Tomorrow - Friday - is Erev Pessach and Erev Shabbat; a busy day.
One does not say מִזְמוֹר לְתוֹדָה nor לַמְנַצֵּחַ from Erev Pessach until Isru Chag.
One may not eat Chametz after 1/3 of the day, and then - within an hour - one needs to burn one's Chametz and say כָּל חֲמִירָא declaring all Chametz one owns to be ownerless like dust.
Work that may not be done on Chol Hamo'ed may not be done on Erev Pessach after noon.
One may not eat Matza on Erev Pessach.
One needs to prepare the salt water for the Seder before Shabbat begins.
One needs to ensure one has taken Challa from one's Matzot before Shabbat begins. (Matzot one buys in a sealed box usually have Challa separated already; check the box near the Kashrut seal to double check.)
Remember to light a 48-hour candle (or leave on a flame on the stove) so that you can light Shabbat candles on Motzai Shabbat, if you live outside Israel.
If you have wine, raisins or grape juice made from Shmita grapes, you need to do Bi'ur on Erev Pessach. Bring them to the street and declare them Hefker - ownerless. Anybody can then claim then and bring them home, including yourself.
For details of the Fast of the Firstborn see Halocho #1550 - http://halocho.blogspot.com/2015/03/halocho-1550-why-do-firstborns-fast.html
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 113: 1 - 5
Wishing everybody a meaningful and enjoyable Pessach
Thursday, 13 Nissan 5776
The next Halocho-a-Day is scheduled for after Pessach, Sunday, 23 Nissan
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Tomorrow - Friday - is Erev Pessach and Erev Shabbat; a busy day.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
On Thursday night one may not do any work, nor eat anything, until one has checked the house for Chametz.
The entire house needs to be cleaned before one starts searching the house for Chametz. The Chametz that one plans to use until mid-morning on Friday morning needs to be put in a secure place.
First, one says the Bracha "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ" – "… to destroy Chametz", since the point of the search is to rid the house of Chametz.
After the search is complete one says "כָּל חֲמִירָא" declaring that "all Chametz one isn’t aware of" to be "ownerless and worthless like dust".
This declaration constitutes a Halachic "destroying Chametz", which is why one shouldn't interrupt between the Bracha, the searching and the כָּל חֲמִירָא 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 Havdala 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, school bags, purses, cars and anywhere else where Chametz 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 Chametz.
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 search safely and calmly without fear of burning down the house.
Source: Rabbi Shimon Eider zt"l, Halachos of Pessach, Vol. 1, page 86
Wednesday, 12 Nissan 5776
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
One may not prepare from Yom Tov to Shabbat unless one does Eruv Tavshilin before Yom Tov.
This year the 7th day of Pessach is on a Friday, so one needs to do Eruv Tavshilin on Thursday-Chol-Hamoed.
==> Make a note of this in your calendars - for Thursday 28 April / 20 Nissan <==
One takes Matza and a cooked or baked food that will be eaten on Shabbat and one says the Bracha:
One continues with the following, which must be said in a language one understands:בַּהֲדֵין עֵרוּבָא
"With this Eruv we are permitted to bake, cook, keep things warm and light fire and do all that is needed from Yom Tov to Shabbat".
The Matza and food should be kept in a safe place; it they are eaten before Shabbat, a Rabbi should be consulted how to proceed.
Even those who don't have to cook for Shabbat, still need to do Eruv Tavshilin in order to light Shabbat candles (from an existing flame.)
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 102
Tuesday, 11 Nissan 5776
Monday, April 18, 2016
One may not knead the dough of the Matza in direct sunlight, since sunlight causes dough to become Chametz very quickly.
On cloudy days, any place that is bright from the sunlight is considered to be in the sun.
That is the reason Matza factories tend to cover their windows, as it may become cloudy without anybody noticing and the Matza may inadvertently become Chametz.
One has to be careful that when moving the Matza to the oven that one doesn't pass under the sky, since on cloudy days that could cause the Matza to become Chametz.
However, one should be careful that the oven is nowhere near the kneading tables, as the heat from the oven would also cause the Matza to become Chametz.
The water and flour - before they are mixed - also have to be kept away from sunlight.
Source: Shulchan Aruch 459:1
Since most of us don't want to start selling Chametz on Erev Pessach, one can go to most local Rabbis and appoint them as a messenger to sell our Chametz.
The Rabbi will make a legal sale of the Chametz including a legal document and a deposit. Realize that this is a bona fide sale, and that the non-Jew is entitled to come to our homes and request we hand over our Chametz, as has occasionally happened.
