It’s Hip to Dip

The Charoses Saga

Question #1: How Deep a Dip?

How deep into the charoses am I supposed to dip the maror?

Question #2: Only Lettuce!

What do you serve for karpas, if you realize that the only vegetable you have in the house is the lettuce you were planning to use for maror?

Introduction

Much Pesach and pre-Pesach discussion focuses on the vast preparation necessary for the holiday and, also, on the mitzvos of the Seder. Because of the importance of the mitzvos of hagadah and matzoh, some of the less vital aspects of the Seder sometimes get shunted to the side. One of these observances is that of the charoses, which actually has considerable discussion in the Gemara. We will be discussing some of the questions germane to charoses, such as:

Is charoses a mitzvah of its own, or just a garnish to the maror?

If it is a mitzvah, how do we fulfill its observance?

Does it require eating a kezayis within a specific timeframe?

Let us begin our discussion from the earliest halachic source that mentions charoses, the Mishnah (Pesachim 114a) that states, “They brought in front of him [the person leading the Seder] matzoh, lettuce, charoses and two cooked items [these correspond to the zeroa and the beitzah that we have at our Seder], even though charoses is not a mitzvah. Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok says that it is a mitzvah. [We will soon explain the two sides in this dispute.] During the era of the Beis Hamikdash, they also brought the roasted korban Pesach at this time.”

We see that this Mishnah is of a relatively later date, after the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed and there was no longer a korban Pesach, and the two “cooked items” at the Seder are to remind us of the korban Pesach and the korban chagigah. This is interesting, because the very next Mishnah (Pesachim 116a) dates back to the era of the Beis Hamikdash, since its discussion of the four questions includes a question that assumes that there is a korban Pesach at the Seder: She’bechol haleilos anu ochlin basar shaluk, tzeli umevushal, halailah hazeh kulo tzeli, “On all other nights we eat meat that is either boiled, roasted or cooked; this night, we eat only roasted [meat].” Obviously, this Mishnah dates to the time of the Beis Hamikdash and refers to the eating of the roasted korbanos Pesach and chagigah. The Gemara (Pesachim 70a) explains that the text of this Mishnah follows the opinion of a tanna, Ben Teima, who contends that the korban chagigah eaten Pesach night at the time of the Beis Hamikdash was also required to be roasted. Thus, in his opinion, all meat eaten at the Seder was roasted.

The structure of this chapter of the Mishnah implies that there was an earlier edition of this Mishnah dating to the time of the Beis Hamikdash, and that when Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi edited it after the churban, he rewrote certain parts to accommodate the new reality, but he left other parts in their original format.

A mitzvah or a garnish?

We asked, above, whether charoses is a mitzvah on its own, or just a garnish to the maror. This appears to be the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok in the Mishnah that I quoted. Let us see the passage of the Gemara (116a) that examines this dispute: First, the Gemara devotes itself to explaining the opinion of the Tanna Kamma, asking: Since this tanna insists that there is no mitzvah in using charoses, why prepare it and serve it at the Seder? The Gemara answers that charoses is brought to the Seder because of kafa, which is some type of toxin. Rashi and Rabbeinu Chananel disagree as to what kafa is. According to Rashi, it is in the sap of the maror, whereas Rabbeinu Chananel explains it to be an insect that is in the maror.

Tosafos (Pesachim 115b s.v. Kafa), in explaining Rabbeinu Chananel’s approach to kafa, asks the following: If kafa is an insect, then eating lettuce any time should be prohibited, because of a kashrus concern. Tosafos answers that most of the time, maror does not contain kafa. Since it is rare for maror to contain kafa, there is no kashrus concern when eating lettuce or other maror vegetables that you may be eating non-kosher kafa. (There may be a concern that you will eat thrips, aphids, leaf miners or other insects, but that is not the topic for today’s article. I recommend that our concerned readers contact their rav, posek or local vaad hakashrus for direction.)

However, there is a general halachic ruling of chamira sakanta mei’isura (see Chullin 10a), we are required to be more careful about safety concerns than about prohibitions. In other words, although there is no kashrus concern about possibly consuming kafa, there is still a safety concern, and for this reason, we eat the maror with charoses, which will prevent the toxin in the kafa from harming anyone.

According to both Rashi and Rabbeinu Chananel, we are faced with a question: When lettuce is eaten as karpas, most poskim (with the exception of Rashi and Tosafos, 114a s.v. Metabeil), do not require that it be dipped in charoses. What happened to the concern about kafa? The same question can be asked regarding eating lettuce or the other species of maror at any other time of the year. The halacha does not require that we eat these species with charoses – why not? Since we rule that chamira sakanta mei’isura, shouldn’t we always be required to eat charoses with our lettuce?

