout Pesach. (But should not eat more than the size of an egg (k’zayit) in the late afternoon, see below.)
It is the Chabad custom not to eat any of the ingredients of the Maror and Charoset on Erev Pesach or the first day of Yom Tov until after Korech of the second seder (except of course at the first Seder).
Pet Food on Pesach
•Many pet foods contain Chametz. One should either get rid of or sell any pet food that may contain chametz before the time for burning chametz (12:18 p.m. in Miami): on Friday, Erev Pesach. Please click here for a list of Kosher for Pesach pet food.
•One may feed his pet kitniyot (legumes, see below) on Pesach.
•One should wash out his pet’s feeding bowl and/or cage to ensure that there is no actual chametz there.
•If one is leaving his pet in the care of a gentile for Pesach, he should provide the gentile with kosher-for-Pesach pet food as one may not benefit from Chametz on Pesach.
•If this is impossible, he should sell his pet (and the food) to a gentile. Speak to a competent rabbi regarding this.
•When purchasing chametz pet food after Pesach, one should make sure not to purchase from a Jewish-owned store that did not sell their chametz until sufficient time has passed for their stock to turn over.
Any cosmetic product that is not fit for consumption by a dog does not need to be kosher for Pesach. Some people are strict about using products which are chametz- free.
Certainly it is proper to be strict regarding anything which may be ingested such as lipstick or toothpaste.
See here for more information in this regard.
One who is strict should include perfumes, deodorants and any other cosmetic product that may contain chametz in the sale of Chametz to a non-Jew before Pesach.
There are three levels of sick people that have differing halachot regarding the medicines they may take. One should discuss the specifics of their case with a competent rabbi.
•One who has a life-threatening condition should continue to take the necessary medication even if it contains chametz.
•If available, it is best to switch to a similar medication that does not contain chametz or to a tablet that can be swallowed instead of chewed.
•One who has a serious illness that is not life-threatening may take medication that is swallowed as a pill or tablet even if it contains chametz.
•Certainly, if a non-chametz alternative can be found, this is preferred.
•A person in this situation may not ingest chewable tablets or a liquid medication that contains chametz. He may, however, take medication that contains kitniyot.
•One who is healthy or one who has a minor ailment may not swallow or ingest a pill that may contain chametz or a majority of kitniyot.
•In general, one who has only a slight illness may not take medicine on Shabbat or on the first day of Yom Tov for fear that this may lead to his grinding herbs to make more medicine. He may take medicine on the second day of Yom Tov.
Click here and scroll to page 111for a partial list of medications that may contain chametz.
One should consult a competent rabbi regarding their specific medicinal needs on Pesach.
Although legumes (kitniyot) are not and cannot become chametz, the early Ashkenazi authorities forbade their consumption on Pesach.
Several reasons are given for this custom.
•Being that kitniyot are cooked in ways similar to how the five grains are cooked, if one would be allowed to cook them, one could mistakenly think that one may cook the five grains in similar ways.
•Kitniyot are often made into flour. Were one allowed to cook with them, it may inadvertently lead to cooking with the flours of the five grains which is absolutely forbidden.
•Legumes and the like are often processed on equipment that is used for the five grains. It is therefore likely that there some of the five grains might be mixed in with the legumes and other grains.
•In addition, there are some types of grains that are in fact subcategories of the five grains listed above and are able to become chametz, a fact which not everyone is aware of. To prevent such a severe transgression from happening, the sages forbade the use of all legumes and grains.
Definition of Kitniyot
Kitniyot is defined as a food of which only the seed is consumed and is cooked in a manner resembling the cooking of grains. If the food is a vegetable that is eaten, neither the vegetable nor the seeds of the vegetable are considered kitniyot.
Several examples of kitniyot are rice, millet, buckwheat, corn, peanuts, peas, sesame seeds, and all beans and lentils. Potatoes are not considered kitniyot because they are large and do not resemble grains or seeds. In addition, there is no (real) possibility of there being any grain mixed in with them. Coffee beans are not considered kitniyot because it grows on a tree.
In Case of Illness
As mentioned above, one who is unwell may eat kitniyot if this is necessary. Similarly, one may feed small children kitniyot that is otherwise kosher for Pesach, if this is necessary for the child’s health. In this case, one should prepare these foods on utensils that are not used by the rest of the family.
Most of the rabbis I have consulted with concur that quinoa falls under the category of kitniyot. Some authorities disagree and do not consider it kitniyot.If one holds by this opinion, one must check the quinoa very carefully to ensure there is no grain mixed in it.
One may own kitnoyot on Pesach or benefit from it (i.e., a cleaning product that contains it may be used) although they may not consume it.
Most Sefardic communities did not accept the prohibition of Kitniyot. Despite this, before eating legumes on Pesach, a Sefardi must thoroughly check them to ensure that there is no grain mixed in. I heard that many have the custom of checking each grain three (or seven!) times. Because of the difficulty in checking rice properly, some Sefardic communities do not consume rice on Pesach.
If the husband is Sefardic and the wife Ashkenazic or vice versa, the family should follow the custom of the husband. It would not be proper for her to be strict with herself as she would then not be allowed to cook for her husband on Yom Tov (see Kaf HaChaim, 453, 16 an