Pesach this year extends from Friday night, March 30, until Saturday night, April 7.
During the days preceding Pesach, the house should be thoroughly cleaned. Any hametz that will be sold to a non-Jew (see contract form at the end of this Bulletin) should be put in a secure, secluded place. On Thursday, March 29, at nightfall, search for hametz in every part of the house or car where it might have been brought during the year. Areas to be cleaned and checked include the basement, attic, garage, children’s pockets, picnic box, lunch box, etc. For the hametz search, a candle or flashlight must be used. Before starting the search, the following berachah is recited:
BARUCH ATAH ADO-NAI ELO-HEINU MELECH HAOLAM ASHER KIDESHANU BEMITZVOTAV VETZIVANU AL BI-UR HAMETZ.
When the search is concluded, the following declaration is recited:
All hametz and bread in my possession, which I have not removed, or have no knowledge of, shall be null and disowned as the dust of the earth.
All bread and hametz that was found during the search has to be carefully preserved in a bag. In the morning it is burned, together with any hametz left over from breakfast, and the same declaration is recited.
What is Hametz?
The five types of grain from which hametz can be made are: wheat, spelt, barley, oats and rye. When any of these are mixed with water and left standing, fermentation begins. The mixture coagulates, swells, pales, and its surface cracks. Whether or not this is then baked into bread, it is hametz.
What is Matzah?
We take flour that has never come in contact with water, mix it with cold water, constantly kneading the dough, roll it out and thoroughly bake it before fermentation can get underway. The Sages set the maximum time allowed at eighteen minutes. The resulting bread is unleavened and free of any suspicion of hametz, this is matzah.
Legumes such as rice, beans, and lentils cannot become hametz at all. However, since they can be ground into flour which forms a dough-like mixture with water, and also because a few grains of wheat or barley are often found mixed up in bags of legumes, it became the general Ashkenazi custom to forbid the eating of legumes on Pesach. Certain Sephardi communities also have this custom, particularly with regard to rice and/or chick peas.
The general Sephardi custom is to permit them, as long as they have been thoroughly checked before Pesach for the presence of any of the five types of grain. They are usually checked three times to be sure. Because of the limited application of this restriction, people who do not eat legumes on Pesach may nonetheless eat other foods at the homes of those who do, even if legumes have been cooked in the same utensils.
Hametz that was once fit for human consumption remains prohibited, even if it is no longer fit, as long as a dog could eat it. If it has become inedible even to a dog before Pesach, (like ink and certain cosmetics that may be made from hametz), it is no longer considered hametz and one may use it on Pesach. In case of illness (more than just a headache), one may even swallow it in medicines as long as it is not made up into a pleasant-tasting mixture (as in coated tablets, throat lozenges, etc.).
Fast of the First Born
Friday, March 30 from Sunrise to Sunset. However, if you're finishing a book of Gemora, you may break your fast at a siyum. Once the fast is broken, you no longer have to fast. For your convinience, Etz Ahaim will have a fast on March 30 right after Shacharit.
- Shacharit: 6:30am
- Siyum: 7:30am
Friday, Erev Pesach, March 30. See sale form below.
The prohibition of eating bread or any type of leaven begins at 10.55 a.m. All leaven must be disposed of by 11:58 a.m. From that time on, only food that is kosher for Pesach may be eaten. However, one should not eat any foods that will be eaten at the Seder: matzah, marror, etc. “Kal Hamira” should then be recited:
All hametz and bread in my possession, shall be null and disowned as the dust of the earth.
If one has any hametz, one is required to sell it to a non-Jew by the above date and time. The legal intricacies covering this transfer of property (the selling to a non-Jew) are many, and only a competent Rabbi should be entrusted with its execution. Our Rabbi will act as intermediary and as representative of the seller and must be given this authority before Pesach, no later than Thursday, March 29. After Pesach, care should be taken not to benefit from hametz belonging to a Jew or patronizing a Jewish store suspected of not having transferred this hametz properly.
Kashering for Pesach
Not only is eating hametz prohibited, even eating food prepared during Pesach in a hametz pot or with a hametz utensil (spoon, knife, etc.) is also prohibited, even if they are perfectly clean. The reason is that the vessel absorbs the taste of every food. Therefore, when Pesach food is cooked in it, the taste will penetrate and one will be eating hametz on Pesach.
If you have questions about this or any other Halachic Issue, Contact Rabbi Bassous.
Since the laws of kashering are many and very complicated, it is best to simplify matters by setting aside a new set of dishes, pots, pans, glassware, and flatware to be used only during Pesach. However, under specific conditions, certain utensils that are used during the year for hametz may, after cleaning and kashering, then be used for Pesach.
The following items that were used with hot hametz CANNOT be kashered with boiling water (hagala):
- China, earthenware, porcelain.
- Utensils made from bone or plastic.