Rabbeinu Yonah asks this question and provides the following observation: “All year long, we eat lettuce without charoses, without being concerned about the ill effects that kafa causes… We are concerned only when we fulfill the mitzvah of maror – then the chachamim were careful that this [mitzvah] should not cause any possibility of danger.” In other words, the danger of kafa is not significant enough for us to show concern. However, in the opinion of the Sages, we should be careful to not let a mitzvah act cause even the remotest possibility of danger, and therefore we should eat the maror of the mitzvah with charoses (quoted by Rosh, Pesachim 10:25).

Tasting the maror

When the lettuce is eaten as maror, and you dip it deep into the charoses, you can hardly taste the lettuce, and you certainly don’t notice any bitterness. Have you fulfilled the mitzvah of maror this way?

The Gemara (Pesachim 115b) quotes the following: “Rav Papa said, ‘Don’t leave the maror sitting in the charoses, out of concern that the acid of the spices will overwhelm the bitterness, and we require the taste of maror, which you will not have.”

How deep a dip?

How deep into the charoses am I to dip the maror?

The answer to this question, which involves a dispute among the poskim, depends on the following discussion in the Gemara.

How does charoses work? The Gemara (Pesachim 115b) quotes a dispute whether it is contact with the charoses that overcomes the kafa, or whether it is the fragrance of the charoses that does the job. The difference in practical halacha is whether it is required to submerge the maror into the charoses, or if it is sufficient to dip the maror into the charoses. This difference of opinion in the Gemara manifests itself in a dispute between the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 475:1) and the Pri Chodosh.

The Shulchan Aruch rules that the maror should be submerged in the charoses, but you should not leave the maror in the charoses for long, and you should shake off the charoses. The Pri Chodosh notes that the prevalent custom is to simply dip the maror into the charoses, and he explains why this is sufficient. Both of these approaches are in order that the taste of the charoses not overwhelm that of the maror. The Mishnah Berurah mentions the opinion of the Pri Chodosh that disagrees with the Shulchan Aruch, and the custom in most places accords with the Pri Chodosh.

Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok

Until this point, we have been explaining the position of the Tanna Kamma. The Mishnah (Pesachim 114a) quotes Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok as saying that charoses is a mitzvah. The Gemara (ad locum 116a) asks, “What is the mitzvah? Rabbi Levi said, ‘In commemoration of the tapuach [usually translated as “apple” or “apple tree”].’ Rabbi Yochanan said, ‘To remember the clay [from which the bricks were baked in Mitzrayim].’”

Rashi explains the opinion of Rabbi Levi by quoting the verse in Shir Hashirim (8:5), tachas hatapuach o’rar’tich, “I roused you under the tapuach,” and the Midrash that the Jewish women encouraged their disheartened husbands to continue with married life, and thereby succeeded in creating the large Jewish nation that left Mitzrayim.

To quote the passage of Gemara that retells this miracle, “Because of the merit of the righteous women of that generation, Yisroel was redeemed from Egypt. When they went to draw water, Hashem prepared small fish in their buckets, such that what they drew was half water and half fish. The women then took two pots, one of hot water and one of cooked fish, and went to their husbands in the field. They washed their husbands, anointed them, fed them and gave them to drink… When the women became pregnant, they returned home. When it came time for them to give birth, they went out to the fields and gave birth under the tapuach, as the posuk says, ‘I roused you under the tapuach.’ Hashem sent from his upper heavens someone to make the children good-looking… When the Egyptians realized what had happened, they came to kill them [the Jewish women and the babies], but they were miraculously absorbed into the earth. At that point, they [the Jewish men] brought oxen who plowed above them” (Sotah 11b).

The Gemara in Pesachim, germane to the discussion about the charoses, continues: “Abaya said, ‘Therefore, you should make the charoses acidic [by adding apples, other fruits or vinegar], to remember the miracle of tapuach, and you should thicken the charoses, similar to the way clay functions.’ We found a beraisa supporting Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion [that charoses should contain spices] as a commemoration of the straw, and that the charoses should be ground up well, to commemorate the clay. Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok said: ‘The merchants of Yerushalayim used to advertise from the windows of their stores, “Come and purchase spices for the mitzvah.”’”

There is also a passage of Talmud Yerushalmi that states that the charoses should be of a thin consistency, so that it reminds us of makas dam.

Charoses recipe

What types of spices should be included in the charoses? The Rif and the Rosh both mention that charoses should contain spices such as cinnamon and ginger. This is in accordance with the description of Rabbi Yochanan, that it should have spices that have a physical appearance somewhat similar to that of straw.

The Rambam (Hilchos Chometz Umatzoh 7:11) adds to the recipe that it should include something like mashed dates, mashed dried figs or mashed raisins.

What is the dispute?

Above, I quoted the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok whether charoses is a mitzvah or not. What practical application results from this dispute?

It seems from the discussion in the Gemara that the two tanna’im disagree regarding the recipe that we should use for charoses. According to the Tanna Kamma, the requirement is that charoses contain some ingredient that will mitigate the toxicity of the kafa. However, Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok rules that it should contain something acidic, like wine, apples or vinegar, and spices that bear a physical resemblance to straw; and that it should have a consistency that reminds us of clay. And, according to the Yerushalmi, the final product should have the viscosity of a thick liquid.

