Tonight- Thursday night - one may not do any work, nor eat anything, until one has checked the house for Chometz. (Firstborns who fasted may break their fast if needed, but may not eat a meal.) The entire house needs to be cleaned, and the Chometz that one plans to use until mid-morning on Shabbos needs to be put in a secure place, before one starts searching the house for Chometz. First one says the Brocho “… Al Bi’ur Chometz” – “… to destroy Chometz”, since the point of the search is to rid the house of Chometz. After the search is complete one says “Kol Chamiro” declaring that all Chometz one isn’t aware of to be “ownerless and worthless like dust”. This declaration constitutes a Halachic “destroying Chometz”, which is why one shouldn’t interrupt between the Brocho, the searching and the Kol Chamiro with anything not related to the search. One may appoint other members of the household to help with the search, as long as they are over Bar/Bat Mitzva. The search is done using a single candle which provides the optimal light for searching. A torch (like a Havdolo candle) is not allowed – as it’s a fire hazard and it gives a flickering light – and if it was used one needs to redo the search. Search under all furniture, inside all closets, pockets of all clothes worn in the past year, schoolbags, purses, cars and anywhere else where Chometz could have been placed accidentally or purposely by adults, children or toddlers. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:1-10 There is no need to turn off the electric lights while searching with a candle, since with more light it’s easier to find Chometz. After searching with a candle in those places where it’s safe and convenient to do so, one should continue with a flashlight, so that one can safely and calmly search without fear of burning down the house. Source: Rabbi Shimon Eider zt”l, Halachos of Pessach, Vol. 1, page 86 Wishing everybody a meaningful and enjoyable Pessach - Danny 12 Nissan 5768 P.S. The next Halocho a Day will be sent out soon after Pessach
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Why don't firstborns celebrate the fact that they were saved from the 10th plague - the smiting of Egyptian firstborns? Tomorrow - Thursday - firstborns will fast in memory of them fasting in Egypt on Erev Pessach, to ensure they wouldn't be punished along with the Egyptians in the 10th plague. The Hallel said at the Seder includes praise for their delivery. The fast is usually on Erev Pessach; since we don't fast on Shabbat, and fasting on Friday is also not a pleasant way to greet Shabbat, so the fast was advanced to Thursday. All firstborns males fast; even if they're only a firstborn to one of their parents. Even firstborns who are exempt from Pidyon haBen - like Cohanim, Levites or being born after a stillborn - also have to fast. The father of a young firstborn needs to fast for him. Whether a firstborn (or his father) may attend a Se'udat Mitzva like a Siyum, Bris or Pidyon haBen and break his fast to participate in the meal, depends on local / family custom. Once he breaks his fast he can eat for the rest of the day. A firstborn may break his fast after nightfall, before doing Bedikas Chometz, if needed. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 113:6, 115:2 - Danny 11 Nissasn 5768
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Today, 10 Nissan, in the year 2449, the Jews in Egypt selected lambs for their Pessach sacrifice. Forty years later, on 10 Nissan, the prophetess Miriam - sister of Aaron and Moshe - died. A year later on 10 Nissan, the Jews crossed the Jordan river, as recorded in Joshua 3-4.
- The Torah forbids us to waste or destroy items that can still be used.
- The Torah commands us to burn - or otherwise destroy - all Chometz in our possession on Erev Pessach morning.
- A lot of products may be Chometz contrary to popular belief- depending on the latest production methods - like medications, creams, soaps or even food which one discovers later wasn't really Kosher for Pessach.
- During Pessach one may discover Chometz that one wasn't aware of, or forgot to get rid of in the last-minute pre-Pessach rush.
Monday, April 14, 2008
- One may not eat Matza on Erev Pessach.
- One may not eat bread after mid-morning on Erev Pessach.
- One should eat a Kezayis (olive's worth) of bread at all 3 Shabbos meals.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
This year Erev Pessach is on Shabbos. This happened 3 years ago and will happen again in 13 years time (2021/תשפ"א - 5781). Since Erev Pessach is on Shabbos, the standard pre-Pessach schedule is different. Here are some highlights in chronological order: - The Fast of the Firstborns is on Thursday. In case of need, the firstborn may break his fast before doing Bedikas Chometz. - Bedikas Chometz (searching the house for leaven) is done on Thursday evening. - The first Kol Chamiro (annulling all Chometz that one isn't aware of) is said after Bedikas Chometz on Thursday night. - Burning all Chometz (besides what is needed for the next 24 hours) is done on Friday morning - check your local luach (Jewish calendar) for the correct time. No Kol Chamiro is said. - The sale of Chometz should be organized with your local Rabbi by Friday morning. He'd probably appreciate if you come by earlier in the week. - In order to prevent complicated halachic situations one should do the following on Friday:
- Prepare the Salt Water for the Seder.
- Roast the Egg and Bone.
- Make the Charoset.
- Light a 26 hour (Yahrzeit) candle from which to light Yom Tov candles on Saturday night, unless one will have another flame available, like a gas range.
- Prepare wicks for the Yom Tov oil-candles, as one may not re-use the Shabbos wicks.
