Sponsored by the Sussman and Stern Families in Honor of Rabbi Aryeh and Rebbetzin (Morah) Channy Citron and Family, And in Memory of Devorah bas Ze’ev. May Hashem bless all of the Jewish people with a Kosher, Healthy and Happy Pesach
Parsha Halacha – Parshat Vayakhel-Pikudei
Shabbat Chazak / Parshat HaChodesh / Shabbat Mevarchim Chodesh Nissan
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The Month of Nissan
The month of Nissan is the first month of the year. In this month, which begins this year on Wednesday night/Thursday, March 25-26, 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 uttered in the previous year.
Sources: Benei Yissachar based on the Sefer Yetzirah
No Tachnun or Fasting
No Tachnun (confessionary prayer) is said throughout the entire month of Nissan.
Shulchan Aruch HaRav 429, 8 and 9
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 that 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.
Sources: Ta’amei HaMinhagim explains that this is alluded to in the verse “הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים This month is for you rosh chodashim.” This can be interpreted to mean: This entire month is a celebratory time akin to Rosh Chodesh.
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.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid, 9
On the first twelve days of the month of Nissan it is customary in many communities to recite the Nasi every day after Shacharit (morning prayers). (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. Following this a prayer called Yehi Ratzon is recited in which we askG-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 one whe 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.
Sources: Hayom Yom, Nissan 1, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 429:15, Piskei Teshuvot, 429, note 31 based on the Bnei Yissachar, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, and the Yitav Lev of Siget, Sha’arei Halacha UMinhag, 2, page 189 and Ta’amei HaMinhagim.
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: “ בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא חִסַּר בְּעוֹלָמוֹ כְּלוּם וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיּוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת לֵהָנוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם.. 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.
See here for more information
Sources: Seder Birkat Hanehenin, 13:14, Mishnah Berurah, 226:5, Kaf HaChaim, 226:2, Piskei Teshuvot 226:1 and the sources quoted there
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.
One may use maser funds (money from one’s tithe for charity) for Maot Chittim.
A person is considered a member of the community if he has lived there for 30 days or has moved there and plans to stay.
Sources: Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in Halichot Shlomo, Chodesh Nissan, 2 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 429:5 -7
Thursday, March 25 and 26
This day is the yahrtzeit of Ahron’s two older sons, Nadav and Avihu. The Talmud says that this day took “ten crowns.” See here
Friday, March 26 and 27
Yahrtzeit of the Rebbe Rashab, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber Schneersohn – Fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, in 1920.
10 Nissan/April 3 and 4
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.
This day is the yahrtzeit of Miriam, the prophetess.
Sources: Ta’amei HaMinhagim in the name of the Pri Chadash, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 429:2-3 and 430:1-2
Motzei Shabbat and Sunday
11 (Yud-Aleph) Nissan/
April 4 and 5
This day marks the 118th birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Chabad Chassidim will begin reciting Psalm 119 on a daily basis for the following year.
Sources: See Sefer HaSichot, 5748, vol. 1 page 332
Monday night and Tuesday
13 Nissan/April 6 and 7
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).
Sources: See Igrot Kodesh, vol. 11, pg. 6, Likkutei Sichos vol 1, p 243-4 and vol. 22 page 290 where the Rebbe encourages that Shmura Matzah be distributed to the soldiers in the Israeli army. Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad adds that people organizing communal Sedarim in hotels and the like should also attend to this.
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.
Sources: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 448. In Hilchot Mechirat Chametz, printed after the laws of Pesach in the Shulchan Aruch HaRav the Alter Rebbe says that if the gentile does not pay for the Chametz in full before Pesach, there must be another Jew who guarantees to pay on his behalf, should the gentile choose to keep the Chametz. This is called Ariev Kablan. (Certainly, if this happens, this Jew would have to pay all of the Chametz owners for their chametz which he would then get to keep in order to recoup his losses.) See HaYom Yom, 14th of Nissan and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 248:25. See Piskei Teshuvot, 448, 11 and sources quoted there, Sha’arei Halacha UMinhag, vol. 2, page 83, Likutei Sichot, vol. 22:289 and vol. 18:369. See also Piskei Teshuvot, 448:8 for the various opinions on this matter.
One who cannot make it to the Rabbi to fill out the sale of chametz document in person may do so online or by telephone or email.
Chametz 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’ chametz too. Draping a cloth over the chametz 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 chametz is stored will often be 10 tefachim high, thus qualifying as a mechitzah. However, one cannot ‘sell’ the chametz 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.)
Sources: Piskei Teshuvot, 448:11, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 440, 5, cited here
Finding a Piece of Chametz on Pesach
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.
Sources: Mikra’ei Kodesh, Pesach, vol. 1, Siman 74 and Piskei Teshuvot, 446, note 7
Selling Real Chametz
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.
Sources: See Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 80, that the Tzemach Tzedek and the Rebbe Rashab (the third and fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe respectively) would include actual chametz in their sales of chametz. See also sources quoted in Piskei Teshuvot, 448, footnotes 25 and 26 and Sha’arei Teshuvah, 448:2
When to Eat?
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.
Different Time Zone
If one is in a different time zone than his chametz, the main halacha is that we follow the time of the owner of the chametz. I.e., he may sell the chametz up until the sixth hour of Erev Pesach in his location even if that time has passed in the location of the chametz. It is best to be strict and to sell the chametz before the sixth hour of the day in both locations. I.e., if the owner’s location is earlier to sell it before the sixth hour in that place but if the location of the chametz is in an earlier time zone, to sell it before the sixth hour in that location.
As far as buying the chametz back after Pesach, 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.
Sources: See Piskei Teshuvot 443:1 and in the sources quoted there and 448:27
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.
Sources: See ibid, 448:14 and note 62 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid:12 and 13
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.
Sources: See Sha’arei Halacha UMinhag, vol. 2, pages 84 – 97
What if the Non-Jew Wants to Keep it?
If the non-Jew chooses not to 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.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid:25. See Piskei Teshuvot, 448:28. See Responsa of Maharash Engel, vol 2:58 who argues that if the non-Jew converts to Judaism during Pesach, the Chametz remains permissible since he certainly did not intend to acquire it after his conversion.
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 repair what he can. G-d, in His great mercy, should accept the good intentions of His nation, the Jewish people, and redeem us speedily.
Sources: Kav HaYashar cited in Ta’amei HaMinhagim
Ordering on Pesach
It is best not to 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).
In general it is essential to first clean thoroughly, any item one wishes to kasher.
To Kasher a:
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 not to 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.
See Piskei Teshuvot 451:11
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.
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, smooth wood 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).
There are opinions that glass cooktops cannot be kashered. The Star K recommends that one turn the “burners” on to the highest temperature. One should then 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.
The grates of a gas stovetop can be kashered 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. Some permit koshering a microwave oven by boiling water in them or by pouring hot water onto the surfaces of the oven (after not using them for 24 hours). If the dishwasher has a trap that catches food scraps this must be cleaned well before the kashring can take place. One should consult their Rav.
Sources: See Piskei Teshuvot, 22 and the sources there
Many communities have a custom not to kasher knives for Pesach lest some chametz be stuck between the blade and the handle. Some say that this custom doesn’t apply nowadays when it is easy to clean the area where the blade connects to the handle.
Kashering False Teeth
One who has a denture should kasher it for Pesach after cleaning it very well. 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.
Sources: Halichot Shlomo, Pesach. See Piskei Teshuvot, 451:23
To Cover, Kasher or Do Both?
When preparing their kitchens for Pesach, many people both kasher their countertops 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. See ibid
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 countertops.)
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.
Sources: I heard this from Rav Chaim Shalom Deitch, Rosh Kollel of Tzemach Tzedek Kollel in Yerushalayim
Immersing New Utensils
One who purchases new utensils for Pesach should make sure to immerse them in a Mikvah before using them. An ocean or natural lake is a kosher mikvah for this purpose. One who does not have access to these or to a kosher mikvah should contact one’s local orthodox rabbi for information on how to proceed. See here.
Some kasher new utensils before using them in case they were treated with non-kosher oils.
For more on this topic, see here.
Seder Shopping and Preparation List
It is best to eat handmade Shmurah Matzah exclusively 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 and that it is kosher for Pesach.
Some people prepare plastic baggies that contain one kezayit (olive size piece) 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.
See Shelah, Masechet Pesachim, Ner Mitzvah, 37, who writes that one should not place extra matzah on the Seder table as one will then not fulfill the concept of removing the table by pushing away the ka’arah.
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, but they don’t necessarily find each one.)
Sources: Shulchan Aruch Harav, 463:16. See also Mishnah Berurah, 504:19 that one may grate horseradish directly onto a tablecloth or a table for use on that same day. But see Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 504:4 who is strict regarding this matter.
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 (and Yom Tov) begins. If one runs out of grated horseradish and needs some for the second seder, some permit to grate the horseradish 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 added ingredients rendr the horseradish unacceptable for the mitzvah of marror.
Sources: HaYom Yom Nissan 15, See Mishnah Berurah, 504:19 that one may grate horseradish directly onto a tablecloth or a table for use on that same day. But see Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 504:4 who is strict regarding this matter.
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 mistakes this meat for the meat of the actual 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. It is Chabad custom to not eat the zro’ah, even on the following day (see the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Haggadah.)
Sources: See Piskei Teshuvot 473:1, Pri Megadim in Eishel Avraham, 473:7 and Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad: “The Previous Rebbe would remove almost all the meat from the bone of the zro’a.”
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 who were placed into the walls as bricks. Some say that it also represents the blood of the first plague which was a punishment for the Egyptians spilling the blood of the Jewish children. The wine is added later, before the dipping of the maror. Some dry charoset should be set aside for use with the korech (for those who are careful with gebrochts) and for the second night (for those that wish to add wine after the maggid). 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.
Sources: Pesachim, 116a, Korban Ha’eidah, on Jerusalem Talmud, Pesachim, 10:3 with Penei Moshe and Korban Ha’eidah, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 473:32-33. See also Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that the Chabad custom is to no longer include spices for fear of their being contaminated by chametz.
According to Chabad custom, the vegetable used for Karpas should be either potatoes or onion.
See Seder Birkat HaNehenin, 6, 12 that the bracha on sharp onions is ho’adama if they are eaten raw even if only when accompanied by bread or the like. See also Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chaim 205:5 and Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 1:64 for other opinions.
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.
Sources: Responsa Chatam Sofer, end of Siman 132, Chok Yakov, 473:12, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 118:2 and Piskei Teshuvot, 273:13
(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).
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 473:16. But see there 475:22 and 23 that, if one has nothing else, he may use maror for karpas.