The position of the Rambam on this topic seems to have changed from what he held initially. In his commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam seems to understand that the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok is that, according to Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok, charoses is a mitzvah on the night of the Seder that requires the recital of a brocha prior to eating it, whereas according to the Tanna Kamma charoses in not a mitzvah and does not require a brocha. The Rambam writes that the halacha is not like Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok. However, in the Mishneh Torah the Rambam seems to have had a change of opinion, as he rules that charoses is a mitzvah (Lechem Mishneh). He also seems to understand that the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok is as explained above, regarding which ingredients are required in the charoses (see Magid Mishnah, Hilchos Chometz Umatzoh 7:11).

Dip the matzoh in charoses?

There is also another interesting dispute among the very early poskim. Most people today have the custom that when they eat the matzoh the first night of Pesach to fulfill the mitzvah, they do not dip the matzoh in salt or anything else. There are some who dip it in salt. However, several very early authorities, including Rav Amram Gaon, Rabbeinu Yosef, Rashi, Rabbeinu Shmayah (quoted by Tosafos, Pesachim 114a s.v. Metabeil) and the Rambam rule that when eating the very first matzoh, you should dip the matzoh into charoses! What is the Talmudic source for this ruling?

Some explain that when the Mishnah states that you should bring out the charoses together with the matzoh, it is implying that just as we dip our hamotzi into salt or something similar the rest of the year, at the Seder the matzoh should also be dipped into something to make it tastier – in this case, charoses.

Others explain that Rav Amram and the Rambam understood that this is part of the machlokes between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok.

Only lettuce!

At this point, let us explain the third of our opening questions: “What do you serve for karpas, if you realize that the only vegetable you have in the house is the lettuce you were planning to use for maror?”

This situation is found in the following Mishnah (Pesachim 114a), which describes someone who had only one vegetable available for the Seder: the lettuce that he will be using for the mitzvah of eating maror. Since this is his only vegetable, it will have to serve also as his karpas.  The Mishnah says, “They brought in front of him and he dips the lettuce, prior to the lettuce that he will be eating after the matzoh.” There is a dispute between Rashi and his grandson, the Rashbam, as to how he dipped this lettuce. Rashi explains that he dips it into the charoses, presumably for the same reasons why the maror is dipped into the charoses. According to the Rashbam, when the lettuce is eaten for karpas, it is not dipped into the charoses, but into something else. Most of us are familiar with a custom of dipping the karpas into saltwater. I have also seen references to customs of dipping the karpas into vinegar or wine. The Rashbam’s opinion is that, notwithstanding that lettuce will also be used for maror, when being used as karpas, it is treated like karpas and dipped into something other than charoses.

The Gemara (114b) raises a question here: If for karpas you are eating lettuce, with which you can fulfill the mitzvah of maror, when do you recite the brocha of al achilas maror? How can you recite this brocha later, after you have already eaten maror? The Gemara concludes that you do not fulfill the mitzvah of maror when you eat the lettuce as karpas, a concept called mitzvos tzerichos kavanah, fulfilling a mitzvah requires that you have in mind to perform it (Tosafos ad locum).

Still, although the rule is that mitzvos tzerichos kavanah, there is a dispute as to when you recite the brocha of al achilas maror. Rav Huna rules that you recite it prior to eating the lettuce for maror, whereas Rav Chisda rules that you recite it prior to eating the lettuce for karpas, even though the main mitzvah of eating maror will be fulfilled later. The Gemara then describes how later amora’im ruled, some following Rav Huna and others Rav Chisda. The Gemara concludes that the halacha follows Rav Chisda. Despite this conclusion, an amora, Rav Acha the son of Rava, went out of his way to make sure that he had other vegetables in the house, so that he could avoid the entire question by serving something else for karpas.

Conclusion

The Seder is a very special time for us to transmit our mesorah and some of the most basic of our Jewish beliefs to our children and future generations. Chazal added to the beautiful Torah mitzvos of hagadah, matzoh, and maror many other mitzvos that broaden the entire experience. We should also note the Gemara (Avodah Zarah 35a) that teaches that the rabbinic laws are dearer than the Torah laws, since they demonstrate how much the Jewish people, as a nation, value our special relationship with Hashem.




Mizmor Lesodah, Parshas Tzav and Erev Pesach

Question #1: Korban Todah or Bensching Gomeil?

“Which is the better way to thank Hashem for a personal salvation, by reciting birchas hagomeil, or by offering a korban todah?”

Question #2: The Breadwinner!

“Why is the korban todah accompanied by so many loaves of bread and so much matzoh?”

Question #3: Mizmor Lesodah and Pesach

“I recently assumed a position teaching in a small-town day school. Before Pesach, I mentioned that we do not recite Mizmor Lesodah on Erev and Chol Hamoed Pesach. One of the students afterwards told me that this is not his family minhag, but only Ashkenazi practice. Is he correct?”