- Prepare candles for the Yom Tov candles, as one may not melt candles nor trim them on Yom Tov.
- Open the boxes of Matza, so as not to tear writing on Yom Tov.
- Ensure the wine bottles can be opened on Yom Tov without tearing any writing; else open them beforehand.
- Ensure Challa has been separated from the bread to be used on Shabbos as well as from the Matza to be used on Yom Tov. - On Shabbos morning one must finish eating Chometz by a third of the day - check your local luach for the correct time. More details about this tomorrow. - After one finishes eating Chometz on Shabbos morning, one disposes of the leftover Chometz and says the second Kol Chamiro - annulling all Chometz still in one's possession. - One may not make any Seder preparations on Shabbos. One must wait until the time for Motzai Shabbos - check your local luach for the correct time. One can then say "Boruch Hamavdil ben Kodesh L'Kodesh" - ברוך המבדיל בין קודש לקודש - "Blessed is He who separates between the Holiness of Shabbos and the [lesser] Holiness of Yom Tov", and then light Yom Tov candles from an existing flame and start cooking and preparing the table for the Seder. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 96:5, 110:6, 115
Friday, April 11, 2008
The Jews in Egypt were commanded to take home a lamb for the pre-Exodus Seder on 10 Nissan, four days before it was going to be sacrificed. It was a miracle that the Egyptians didn't harm the Jews when they did this, since lambs were considered sacred objects in Egypt. Since we left Egypt on Thursday 15 Nissan, this miracle happened on a Shabbos. To commemorate this miracle, the Shabbos before Seder Night is called Shabbos Hagodol - the Great Shabbos and a special Haftara is read; the last chapter in Malachi which predicts the future redemption, may we merit it in our days. Typically on Shabbos Hagodol the Rabbi's Drasha (lecture) is a refresher course of Pessach laws. When Pessach starts on Sunday - like this year - then the Shabbos Hagodol Drasha is given a week early, so as to make it useful. The custom is to read the narrative section of the Haggada - from Avadim Hayinu (we were slaves) until (but not including) Rabban Gamliel's admonition to say "Pesach, Matza and Marror" at Mincha on Shabbos Hagodol. The yearly Shabbos Hagodol Drasha will be tomorrow - Shabbos Parshat Metzora, 7 Nissan, whereas Shabbos Hagodol (with its special Haftarah and Haggada reading) is actually next week, Erev Pessach. Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 430 Shabbat Shalom - Danny
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Matza is made from flour and water. Nothing else. The water is drawn the night before it is used. The water for Sunday's baking is drawn on Thursday night. One can draw water for many days in advance, but it's preferable to do it one day at a time. The water is stored in a closed room to ensure that no flour-dust falls into it. The flour is ground from wheat that was harvested while still slightly green; once wheat is fully ripe it can become chametz (leaven) even before being harvested if it comes into contact with water. The wheat is carefully stored to ensure it remains dry. The wheat needs to be ground into flour at least 24 hours before it is used, to give it time to cool down. 18 minute after water is added to flour the dough becomes chametz. Matza baking runs in 18 minute batches after which all equipment is thoroughly cleaned to remove all traces of dough. Matza needs to be produced away from direct sunlight - and the room should be cool, as dough becomes chametz sooner in a warm room. Once the dough is put into the oven it may not be removed until it is fully baked. Matza used at the Seder needs to be made with the intention of it being used for a Mitzva; everybody involved in its production says "L'shem Mitzvos Matza" (for the purpose of the Mitzva of Matza) before all activities. This is know as Shmura Matza. If a Matza has a fold in it, or a bubble more than a finger high (2.5 cm), then the fold or bubble are considered chametz and need to be broken off and disposed of. the rest of the Matza can be eaten. It is recommended to check ones Matzot before Pessach to ensure there are no folds or bubbles. One is forbidden to eat Matza on Erev Pessach. Most people have the custom to stop eating Matza from Rosh Chodesh Nissan already. Some don't eat Matza an entire month before Pessach. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: 108, 109, 110 - Danny
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The intermediary days of Pessach and Sukkot are known as Chol Hamo'ed. Some types of work are permitted, others are forbidden. Chazal (our Rabbis of blessed memory) have some harsh words for those who don't honour Chol Hamo'ed properly. Honouring Chol Hamo'ed includes eating meals and wearing clothes that are closer to Yom Tov standards than regular weekday standards. On Chol Hamo'ed one may do all work needed to prevent a monetary loss. Preparing food for Chol Hamo'ed or the last days of Yom Tov is allowed. Gardening is forbidden besides for picking fruit for Chol Hamo'ed or Yom Tov, and to prevent plants dying, e.g. if they need to be irrigated. Planting is forbidden. Cutting hair is forbidden on Chol Hamo'ed. Cutting nails is only allowed if one also cut them before Yom Tov. Writing down information so that it won't be forgotten is allowed. Writing letters to friends and family is allowed. The custom is to write the first line at an angle as a reminder that writing is only partially permitted. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 104. - Danny 4 Nissan 5768