After Pessach, the Rabbi goes to the non-Jew and asks to be paid the remainder of the debt and offers to buy back the Chametz from the non-Jew at a higher price. Since the non-Jew usually prefers to make a quick profit rather than paying for hundreds of items scattered throughout the city, he will sell the Chametz to the Rabbi.
One should only sell the actual Chametz and not the containers it's in - especially not containers that require Tevila, like metal and glass, otherwise one would need to Toivel them in a Mikva after Pessach, since they belonged to a non-Jew during Pessach.
Chametz that has been sold (via the Rabbi) must be locked away so that one doesn't accidentally use it, which would be a double problem: Chametz on Pessach and stealing from the non-Jew.
Even if one has no intention of keeping Chametz in one's home, one should still go to a Rabbi to appoint him to sell ones Chametz. Why?
- A lot of products may be Chametz 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 Chametz that one wasn't aware of, or that one forgot to get rid of in the last-minute pre-Pessach rush.
If one sold all one's Chametz then one didn't own any during Pessach.
Chametz that belonged to a Jew during Pessach may not be used after Pessach. This is a Rabbinical decree; a punishment for owning the Chametz.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 114
Monday, 10 Nissan 5776
Sunday, April 17, 2016
The Torah forbids us to waste or destroy items that can still be used.
The Torah commands us to burn - or otherwise destroy - all Chametz in our possession on Erev Pesach morning.
Can we reconcile these two Halachot?
The Mitzva to destroy Chametz can be fulfilled with a bare minimum of Chametz; preferably with leftovers that nobody else would want to use. Usable Chametz can be donated - before Pesach - to various charity organizations which will distribute it to the needy.
Alternately, Chametz can be sold to a non-Jew. More about that tomorrow.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 114
Sunday, 9 Nissan 5776
Thursday, April 14, 2016
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 Shabbat.
To commemorate this miracle, the Shabbat before Pesach is called שַׁבָּת הַגָּדוֹל - the Great Shabbat - and a special Haftara is read; the last chapter in מַלְאָכִי which predicts the future redemption, may we merit it in our days.
The custom is to read the narrative section of the Haggada at the conclusion of the Mincha service on Shabbat Hagadol. One starts at עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ (we were slaves) until (but not including) Rabban Gamliel's admonition to say "פֶּסַח, מַצָה וּמָרוֹר".
Source: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 430
Thursday, 6 Nissan 5776
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Seder night consists of food and talk.
- 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.
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 one's 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.
Wednesday, 5 Nissan 5776
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Why don't firstborns celebrate the fact that they were saved from the 10th plague - the smiting of Egyptian firstborns?
On Erev Pessach - Friday next week - all 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.
All firstborn 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 סְעוּדַּת מִצְוָה like a Siyum, Bris or Pidyon haBen and break his fast to participate in the meal, depends on local / family custom.
After breaking his fast, he can eat the rest of the day.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 113:6
Tuesday, 4 Nissan 5776
Monday, April 11, 2016
It is a Mitzva to honor Yom Tov:
- One should bathe, 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 one's appetite for the festive evening meal.
- Yom Tov clothes should be nicer than Shabbat clothes
It is a Mitzva to be joyous on Yom Tov. This includes having 2 meals; one in the evening and one during the day.
The meals start with Kiddush and should include meat and delicacies and should be more elaborate than on Shabbat.
One should also provide the Neshama (soul) with Yom Tov joy by learning some Torah (e.g. Yom Tov related Halachot) at every meal.
There's a Mitzva to make others happy on Yom Tov:
- Children should be given nuts and other treats.
- Women should be given new clothes and jewelry.
- The poor and unfortunate should be invited or provided with financial support.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 103:2,3,4,7
Monday, 3 Nissan 5776
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Nissan is the time of year when trees start to blossom (in the Northern hemisphere).
The first time a year that one sees edible fruit trees blossoming one says:
Once the flowers have fallen off and the fruit is visible, one can no longer say this Bracha .
One only makes this Bracha once a year.
It's an ancient custom to provide the needy with money for their Pessach needs, during the early part of Nissan, up and above one's regular charity contributions.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 60:1, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, 226:1, 429:1
Sunday, 2 Nissan 5776
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Rosh Chodesh Nissan will be on Friday night and Shabbat.
Don't forget הַלֵּל and יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא in the Amida and Birkat haMazon.
During Mussaf say אַתָּה יָצַרְתָּ עוֹלָמְךָ מִקֶּדֶם instead opf the usual תִּכַּנְתָּ שַׁבָּת רָצִיתָ קָרְבּנוֹתֶיהָ.
