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Passover Q&A

March 23, 2014

Dear friend,

Thank you so much for your recent email. As I believe the answers to your questions could benefit the rest of our community, I thank you for allowing me to share our discussion with the public.
1. how much does one need to clean?
One needs to keep his house reasonably clean at all times. (What we call derech eretz.) As for Passover, one has to remove all leaven and sourdough, and their products from his domain before Passover. Crumbs and rotten foods are not necessary to eliminate. Thus, the Sages said that the night before Passover, one has to check all of his domains into which leaven is normally brought, in order to make sure that no leaven, etc. remains. For those with little children, it is reasonable to assume that one can not possibly ensure that they have not brought cookies and the like to all those hard to get places, so we have the institution of legal nullification, whereby the homeowner, the father, declares that all of the leaven that may be in his possession is as though already dirt. There is a catch: If he finds the cookie or whatever after the time the leaven becomes prohibited on the 14th of Nisan, be it on Passover or well after, he needs to show that he meant it when he said it was nullified, and destroy it.
2. do i need to kasher my kitchen from chametz to matzah?
If one wishes to prepare non-leaven-contaminated food for Passover, he needs to either use Passover pots and utensils, or kasher some of his year-round pots and utensils for Passover. Kitchen shelves, counters, refrigerators, etc., that do not come into direct contact with hot food do not need to be covered nor kashered. Glass can be used for milk, meat, Passover, and whatever, merely by being washed thoroughly with soap. Logic dictates that the same should hold true with other types of modern alloys and materials, but to our misfortune, not enough brave Rabbis are prepared to publicly admit this. I got in trouble in Yeshiva years ago for showing that stainless steel should never have to be kashered, but now more people are getting on the bandwagon…
As Rabbi Boczko pointed out last year, ovens do not need to be cleaned with any dangerous or caustic chemicals. It is sufficient to use ovens for Passover purposes merely by making sure that they are clean of any surface adhesions or leftovers. Any burnt leaven residues are just that: burnt, and therefore irrelevant. I BELIEVE THAT BECAUSE OVEN CLEANER CHEMICALS ARE BOTH UNNECESSARY AND DANGEROUS, IT IS FORBIDDEN FOR ONE TO BRING SUCH THINGS INTO HIS HOUSE, and it is my sincere wish that if any of my opinions gain widespread attention, this should be it.
3. do i need to pay 150nis+ for 2 kilo of hand made shmura?
Only if you want to. It is a horrible crime against society for matza to be so expensive. Either learn to bake your own, or buy machine-made shmura matzo. In previous years, it could be obtained for 60NIS/2.5 kilo.
4. Can i feed my kids pesach crackers within 30 days? can i eat the crackers?
You and your children can eat all sorts of matzo up until the day before Passover. The day before Passover, you can still eat things made from matzo meal, like knaidelach.
(Update 21 Adar 5775: This according to the standard practice as described by the Shulhan Aruch and Rema, but as we shall see, Maimonides and the Vilna Gaon prohibit any form form of matza (including matza ashira) and matza products on the 14th of Nisan.)
5. kitnios?
There is much to be said about the practice of avoiding qitniyoth. Despite the fact that the minhag has gotten out of hand in the last generation, and despite those who would permit, it is important to note that any qitnityoth should be checked for any stray kernels of grain. Once one is dealing with qitniyoth in the Passover kitchen, the true Ashkenazic practice, as described by the Hayei Adam and Rav Lior, is that one does not have to treat them any more stringently than the actual grains that can become leaven. If wheat itself is permissible if made into matzo, etc,. why should corn or rice be more forbidden? That is, if they are cooked within the time it takes for leavening to happen, or if they are eaten whole and fresh, or if they are prepared without water, they are completely permitted, even to those who would claim that there is an eternal prohibition binding on anyone whose unfortunate ancestors lived in Europe during the long and difficult exile. One could make flour from rice and make rice matzos, for instance. Or prepare popcorn without water, etc. Or eat potatoes. Or eat string beans that are still whole or corn on the cob. Or quinoa. Do not take a bag of lentils from the makolet and pre-soak them for an hour. There may be wheat in there, and then it will become leaven. And it has happened.
I have always wondered why coffee and chocolate, which are just as qitnityoth in appearance (or definition, which by the way, has never really been defined) as everything else, have never been declared forbidden. The first image is coffee beans, the second is cocoa.
Image Image
Perhaps it is because no one will go a week without coffee or chocolate…
6. if my glass is too large, do i have to drink the whole thing?
You have to always drink most of the cup. Some pointers: non-alcoholic grape juice is also fine. Or you can dilute your wine 1 part in 3-4 parts water, like the sages used to. See here about the myth that their wine was somehow more potent.
7. do you drink 4 cups of wine? mixed with grape juice?
I drink grape juice. No wine, no water. Kedem is the best.
8. do i have to do wine drops for the plagues?
No. I would not, as it is wasteful, and therefore a sin. If one were to be using wine grown with sh’mitta holiness, which will be an issue two years from now, it would be doubly forbidden.
9. have i forgotten anything? i will come back with more in a week or so…
Olives are as big as olives. And horseradish is not maror.

From → halacha

  1. permalink

    Greetings sir. I noticed that you mentioned that spilling the wine for demonstrative purposes is sinful. I had never heard that before so I was wondering if you could possibly provide me with a source for that?

    • There is a general prohibition of bal tash-hith, against wanton destruction of anything useful. The Biblical paradigm is the prohibition against cutting down fruit trees; the sages extended this to destruction of all foods and useful items, just like the laws about one’s liability for the actions of his ox are also applied to any of his animals or moving property. Wine is meant for consumption, not spilling. See here.

      • permalink

        Thank you for the reply. Can you please tell me the source for this extension? It was my understanding that if one has a purpose in their using food for a purpose other than consumption then that would not qualify as a violation of even a rabbinic prohibition. For example, many school-age children make school projects that involve uncooked rice and/or beans and my understanding is that that is no “waste.”

      • Indeed, using that which is edible for some alternate, yet productive purpose, is not considered waste by many. You can find those who would disagree. I guess the argument would revolve around the question, is art, or whatever you choose to do with your food, productive? However, spilling wine is not artistic or productive. It is the exact opposite of what the wine was intended for. Perhaps if the wine was used for some lasting artistic purpose, analogous to the noodles…

  2. permalink

    Isn’t the poured wine intended to demonstrate (perhaps to the children assembled) some symbolism related to the spilled blood of the Egyptians?

    Perhaps then the spilled wine is a kiyum of V’Higadtita L’Vincha i.e. a mitzvah d’oraysa rather than a sin.

    • could be. But it would certainly be prohibited with sh’mitta wine. And i would hope jews would be smarter than using wine symbolizing spilling gentile blood…

  3. Loved-loved-loved your piece. Are you sure you’re allowed to be this sane?
    BTW, on the topic of defining kitniyot (as kitniyot as we know them today have absolutely no common botanical/taxonomic features), I’ve come to admire the formulation of R. Elli Fischer of Modi’in: kitniyot are the box into which rabbis over the centuries dumped any small edible things they considered suspect.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Straight Halacha: Havdala | Avraham Ben Yehuda
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  3. Important Halachoth Regarding Qitniyoth |

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