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. White wine is also acceptable if one cannot have red wine. One who is unable to drink wine may dilute it with grape juice or simply use grape juice.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav 472:26. I have heard in the name of Rav Zalman Shimon Dworkin, ob”m, that if one mixes two thirds grape juice with one third wine, that it is considered wine.
See Responsa Chazon Ovadiah (by Rav Ovadiah Yosef obm), Siman 1, that several acharonim hold that one must use alcoholic wine for the mitzvah of the four cups but that most acharonim hold that this is not necessary. Even those who are strict would agree that grape juice is sufficient for a person who is not well and cannot have regular wine. See also Igrot Kodesh, vol. 19, page 213 where the Lubavitcher Rebbe advised an ill person to use grape juice for the four cups of wine.
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.
Sources: According to Rav Avraham Chaim Na’eh it should have at least 3 ozs. (86 mils). According to Reb Moshe Feinstein it should have 3.2 ozs. See Chazon Ish O.C. 39
According to Ashkenazic custom, no roasted meat or chicken should be served at the seder (including the second 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).
Sources: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 476 and Mechaber, O.C. 476, 1
14 Nissan/April 7
Bedikat Chametz (The Search for Chametz)
Immediately after nightfall (8:04 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.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 431, 6 – 8. This is based on the principle of Tadir Veshe’eino Tadir, Tadir Kodem (something that is more common precedes something that is less common).
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 (7:40 p.m.) 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.
Sources: Biur Halacha, 431, D.H. Velo Yochal. But see Piskei Teshuvot, 431:7, that, based on other opinions, if one is very hungry one may eat a snack.
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.
The 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. (A wheat kernel can become chametz if soaked in water.) 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 has chametz in a compost heap, as long as it has decomposed to the point that it is no longer edible to a dog by the time of burning chametz, it is not necessary to destroy it.
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.
Sources: But see Piskei Teshuvot 433:6 who advises that the shamash have in mind the bedikah in shul when he makes the bracha before checking at home and that he check the shul immediately after checking his home. This is because some question the need to make a bracha on the bedikah of a 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 Wednesday 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).
Sources: Igrot Kodesh, 2, pg. 344, HaYom Yom, Nissan 14, Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 432:8, 11-12, 433:5-6, 21, 28, 36, 42, and 434:1 Piskei Teshuvot, 431, 6, See Sha’ar HaKolel, Seder Shel Pesach, 3, Ta’amei HaMinhagim in the name of the Avodat Yisrael (the Kozhnitzer Maggid) and the Kav HaYashar, Kovetz Mibait Levi, 1 cited in Piskei Teshuvot, 432:1 and Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad
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 heart 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 for 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 for the sins that we recalled, had we remembered the others, we certainly would have repented for those as well. He therefore forgives us for all our sins.
Sources: Pesachim 8a and Taamei HaMinhagim, citing the Avodat Yisrael
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. Source: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 434:8
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 Wednesday morning or even during the holiday of Pesach itself if necessary (but not on Shabbat, as a candle is muktzeh on Shabbat). Chametz found on the actual Yom Tov or Shabbat days (Thursday, Friday and Shabbat and the following Wednesday and Thursday) should be covered immediately (but not moved as it is muktzah). Chametz found on Chol HaMoed (April 12 – 14) should be burned or put into the area sold to a gentile.
Note: According to the halacha, one should say a bracha before this second checking. But see above page 4 that if one sold his chametz to a non-Jew, some say that any chametz found is considered already sold to that gentile. As such, no bracha should be recited on this bedikah after the sale of Chametz is effective.
Source: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 435 and 446
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 Thursday night or early Friday 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 Friday, Erev Pesach, after the time of burning chametz or during Chol HaMoed for that matter, one still must check for chametz, 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. Source: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 437
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. (Source: Rabbi Chaim Oberlander in Kovetz Ohr Yisrael, Nissan 5777, page 171 and on.)
In practice, I heard from Rabbi Avraham T. Wosner of Monsey, N.Y., that in these cases one should check without a bracha.
Day of Erev Pesach
14 Nissan/April 8
On Erev Pesach Ashkenazim omit the prayer of Mizmor LeTodah, Psalm 100 that is normally recited in the morning prayers after Baruch She’omar since this prayer corresponds to the thanksgiving offering which could not be offered on this day. (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.) For this reason the prayer is also omitted on Chol HaMoe’ed.
Sefardic custom is to recite Mizmor LeTodah both on Erev Pesach and on Chol HaMo’ed Pesach.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 51:1 and 429:13 see Shiyurei Knesset HaGedolah, quoted in Ba’er Heitev on 51:10, and Yalkut Yosef 51:32
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.
The Chatam Sofer explains (Chiddushim on Pesachim 108a) that in Egypt, the firstborn (or their fathers) fasted on Erev Pesach and prayed that they not pass away that night during the plague of the firstborn. We continue to fast in commemoration of that fast.
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.
A firstborn who was born through a cesarean section should also partake in a siyum.
See Mishnah Berurah with Dirshu (470 note 2) that some say he need not fast but that it is best to hear a siyum.
It is forbidden to eat or drink from dawn (5:50 a.m., Miami time) until participating in the siyum.
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ruled that one must hear the actual siyum in order to be allowed to break their fast. Some are lenient and allow one to break their fast even if they missed the actual siyum if they contribute financially (or otherwise assist) to the siyum feast.
One who cannot participate in a siyum and is weak and will have trouble making a Seder while fasting may redeem the fast with money which he should give to support poor Torah scholars.
One who makes a siyum at home may eat even if he does not make a meal in which others participate.
If necessary, one may consider completing the following holy books as worthy of making a siyum (Mishnah Berurah with Dirshu 470 note 18):
A seder of Mishnayot
A book of Tanach as studied with one of the classical commentaries
One who cannot attend a siyum in person and would find it difficult to fast may hear the siyum over the telephone and then break his fast in celebration of this “siyum” (ibid note 21).
If one did not hear the siyum but received some of the food served there, some say that he may break his fast on that food (ibid note 23).
Sources: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 470:5, Halichot Shlomo, Erev Pesach, 1. See there in note 1 for an interesting explanation as to the nature of this fast. SeeSee Piskei Teshuvot, 470, notes, 51, 52 and 60, Ba’er Heitev 471:5 Sha’arei Halacha UMinhag, 2, page 82
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 (11:10 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 (11:15 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).
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 471:4,5,8, 11 – 12, Ba’er Hetev 471:5, Piskei Teshuvot, 471:3 quoting Shevet HaLevi, 8:117, Sefer HaMinhagim, pg. 37
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 (12:14 p.m. in Miami): on Wednesday, Erev Pesach. Please click here for more information. And here for a kosher-for-Pesach pet food list .
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.
Note: The Piskei Teshuvot, 442:2 and 4 brings several reasons for this stringency:
Some say that “anointing” is like drinking (Taz, Y.D. 117, 4)
If the item is edible to a “rough” person, some say it is proper to not own this (Minchat Elazar, 5, 34)
Some say that if the chametz can be removed from the product and restored to its edibility, it is still considered chametz
If the product was made specifically for a use other than consumption, some say it has the status of chametz even if it is not edible (insofar as one may not own it) [Responsa Sho’el UMaishiv, Mahadurah Kammah, 1, 143].
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 products 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.
Source: Mishnah Berurah, 453:7
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.
Source: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 453:5
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.
Sources: See O.C. 328 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 496:5
See here for more information.
See also here for a partial list of medications that do not 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:
Since 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.
Sources: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 453:3 – 5, Hagahot Maimoni, in the name of the Sema”k, quoted in the Bait Yosef, ibid and Biur Halacha 453, D.H. Veyesh Osrim, in the name of Rabbeinu Mano’ach
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 seeds, 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 they grow on a tree.
Sources: Pri Megadim, Eshel Avraham, end of Siman 464. See Chayei Adam, in Nishmat Adam, Shalah 20 who is strict regarding potatoes since they can be made into flour (potato starch). This is not the accepted halacha. See Piskei Teshuvot, 453:6 that some are strict regarding coffee.
In Case of Illness
As mentioned above, one who is unwell may eat kitniyot if it 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.
Sources: Piskei Teshuvot, 453:9 and Responsa Maharam Shik, O.C. 241
Most of the rabbis with whom I have consulted concur that quinoa falls under the category of kitniyot. Some authorities disagree and do not consider it kitniyot. One who holds by this opinion, must check the quinoa very carefully to ensure there is no grain mixed in it.
Note: The following Rabbanim ruled that quinoa is kitniyot:
The Badatz Eidah HaChareidit in Yerushalayim, Rabbi Avrohom Zvi Wosner of Monsey, Rabbi Yeruslavski of Nachalat Har Chabad, Rabbi Moshe Landau a”h, chief rabbi of Benei Berak, the Rabanim of the Bait Hora’ah of Rav Moshe Shaul Klein in Benei Berak and several other Chabad Rabbanim I asked.
Two Chabad Rabbanim as well as the OU and the Star K rule that it is not kitniyot.
There were three Chabad Rabbanim who said that it is a doubt and it is proper to be strict.
See Igrot Moshe, 5:63
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. Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 453:5
Most Sefardic communities did not accept the prohibition of Kitniyot. Despite this, before eating legumes on Pesach, Sefardim 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.
Sources: Tashbetz, 3:179, Igrot Moshe, O.C. 1:158, Yesodei Yeshurun, 6, pgs 239 and 240 and Kaf HaChaim, 453, 16 and 17
Assorted Chumrot (Stringencies)
Many have the custom to not mix matzah (or matzah meal) with water of other liquids.
Note: The Alter Rebbe (author of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav) explains the halachic basis for this stringency in his responsa (no. 6). Often some flour is not kneaded into the dough when matzah is baked quickly. This flour can occasionally be seen on the surface of the shmurah matzah. There are (minority) opinions that this flour can become chametz, even though it was baked in an oven, if it is mixed with water.
Many people have the custom of boiling and dissolving the sugar, then straining it in order to remove or nullify any chametz that may have found its way into the sugar. This should be done before Pesach begins, anytime before sunset.
See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 447:18 that before Pesach actually begins, chametz can be nullified by a ratio of 60 to 1.
After boiling the sugar it is customary to then Kasher the pot (or to have a special pot for boiling sugar).
When preparing food before Pesach, e.g. ice-cream, one need not use boiled sugar.
Some have a custom not to eat garlic on Pesach. The origin of this custom is not clear.
Sources: See Pri Megadim, Eshel Avraham, end of Siman 464. Rav Yaakov Landau is quoted as saying that the Chabad custom is not to be strict regarding garlic (Hiskashrus, number 453). See here for several explanations on this matter.
There is a tradition that the Tzemach Tzedek (the third Lubavitcher Rebbe) did not approve of drinking kosher for Pesach hard liquor – on Pesach.
