קיצור הלכות פסח
Essential Laws of Pesah by Rabbi J. Maroof
איסור החמץ - The Prohibition of Hametz
On Pesah we are not permitted to eat or to possess any hametz. This
includes any food product that contains one of the five grains (wheat,
barley, oats, rye or spelt) or one of their many derivatives, unless it
has been properly supervised for Pesah use.
2. In addition to
the prohibition of eating and possessing hametz, the Torah prohibits us
to benefit from it in any way. Therefore, we may not sell it, present it
as a gift or feed it to any animals on Pesah.
3. Containers of
condiments and spreads like butter, cream cheese and fruit preserves
that have been opened and used with hametz should be thrown out and new
ones purchased for Pesah.
4. Since spices, oils and other
additives are sometimes poured directly into a pot over the fire and may
have absorbed hametz from its steam, one should purchase new, unopened
ones for Pesah. However, the old ones do not need to be thrown out or
sold, just put away.
5. The prohibition of hametz also requires
us to treat all of the pots, pans, utensils and other cookware that
have been used with hametz as non-Kosher for Pesah use.
addition to the restriction on eating actual hametz, Ashkenazim also
refrain from eating kitniyot (‘legumes’, such as rice, corn, and beans)
during Pesah. However, they are permitted to possess kitniyot and may
utilize pots, pans, dishes and utensils that have been used with
7. The restriction on kitniyot only applies to foods
that are primarily made up of kitniyot. Food products that contain
kitniyot as an incidental ingredient and in which the kitniyot are not
recognizable, like soft drinks that contain corn syrup, are permitted
even for Ashkenazim on Pesah.
8. Sephardim who are accustomed
not to eat kitniyot during Pesah may discontinue their custom if they so
desire. Ideally, they should ‘annul’ the custom before a Jewish court
9. Nowadays, Sephardim who eat kitniyot such as rice
that are packaged commercially are not obligated to check them for
traces of hametz because the companies that prepare these products have
already purified them. However, if one happens to find a grain of hametz
mixed in with rice, it must be removed. If one has already cooked the
rice, consult a Rabbi about how to proceed (many factors are involved).
10. Sephardim are permitted to eat ‘egg matza’ on Pesah, provided that it is prepared under proper supervision. Ashkenazim only allow egg matza for the sick and elderly who cannot digest regular matza.
11. Some authorities permit both kitniyot and egg matza even for Ashkenazim on Erev Pesah.
Items that are not edible, such as shoe polish, aluminum foil, glue,
cosmetics, toiletries, shampoos and medicines do not need to be kosher
for Pesah (or in general), because they are not foods. Pet food,
however, must be kosher for Pesah, because it is considered an edible
13. The prohibition of eating hametz will begin on the eve
of Pesah – Monday, March 25th - in Rockville, Maryland at 11:11 AM this
year. The prohibition to possess, sell or otherwise benefit from hametz
will begin at 12:12 PM.
בדיקת חמץ- The Search for Hametz
On the night before Pesah begins – this year, Sunday, March 24th -
every Jew is required to search their property for any hametz. The
search should be a genuine, serious inspection for hametz, not a
ritualistic walk through the house with a feather and a candle.
2. The search for hametz should begin twenty minutes after sunset or as soon as possible thereafter.
Before the search, we recite the appropriate beracha (found either in
the Haggada or Pesah prayerbook) and proceed to inspect all areas that
we may have brought hametz into during the year. This includes our
homes, cars, offices, coat pockets, etc.
4. A flashlight should be used during the search so that one can inspect all of the necessary areas with sufficient lighting.
There is no need for ‘spring cleaning’ during the search for hametz.
One should concentrate on finding substantial pieces of hametz (like a
cookie or pretzel) rather than sweeping up crumbs. If there is extra
time, removing even smaller bits of hametz is an enhancement of the
6. After the search for hametz, one should gather all
the hametz one intends to save for dinner or breakfast and keep it in
7. When the search for hametz is concluded, one must
say the nullification of hametz (‘bittul hametz’) formula found in the
Haggada or Mahazor. The nullification statement is repeated in a
slightly different form in the morning, right after one destroys or eats
the last of one’s hametz.
8. If one is going away for the
holiday before the night of the search but is leaving less than a month
before Pesah one must conduct a proper search for hametz without a
beracha on the last night that one is still home. One should recite the
nighttime ‘bittul hametz’ formula immediately after the search, but
should wait until erev Pesah to make the daytime “bittul” statement.