Answer:

Although Chapter 100 of Tehillim is known by its opening words as Mizmor Lesodah, there actually are two different chapters of Tehillim, #100 and #107, that devote themselves to the thanksgiving acknowledgement of someone who has survived a major physical challenge. In Psalm 107, Dovid Hamelech describes four different types of treacherous predicaments — traveling through the desert, traveling overseas, illness, and imprisonment — in which a person would pray to Hashem for salvation. When the person survives the travails and thanks Hashem, this thanks is reflected in the passage , Yodu lashem chasdo venifle’osav livnei adam, “they acknowledge thanks to Hashem for His kindness and His wondrous deeds for mankind.”These words are repeated four times, once after each of the four situations is described.

The Gemara cites this Psalm as the source for many of the laws of birchas hagomeil, the brocha we recite when surviving these calamities. To quote the Gemara: Four people need to acknowledge thanks to Hashem.

Actually, someone who survived these predicaments should offer a korban todah, which is described in parshas Tzav. The birchas hagomeil is recited in place of the korban todah that we cannot bring, since, unfortunately, our Beis Hamikdash lies in ruin (Rosh, Brachos 9:3; Tur, Orach Chayim 219).

What are the unusual features of the korban todah?

The korban todah is a specialized variety of shelamim, whose name means, according to the Toras Kohanim, that it creates peace in the world, since the owner, the kohen and the mizbeiach (the altar) all share in consuming it (quoted by Rashi, Vayikra 3:1). A shelamim, which was perhaps the most common korban in the Beis Hamikdash, was offered to express the desire to draw closer to Hashem from a sense that he lacks nothing in his physical life (see Commentary of Rav Hirsch, Vayikra 3:1).

The korban todah is offered following the general procedures and rules of a shelamim; however, it has several unique features. The first is that the korban is accompanied by a huge amount of bread, called korbanos mincha (plural, menachos), a total of forty loaves. Thirty of these comprise ten loaves each of three varieties of matzoh. However, the remaining ten loaves are highly unusual: first of all they are chometz, and this is the only instance of a private korban that includes chometz. (There is only one other korban that is chometz, and that is the two loaves offered by the community on Shavuos.) As a result, the korban todah could not be offered on Erev Pesach or on Pesach itself.

The chometz loaves are unusual in another way, in that each of them is three times the volume of the matzoh loaves (see Menachos 76b). Thus, the ten chometz loaves were, together, of equal size to the thirty matzohs.

Of the four varieties of mincha that accompany the korban todah, one of each type of loaf is given to the kohen to take home and consume together with his family and friends. The other 36 loaves are given to the offerer of the korban.

There is another unusual facet of the korban todah offering. Whereas a korban shelamim may be eaten until nightfall of the next day after it is offered, the korban todah must be eaten before the morning after it was offered, a much shorter period of time. Chazal further shortened the time it may be eaten — permitting it to be eaten only until halachic midnight — to assure that no one eat the korban when it is forbidden to do so.

Thus, there are three ways in which the korban todah is treated differently from an ordinary shelamim: 1) the todah is accompanied by an absolutely huge amount of bread, made from a total of twenty isronim of flour, which is twenty times the amount of flour that requires one to separate challah; 2) half of this bread is chometz and half matzoh; and 3) the korban and its bread must be consumed within a very short period of time.

Why would the Torah “impose” these additional requirements on the offerer of the korban? Well, let us figure out what is he going to do. He has a significant amount of holy meat that must be eaten by midnight, and a huge amount of accompanying bread with the same restrictions. What will he do?

Presumably, he will invite a large crowd to join him in his feast and will thereby explain to them the reason for his repast. Thus, we increase the appreciation of others forthe salvation that Hashem has provided him, which is the cause of this thanksgiving. This now leads us directly into our discussion of the chapter of Tehillim that begins with the words Mizmor Lesodah.

Mizmor Lesodah

Whereas the above-mentioned Chapter 107 of Tehillim describes the background behind korban todah and birchas hagomeil, the 100th chapter of Tehillim, Mizmor Lesodah, is a sample praise that the saved person recites. Although only five verses long, this psalm, one of the eleven written by Moshe Rabbeinu (see Rashi ad locum), captivates the emotion of a person who has just survived a major ordeal. The first verse expresses the need for everyone on Earth to recognize Hashem, certainly something that conveys the emotions of someone very recently saved from a major tribulation. The second verse shares the same passion, since it calls upon everyone to serve Hashem in gladness and to appear before Him in jubilation. The third sentence continues this idea. In it, the thankful person calls on everyone to recognize that Hashem is the personal G-d of every individual, that we are His people and the sheep of his pasture. He then calls on all to enter into Hashem’s gates and His courts, so that we can thank and bless Him. We should note that the gates of the Beis Hamikdash were meant for all of mankind, not only the Jewish people, as mankind is specifically included in Shlomoh Hamelech’s prayer while inaugurating the Beis Hamikdash (Melachim I 8:41-43).