See Otzar Minhagei Chabad, month of Nissan, page 54 and on
It is said that the Tzemach Tzedek forbade the eating of radishes on Pesach but did not give a reason for this stringency.
Note: See ibid, page 63 “Upon seeing that the Yeshivah had prepared a radish dish for the seder, the Rebbe Rashab remarked, ‘Didn’t you know that the Tzemach Tzedek forbade the eating of radishes on Pesach without giving a reason?’”
Milk and Meat
Some are strict and only consume milk that was milked before Pesach and meat from animals that were slaughtered before Pesach. The reason for this is that they fear that the animals were fed Chametz on Pesach and eating that meat or drinking that milk can be considered to be benefitting from Chametz. Source: See Piskei Teshuvot, 448:33
If an eating utensil falls to the floor on Pesach, it should be thoroughly washed before further use. Some are strict and put away any utensil that falls to the floor – until the next Pesach. Source: Nitei Gavriel, vol. 2, page 217
If food falls to the floor on Pesach, it is customary to only eat that food if it can be (washed and) peeled. Otherwise, it is customary to discard it. Ibid
It is worthwhile to investigate that the paper goods one is using do not contain starch.
See here for a method of checking for this.
According to star-k.org, any brand of paper towels may be used in the following manner: The first three sheets and the last sheet attached to the cardboard should not come into direct contact with food, since a cornstarch-based glue may have been used. (If using rolls of half-sized sheets, this rule applies to the first four and the last two sheets.) The rest of the roll may be used with hot or cold foods.
According to oukosher.org, plastic, paper or styrofoam plates do not need to have a kosher for Pesach certification. (But see star-k.org regarding this.)
Some are strict and only eat fruits and vegetables that can be peeled on Pesach. (Lettuce is an exception since it is necessary for the Seder.) One who needs certain foods for his health need not follow this stringency. Nitei Gavriel, vol. 2, 39, note 23
Some are strict on Pesach and avoid eating foods produced in factories. This is a stringent position and is not necessary by the letter of the law, as long as the item has a reliable Pesach hechsher.
Many do not use besamim (good smelling spices) on Pesach for fear that there may be chametz in them.
Don’t say the Word
In some communities, it is customary to not say the word “bread” on Pesach. Instead, the word “chametz” is used. Source: Ibid, page 219
Many people have a custom not to eat in other people’s homes during Pesach as each family has its own standards and customs on Pesach. Therefore, when visitors come over, it is customary not to pressure them to eat as there are many stringencies that certain families keep. Instead, one should place food on the table, and the visitors can choose to help themselves. Someone who is strict about not eating in other people’s home, may, however, eat at his parents or children (if they are both observing Pesach on more or less the same standard) as it is considered an extension of their own home.
Sources: HaYom Yom, Nissan 20 and Piskei Teshuvot, 468, note 60
One who is a member of a particular community that has accepted a certain stringency (chumrah) upon itself is not permitted (for as long as he is a member of that community) to stop keeping that stringency. Sources: Biur Halacha, 468, D.H. Vechumrei See Piskei Teshuvot, 468:12 as to the definition of “community” in the modern era.
One whose family has a certain stringency is not obligated to keep that stringency when he or she becomes an adult. If, however, one did continue to keep that stringency after becoming an adult, he is obligated to follow it.
If, for some reason, one wishes to stop observing a certain stringency, one should make a hatarat nedarim before doing so.
When a couple gets married, the wife should accept the husband’s stringent customs. She may also follow the husband’s lenient customs even if they are more lenient than the custom of her own family. Some say that she must do a hatarat nedarim (annulment of vows) to permit these. Some say that she should accept all of the husband’s customs, both the ones that are more lenient and those that are stricter. One should consult their rabbi in this regard.
Sources: See Piskei Teshuvot, 468:11 for the sources of these opinions and Pit’chei Teshuvah, Y.D. 214:5
Burning of the Chometz
The latest time for eating chometz on this day is 11:15 a.m. (in Miami)
One should burn the chametz before 12:18 p.m. (in Miami)
After burning the chametz, one should recite Kol Chamira This paragraph declares all chametz ownerless, whether one knows of its existence or not.
One who does not understand the text should recite it in a language that he understands.
The English text of this bitul is: “All kind of chametz or yeast that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have destroyed it or not, should be considered nullified and ownerless, as the dust of the earth.”
At this time, we also say a prayer that just as we burn the chametz, so too should G-d eradicate all evil from our hearts and from the entire world.
At this time, one should check his pockets and the pockets of his children to be certain that they contain no chametz.
Source: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 445
The Baking of Matzot Mitzvah
It is considered a special mitzvah to bake the matzot for the Seder plate on Erev Pesach in the afternoon. This is the time that the Jewish people would sacrifice the Paschal lamb in the Temple era. The Rebbe Rashab (the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe) would personally supervise the baking of his matzot in the afternoon of Erev Pesach. Those baking the Matzot Mitzvah as well as the Rebbe would recite the Hallel at this time (as the Jews did when sacrificing the Paschal lamb), but the Rebbe would interrupt as needed to give instructions regarding the baking of the matzot.
Source: HaYom Yom, Nissan 14
It is proper to get a haircut (and cut one’s nails, if needed) on this day in honor of Yom Tov. One should endeavor to do this before midday (1:22 p.m. in Miami), as the half day after midday until the evening is a minor holiday – the time that all of Israel would sacrifice the Pesach lamb. If the barber is a gentile, one may receive a haircut from him after midday as well. In addition, if one forgot to cut his nails in the morning, one may do so after midday as well.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch Harav, 468:4 and 6, 529:2
For the above reason, from midday, it is forbidden to work.
Another reason that work is prohibited is to ensure that everyone will have time to destroy their chametz and prepare their matzah and other Seder needs.
Some have a custom not to work in the morning as well.
Any type of work that is permitted on Chol HaMo’ed (see below) is also permitted at this time.
Sources: Ta’amei HaMinhagim in the name of Rashi, Pesachim 50a, See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 468:9
Gentiles at the Seder Table
One may not invite a non-Jew to the Seder or to any Yom Tov meal for that matter unless Shabbat
coincides with that Yom Tov. The reason for this is that one may inadvertently cook for the non-Jew on Yom Tov which is forbidden. On Shabbat, when one may not cook for anyone, it is permitted to invite a non-Jew. This applies when Shabbat coincides with Yom Tov and even when it coincides with the first night of Pesach. On a regular Yom Tov, if the non-Jew comes without being invited, one may feed him, but one may not cook or heat up food especially for him. One may, however, take food from a pot that was already heated and feed it to a gentile.
This is also true on the night of the Seder.
Although a gentile may not participate in eating the Paschal lamb in the era of the Holy Temple, there is no specific prohibition for a non-Jew regarding eating most of the items at the Seder table.
In order to commemorate the Paschal lamb, it is not considered proper to share the matzah (or the other foods) from the actual Seder plate with a non-Jew.
Sources: Orach Chaim 612:1, and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 2, Exodus 12:43, Kaf HaChaim, 558:19 citing the Shelah
It is a mitzvah to have guests at one’s Pesach Seder. One should ensure that one’s relatives and acquaintances have a place to go for their Seder. If one cannot invite them (or they cannot attend) due to health concerns, one should ensure that they have all of the supplies needed to make their own Seder.
When to Prepare?
Although, technically, checking the romaine lettuce for insects, setting the table and some of the other preparations for the Seder may be done on Yom Tov, it is best to do these beforehand in order to begin the Seder as soon as possible. This is important to ensure that the children not fall asleep and miss the Seder. Source: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 472, 1
One should grate the horseradish before Yom Tov begins.
One who is careful regarding gebrochts (not mixing matzah and liquids) should keep some dry charoset to use for the korech sandwich.
One should light a 25-hour candle before Yom Tov begins so that he will have a flame with which to kindle the Yom Tov candles on the second night of Yom Tov. Similarly, one should have a candle burning which they will be able to use to light the Friday night candles.
Erev Pesach in the Afternoon
It is best for men to go to the mikvah to purify themselves before the Yom Tov. This is a Segulah to be able to daven with deep contemplation and spiritual inspiration. Source: Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad, pg. 25
The ocean is a kosher mikvah. One may wear a loose-fitting bathing suit when immersing. For men, a swimming pool is also an acceptable mikvah.
One should not eat more than a small snack during the last quarter of the day (after 4:30 pm in Miami) in order to have an appetite for the matzah etc. Nor should one drink a small amount of wine or grape juice after this time.
After Minchah, one should recite the “Order of the Pesach Offering” (page 407 in the new Chabad Siddur). By studying about the Pesach sacrifice, it is considered as if we actually brought it.
A G-d-fearing person should say this in the proper time in order that the reading of it should be considered as if he sacrificed it. He should be troubled about the Churban (destruction) of the Bait HaMikdash (Holy Temple) and plead with the Almighty that it be rebuilt speedily in our days, Amen.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav 471:2 and Siddur HaRav
One must make an Eiruv Tavshillin on this day in order to permit cooking on Friday for Shabbat. One should take a complete matzah and a cooked portion of food and recite the text and blessing of the eiruv (page 327 in the new Chabad Siddur). One who is making the eiruv on behalf of the community should have someone else pick up the food used for the eiruv and say the text printed in the Siddur (ani mezakeh).
Note: The Alter Rebbe in the siddur does not specify that only the rabbi of the community should make the eiruv on behalf of the community. Dayan Raskin, in his Siddur Rabeinu HaZakein im Tziyunim (pg. 488), points to the Shela who says that it is proper for everyone to make his eiruv on behalf of the entire community.
For the cooked food, one should use a piece of fish, chicken or even an egg.
On Friday, the food should be prepared in such a way that it is all edible before Shabbat begins.
The food and matzah which one put aside should be kept separate and not eaten until Shabbat begins.
It is preferable to use the matzah of the eiruv for Lechem Mishnah on Friday night and on Shabbat day and then to eat it on Shabbat day for the third meal. This follows the principle that if an object was used for a mitzvah, it should be used again for another mitzvah.
One who did not eat the matzah or food on Shabbos has still fulfilled the mitzvah of eiruv.
One who forgot to make the eiruv may be able to rely on the eiruv made by the rabbi of the community as follows:
If one completely forgot to make an eiruv or was so busy that he did not have a chance to do it, he may rely on the eiruv that was made by the rabbi of the community on behalf of all the community members. Similarly, an unlearned person who did not know about this mitzvah or who thought that one may rely on the rabbi in the first place and thus did not make his own, may rely on the rabbi’s eiruv (even though his thinking was wrong). Some say that one may only rely on the rabbi’s eiruv one time in their lives.