ערב פסח - The Eve of Pesah
On the eve of Pesah – this year, Monday, March 25th - it is prohibited
to eat matza, so that the matza eaten at the seder will be special. Egg
matza is permitted for Sephardim as well as for those Ashkenazim who are
lenient in this matter on Erev Pesah.
2. It is customary that
every firstborn male fasts on the eve of Pesah. The fast may be broken
if one attends a ‘Siyum Masechet’, a celebration held when somebody
completes the study of an entire tractate of the Talmud.
possible, first born females should attend the Siyum as well, since
many authorities maintain that they are also obligated to fast.
One is not permitted to begin work projects that are very involved
after midday on Erev Pesah so that one can fully devote one’s energy to
preparing for the seder.
5. Beginning about two and a half hours
before sunset on Erev Pesah, one is not permitted to eat the equivalent
of a meal (even of egg matza), so that he/she will be hungry enough to
enjoy dining at the seder. Snacks of fruits and vegetables are
הכשר כלים -Kashering Vessels
people keep separate sets of cookware and utensils for Pesah use. If,
however, one wishes to use one’s year-round kitchenware for Pesah, it
must first undergo a process of ‘kashering’. In order to avoid
complications, it is best to complete this process before hametz becomes
prohibited (i.e., before 11:11 AM on March 25th this year).
2. Only metal, stone, wood and plastic vessels can be kashered. Items made from earthenware, such as china, cannot be kashered.
3. Sephardim do not require any kashering for glass or Pyrex vessels and are permitted to use them after a thorough cleaning. Ashkenazim treat these items like earthenware and prohibit their use for Pesah unless they have been used exclusively with cold food.
The method used to kasher an item is always based on the way in which
the item is used. A vessel that is used for cooking liquidy substances,
such as a pot, should be kashered by boiling water in it and then
dropping a hot rock or hot piece of metal into it so that it boils over
on all sides. Utensils such as soup ladles and carving knives that are
placed directly into hot pots are kashered by completely submerging them
in a pot filled with boiling water. Serving platters and strainers that
have food poured onto them from hot pots are generally kashered in this
way as well.
5. After kashering a vessel with boiling water, it is customary to rinse the item off with cold water.
Customs differ with regard to kashering vessels that are used for
eating hot food but have no direct contact with hot cookware (for
example, forks, spoons, knives, etc.) Sephardim may kasher these
utensils by cleaning them thoroughly and then running them through a
regular cycle in a kosher-for-Pesah dishwasher. Ashkenazim require all vessels that come into contact with hot food to be kashered through placement in a pot of boiling hot water.
7. According to Ashkenazic practice, a vessel must be left unused for 24 hours before being purged with boiling water for Pesah use. Sephardim
are only required to observe this stringency in two cases: (1) when
kashering a microwave and (2) when kashering meat and dairy vessels
together in the same vat. However, it is meritorious for Sephardim to
follow the stringent practice in all cases if possible.
Before a vessel can be kashered with boiling water, it must be totally
clean. When cleaning a vessel to prepare it for kashering, one may come
across food substances that adhere to it and cannot be removed. In such
cases, simply apply a caustic cleaner such as bleach or detergent to the
substance in order to render it inedible.
9. A vessel upon
which dry food is directly placed to cook, like a grill or baking pan,
should be kashered by cleaning it carefully and then heating it until it
is red hot (libun). This is the most intense form of kashering, and
vessels kashered in this way do not need to be left unused for 24 hours
10. Vessels used for cold food only, such as
goblets for Kiddush or cups used for cold drinks, need only to be rinsed
with water and are permitted for Pesah use.
11. According to Sephardim,
if a vessel is used in different ways at different times, the method of
kashering that is applied will follow the primary usage. For example,
if a pot normally used for cooking liquidy foods were used for dry
cooking once or twice, it would still be kashered by boiling water
inside. Similarly, if a fork normally used for eating was used to stir a
pot over the fire a couple of times, it could still be kashered by a
run through the dishwasher. However, if the vessel was used in a more
intense way than usual during the past 24 hours, the more intense method
of kashering must be applied.