The closing sentence of Mizmor Lesodah is also very significant: “For Hashem is good, His kindness is forever, and our trust should be placed in Him in every future generation.” (We should note that the word olam in Tanach means “forever” and never means “world,” which is a meaning given to this word by Chazal. The most common Tanach word for “world” is teiveil; see, for example, Tehillim 19:5; 33:8; and 90:2 — all of which are recited during the Pesukei Dezimra of Shabbos and 96:10, 13; 97:4; 98:7, which are part of kabbalas Shabbos.) The celebrant calls upon those he has assembled to spread the message that Hashem is the only Source of all good, and that we should recognize this at all times, not only in the extraordinary situations where we see the manifestation of His presence!

We can now understand better why the Mizmor Lesodah chapter of Tehillim is structured as it is. It provides the beneficiary of Hashem’s miracle with a drosha to present at the seudas hodaah that he makes with all the bread and meat that he does not want to go to waste — complete with encouragement to others to internalize our thanks to Hashem.

Clearly, then, this psalm was meant to be recited by the thankful person prior to offering his korban, and this is his invitation to others to join him as he thanks Hashem. The Avudraham notes thatHashem’s name appears four times in the psalm, corresponding to the four people who need to thank Him for their salvation.

Mizmor Lesodah on Shabbos

We find a dispute among early authorities whether one should recite Mizmor Lesodah on Shabbos (Shibbolei Haleket, quoted by Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 281). Why should this be?

Since the korban todah is a voluntary offering, it cannot be offered on Shabbos. The Tur mentions that established custom is to omit Mizmor Lesodah on Shabbos and Yom Tov, out of concern that when the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt, someone may mistakenly offer the korban todah on these days. On Shabbos, of course, it is prohibited to offer any korban other than the required daily tamid and the special Shabbos korbanos, whereas on Yom Tov one may offer only voluntary korbanos that are brought because of the Yom Tov (Beitzah 19b).

The Tur does not agree that this is a valid reason to omit reciting Mizmor Lesodah on these days, contending that we need not be concerned that people will mistakenly offer a korban todah on Shabbos or Yom Tov (Orach Chayim, Chapter 51 and Chapter 281). Others explain that we recite Mizmor Lesodah to remind us of the korban todah, and since it was not offered on these days, there is no point in reciting it (see Pri Megadim, Eishel Avraham 51:11). Perhaps this is done as an aspect of u’neshalma parim sefaseinu (Hoshea 14:3), “may our lips replace the bulls (of offerings),” which is interpreted to mean that when we have no Beis Hamikdash, we recite passages that commemorate those offerings. For this reason, the custom developed among Ashkenazim to omit Mizmor Lesodah on days that the offering could not be brought in the Beis Hamikdash.

Mizmor Lesodah on Chol Hamoed Pesach

For the same reason that Mizmor Lesodah is omitted on Shabbos, Ashkenazim omit reciting it on Chol Hamoed Pesach. Since the korban todah contained chometz, it could not be offered on Pesach; therefore Ashkenazim refrain from saying Mizmor Lesodah.

Mizmor Lesodah on Erev Pesach

Ashkenazic custom is to omit Mizmor Lesodah on Erev Yom Kippur and on Erev Pesach. The korban todah and its breads can usually be eaten until the midnight after the day it was offered. However, were one to offer a korban todah early on Erev Yom Kippur or on Erev Pesach, one would be restricted to eating its chometz for only a few hours. Since one may not offer a korban whose time limit is curtailed, one may not offer a korban todah on these days, and, following Ashkenazic practice, Mizmor Lesodah is omitted then, also. The common custom among Sefardim is to recite Mizmor Lesodah on Erev Yom Kippur, Erev Pesach and Chol Hamoed Pesach (Pri Chodosh 429:2; Kaf Hachayim 51:51-52).

With this background, I can now return to the third question raised above.

“I recently assumed a position teaching in a small town day school. Before Pesach, I mentioned that we do not recite Mizmor Lesodah on Erev and Chol Hamoed Pesach. One of the students afterwards told me that this is not his family minhag, but only Ashkenazi practice. Is he correct?”

Indeed, in this instance, the student is correct. Hopefully, the rebbe was not that badly embarrassed.

Mizmor Lesodah and our daily davening

In order to make sure that this thanks to Hashem takes place daily, the chapter of Mizmor Lesodah was introduced into our daily pesukei dezimra. We should remember that miracles happen to us daily, even when we do not realize it (quoted in name of Sefer Nehora; see also Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 281). Although Mizmor Lesodah was not part of the original structure of the daily prayers established by the Anshei Keneses Hagedolah, long before the time of the Rishonim, it was already common practice to include it as part of the daily recital of pesukei dezimra and to say it almost at the beginning. The importance of reciting this psalm should not be underestimated. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 51:9), states: One should recite Mizmor Lesodah with song, since eventually all songs will cease, except for Mizmor Lesodah. This statement of Chazal is explained by Rav Hirsch (Commentary to Psalm 100) in the following manner: One day in the future, everything on Earth will be so ideal that there will be no reason to supplicate Hashem for changes. Even then, prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving will still be appropriate.