On the other hand, one who postponed making the eiruv in a manner that is negligent and then forgot to make an eiruv, cannot rely on the rabbi’s eiruv. Rather he should give his ingredients to a friend or neighbor who did make an eiruv and have the friend cook them for him.
If one forgot to make the eiruv before Yom Tov, one may make it on the first day of Yom Tov. He should say, “If today is Yom Tov, then tomorrow is a weekday, and I don’t need to make an eiruv. If today is a weekday and tomorrow is a Yom Tov, I need to make an eiruv.” He should then proceed to the text of making the eiruv. According to the Alter Rebbe, one may recite the blessing in this case. Some disagree.
One who will be a guest for both eating and sleeping at someone else’s house need not make his own Eiruv Tavshilin as he is considered to be a member of his host’s family. Some say that he should make his own eiruv but without a bracha.
One who does not plan on cooking at all on Friday but is planning to light Shabbat candles should make an eiruv without a bracha.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav 527, See Mishnah Berurah, 527:22 and Kaf HaChaim, 48. Rabbi Akiva Eiger, cited in Mishnah Berurah, 74 . Piskei Teshuvot, 527:17
The First Seder Night
15 Nissan/ April 8
Candle-lighting time is 7:23 p.m. (in Miami)
The following two Brachot are recited: 1) L’Hadlik Ner shel Yom Tov and 2) Shehechiyanu.
Some women do not have the custom of reciting Shehechiyanu when lighting candles on Yom Tov. Rather, they listen to the recital of this bracha (or say it themselves) during kiddush.
Source: See Mishnah Berurah, 263:23
When praying ma’ariv on this night, one should recite the Amidah for the Shalosh Regalim (festivals – pg. 331 in the new Chabad Siddur).
After the Amidah, the Chassidic custom is to recite the complete Hallel, along with its Brachot, followed by Kaddish-Titkabel and Aleinu. This is also the Sefardic custom as well as that of the Vilna Ga’on. It is a custom that is mentioned in ancient texts. The reason for this custom is that we cannot say a blessing on the Hallel in the Haggadah since it is divided and recited in two parts. The blessing that we recite on the Hallel after davening serves to cover the Hallel in the Haggadah. Some say that women should recite this Hallel as well.
This Hallel is recited even if one is praying without a minyan.
The general Ashkenaz custom is to not recite Hallel in shul.
Sources: Siddur HaRav, O.C. 487:4, Mishnah Berurah “Dirshu,” 487, note 16 citing the Igrot Moshe O.C. vol. 2:94, see Masechet Sofrim, 20, 8, Yerushalmi, Brachot, 1, 5 as interpreted by Tosfot D.H. Yachid, Brachot, 14a, Ta’amei HaMinhagim, citing the Chok Yakov 487, 8, Yalkut Yosef, Mo’adim, Hilchot Leil Pesach, 9 quoting Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, Rama, 487
The First Seder
It is proper to start the Seder promptly in order that the children remain awake for the Four Questions (and the answers).
The Chabad custom is to make one’s Seder plate at night upon returning from shul.
Chabad custom is to place the items of the seder plate (e.g., the marror, karpas, zero’ah and egg) directly on the top of the three matzot (understandably with a cloth or napkins as separation). A cloth separation is also placed between each matzah. The actual Ke’arah (Seder plate) should be placed underneath the matzot.
Sources: Otzar Minhagei Chabad, pg. 129, Sefer Haminhagim Chabad, pg. 38 based on the writings of the Arizal.
In the Rebbe’s house, only the Rebbe would have a (silver) ka’arah, while the others would place their matzot on a cloth (Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe). In one’s own home, one should place one’s matzot on a plate (ka’arah) as explained.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe would read the instructions from the Alter Rebbe’s Siddur as he arranged the items on the Seder plate. He would also read the instructions for each part of the Seder (Kadesh urchattz etc. when he reached that point in the Seder.
According to Chabad custom one should select Matzot that are somewhat concave. They should be placed in such a way that they resemble a kli (receptacle).
It is proper that the matzot that one will distribute to the participants in the Seder be present in the room during the Haggadah as the Haggadah should be recited over the matzah that one will be eating.
It is sufficient, according to Halacha (Jewish law), that the leader of the Seder have a Seder plate. It is customary, however, in some Chassidic communities that every man or boy over the age of 13 have his own Seder plate. Note: It has been suggested that the reason for this is that, in those circles, the participants say the Haggadah themselves rather than simply listening to the leader of the Seder (see below). As such they are considered “independent” and need their own Seder plate (Sources: Otzar Minhagei Chabad, Nissan, page 14, based on Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 473, 24)
Some have the custom that the leader of the Seder wears a Kittel during the Seder. Since the Seder night is a very festive occasion, we temper this with a reminder that we are mortal. This is not the Chabad custom. Nor is it the Chabad custom to face any particular direction when making the seder
Hagaddah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Chaim Sholom Deitch of Yerushalayim, Taz, 472:3 Hagaddah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Women’s Obligations on the Seder Night
All the mitzvot of the Seder apply equally to men and women except that it is not obligatory for (Ashkenazi) women to lean while eating or drinking etc. (See below as to the reason for this.)
The reason for this is that the women played a prominent role in the redemption. It was in the merit of the righteous women that we were redeemed from Egypt.
Shulchan Aruch HaRav 472:25 and 10, Magen Avraham, 472:16 based on Pesachim, 108a and b
The Four Cups
Several reasons are given for the Rabbinic enactment to drink four cups of wine at the Seder table.
The cups correspond to the four expressions of redemption found in Exodus 6. These are וְהוֹצֵאתִי וְהִצַּלְתִּי וְגָאַלְתִּי and וְלָקַחְתִּי. (“And I will take them out, and I will save them from labor, and I will redeem them, and I will take them to me.”) The first cup corresponds to וְלָקַחְתִּי (And I will take them to me) as it discusses the fact that G-d chose us as a people. The second cup, which discusses the story of the Exodus, corresponds to וְהוֹצֵאתִי (And I will take them out). The third cup that is recited over the Grace after Meals, which discusses G-d’s beneficence towards the Jewish people, corresponds to וְהִצַּלְתִּי (And I will save them from labor) which discusses freedom from physical labor. The final cup, recited over the Hallel, corresponds to וְגָאַלְתִּי (And I will redeem), since in Hallel we praise G-d for all the redemption he has brought to the Jewish people.
Based on the Alter Rebbe’s wording in his Shulchan Aruch (472:14), the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the four cups correspond to these four expressions as follows: Kiddush, which is a reminder of the exodus, corresponds to וְהוֹצֵאתִי (and I will take you out). The Haggadah, which finishes with the words “who redeemed us” corresponds to וְגָאַלְתִּי (and I will redeem). The Grace After Meals which mentions the receiving of the Torah, corresponds to וְלָקַחְתִּי (and I will take you) since we were taken to be G-d’s people when we received the Torah. And, Hallel, which is a praise that also refers to the future redemption, corresponds to וְהִצַּלְתִּי (and I will save) which refers as well to the coming redemption (since it is a general expression of salvation that can also include the future redemption) (Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 11, pgs. 20-21).
They also correspond to the four sons discussed in the Haggadah.
In addition, the four cups correspond to the four praiseworthy behaviors which the Jews exhibited in Egypt in the merit of which they were redeemed. The four are: We didn’t change our language or our names, we did not intermarry, and we did not slander each other.
Sources: Ta’amei HaMinhagim based on Shemot Rabbah and Chessed LeAvraham, Likutei Sichot, vol. 1:248 in the name of the Arizal.
The Ta’amei HaMinhagim citing the Benei Yissachar says that: the first cup corresponds to the names as in Kiddush we are referred to as the Benei Yisrael. The second cup corresponds to the language as we recite the Haggada using our power of speech. The third cup corresponds to the purity in marriage since it is recited over the blessing after bread and bread can be a symbol for marriage. The fourth cup corresponds to the fact that we did not slander each other as we recite Hallel over it in which we say that the nations speak slanderously, but the Jews do not (see Psalm 115).
The minimum size of each of the four cups of wine should be 3 or 3.2 oz. As mentioned above, some say the cups should contain 5 ounces
Women who recited Shehecheyanu while lighting the candles should not repeat it when saying Kiddush.
Some say that one should bear in mind the mitzvot of Matzah and Maror when saying (or hearing) the bracha of Shehechiyanu during Kiddush.
One should drink the wine while reclining on the left side (see below).
For the four cups, it is preferable to drink the entire cup of wine. If this is difficult, it is proper to drink at least a majority of the cup, or at the very least, the amount of one cheek full. For the fourth cup, one must drink at least 3 or 3.2 ounces in order to be able to recite the blessing of Al Hagefen (the blessing said after wine).
It is preferable that one use wine for all four cups. If this is difficult, one may mix the wine with grape juice. If this is also difficult, one may use grape juice. One who needs to may add up water up to the amount of half of the cup, provided that the mixture will still taste like wine or grape juice.
One who is allergic to wine and grape juice may use an important beverage of the country (that is kosher for Pesach) for his four cups. An example of this would be warm tea or coffee.
Sources: Chazon Ish, O.C. 39, Yalkut Yosef, ibid, Seder Leil Pesach – Kadesh, 30, Shulchan Aruch HaRav , ibid, 19, See ibid, 272:2 and above notes 69 and 70 and Likutei Sichot, vol. 32:197.See Seder Birkat HaNehenin, 7:6 and Piskei Teshuvot 204:8 that our wines, which are not so strong, should not be diluted more than 50 percent. In addition, it is possible that some wines were already diluted before being bottled. See also Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 472:28 and 29 and Mishnah Berurah, 37
In ancient times, it was customary for royalty to eat while reclining. Since we celebrate our redemption on this night, we dine like royalty, while leaning. Some say that since today even the royalty doesn’t recline while eating, we no longer need to do this either. For this reason, women are not particular to lean. The Sefardic custom is that women do lean. But if they did not lean they have still fulfilled their obligation. Some Ashkenazic women are strict and lean as well. In addition, in some cases, men may also rely on this opinion if they forgot to lean (see below).
Note: The Piskei Teshuvot (472 note 8) brings that the daughter of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, who was the wife of the Chatam Sofer, would lean at the Seder and that the Chatam Sofer would prepare an appropriate chair for her for this purpose.
One should lean to the left as leaning to the right while eating can be dangerous. For this reason, even a left–handed individual (for whom it is easier to lean to the right) should lean to the left.
One should prepare his chair in a comfortable and royal manner as befitting a free man. In addition, this will ensure that one will be able to lean comfortably (e.g., use a pillow).
A student should not lean in the presence of his (main) Torah teacher unless the teacher gives him permission to do so. The same is true of a Torah scholar who is outstanding in his generation.