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Seder night consists of food and talk. Food: - On Seder night there's a Mitzva in the Torah to eat a piece of Korban Pessach on Matza with Marror (bitter herbs). Until the Bet Hamikdash (temple) is rebuilt we only have the Matza and Marror. The minimum Torah requirement is to eat a Kezayit (an olive's worth) of Matza, which is approximately one-third of a square machine-Matza. At a typical Seder it's customary to eat 2 Kezeitim for Motzi-Matza, a 3rd for the Hillel-sandwich and a fourth for the Afikomen. - On Seder night there's also a Rabbinic requirement to drink 4 cups of wine. All the above - besides for the Marror - must be eaten while leaning on ones left side. Talk: The rest of the Seder consists of reading the entire Haggada. However, there's no Mitzva per se, to read the Haggada. There's a Mitzva in the Torah to tell ones children the story of the Exodus from Egypt in Question-Answer format on Seder night. The Haggada gives a framework so that one covers all required parts of the story, which is why it's important to understand and explain all those parts of the Haggada that recount the slavery, 10 plagues and deliverance in a language that all participants understand. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 119:4, 5, 7 May we merit to eat the Korban Pessach soon, in our lifetime. - Danny 3 Nissan 5768
Monday, April 7, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Today - Sunday - is the first day of the first month - Nissan. Don't forget Hallel and Ya'aley V'yavo. Today - 1 Nissan - was the last of the 8 inaugural days of the Mishkan (tabernacle) and the first day that Aaron served as Cohen Gadol (high priest) and his 4 sons as Cohanim. That same day, two of them - Nadav and Avihu - brought an offering not in accordance with Halocho and were killed by a heavenly fire. Today the heads of the 12 tribes started bringing their inaugural sacrifices - one prince each day. Some people have the custom of reading that days sacrifice during the first 12 days of Nissan. This can be found in the Siddur as the Torah Reading for Chanuka. One does not say Tachanun during the entire month of Nissan. One may not fast during Nissan, with the following exceptions: - Firstborns fast on Erev Pessach (or the Thursday before, this year). - Fasting for distressingly bad dreams. - Couples getting married during Nissan. Even today - Rosh Chodesh - they fast, whereas on any other Rosh Chodesh the bride and groom do not fast. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 107:1,2 Chodesh Tov! - Danny
Friday, April 4, 2008
This week’s Parsha - Tazria – begins with the Mitzva of circumcising all healthy baby boys on the 8th day of their life.
Even babies born on Shabbos get circumcised eight days later on Shabbos. However, whatever can be prepared beforehand cannot be done on Shabbos; the Mohel has to prepare his instruments, salves and bandages before Shabbos.
Babies born during twilight on Friday afternoon or Shabbos afternoon get circumcised on Sunday.
Babies born by C-section cannot be circumcised on Shabbos.
Source: Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 266
Reminder: Shabbos is “Parshat Hachodesh” and Sunday is Rosh Chodesh Nissan.
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,
- Danny Erev Shabbat “Hachodesh” - 28 Adar-2 5768
Thursday, April 3, 2008
This Shabbos we take out 2 Sifrei Torah. In the first we will read Parshas Tazria and in the second we will read Parshas Hachodesh (Exodus Ch. 12, Verses 1-20). Parshas Hachodesh reminds us of the following upcoming Mitzvos: - The month of Nissan (which begins on Sunday) is the first month on the Jewish calendar, as the opening words of Parshat Hachodesh proclaim: "This month is for you the first month". - The laws of Korban Pessach; sacrificed on Erev Pessach in the afternoon, it had to be roasted whole and then eaten on the first night of Pessach with Matza and Marror (bitter herbs). - Leftovers had to be burnt on the first day of Chol Hamo'ed. - Matza needs to be made carefully to ensure it doesn't become Chometz (leaven). - The first and last days of Pessach are Yom Tov. - One may not own Chometz, nor eat it, during Pessach . Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 140:2
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
This Sunday is Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5768 – ה'תשס"ח When the 3rd Shabbos meal continues into the night, one still inserts Retzai – רצה during Birkas Hamazon (grace after meals). When one starts a meal on Erev Rosh Chodesh and eats a Kezayis (the size of an olive – 27 cc) of bread after dark, one inserts Ya’aleh V’Yavo – יעלה ויבוא during Birkas Hamazon. What happens when both of the above happen together? If Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday and one eats a Kezayis of bread after dark during the 3rd Shabbos meal, then one inserts both Retzai – רצה and Ya’aleh V’Yavo – יעלה ויבוא during Birkas Hamazon. However, some argue that mentioning both is a contradiction – since Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh aren’t on the same day. Therefore one should be careful not to eat after dark at the 3rd Shabbos meal when Rosh Chodesh is on Sunday. The same concept applies when Chanuka, Purim or Yom Tov start on Sunday. Since this Sunday is Rosh Chodesh, the Yom Kipour Kotton prayers that some people say on Erev Rosh Chodesh are said tomorrow – Thursday. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:17 - Danny
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
There's a Mitzva to honor the Yom Tov: - One should bath, cut nails and get a haircut before Yom Tov. - One shouldn't eat a meal during the second half of the afternoon on Erev Yom Tov so as not to spoil ones appetite for the festive evening meal.