Now I Have It, Now I Don’t

Question #1: Snail Mail

I mailed some hamantashen to a non-frum relative, well before Purim, as a “kiruv” gesture of friendship. The efficient post office has not yet delivered it. I am concerned that (1) as a result, my relative may eat chometz on Pesach; (2) I will be in violation of owning chometz on Pesach.

Question #2: Moonshine in the First Month!

The police confiscated some contraband moonshine in the beginning of April, issuing a criminal citation for the violation. Subsequently, the criminal charges were dropped. On Pesach, the police appeared at the door of the moonshine vendor to return the liquor, who told them that he could not receive the merchandise on his Jewish holiday. They came back to return it after Pesach. May he sell the liquor?

Question #3: Whiskey She’avar Alav haPesach

A non-Jewish business contact was shipped a gift of expensive whiskey, which never arrived. Instead, the shipping company returned it to the Jewish sender, and it arrived shortly after Pesach. Is this prohibited because of chometz she’avar alav haPesach?

Foreword

The above questions are all based on responsa in prominent late poskim, specifically, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Meir Arik, and the Sochatchover, Rav Avraham Bornstein, often referred to by the names of his most famous two seforim, the Avnei Neizer and the Eglei Tal. Each of our openings questions relates to a serious halachic shaylah involving two different issues:

(1) A legal circumstance referred to as shelo ve’eino birshuso,which means property that you own but is not under your control (Bava Kama 68b-70a and many other places).

(2) The specific ramifications that shelo ve’eino birshuso has regarding owning chometz on Pesach.

Shelo ve’eino birshuso

The concept of shelo ve’eino birshuso translates, literally, as “your property, but not in your jurisdiction.” The Gemara explains that when an item is stolen, neither the original owner nor the thief has the halachic ability to declare the stolen property as hekdesh, the property of the Beis Hamikdash, as long as the original owner has not lost hope that he might retrieve it. The thief cannot make it hekdesh, because it is not his property, and only an owner can declare an item hekdesh. But the original owner, also, cannot make it hekdesh, because it is outside his control, and only an item within your control can be declared hekdesh. Thus, the stolen item flounders in a twilight zone, in which no one has full legal control over it – it is in a no man’s land.

More important for our purposes, just as neither the thief nor the owner can declare the item hekdesh, they also cannot sell it. This creates an intriguing conundrum, when we need to make sure that no Jew owns chometz on Pesach. The owner certainly does not want to own chometz on Pesach and would like to include it with the chometz that he sells to a non-Jew, if he can. A self-respecting Jewish thief may, also, not want to violate bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei. He may be a gonif, and his gelt is earned in a non-kosher way, but he wouldn’t dream of owning chometz on Pesach! So, what does he do with the cases of Chivas Regal that he lifted and for which he has not yet found a fence? (For some interesting reason, in all of the teshuvos I found, the question was asked by the original owner, and not from the perspective of the thief! Maybe thieves are reticent to ask their shaylos from prominent rabbonim?)

Introduction

The Torah prohibits a Jew from owning chometz on Pesach. This is included in the two lo sa’aseh proscriptions of bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei, one of which prohibits a Jew from owning chometz that may be seen, but does not prohibit owning buried chometz that cannot be seen; and the other prohibits owning chometz, even when it has been buried. In other words, owning buried chometz violates one lo sa’aseh, that of bal yimatzei; owning unburied chometz violates two lo sa’aseh, bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei. Because of this distinction, the Rambam counts bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei as two separate lo sa’aseh prohibitions among the 365 lo sa’aseh mitzvos of the Torah. Most authorities contend that these two prohibitions apply both to chometz gamur (pure chometz) and to ta’aroves chometz (chometz mixed into another product). (See, however, the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam, quoted in Tosafos, Pesachim 42a s.v. ve’eilu.)

To enforce these Torah mitzvos, Chazal penalized a Jew who owned chometz during Pesach by barring benefiting from it. Chometz prohibited because of this penalty is called chometz she’avar alav haPesach.

Tashbisu

There is also a positive mitzvah to destroy chometz, tashbisu, which requires a Jew to rid himself of his chometz before Pesach. Since the Torah uses an unusual term, tashbisu, the rishonim explain that there are actually two ways to avoid violating bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei, and both involve the mitzvah of tashbisu.

Biur chometz: One is by physically destroying the chometz, either by burning it or disposing of in a different, equally effective way (Mishnah, Pesachim 21a and numerous places in the Gemara).

Bitul chometz: Alternatively, I can rid myself of owning my chometz by making a declaration of bitul, which states that I view all chometz in my possession to be like dust of the earth. This declaration, assuming that it is sincere, removes the chometz from my ownership, so that I do not violate bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei.