In some cases, if a man forgets to lean, he need not repeat that mitzvah. The details of this are as follows:
It is best to have in mind that one might drink in between the first two cups if necessary. Then if one forgets to lean while drinking the first cup, one may drink another cup while leaning.
If one did not have this is mind and forgot to lean, he should not drink this cup again.
If one forgot to lean when drinking the second cup, one should drink another cup while leaning.
Similarly one who forgot to lean when eating the Matzah should eat another olive size piece of matzah,while leaning.
If one forgot to lean while drinking the 3rd or 4th cup, one should not drink another one.
One who forgot to lean when he started to eat the Afikoman and realized before he finished eating it, should eat another kezayit (olive size piece) while leaning. If, however, he completely finished eating the Afikoman, he should not eat it again since one may not eat the Afikoman twice.
For Sefardim, the Halacha is that if one forgot to lean, one must repeat the mitzvah, no matter which mitzvah it is. If one is weak and finds it difficult to eat and drink again, he may rely on the lenient opinions and not repeat the mitzvot.
Sources: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 473:19 and 472:7 – 15, Yalkut Yosef, ibid, Dinei Leil HaSeder, Kadesh, 12. See Kaf HaChaim, 472:28, and Mishnah Berurah, 472:22 as explained in Halichot Shlomo, Pesach, chapter 9, Devar Halacha 106
We wash our hands (as for bread); however, we do not recite the Brachah of Al Netilat Yodayim. (See the footnote regarding one who forgot and said a bracha.) This is because the water into which we dip the Karpas can become tameh (ritually impure) from hands that are not washed in this ritual manner. In truth, one should wash his hands in this manner during the year as well before consuming foods dipped in water or certain other liquids. Even one who is not particular about this during the year must do so on this night in order to get the children’s attention so that they ask why we are doing things differently on this night.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 473:19
Note: See Sichot Kodesh, 5719, Sichat Acharon Shel Pesach, 9, where the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that one who forgot and recited the blessing should eat the Matzah at this point and then continue with karpas, maggid, maror, and korech.
The Kaf HaChaim (473, 107) quotes authorities who say that one should continue the Seder as usual. This opinion holds that one may rely on the opinion of the Rambam who rules that one should always say a blessing when washing one’s hands before eating wet vegetables.
Some say that one should be careful not to touch anything that would contaminate one’s hands and then they need not wash again for the matzah. In this way, the blessing on the first hand washing is not in vain.
It is best not to talk between this washing and the eating of the Karpas.
Note: It is arguable as to whether one may or may not talk at this point. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was particular not to talk after Urchatz. We see this because the Rebbe would say the Simanim (kadesh urchatz etc.) relating to each action at the seder before he would do that action. E.g., before Kiddush he would say “Kadesh” and read the Alter Rebbe’s instructions (printed in the Chabad Haggadah) regarding Kiddush. But before washing for Urchatz, the Rebbe would read both the laws of urchatz and those of Karpas. Similarly, before Rachtzah, the Rebbe would read all the way until after Korech (Hagadat Heichal Menachem, page 42, cited here).
The custom in Chabad is to use onion or cooked potato. Other customs include celery or parsley or other vegetables normally used for dipping (see above).
Before eating one should say the Brachah “Borei P’ri Ho-Adomo” while having in mind the Maror (horseradish) and the Maror of the Korech (sandwich).
We dip the Karpas in salt water prior to the Brachah.
The Sar Shalom of Belz explained that the reason we dip the Karpas in salt water is that the Karpas represents the 600,000 who labored in Egypt. (כרפס stands for ס – 60 groups of 10,000 who worked in פרך- backbreaking labor.) The salt water represents the Nile river in which the Jews immersed after being circumcised in preparation for eating the Paschal sacrifice.
Chabad custom is not to recline while eating the Karpas.
One should eat less than a k’zayit (an olive-size piece, approximately 1 oz.). This is in order that one should not have a question as to whether or not it is necessary to recite an after-blessing (bracha acharona).
If one did eat a kezayit, one should nevertheless not recite a bracha acharona.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid, 14 – 18
One should break the middle matzah. The larger piece is wrapped up and put aside to be used as the Afikoman. This is because the Afikoman is an important Mitzvah which represents the Korban Pesach.
The Chabad custom is to break the matzah while it is covered by the matzah cover and to break this piece into 5 pieces. The number five has kabalistic significance. One year, the Rebbe Rashab accidentally broke the larger piece of the middle matzah into six pieces. He only put five of the pieces aside for the Afikoman.
The Chabad Rebbes would keep the Afikoman in between two of their pillows.
In some communities, the children steal the Afikoman and the adults then “buy” it back. This is done in order to keep the children awake and involved in the Seder.
It is not Chabad custom for the children to steal the Afikoman. The reason for this may be that we do not want to accustom the children to a behavior that is usually forbidden.
The smaller piece of the broken matzah is left at the Seder table. This is the Matzah over which the Haggadah is recited as it broken and thus resembles poor man’s bread.
Note: The five pieces represent the sweetening of the five levels of gevurah (severity) that are associated with Yitzchak (Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe). These, in turn, are associated with the five final letters of mem, nun, tzadik, pei, and chof (mantzepach). They are associated with gevurah insofar as they limit and end the word (Sefer HaLikutim Tzemach Tzedek, ot peh, page 107).
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, ibid, 35, 36, Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Some have the custom to lift up the matzah while reciting hei lachmah anyah to symbolize the fact that G-d lifted the Jews up from their physical slavery and spiritual decline (Taamei HaMinhagim).
If there are no children present, one of the adults should recite the Mah Nishtanah.
One who is making the seder alone should “ask” the Mah Nishtanah to himself.
The Chabad custom is for the adults to recite the Ma Nishtanah after the children do so.
In answer to the question of why we dip twice on this night, the Shela explains that one dipping corresponds to the redemption which came as we dipped the hyssop twig into the blood of the Paschal lamb. And the other dipping corresponds to the exile which was a punishment for the sin of the brothers selling Joseph after which they dipped his coat in blood.
The Haggadah should be recited in a joyous manner and in a loud voice.
The leader of the Haggadah should explain the content of the Haggadah to the participants in the language that they understand. He should be especially careful to explain the story of the Exodus to the children.
It is not necessary for every participant to personally recite the entire Haggadah. It is sufficient to listen to the leader. Some prefer to recite every word themselves. The reason for this may be that one may not pay attention to the leader throughout the Haggadah and thus may miss important parts.
One should not interrupt in the middle of reciting the Haggadah except for a case of great need.
While reciting the 10 plagues, we pour off 10 drops of wine from the cup. Chabad practice is not to dip one’s finger into the wine.
Various reasons are given for this pouring (Ta’amei HaMinhagim):
To symbolize G-d’s finger that brought the punishment (this is according to the custom to use one’s finger.)
To symbolize the diminishing and weakening of the Egyptians with each plague.
To symbolize that we would have preferred if the Egyptians repented and did not need these punishments.
In order to give some energy to the evil side (similar to the cow’s hair which emerges from the Tefillin) so that the Satan not accuse one of wrongdoing on this holy night.
If possible, one should pour the wine into a broken (or chipped) vessel.
Once the pouring off is completed, the cup should then be refilled for the remainder of Maggid.
Women are obligated to recite or hear at least the basic parts of the Haggadah. They should be especially careful to recite or hear the following;
The paragraph of Avadim Hayinu,
From the paragraph Meet’chilah until Detzach Adash Be’achav
and from “Rabban Gamliel…” until after the second cup.
Whenever one lifts the cup of wine (while saying “Vehi She’omdah”, “Lefichach” and the blessing over the second cup,) one should cover the Matzah. This is done for the same reason that the bread is covered for Kiddush – that the (unleavened) bread should not be shamed that the blessing or prayers are being said over the wine and not on the (unleavened) bread.
Whenever the cup is not being lifted, the middle matzah should be uncovered. This is because the Haggadah is supposed to be recited “in the presence” of the broken matzah which is called poor man’s bread.
At the conclusion of Maggid, one should drink the second cup while reclining.
According to the Sefardic custom, one should not make the bracha of borei pri hagafen on this cup of wine.
Note: See Yalkut Yosef, ibid, 38. The reason for this is that, according to the Rambam, the Haggadah is not an interruption and the blessing on the first cup carries over to the second one. The same applies to the blessing on the fourth cup.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav 472:37 – 51 and 473:24, Siddur Ha’Arizal, cited in Shevach HaMo’adim, Yalkut Yosef, Seder Leil Pesach – Maggid, 16, Siddur HaRav based on the Arizal
One should wash his hands in preparation for eating the matzah. One should say the Brachah of “Al N’tilat Yadayim.”
Source: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 475, 1 and 2
One should pick up the 2 and 1/2 matzot, recite the Brachah of Hamotzie then put down the bottom matzah and say the Brachah of “Al Achilat Matzah.”
When saying this brachah, one should have in mind the Matzah of Korech and that of the Afikoman.
The leader of the Seder should then take a k’zayit (olive-size piece) from the top matzah and a k’zayit from the second matzah, and eat them together within a three-minute period. If that is not possible, one should eat them as quickly as possible and finish them (if necessary) within eleven minutes or at the very most, within 22 minutes. (This represents the most lenient view on a kedei achilat peras – eleven minutes and a separate time period for each of the two kezeitm he is eating.)
Note: See Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad, Laws of the Three weeks where the various opinions for this time (known as kedie achilas pras) are quoted. An additional opinion is 11 minutes and 9 seconds. The Tzemach Tzedek (Sha’ar HaMiluim, part 1, section 8 – 10) rules that this time is six or seven minutes. There is an oral tradition in the name of the Tzemach Tzedek that the time is not less than three minutes and not more than seven.
In practice, one should eat the required amount quickly without interruptions.
If possible, one should eat the two kezeytim at once, swallowing one at a time.
One who does not have a Seder plate is only obligated to eat one k’zayit of matzah (both men and women). In addition, he should have a small amount of unbroken matzah from the Seder plate in order to fulfill the mitzvah of lechem mishnah (the double loaf).
As mentioned above, the amount of a k’zayit (size of an olive) of matzah is 1 ounce or 28 grams (approximately half of a hand-made Shmura matzah or two thirds of a machine-made matzah).
This size represents a stringent view. The more lenient view says that one quarter of a Shmurah Matzah or a third of a machine Matzah is a k’zayit.
One who is eating two Kezeytim, or one who has trouble eating large amounts, may rely on the more lenient view.
Since the matzot that are on the seder plate will not suffice for more than one or two people, additional matzot from the package should be distributed to each participant.
Although salt should be present on the table, one should not dip the matzah in salt.
Note: See Likutei Torah, Vayikra, 6c and d, that since matzot are called “poor man’s bread” it represents serving G-d with pure faith and without any understanding. Thus, it does not have salt which represents taste and understanding.