12. Ashkenazim always
kasher based on the most intense way that the vessel has been used with
food, even if it has been used that way only once. Therefore, in the two
cases mentioned in Law #11, the pot would need to be heated until red
hot and the fork would need to be placed in a pot of boiling water.
If one carefully cleans one’s oven racks and covers all food placed in
the oven with single sheets of tin foil, there is no need to kasher the
oven because there is no way for food cooked in the oven to absorb
hametz from it.
14. If one does decide to kasher an oven,
self-cleaning is perfectly acceptable. If one’s oven does not have a
self-cleaning option, one should carefully clean the racks and walls of
the oven and then - after leaving it unused for 24 hours - place the
oven on its highest temperature setting for one hour.
15. For Sephardim,
the grates on which pots are placed on a gas or electric stovetop need
only to be spotlessly cleaned to be kosher for Pesah. As an added
measure of stringency, some Sephardim also place them into a pot of
boiling hot water.
16. After cleaning the grates, Ashkenazim are required to heat them to the temperature at which a tissue that touched them would ignite.
Sephardim may kasher dishwashers, regardless of the material they are
made of, by leaving them unused for 24 hours and then running them
(without dishes inside) through at least one complete cycle with
detergent. Ideally, for Ashkenazim, three complete dishwasher cycles
should be run (only one needs to include detergent). The racks do not
need to be changed.
18. For Sephardim, sinks, countertops
and tabletops require nothing more than a careful cleaning to be kosher
for Pesah (however, please be sure to consult Law #20.) Some Sephardim
are stringent with sinks and, in addition to cleaning them, pour boiling
hot water over them
19. Ashkenazim are advised not to use
their sinks, countertops or tabletops without kashering them first.
They should either (1) not use these items with anything hot for 24
hours and then pour boiling water over them OR (2) simply clean and then
20. If a sink, countertop, tabletop or stove grate
is known to have had contact with hot hametz during the past 24 hours,
then Sephardim are required to kasher them according to the same
standards as Ashkenazim.
21. Dish sponges and toothbrushes should be cleaned thoroughly with hot water or replaced for the holiday.
A microwave can be kashered by leaving it over for 24 hours, cleaning
the inside thoroughly and then heating a dish of water in the microwave
until it is filled with steam.
23. Refrigerators and cabinets
need only to be wiped down with water to be kosher for Pesah. Dish
strainers on which clean dishes are placed to dry do not require any
kashering at all.
24. If one is not planning on using a
particular vessel or appliance for Pesah, it does not require any
kashering. Non-Pesah vessels should be cleaned and put away, preferably
in a cabinet that is taped up or locked.
ליל הסדר - The Seder Night
1. One may not begin the Pesah Seder until at least 45 minutes after sunset.
Men, women and children are obligated to fulfill all the mitzvot of the
night. It is especially important for children to have the Haggada
explained to them.
3. The custom of Sephardim is to use red wine for the Four Cups, even if superior white wine is available. The custom of Ashkenazim is to use red wine unless a superior white wine is available.
The minimum amount of wine that must be contained in each of the four
cups is approximately 3 fluid ounces. One must drink more than half of
each cup (about 1.6 fl. oz.) to fulfill the mitzvah.
any vegetable may be used for karpas, provided that its blessing is bore
peri ha-adama. One should make sure that any vegetables eaten at the
Seder (and all year round) have been carefully inspected for bugs.
6. It is preferable to use handmade matza shemura for the Seder. However, machine-made shemura is also acceptable.
7. It is ideal to use Romaine lettuce for Maror.
Everyone participating in the Seder is required to lean to the left
when drinking any of the four cups or eating the matza, korech, or the
afikoman. If a man forgot to lean while performing one of the mitzvot he
must go back and redo it. Women may be lenient and need not repeat the
9. Sephardim recite the beracha of Borei Pri Hagefen only on the first and third cups. Ashkenazim say a beracha on all four cups.
The most essential part of the Haggada is “Rabban Gamliel Haya Omer”,
in which the special mitzvot of the night are explained.
minimum amount of matza that must be eaten for each mitzva is a little
more than one third of a medium size handmade matza. However, for motzi
matza on the first night, one should eat at least half of a handmade
matza. The minimum amount of maror one must eat for each mitzvah is
approximately 28 grams.
12. One should make every effort to
complete the entire Seder, including Hallel, before “midnight” (in
Rockville this year, 1:15 AM). If this is not possible, one should at
least eat the afikoman before this time.