- Utensils that cannot be thoroughly cleansed: sieves, grinders, and graters.
According to Sephardic tradition, clear glass does not absorb and may be used for Passover and metals coated with Teflon may be kashered.
On the first two nights of Pesach it is incumbent upon each of us, men and women alike, to perform the following five basic mitzvot:
- The eating of matzah on the first and second nights of Pesach while reclining on the left side. Matzah Shmurah is required on the first two nights of Pesach for the fulfillment of the mitzvah. The wheat used in these special matzot is guarded from the moment of harvest from any water or moisture that would cause the wheat to swell and make it hametz. The matzah is then baked by hand by Jews who know the importance of this mitzvah.
- Relating the story of the exodus from Egypt, as it says: “You should relate to your son (the story of Pesach) on this night.” Women and children are also required to perform this mitzvah. It is essential that the important sections of the Haggadah should be translated and explained for anyone who may not understand the context of the Haggadah.
- Drinking four cups of wine while reclining to the left. If one’s health does not permit the drinking of wine, he may dilute the wine with grape juice.
- Eating marror (Romaine lettuce). Care should be taken that the lettuce leaves are checked very carefully for any insects.
- Reciting the Hallel. In Arvit of erev Pesach both men and women should say full hallel with a berachah.
The Seder Procedure
- Kiddush is recited over the wine. At least just over half of a 3.04 oz. cup of wine should be drunk. When drinking it, it is customary to recline as a sign of freedom. The word Kiddush means to make holy; the first step of the Seder is to create an awareness of holiness and an atmosphere of joy.
- The Washing of Hands - three times consecutively on each hand from a cup. The blessing is not recited. The ritual washing of the hands parallels to that of the priests in the temple. The intent is to purify oneself before eating.
- The Eating of a Vegetable - Less than an ounce of any vegetable is dipped into salt water and then eaten. The blessing, Borei Peri Ha’adamah, is recited before eating. When making the Bracha, one should also be conscious to cover the marror. A vegetable is a symbol of spring and regeneration. (One of the names of Pesach is the Festival of the Spring). The salt water represents the tears of the Jewish people who suffered in Egypt. The dipping process was instituted in the Seder to arouse the children’s curiosity and stimulate them to ask questions.
- The Breaking of the Matzah - The middle matzah is broken and the larger half hidden for use in the Afikomen. The reason is so we will recall the hardships of our forefathers in Egypt—that all they had to eat was broken, unleavened bread.
- The Recitation of the Haggadah - No matter how knowledgeable we are about Passover, the retelling of the story of the Exodus heightens our awareness and stimulates our consciousness. After the story is completed, the second cup of wine should be drunk.
- The hands are washed ritually again as in item 2, but this time with a blessing.
- Eating the Matzah - Matzah is called the bread of faith because it reminds us of the faith that our forefathers displayed in journeying out of Egypt, without packing food, confident of G-d’s help. Everyone must eat at least one ounce of matzah, which is eaten in a reclining position.
- The Eating of the Marror - The Marror symbolizes the bitterness of our forefathers’ lives in Egypt. It is dipped into, and then shaken free of the Charoset, which in color and composition reminds us of the mortar used to make bricks in Egypt. At least one ounce should be eaten.
- A sandwich of matzah and marror is eaten, commemorating the way Hillel used to celebrate Passover during the time of the Bet Hamikdash. The sandwich is eaten while reclining.
- A festival meal, replete with many delicacies is enjoyed. We are asked to be excessive in the use of food, wine, dishes, and silverware to demonstrate our joy at our freedom.
- The Afikomen is eaten after the meal in commemoration of the Pesach sacrifice. At least one ounce of matzah should be eaten in a reclining position.
- The Grace after Meals is recited over the third cup of wine, thanking G-d for His blessings to us.
- The Hallel (praise of G-d) is recited, recalling the many miracles that Hashem performed for us. Then the final cup of wine is drunk.
- The efforts of man are completed and and G-d accepts our Seder service
We will need to make an Eruv Tavshillin before the last two days of Pesach which fall on Friday and Shabbat.
Counting the Omer
Starting on Saturday night, March 31, we count 49 days from the first day of Passover to the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot). Rambam explained the counting of these days as one who patiently awaits a beloved and dear friend. Every day, with hope and anticipation, he looks forward to his arrival. So we look forward to the holiday of the giving of the Torah. This period is called “Sefira,” which in Hebrew means, “counting”. Every day is counted with a berachah after the evening services.
Tradition tells us of adversity that befell the students of Rabbi Akiva during the counting of the Omer, and history records the appalling massacres of the year 1096 by the Crusaders. Therefore, this period has become a period of semi-mourning, in which Jews abstain from weddings and rejoicing. An exception to this is the 33rd day, called Lag BaOmer. Weddings are permitted for Ashkenazim and for Sepharadim after the 34th day.