Men are required to recline while eating the Matzah.
One should not talk about matters not relating to the eating of Matzah and Maror etc. until after the eating of the Korech sandwich. This is because the brachah of Al Achilat Matzah is also referring to the Korech sandwich. If one did speak, he need not repeat the bracha.
Sources: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 475:3 – 10, “Halachos of Kezayis” by Rabbi P. Bodner, pg. 92 and 93
Either horseradish or romaine lettuce should be used for Maror. (As mentioned above, Sefardim also use endives.)
The Chabad custom is to use both horseradish and romaine lettuce. The advantage of the lettuce is that it starts sweet and ends up being bitter (if left in the ground) which parallels the slavery of the Jews in Egypt. The advantage of the horseradish is that it is actually bitter.
One who was unable to purchase horseradish may use romaine lettuce alone for this mitzvah.
Another meaning of the lettuce is that it is called chasa in Hebrew. This alludes to the fact that G-d had mercy (chas means mercy) and redeemed us from Egypt.
One must eat a k’zayit of Maror (approximately three-quarters of an ounce). One large romaine leaf or an equivalent size of smaller leaves is this size. The amount of ground horseradish that would fill a one ounce shot glass also equals this amount.
One should dip the Maror into the Charoset and recite the Brachah of “Al Achilat Maror” while having in mind the Maror of Korech as well. The Chabad custom is to shake off the charoset so that it does not diminish the bitterness of the maror.
If one did not add wine to the Charoset earlier, one should add wine before dipping the maror into it.
Those who are careful of gebrockts (mixing Matzah and water etc.) do not add wine to all of the charoset but rather save some dry charoset to use for the dipping of the korech sandwich.
One should not recline while eating the Maror. Since the maror reminds us of the times of suffering, it is not appropriate to show signs of freedom while eating it.
One should eat the Maror without interrupting within three, or, if necessary, eleven minutes (see above). If possible, one should swallow the entire k’zayit at once as above.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav 475:11 – 14, Ta’amei HaMinhagim, Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Haggadah, based on Pesachim, 115b
One should take a k’zayit from the bottom matzah and a k’zayit of Maror, dip them in the Charoset, recite Kein Asah Hillel…, and eat them while reclining.
Since this is “only” a Rabbinic requirement one may use the smaller kezayit size for this sandwich (see above).
Those that are careful with gebrockts (mixing Matzah and water etc.) should not dip the Maror of Korech into Charoset; rather, they should put dry Charoset on the Maror and shake it off.
If possible, one should swallow these two kezeitim at once. If one cannot do this, he should eat it within three minutes, or if that is too difficult, within 11 (or 22) minutes as explained above.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav 475:15 – 21 and the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Haggadah
It is customary for Ashkenazim to begin the meal by eating the hard-boiled egg dipped into salt water. The egg is a food of mourning. This recalls that the night of the Seder is always the same night of the week as Tisha Be’av (the date of the destruction of the Temples) of that year.
It is permissible to drink wine during the meal.
The Chabad custom is to be very careful not to wet the matzah. This is for fear that there may be some unbaked flour on the matzah which may then become leavened. This is called Gebrockts (see above). For this reason, the matzot should be kept covered during the meal. Even when washing Mayim Acharonim (the washing of the fingertips before bentching) one who is careful about this should not wet his lips with the water.
It is not the Chabad custom to recline during the meal.
As mentioned above, Ashkenazim do not eat roasted meat or chicken during the Seder.
Sefardim are not particular about this unless it is a complete roasted lamb or goat.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 476, Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Tzafun means hidden. It is referring to the Afikoman which was hidden during the meal and during the reciting of the haggadah.
Note: See Likutei Sichot vol. 3, pages 1016 and 1017, that the hidden Afikoman represents the power to overcome the hidden aspects of evil that may be in the depths of our souls. Eating the Afikoman, a remembrance of the Pesach sacrifice, represents the era of future redemption at which time all of the evil (including the hidden evil) will be eradicated from this world.
Those who do not have their own Seder plate should take other matzah for the Afikoman, but should preferably also try to have a small amount of the Afikoman that was on the Seder plate.
One should eat at least one k’zayit of matzah while reclining. If possible, one should eat two k’zeitim, one to commemorate the Pesach sacrifice and the other to commemorate the matzah that was eaten with that sacrifice.
One may not eat the Afikoman in two different locations (i.e. some of it at one room or table and the rest of in another room or a different table).
After the Afikoman one should be careful not to eat or drink anything except for the last two cups of wine. By the letter of the law, one may drink water, but it is customary not to do so.
Preferably the Afikoman should be eaten before midnight – 1:22 a.m. This is because the Afikoman is in the place of the Pesach sacrifice which was supposed to be eaten before midnight. (This is true for the first night. On the second night, the Chabad custom is not to be particular regarding this.)
Some have a tradition to save a small piece of their Afikoman and keep it for protection. They also take it with them if they are traveling.
Note: The Ta’amei HaMinhagim writes “The custom of Jewish people, which is like Torah, is that they keep a kezayit of the mitzvah matzah and they say that it is protection on the sea and on dry land. Even some gentiles ask to borrow it for curing headaches. They say that it is a tested healing method.”
Sources: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 477 and 478:2, Siddur HaRav, Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and HaYom Yom – Nissan 15, Ba’er Heitev, 477:4, Piskei Teshuvot, 477:5 and sources quoted there.
We fill the third cup of wine before reciting the Grace after Meals. The Lubavitcher Rebbe would also fill the Kos shel Eliyohu (cup of wine for Eliyahu Hanavi) at this time. Some have the custom to fill it after Bentching. (As was mentioned above, the Chabad custom is not to pass one’s moist fingers over one’s lips when washing mayim acharonim, during the first seven days of Pesach.)
It is customary that the one who lead the Seder should lead the Grace after Meals. This fulfills the verse “A generous man will bless (Proverbs, 22, 9).” Since he acted generously and invited all those that were hungry to join the Seder, he is the one that merits to say the blessing. If he wishes, he may honor someone else to lead the “bentching” (Grace After Meals).
One who does not have three men at their seder with which to do a zimun (participatory Grace after Meals) should still recite the Grace After Meals on the third cup of wine.
During the Grace after Meals, one should remember to recite Ya’aleh V’Yavo.
Upon completing the Grace after Meals, one should drink the third cup while reclining.
Source: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 479
While carrying a lit candle, one (or more) of the participants should open all the doors leading from the Seder room up to and including the front door.
One should recite Sh’foch Chamat’cha while the door is open.
The Midrash says that when Eisav entered Yitzchak’s room to receive his blessing, Yaakov was hiding behind the door. This can be interpreted that, since it was the Seder night, Yaakov went to open the door for Sh’foch Chamat’cha. When he saw Eisav coming, he hid behind the door. When Eisav offered his father Yitzchak the food that he had prepared, Yitzchak had to refuse because he had already eaten the Afikoman.
When reciting the Hallel, the one leading the Haggadah should say Hodu etc., and the participants should respond accordingly (Hodu LaHashem to each phrase said by the leader). One who is doing the Seder on his own should say both the Hodu etc. and the responses.
One should then complete the Haggadah and drink the fourth cup of wine. One should drink the entire cup (or at least 3 ozs. of it) in order to say the after-bracha Al Hagefen.
One should remember to mention Yom Tov in the Al HaMichyah.
According to the Sefardic custom, one should not make the bracha of borei pri hagafen on this cup of wine (see above at the end of the section called Magid).
It was customary in the homes of the Chabad Rabbeim that the Rebbe would pour the contents of the Kos Shel Eliyohu back into the bottle while those present would sing the song Keili Atah.
The Alter Rebbe did not include the poem Chasal Seder Pesach in his Haggadah (nor did he include the other songs such as chad gadya). The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe explained that Pesach is never supposed to finish (chasal means to finish). Rather, its effect is supposed to be ongoing.
The Torah refers to the first night of Pesach as “Leil Shimurim” (a night endowed with G-d’s protection). Because of this special protection, before retiring to bed we recite only the first paragraph of Kriyat Sh’ma (Sh’ma and V’ahavta) followed by the Brachah of Hamapil.
If one is living in a safe area, it is customary to leave the front door unlocked so that if Elijah the Prophet comes to announce the redemption, he will be able to enter without delay.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav 479 and 480, Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Ta’amei HaMinhagim
First Day of Pesach
Thursday, 15 Nissan/April 9
We daven the Yom Tov davening with the Amidah of the Shalosh Regolim (pg. 331 in the Siddur). Following the Amidah, we recite the complete Hallel (pg. 307). After Hallel we take out two Sifrei Torah.
Source: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 488:2 and 6
On the first day of Yom Tov during Musaf, we stop saying Mashiv Haruach etc. (praising G-d for making the winds blow and the rain fall) and begin reciting Morid HaTal (praising G-d for the dew). As this is the end of the rainy season for most of the world, it’s no longer appropriate to praise G-d for rain. Before Musaf, the Shammes (Shul attendant) should announce the beginning of reciting of Morid HaTal. During the repetition of the Amidah, the Chazzan recites the special prayer for “Tal” (dew) (pg. 353 in the Siddur).
According to some customs (Nusach Ashkenaz), during the summer months one should recite neither Mashiv HaRu’ach etc. nor Morid HaTal.
In a Nusach Ashkenaz shul, the community continues to say Mashiv HaRu’ach etc. during the silent Amidah of Musaf. This is because it is not proper for the Shammes to announce the cessation of a prayer for a blessing. Instead, the way the change is “announced” is by the Chazzan not saying Mashiv HaRu’ach when he repeats the Musaf Amidah. From then on (i.e., by Mincha or if one is davening Musaf after the Chazzan’s repetition), the community does not say Mashiv HaRu’ach.
One who is davening without a minyan may recite the Tefilat Tal (without saying G-d’s name in the brocho) on his own after his silent amidah.
The accompanying table summarizes what one must do if one failed to recite Morid HaTal properly:
If one forgot and said Mashiv Haru’ach UmMorid HaGeshem instead of Morid HaTal
Where one realizes their error:
Before “Hashem” of the Brachah
What to do:
Return to Atah Gibbor
After words “Baruch Atoh Hashem”: Say “Lamdaynee Chukecho,” and repeat from Atah Gibbor
After Brachah – Mechaye Hameitim: Repeat Shmonah Esrei from the beginning.
After the time for that prayer is over: Say Shmonah Esrei twice when praying the next prayer
If one is unsure if he said Morid HaTal or Mashiv Haru’ach, he should consider it as if he said Mashiv Haru’ach since that is what he is used to saying. This is true for the first thirty days after this day. After that time it is assumed that one said the correct prayer.
