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Pesach Prep in Lockdown

03/18/2020 09:12:59 PM


The following Halachot are meant as a guide to preparations for Pesach. A longer guide, detailing how to handle specific cleaning situations and other items, is available at Shul. Especially important are the guidelines laid out below for people who are leaving their homes before Pesach.

These instructions have undergone significant editing to allow for the circumstances special to 5780 (and, one hopes, no other year).


As with other essential items, one need not worry about Pesach supplies running low. Just yesterday, the head of the OU reassured the Kosher-eating multitudes that there will be plenty of Kosher-for-Pesach food to go around.

Hand-made Shmura Matza is sold even in Safeway this year.  You can also order online via Chabad here.  In addition, there is also Machine Matza which is Shmura from the time of harvest.  Finally, with respect to machine-made non-Shmura Matza found in stores, the minimum standard is that Matza for the Seder must be baked with the explicit intention of being used for the Mitzva of Matza on Seder night.  All Matza produced under the supervision of the OU has been baked with that explicit intention and can be relied upon for the Mitzva.

PREPARING for BEDIKA (checking for Chometz)
All property and possessions must be cleaned and checked to make sure that they are free of Chometz, except in the following cases:

1. If Chometz is not brought into the place during the year, it does not have to be cleaned or checked.

2. Chometz that is rendered inedible by being completely soaked in foul-tasting liquid such as detergent, bleach or ammonia is no longer considered Chometz because it is unfit to be eaten by an animal.

3. The obligation to check for and destroy crumbs does not apply if the crumbs are smaller than an olive and are dirty enough to prevent someone from eating them.

4. IF YOU ARE GOING AWAY FOR PESACH, and you are selling all of the Chometz in your house, you need not clean or check for Chometz.  However, you should be sure to have the sale go into effect on the 13th of Nissan (Tuesday, April 7) instead of the normal 14th (Wednesday, April 8).  This early sale is especially important for anyone traveling to Eretz Yisrael for Pesach.  Otherwise, there are those who still require you to do a full check before you leave (without a blessing).
It is advisable to still check (without saying a blessing) one room of the house before you leave and to say the text for the nullification of Chometz only for that room after you finish the check.  This way one can still fulfill the positive commandment to search for and destroy any Chometz in your possession.
If you are going away to a hotel (perhaps on Mars), then you must check for Chometz (and say a blessing before you check) in your quarters in the hotel.  If you are going to a private home and you will have your own quarters (with your own key), then you must check your quarters.  If you don't have your own quarters, then the head of the household at the place where you actually are on the 14th of Nissan will say the nullification of Chometz for the entire household (including guests) and you do not have to say anything on the 14th.
For those who own multiple properties, it is important to note that the tenant and not the owner is responsible for checking.  A tenant-less property must still be checked by the owner.  If one has a beach house, for example, checking would have to be done either by the owner or an agent.  If the check could take place on the 14th of Nissan, that would be best.

MECHIRAT CHOMETZ (The Selling of Leaven)
In order to avoid having possession of Chometz in any way, shape or form, all remaining Chometz should be sold before Pesach to a non-Jew.  After Pesach, the Chometz can be re-acquired.  This is an ordinary sale, completely legal and binding.  Everyone should find some way to sell his or her Chometz.R’ Feldman will arrange for the sale of Chometz on behalf of anyone who wishes to take advantage of this service.  The sale can be arranged at a distance -- via email, Fax or phone call -- until the day before Pesach, April 8.  The sale will still utilize a contract which we will make available on the website.  The sale will take place by 12:06 pm on April 8.
For those who are leaving their houses for Pesach, they should sign up for a special early sale that will take place one day earlier, on April 7.  This way they can avoid almost all of the checking for Chometz in their houses (see section on cleaning for Pesach).  Also, for people who will be in places to the East (including Eretz Yisrael) during Pesach, this early sale will take care of any problems that might arise because of the difference in time zones.  Please specify this need when you sign-up to sell your Chometz.

HAG'ALA - (Kashering Metal utensils for Pesach)
One easy way to make sure there are plenty of utensils (pots, pans, cutlery) for Pesach, is to use old ones which have been newly Kashered for Pesach.  This is accomplished by "purging" them of their ingrained Chometz by placing them in boiling water.  For an entire community, a large-scale "purging" is usually done with a large vat sitting on top of a big burner.  Assuming that a community-wide purge will not be possible, R’ Feldman will offer instructions on how to do this at home this year, and we will also connect you to the best teaching videos online.

All utensils must be unused with hot items for 24 hours before taking them to be "purged."  They must also be completely clean of any substance.  In anyone has any further questions, they should not hesitate to turn to R’ Feldman.

As Pesach approaches, the intense preparations shouldn't divert our attention completely from those Jews in need of assistance for the holidays.  EB has traditionally taken contributions and distributed them to Jews who are in need.  Please be aware that the financial hardship from the economic slowdown has been profound.  There are many people whose jobs have disappeared.  Please send in contributions marked Maot Chitim via the donation button on the website.

TA’ANIT B’CHORIM & SIYUM (Fast for the first-born and completing a tractate)
On Wednesday, April 8, there will be a Siyum, a celebration of the completion of a Talmudic tractate, which will allow the first-born who would be fasting to join in and to eat.  The Siyum will be accessible online.

Please note that US tax forms must be mailed before midnight, Wednesday, April 15, or in the middle of last days.  Be sure to finish tax preparations in order to avoid undue extra pressure before or during the Chag.


Checking for Chometz, April 7: After 8:17 pm
Last time to eat Chometz, April 8: 11:01 am
Last time to burn Chometz, April 8: 12:06 pm
Beginning of the Seder, April 8: After 8:18 pm
Beginning of the Seder, April 9: After 8:22 pm
Middle of the night: 1:09 am

Sat, November 28 2020 12 Kislev 5781