Traveling for Pesach

This week’s article is somewhat different from what I usually send. It is a combination of:

An interview that I responded to for a recent issue of Mishpacha in their Advice Line column and various questions I have answered via e-mail. Obviously, the answers are much briefer than the style I write for an article, and usually are not explained.

Advice question asked from Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff

Question:

We are a young married couple with one child living in Eretz Yisrael. Both of our parents live in the States but about a 3-4 hour drive apart.  As Pesach approaches and we made our plans to visit them it became clear that only one set of parents was willing to pay towards our tickets to visit, and that they would pay half the airfare.  After taking this into account, we decided that we still wanted to visit and would pay the other half ourselves.  However, when deciding where to be over Yom Tov we are undecided how to divide our time for Yom Tov. Please help.

Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff: There are no obvious halachic guidelines for such an issue; it falls into the category of the “fifth shulchan aruch.” I’m therefore offering you my personal thoughts and judgment. One family is paying for half of your tickets; the other side is not contributing. It does seem fair that you should spend some more time with the side that is putting up money. However there are several mitigating factors that must be kept in mind:

Firstly, I’m assuming that the side that isn’t paying is not doing so because they are stingy but rather because they simply don’t have the resources. This brings up an important question: Should a family be penalized for not having the financial wherewithal that another family has been blessed with?

Secondly, if one side has more resources than the other side, it’s probable that they come to visit in Eretz Yisrael on occasion, while the financially-strapped family probably comes rarely, if at all. This means that if you don’t go visit them, you may never see them.

All these factors point to the fact that you need to sit down and have an open, honest conversation about the issue and reach a decision together. Although such discussions are not easy, realize that the making of a strong marriage comes through discussing sticky situations and working out issues.

Try to depersonalize the discussion and really focus on the points that the other person is making. Sometimes, it’s helpful for you each to “plead” the other side. Let the spouse whose parents are paying enumerate why the Yom Tov should be split evenly and let the one whose parents aren’t able to chip in list the reasons why one should more time visiting the parents who are paying. Keep speaking until you reach a decision that you’re both comfortable with. I wish you much hatzlacha.

At this point, we are quoting some select e-mail shaylos I have received pursuant to Pesach

Pesach Cleaning

Sent: Monday, March 08, 2010 10:36 PM
To: Rabbi Kaganoff
Subject: URGENT – cleaning toys, pens, etc for pesach!
Importance: High

Question: I just organised the toys today, without wiping any of them down. I did not see any crumbs, and even if there were, they certainly would not be edible. But I understand that we are supposed to actually wash in bleach anything that has a chance of ending up on our table during Pesach.

Please explain. I don’t want to waste precious time and energy on shtuyot – i don’t have that luxury this year – limited time, energy and finances.

Answer: I do not know the source of this misinformation. It sounds like what you are doing is 100% fine. My wife follows the same approach, with my approval.

Bedikas Chometz

Question from someone else:

We are renting out our apartment for pesach and the couple only needs one out of four bedrooms. Are we required to do bedikas chometz in the three remaining rooms?

Answer: If you want to avoid doing bedika in the other rooms, you can "close them off" by putting signs on the doors that they are sold/rented to the gentile and therefore not checked for chometz. Ask the rav who is doing your mechiras chometz to sell your chometz in these rooms on the 13th of Nisan.

Yom Tov Sheini in Israel Shaylah

Dear Rabbi Kaganoff

We have been in eretz yisrael for four years, and still keep two days. Essentially, it is still clear to us that we will go back to the USA and raise our family there. But we have no location picked out, no timetable when we intend to return there, and aside from a few things in my parents and in- laws house, we really have nothing in the USA.

Inertia is powerful, and who knows how long we will really be here. I cannot see that working out financially, or practically, but if the economy in the USA really collapsed, then I definitely would stay.

If I want to shop for a psak, I know what different poskim will tell me, and I could easily ask from the posek who will give me the answer I want. Am I mechuyav to go through the sugya, and make my own conclusion? Do you think we ought to keep two days this Pesach?

Thanks a ton!

Answer:

The Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 150:1) explains that in a situation like this, one follows one’s rebbe (which he defines there), and if one has no rebbe, one can be meikil by a derabbanan.

Another Yom Tov Sheini in Israel Shaylah

Question: My mother and sister are not religious and will be coming to us for all of Pesach from the U.S. How should I handle their second day Yom Tov?

Answer: Don’t plan on any family activities that require them to do work, but don’t say anything to them about their doing work. In other terms, don’t cause them to do melacha, since most poskim hold that they are required to keep the second day Yom Tov.

Question: What should I do about a second day seder for them? (They would have no interest in it on their own and find it a burden.)

Answer: Do nothing. You are not required to make a seder for them, and I do not see anything gained by attempting them to keep/attend a seder.

Question: My elderly father, who is not observant, will be having surgery during Pesach, and I will therefore be visiting them. This has therefore generated many questions:

1. Can I do laundry on chol hamoed for my parents (who will be at the time unable to do it for themselves)?

Answer: Do all their laundry before Yom Tov, and see that they have everything that they need for the entire Yom Tov. If they are short items, they should be purchased- preferably before Yom Tov, but if necessary they can be purchased on Chol Hamoed.

2. What can I purchase on chol hamoed? Can I buy something that could wait until after Pesach, but my parents would prefer to have it sooner?

Answer: If they will use it on Chol hamoed or Yom Tov, you may but it on CHol Hamoed if there is no time to purchase it earlier, or you were unable to purchase it earlier.

3. I read your article about not doing melacha on the 2nd day of yom tov while in chutz l’aretz.  If my mother would like a second seder, or to light candles for the second night of yom tov, am I allowed to do it for her? My mom lights shabbos candles, but not yom tov candles, but since it is yom tov for her, can I be motzi her? [the questioner lives in Eretz Yisrael and her parents in chutz la’aretz.]

Answer: You cannot be a shaliach for her to perform these mitzvos because you are not required to observe them.

Question: What about my making kiddush on the second night/day for them? 

Answer: Also not.

4. I will be bringing with me my nursing baby who is, as is my husband, a kohen. Since I do not know people where my parents live, it may be difficult for me to find a babysitter while I visit my dad after his surgery. May I bring my baby to the hospital?

Answer: Try to find a babysitter for him. If you cannot find a sitter, and it means not visiting your father, then bring the baby along. [I permitted this since there is a very small Jewish population in the city where her parents live. The halacha will be different in an area with a large Jewish population.]

Dental Cleaning on Chol Hamoed

Dear Rabbi Kaganoff,
Hope this finds everyone well.

Is it permissible to go to the dentist for a cleaning on chol hamoed Pesach. The dentist now only has a dental hygienist in the office on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I am at work all those days and can’t leave to go to the dentist.

Answer: One should not schedule this dental cleaning for chol hamoed.

All my best regards–

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