At Mincha on Shabbat צִדְקָתְךָ צֶדֶק is not said; not this week and not the entire month of Nissan.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 107:1
Shabbat Shalom & Chodesh Tov!
Thursday, 28 Adar-II 5776
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
The first day of the first month - Nissan - will start on Friday night.
The first day of 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 Halacha, and were killed by a heavenly fire.
On that day, the heads of the 12 tribes started bringing their inaugural sacrifices, one prince each day. Some people have the custom of reading that days' sacrifices 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 Pesach (tomorrow in 2 weeks).
- Fasting for distressingly bad dreams.
- Couples getting married during Nissan, even on Rosh Chodesh, even though on any other Rosh Chodesh the bride and groom do not fast.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 107:1,2
Wednesday, 27 Adar-II 5776
P.S. Tomorrow (Thursday) is Yom Kippour Kattan for Chodesh Nissan.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
This Shabbat we will take out 3 Sifrei Torah.
The first one for the weekly Sedra: תַזְרִיעַ.
The second one for Rosh Chodesh from בְּמִדְבַּר starting from וּבְיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת.
The third one - for Maftir - where we will read Parshat הַחֹדֶשׁ starting with הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים from שְׁמוֹת Ch. 12, Verses 1-20
The Haftara will be the one for Parshat הַחֹדֶשׁ starting with - כֹּל הָעָם הָאָרֶץ יִהְיוּ אֶל הַתְּרוּמָה הַזֹּאת - from יְחֶזְקֵאל Ch. 45.
Parshat הַחֹדֶשׁ reminds us of the following upcoming Mitzvot:
- The month of Nissan (which begins on Shabbat) is the first month of the Jewish calendar, as the opening words of Parshat Hachodesh proclaim: "This month is for you the first month" - הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה.
- The laws of Korban Pesach; sacrificed on Erev Pesach in the afternoon, it had to be roasted whole and then eaten on the first night of Pesach 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 Chametz (leaven).
- The first and last days of Pesach are Yom Tov.
- One may not own Chametz, nor eat it, during Pesach.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 140:2
Tuesday, 26 Adar-II 5776
וְהַשַׁבָּת שֶׁלִּפְנֵי רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ נִיסָן, הִיא שַׁבָּת פָּרָשַׁת הַחֹדֶשׁ. וְאִם חָל רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ בַּשַׁבָּת, אָז הִיא פָּרָשַׁת הַחֹדֶשׁ, וְדִינָהּ כְּמוֹ רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ אֲדָר שֶׁחָל בַּשַׁבָּת
Monday, April 4, 2016
Matzah is made from flour and water. Nothing else.
The water is drawn from a well or spring the night before it is used. The water for Sunday's baking is drawn on Thursday night.
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 in contact with water.
The wheat needs to be ground into flour at least 24 hours before it is used, to give it time to cool down.
18 minutes after water is added to flour the dough becomes chametz. Matzah baking happens in 18-minute batches after which all equipment is thoroughly cleaned to remove all traces of dough.
The Matzah used at the Seder needs to be made with the intention of it being used for a Mitzva; everybody involved in its production says "לְשֵׁם מַצַּת מִצְוָה" (for the purpose of the Mitzva of Matza) before all activities. This is known as Shmura-Matza.
If a Matza has a fold, 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.
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
Monday, 25 Adar-II 5776
Sunday, April 3, 2016
The intermediary days of Pesach and Succoth are known as חֹל הַמּוֹעֵד. Some types of work are permitted, others are forbidden.
In order to ensure that one does the laundry before the מוֹעֵד (Jewish Holiday), doing laundry is forbidden on חֹל הַמּוֹעֵד, except in extenuating circumstances:
- If it was impossible to launder before the מוֹעֵד (e.g. one was locked up in jail) then one may launder on חֹל הַמּוֹעֵד
- Baby clothes that continuously get soiled and need to be changed many times a day may be laundered on חֹל הַמּוֹעֵד
When laundering on חֹל הַמּוֹעֵד one must ensure it's done in private.
All medical procedures are allowed on חֹל הַמּוֹעֵד.
If one has the opportunity to borrow money and there's reason to believe that after Yom Tov the money will no longer be available, then one may borrow the money on חֹל הַמּוֹעֵד (even if it means writing an IOU), even if it's for a post-Yom-Tov business deal.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 104:13, 14, 16
Sunday, 24 Adar-II 5776