The preceding analysis reflects the halacha as explained by Targum Onkelos, Rashi, the Ran and many other rishonim. There is an alternative approach, that of Tosafos, who explains that bitul chometz is declaring the chometz to be ownerless, hefker. According to either approach, someone who performed bitul chometz and does not want to own their chometz will not violate the prohibitions of bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei. However, for reasons beyond the scope of this article, the halachic conclusion is that the penalty of chometz she’avar alav haPesach applies to chometz on which someone performed bitul, but not to chometz that was properly sold to a non-Jew.

Selling chometz

Although a Jew may not own chometz on Pesach, there is nothing wrong with selling chometz to a non-Jew before it becomes prohibited. In contemporary times, people usually do not undertake to sell their chometz themselves, but, instead, appoint a rav to sell the chometz for them. The reason for this is that the non-Jew does not take the chometz with him; he leaves it in our houses. Since this may have the appearance of a charade, the sale must be performed in a way that halacha recognizes as valid. Since the laws of selling are very complicated, it is better that a lay person not handle the arrangements for mechiras chometz by himself, which is why it is common to use a rav as one’s agent to sell the chometz.

Snail mail

At this point, we are prepared to discuss the halachic background to our opening question. Rav Moshe Feinstein discusses the following case: Someone wants to ship several products, including some chometz items, to a relative in Eretz Yisroel, and wants to include this chometz with his standard mechiras chometz that he does before Pesach. The rav who sent Rav Moshe the shaylah felt that there may be legitimate halachic grounds to do this, but Rav Moshe proves that such a sale cannot be done. This is because once the chometz is delivered to or picked up by the shipping company, the chometz is beyond the owner’s jurisdiction (shelo ve’eino birshuso), and there is no simple way to regain control over it. Even should the package be refused by the receiving party and returned to the sender, until and unless that happens and the item is indeed returned, it is eino birshuso.

Moonshine in Nissan!

The next shaylah is discussed by the Av Beis Din of Sochatchov (1839-1910), known as the first Sochatchover rebbe, whose halachic works are used by all talmidei chachamim. He was the son-in-law of Rav Menahem Mendel of Kotsk (known by all, very simply, as “The Kotzker”). The Sochatchover was a highly respected gaon in learning when he married the daughter of the Kotzker, even though he had just turned bar mitzvah!

To review the case: the police confiscated some contraband moonshine in the beginning of April, issuing a criminal citation for the violation. Subsequently, the criminal charges were dropped. On Pesach, the police appeared at the door of the moonshine vendor to return the liquor, who told them that he could not receive the merchandise on his Jewish holiday. They came back to return it after Pesach. May he sell the liquor?

It is interesting to read the actual shaylah as it appears in the teshuvos of the Sochatchover, from which we can appreciate the mesiras nefesh of the Jew involved. In czarist Russia, where this case occurred, the whiskey business was a government monopoly, and the czar and his agents did not take kindly to those who ignored this, particularly if they were Jews. The czar’s police investigated this Jew’s premises, and located both legal, government distilled liquor and privately made product, moonshine. All the liquor was confiscated, and the accused knew that his future as a client of the czar’s legal and penal system was far from envious. However, with great difficulty, much mazel, and an appropriate transfer of rubles, the police concluded that they had not discovered anything. The vendor assumed that the police had utilized the contraband or sold it, for some additional profit on their part of the venture.

Surprise of surprises: During Pesach, the cops showed up on his doorstep with the schnapps, insisting that if they held onto it any longer, they would be forced to reopen the “protocol” against the vendor. In my opinion, this would qualify as pikuach nefesh, a life-threatening emergency, permitting him to receive the chometz, and then immediately destroy it in honor of Pesach, thus fulfilling the mitzvah of tashbisu in an extremely exemplary fashion. (Note that, according to Tosafos, Pesachim, 29b s.v. Rav, there is no violation of bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei in this situation.) This worthy Jew did not ask me a shaylah, but simply told the czar’s finest that he could not receive the chometz during the holiday.

To complete our surprise, after Pesach, the police returned with the chometz. The vendor then asked his local rav, Rav Chanoch, whether the chometz was prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach. Although the vendor had indeed sold all his chometz before Pesach, it qualified as eino birshuso, and he could not halachically sell it; and, now, it may be prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach.

The Sochatchover contends that the whiskey is not prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach, because of the following reasons:

The Sochatchover weighs whether, according to halacha, the vendor owns the chometz in a way that he can still sell it. If, indeed, it is still considered to be his chometz, it was sold. However, we previously demonstrated that this is not true, because of the principle of shelo ve’eino birshuso. The Sochatchover quotes the opinion of the Maharam and the Rosh, quoted by the Shitah Mekubetzes, Bava Kama 33a, that when the property is returned to the owner, the hekdesh that he declared will take effect. (Note that many authorities do not agree with this conclusion, including Tosafos s.v ika and Penei Yehoshua ad loc.; Nachal Yitzchak, end of chapter 73.) Similarly, rules the Sochatchover, should the gift not take place and the chometz return to his hands, it is considered to have been under his control the entire time, and is included in the sale retroactively.