If one did not daven Shacharit yet, but heard the Shammes announce Morid HaTal (or he heard the Chazzan’s repetition of the Musaf Amidah), and he is not davening with another Minyan, he should begin saying Morid HaTal during Shacharit.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Siman 114 and 488:7, Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
The Second Night of Yom Tov
16 Nissan/ April 9
One may not prepare anything for the seder before candle lighting time (8:16 p.m. in Miami).
Candle-lighting is after 8:16 p.m. One should only light the candles from a pre-existing flame, and one should also recite She’hechiyonu. (See above that some women do not recite Shehechiyanu while lighting candles.)
According to Chassidic and Sefardic custom, Hallel is again said after Maariv (see above).
At the end of Maariv on the second night, we begin counting the Omer.
Laws of Counting Sefirat Ha’Omer
It is a positive mitzvah from the Torah to count the Omer. The Omer is counted from the second night of Pesach which is when the Omer was sacrificed (the Omer was the first barley offering of the year) until the holiday of Shavuot which is when they would bring the first wheat offering. Some say that nowadays, because we no longer have the Omer sacrifice, it is no longer a Torah obligation, but rather a Rabbinic one, established so that we not forget about this mitzvah. This argument has several Halachic ramifications.
The main halacha is that it is only Rabbinic but it is better to be strict and consider it a Torah law.
One should say the bracha and count the Omer while standing. The idea of standing for this mitzvah is based on a verse in the Torah where it says that “in the standing one should count.” The simple meaning of the verse is that it is referring to standing grain. But the rabbis interpreted it to mean that one should count while standing.
The bracha should be recited while standing for two reasons. Firstly, since the counting should be done while standing, we wish to minimize the interruption as much as possible. Secondly, some say, that brachot on mitzvot, should, in general, be recited while standing. In practice we follow this opinion. Which is why the congregation should stand for the brachot on the Megillah even though they may sit for the reading of the Megillah itself. If, however, a particular mitzvah is supposed to be done while sitting (like eating matzah), then we also make the bracha while sitting in order to minimize the time in between the bracha and the mitzvah.
Women are not obligated to count the Omer since it is a time-related positive mitzvah. In some communities, women have accepted this mitzvah upon themselves. Sefardic women may not count with a bracha. Some say that it is better for Ashkenazic women to also count without a bracha lest they forget and not count every night. The common custom is for Ashkenazic women to count with a bracha but they should do their best to not forget and count every night (or day, if they miss it at night.) It is proper for their husbands to remind them to count.
Children who are somewhat older should be educated to count the Omer. If a child will become bar mitzvah in the middle of the counting of the Omer, there are opinions that, after their bar mitzvah they may not count with a bracha. The reason for this is that, when they become bar mitzvah, their obligation to count becomes a Torah-level obligation. Even according to the opinion that counting the Omer nowadays is a Rabbinic mitzvah only, still his level of obligation rises to that of an adult. (A child’s obligation to fulfill a Rabbinic mitzvah is only for educational purposes, whereas an adult has a primary obligation.) So, the counting that he did as a child perhaps does not count towards his present obligation as an adult. Sefardim follow this opinion. Most Ashkenazim however, follow the opinion that, even after Bar Mitzvah, the boy may continue to count with a bracha. As his counting as a child is considered good enough so that it not be considered as if he missed those days completely.
Before making the bracha on the Omer, one should already know what day of the Omer it is. If one made the bracha without knowing the day and then immediately found out the day and counted correctly, he need not repeat the bracha.
If one said the bracha, thinking it was the wrong day and then counted the wrong day, if he corrects himself within 2 seconds, he need not repeat the bracha. If he only realizes his mistake after 2 or 3 seconds, he must count again with a bracha.
There is an argument if one must count every day in order to fulfill the mitzvah of Sefirat Ha’Omer or if each day is considered a separate mitzvah. Based on this argument, if one missed counting a complete day and night he may not continue to count with a bracha. Reciting a bracha might be considered a bracha in vain since, according to one opinion, it is no longer a mitzvah. On the other hand, one must continue to count (albeit it without a bracha) since, according to the other opinion, each day is a separate mitzvah.
One who forgot to count Sefirah at night should count during the next day without a brachah. One may then continue counting every subsequent night with a brachah.
If one is unsure as to whether or not he missed a day, then one may continue to count with a bracha as this is a situation of a double doubt. Similarly, if one missed counting at night but remembered to count the next day, one may continue counting the next night and on, with a bracha since counting by day is considered a proper counting according to some opinions. So, it is, once again, a double doubt and one may therefore continue to say a bracha (when counting at night).
If one is asked which night of the Sefirah it is, he should answer, “Last night was…” as once one says the number of the actual night, he may not be able to recite the blessing on the count of that night.
One who prays at a minyan that prays Ma’ariv before the stars come out should repeat the counting at night. A shul that has such a minyan should count after morning prayers in case anybody forgot to count again at night.
During the days of the counting of the Omer, it is customary for both men and women to refrain from work from the setting of the sun (shki’ah) until one counts the Omer.
If one forgot to count for the whole day, he must continue counting the rest of the nights, but without a brachah.
One should try to avoid crossing the International Date Line during the days of the counting of the Omer as the counting of the other side of the dateline will differ from his own.
One who did cross the dateline should discuss the particulars of his case with a competent Halachic authority.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe ruled that in such a case, one should continue counting one’s personal Sefirah even if this differs from the count of the community in which he finds himself.
Based on this differing count, one may need to celebrate Shavuot on a different day than the community in which he finds himself. On the Yom Tov days in the local community, one may certainly not do any work, even in private.
As this is a very unusual situation, it is best to avoid it as explained above.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 489 and 493, Likutei Sichot, 17, page 466, Sha’arei Halacha UMinhag, vol. 2, page 148 – 161
Mourning the Students of Rabbi Akiva
The days of the counting of the Omer also commemorate the passing of 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students. Therefore, it is customary to observe various signs of mourning at this time. These include:
Not to shave or take a haircut.
A woman may cut her hair for reasons of modesty or, as necessary before immersing in the Mikvah.
One who needs to shave in order to be able to make a parnassah may do so.
Not to get married. One may, however, get engaged and have a party without music or dancing.
Not to listen to music (On Chol HaMo’ed Pesach one may listen to music).
Some are lenient at a mitzvah feast such as a Brit Milah, pidyon haben, a bar mitzvah, a new Sefer Torah dedication or a Siyum (celebration of the completion) of a tractate of the Talmud.
Not to purchase new garments (On Chol HaMo’ed Pesach one may purchase clothes that one needs for Chol HaMo’ed or for Yom Tov). Some are not strict regarding this. In any case, if, for some reason, one has run out of clothing and needs to buy new clothes, one may do so.One may purchase underwear and other garments that are not considered important.
According to Chabad custom, it is not proper to say She’hecheyanu during the days of Sefirat Ha’Omer except on Shabbat.
Sources: See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 493, HaYom Yom Nissan 24 and Sivan 3, and Sefer HaSichot, 5749, vol. 2, page 745
Since the students only died during 33 of these days, it is only necessary to refrain from these activities for 33 of these days. (This is correct according to most customs; see below regarding the Chabad custom.)
Some refrain for the first 33 days and are lenient from the 33rd day (Lag B’Omer) and on (the 33rd day – Lag B’omer is counted because the mourning only ceases after the daytime begins).
Sefardim follow the above custom except that they are strict on Lag B’Omer itself, and stop the mourning only on the 34th of the Omer.
Some begin the mourning on Rosh Chodesh Iyar and continue until the three days before Shavuot.
Some begin the mourning on the second of Iyyar and continue until Erev Shavu’ot.
The Chabad custom is to observe these laws for the entire 49-day period, up to but not including, Erev Shavu’ot.
According to the Arizal, it is best not to take a haircut until Erev Shavu’ot. Nevertheless, if one needs to take a haircut, one may do so on Lag B’Omer.
In addition, it is permissible to get married and to listen to music on Lag B’Omer which is considered a joyous day.
The Second Seder
As mentioned above, one may only begin their preparations for the Second Seder, after nightfall.
The order of the second Seder is mostly the same as the first.
As mentioned earlier, Chabad custom is to not be particular to eat the Afikoman on the second night before Chatzot (midnight). One of the reasons for this is to allow more time to speak about the haggadah and the exodus from Egypt etc.
Kriyat Shema before going to sleep is the same as on every Shabbat and Yom Tov.
Sources: HaYom Yom, Nissan 15 and 6.
Note: Those that attended the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Seder reported that the Rebbe was careful to eat the Afikoman before chatzot, even on the second night.
Second day of Yom Tov,
Friday, 16 Nissan/ April 10
It is proper to add a dish during this meal to commemorate that on this day Esther made a feast with Achashverosh and convinced him to hang Haman.
As mentioned above, one should cook all their Shabbat food this afternoon in a manner that it will be ready for eating before Shabbat begins.
Source: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 490:2
Shabbat Chol HaMoed
Nissan 17/April 10 and 11
Candle lighting is at 7:24 pm (in Miami). One should light from a pre-existing flame.
Psalm 107 is not recited before Mincha. But the paragraph of Patach Eliyahu is recited.
The Chabad custom is to begin Kabbalat Shabbat from Mizmor LeDavid (Psalm 29). Nusach Ashkenaz begins from Mizmor Shir LeYom HaShabbat (Psalm 92).
As mentioned above, it is best to use the Eiruv Tavshillin matzah for Lechem Mishna on the Friday night and Shabbat day and eat it for the third meal. (One who does not plan to eat matzah at the third meal should eat it at the second meal.)
The Havdalah after Shabbat should include a candle and spices (if one has spices that are Kosher Lepesach).
Source: Siddur HaRav
18 – 20 Nissan/ April 12– 14
It is proper to wear Shabbat clothes during Chol HaMoed.
In addition, men should drink wine on Chol HaMo’ed, and men and women should wash and eat matzah and meat (if possible).
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 529:6 and 7 and Mishnah Berurah, 530:1
On Motzei Shabbat, we begin saying “Vetain Brachah” in “Barech Aleinu” instead of “Vetain Tal Umatar,” (page 126 for the Maariv Amidah, page 48 for the Shacharit Amida, and page 106 for the Mincha Amidah). This means that we stop praying for rain. As mentioned above, the rainy season is considered to have ended, so we no longer ask for rain in our prayers.
If one mistakenly said “Vetain Tal Umatar,” whether he realized it immediately or had completed subsequent Brachot, he must return to the beginning of Barech Aleinu, and recite Barech Aleinu and all the subsequent Brachot of the Shmoneh Esrei.
If one realized his error after having completed the Shmonah Esrei, he must repeat the entire Shmonah Esrei.
If one only remembered at the time for the next prayer, one should repeat the Amidah twice for that prayer.
Moreover, for the first 30 days, if one is in doubt as to whether he said Vetain Brachah or VeTein Tal UMatar, he must repeat the Amidah or that blessing as per the above instructions.
Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav and Mishnah Berurah 117
Ya’aleh VeYavo (the prayer thanking G-d for the holiday) should be inserted in the Amidah throughout Chol Hamo’ed. If one forgot to say it but remembered before beginning Modim, he should say it there. If he remembered after beginning Modim, but still during the Amidah, he should return to Retzei. If he remembered after completing the Amidah, the Amidah must be repeated. This is true for the all of the daily prayers, including Maariv.
One who forgot to recite Ya’ale VeYavo when reciting the Grace after Meals need not repeat the Grace after Meals. The same is true for all of the Yom Tov meals, with the exception of the first two nights of Pesach and Sukkot. If one remembered before they began the fourth blessing (HaKeil Avinu) there is a special blessing (printed in the Siddur) that one should insert at that point.
Source: Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 188:6 – 11
Mizmor LeTodah (pg. 30 in the Siddur) is omitted from the davening by Ashkenazim during the entire Pesach (see above).
During Chol HaMo’ed and on the last days of Pesach we say half hallel. The Ashkenaz custom is to say a blessing on the half Hallel even when praying without a minyan. The Sefardic custom is to recite the Half Hallel without a blessing when praying without a minyan.
Work During Chol HaMo’ed
The intermediate days of the holiday should be used for extra prayer and Torah study.
One may not take haircuts or wash their clothes on Chol HaMo’ed.
One may wash the clothes of babies and small children who are constantly dirtying themselves.
It is customary for Ashkenazim not to cut their nails on Chol HaMo’ed. Sefardim are not strict regarding this.
If possible one should not go to work on Chol HaMo’ed.
Some types of work are permissible. As follows:
If the work is the equivalent of an amateur’s work.
If not working would cause a significant financial loss.
If the work is needed for Yom Tov.
According to most opinions, simple tasks like turning on a light or driving a car are not included in this prohibition.
If it’s not needed for Yom Tov, it is questionable whether one may write on Chol HaMo’ed. If one needs to write, it’s preferable to write on a slant.
One should consult with his rabbi about the details of these laws. See: Chol HaMoed – The Intermediate Days – Sukkot & Simchat Torah and Chol Hamoed Observance in Modern Times by Rabbi Chaim Jachter — Kol Torah for more information.
Source: See O.C. 530 – 548
Shvi’i shel Pesach
Tuesday night and Wednesday, 21 Nissan/April 14-15
Candle-lighting at 7:26 p.m. in Miami
The Brachah on the candle-lighting is “L’Hadlik Ner shel Yom Tov.” Shehechiyanu is not recited when lighting the candles or when reciting Kiddush during the last days of Pesach.
Many observe the custom of staying awake and studying Torah throughout the whole night of Shvi’i shel Pesach. This is in order to commemorate the crossing of the Sea that occurred at this time.
Note: See Likutei Sichot, vol. 22 page 290 where the Rebbe expresses wonderment towards an emissary of his who wanted to leave his community for the final days of Pesach. After all, the Rebbe writes, the holiness of Pesach, the festival of our freedom, only increases towards the final days which also celebrate the final redemption. How can one leave one’s community that is yearning for unique inspiration on these days?
Source: HaYom Yom, Nissan 21
In Israel, only seven days of Pesach are celebrated. Those who make a Se’udat Moshiach (see below), do so on Wednesday afternoon.
Acharon shel Pesach
Wednesday Evening and Thursday
22 Nissan/ April 15-16
Candle-lighting time is after 8:19 p.m., Miami time.
The candles must be lit from a pre-existing flame. The Brachah “L’Hadlik Ner shel Yom Tov” is recited. Shehechiyanu is not recited at this time.
Even people who are careful not to eat gebrockts (a mixture of Matzah and water etc.) do not keep this custom on the last day of Pesach. This increases the joy of Yom Tov and emphasizes the unity of the Jewish people (in that it shows that no one considers gebrockts to be actual chametz, G-d forbid).
Source: See Likutei Sichot, vol. 22, page 30 – 38, at length
Bracha on Matzah Brei
If, when making matzah brei (before Shabbat begins), one broke the matzah into pieces larger than an olive, the blessing on matzah brei is hamotzie. If one broke the matzah into pieces smaller than the size of an olive, one should wash and say hamotzie on another piece of matzah before eating the matzah brei.
If one allowed the matzah to soak in the egg until the matzah completely lost its form, the blessing is mezonot, regardless of the size of the pieces.
Source: Seder Birkat HeNehenin, chapter 2
After the Torah reading, Ashkenazim recite Yizkor (pg. 337 in the Siddur).
In Israel Yizkor is recited on Shvi’i Shel Pesach.
The reason we recite Yizkor at the end of every Yom Tov (on the final day of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot/Shmini Atzeret) is to elicit the merit of our holy ancestors on behalf of ourselves and our children. A similar occurrence would take place in the Bait HaMikdash (Holy Temple) on the three Regalim (pilgrimage festivals) – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. The nesahmot (souls) of the patriarchs are manifested in the spiritual Bait HaMikdash that is in Heaven. This Bait HaMikdash would in turn be manifested within the physical Bait HaMikdash in Jerusalem. It was for this reason that on these festivals there was always enough room to bow down despite the vast numbers of people.
It is customary for those not reciting Yizkor to leave the Shul while it is being recited. The reason for this is that if they would remain inside, people may think (or say) that their parents passed away. This may cause an ayin hara (negative judgment) against them.
One who is praying (out of necessity) without a minyan may recite Yizkor as well.
One who is within the first year of the passing of his relative should remain in Shul for Yizkor but not recite the prayer in their memory. This is the Chabad custom. Some have the custom that they should leave the Shul during that year as well.
The reason for this is that if they would remain in Shul and say the Yizkor prayer, they may wail and cry, thus disturbing the joy of their Yom Tov as well as the concentration of others. An additional reason is that during the first year after passing, the memory of one’s loved one is so strong that one need not recite the prayer to “remember” them.
It is beneficial for the souls of one’s departed relatives that one commit to giving tzedakah in their merit. Nevertheless, one should not say that they are vowing to do so as one who does not fulfill a vow is committing a serious sin which can have negative results. Rather, one should say “bli neder” (without the strength of a vow) or simply “she’etein l’tzdakah” (that I will give to tzedakah).
Note:See Mishnah Berurah, 494:17 that Yizkor is recited on every Yom Tov day when we read the Torah reading of Kol HaBechor (end of Parshat Re’eh). This reading contains the words “Misat Nidvat Yadcha asher titen” (according to the generosity of your hand that you will give, Deut. 16, 10). Thus, one is encouraged to give Tzedakah generously in memory of one’s departed relatives.
Sources: Ta’amei HaMinhagim, page 245 – 247, see Avot, 5:5, Brachot 60a and Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 221
The Moshiach Se’udah
The Geula (redemption) of Pesach in general and Acharon Shel Pesach (the last day of Pesach) in particular, are closely associated with the Geulah (redemption) of Mashiach. It was, therefore, the custom of the Baal Shem Tov to eat a third Yom Tov meal, known as Seudat Mashiach (feast of Mashiach) during the afternoon of Acharon Shel Pesach.
The Vilna Gaon would also eat an additional meal towards the end of Pesach in order to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah for one last time.
Note: The Vilna Gaon was of the opinion that although one is not obligated to eat matzah, per se, on Pesach other than at the Seders, when one does so, he fulfills a positive mitzvah. (In theory, one can eat large amounts of egg matzah for the other Shabbat and Yom Tov meals.)
The Rebbe Rashab introduced the custom of drinking four cups of wine at this Seuda. On numerous occasions, the Lubavitcher Rebbe emphasized that participating in this Seuda is an important element in preparing for the imminent redemption with Moshiach.
Source: HaYom Yom, Nissan 22
Retzei and Ya’aleh V’yavoh are inserted in the Grace after Meals since the Seuda (presumably) began before sunset.
Yom Tov ends on Thursday night, April 27 at 8:20 p.m. (in Miami). Before using any Chametz that was sold before Pesach, one should allow at least one half hour after the conclusion of Yom Tov for the Rabbi to re-purchase the Chametz. See above that 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 and that one who sold his chametz with such a contract need not wait but may eat the Chametz immediately.
Thursday night and Friday
23 Nissan/ April 16-17
The day after every major Holiday is called Isru Chag and is considered a minor holiday. One should celebrate this by adding something special to their meal on this day.
One should take care not to purchase chametz from a Jewish owned store that did not sell its chametz for Pesach. For more information see here.
Wishing you and your families, together with all of Klal Yisrael, a
Kosher and Freilechen (Joyful) Pesach.
This Year in Jerusalem!
In light of the current isolation that many of us are experiencing due to the Covid outbreak there are some unusual questions that may come up this year. I addressed these in the relevant sections of this article but am collecting them here for those who would like to scan them at a glance.
How can I sell my chametz if I cannot meet the rabbi? One may do so over the phone or online.
If I am a firstborn and cannot attend a siyum, must I fast on Erev Pesach? It is best to study a small tractate of Talmud (Tamid for example) or an order of Mishnah and make their own siyum. Some permit one to participate in a siyum by phone or online. Others say that one may break their fast on food from a siyum feast even if they did not hear the siyum itself. In these cases one should also redeem their fast for tzedakah. In practice one should consult their rabbi for guidance.
How can I go to the Mikvah on Erev Pesach (for men)? A man who cannot access a regular mikvah may use the ocean, a swimming pool, or, if necessary, a shower in lieu of a mikvah. (One should only use the ocean if he can do so when there will not be women dressed immodestly there.) One may keep on their (loose) bathing suit during immersion.
How can I immerse my new utensils if I don’t have access to a mikvah? One may immerse their new utensils in the ocean or a natural lake. One may not use a swimming pool for this purpose. If none of these are available one may “lend” the items to a gentile and borrow them back before using them. One should still immerse them when it becomes possible.
If I am doing my Seder alone or without children present, who should recite the Mah Nishtana? If no children are present one adult should ask the Mah Nishtanah to another. One who is doing the seder by himself should “ask” them to himself.
May I recite Hallel without a minyan? One may recite Hallel without a minyan. One should say the chazzan’s reading as well as the congregation’s response in the section of “Hodu.”
May I recite the prayer for dew without a minyan? Yes, after one’s silent Amidah for Musaf but without saying G-d’s name at the end of the blessing.
May I recite Yizkor without a minyan? Under the present circumstances, this is the best thing to do.
May Hashem deliver us from this crisis speedily and grant a complete recovery to those who are ill.
Wishing you a Chodesh Tov, a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach and a Kosher, Happy and Healthy Pesach!