On the other hand, if we assume that having the whiskey confiscated is a reason why he cannot sell it, he also did not violate bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei, since the chometz was not his during the entire Pesach period. Rav Chanoch, the rav who sent the Sochatchover the question, noted that, according to Russian law of the time, when the police seized the contraband, it automatically became property of the czar. Since none of the czars were ever Jewish, this also means that it is not chometz she’avar alav haPesach. When the vendor received the liquor after Pesach, it was a new acquisition of chometz that had been owned by non-Jews over Pesach. As a result, no prohibition of chometz she’avar alav haPesach applies to this whiskey (Shu’t Avnei Neizer, Orach Chayim #339).

Whiskey she’avar alav haPesach

At this point, let us discuss the last of our opening questions: “A non-Jewish business contact was shipped a gift of expensive whiskey, which never reached him. Instead, the shipper returned it to the Jewish sender, and it arrived shortly after Pesach. Is this prohibited because of chometz she’avar alav haPesach?”

This question is based on a case discussed in Shu’t Imrei Yosher (1:32), authored by Rav Meir Arik (1855–1925), who was viewed as the posek hador of his era in Galicia. Among his most famous talmidim were Rav Meir Shapiro, Rav Reuven Margolies (author of Margoliyos Hayam on Sanhedrin and many other seforim), and Rav Zev Wolf Leiter, who later was the av beis din of Pittsburgh. The situation which the Imrei Yosher discusses was when a Jew sent a barrel of local spirits, by train, to a government official. The barrel, indeed, arrived before Pesach, but the official refused to accept it, so it was shipped back, arriving at the Jew’s house after Pesach. At this point, the Jew sees himself a loser on both scores – he did not successfully curry any favor with the official, and he is also out of the expensive barrel of liquor, which he fears is prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach because he did not sell it.

Rav Arik discusses several possible angles whereby the chometz might be permitted. First of all, he notes that, in their day in Russia, the primary ingredient in the mash that was fermented and distilled was potatoes, which are not chometz. However, all whiskey had a small amount of barley malt added, which is chometz. Nevertheless, the liquor manufactured this way was predominantly not chometz, and would have a status of chometz only miderabbanan, since the percentage of chometz in the final product is below the threshold to qualify as ta’aroves chometz min haTorah. Thus, the questioner did not violate bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei min haTorah.

A second reason to permit this liquor is that the owner had fulfilled bitul chometz before Pesach, in which he declared all of his chometz null, void and ownerless. In this instance, he would not have violated bal yeira’eh and bal yimatzei, even without the bitul, and, therefore, it may be possible to permit the liquor.

This heter is not obvious, for two reasons:

The Shulchan Aruch rules that you cannot rely on bitul to permit chometz she’avar alav haPesach (Orach Chayim 448:5).

Some authorities reject relying on bitul when the owner would certainly have sold the chometz, rather than trash it.

The conclusion of the Imrei Yosher is that a Jew should not drink this liquor after Pesach, but that the owner can sell the liquor to a non-Jew for a price that subtracts the amount of chometz-malt in the finished product. If this is done, the Jew is neither drinking nor benefiting from the chometz. (He discusses concerns that the non-Jew may sell it, afterward, to a Jew who is not permitted to drink it, and suggests a couple of ways to make sure that this does not happen.)

I will share with you one last case, which happened to friends of mine. They had shipped their belongings on a lift while making aliyah, and realized that they had included chometz on their lift. The question was whether they could include the chometz in the sale that they made. This case is different from all those we have discussed because, although they have no access to the chometz at the moment, it is being shipped to themselves. The question is whether this qualifies as birshuso. They received a psak that it was permitted for them to do so, although I do not know who ruled this way and certainly recommend anyone with a similar shaylah ask his own rav or posek.

Conclusion

According to kabbalah, searching for chometz is symbolic of searching, internally, to locate and remove our own arrogant selves. As we go through the mitzvos of cleaning the house, searching, burning, and selling the chometz, we should also try to focus on the spiritual side of this search-and-destroy mission.




Pesach Sheini

Question #1: Seder Pesach Sheini

“Could you please review for me the order of pesach sheini night?”

Question #2: Conversion

“I wanted to become Jewish before Passover, but it looks like it won’t happen. Is there any way for me to make up the korban Pesach that I will miss?”

Question #3: Bar Mitzvah

“I become bar mitzvah during the beginning of sefirah. Does this affect when I will bring korban pesach?”

Introduction

This week’s article explains the Torah’s mitzvah of pesach sheini, offering the korban pesach on the 14th of Iyar. I am not discussing any laws or customs germane to the observance of pesach sheini today, since we cannot offer the korban, a topic that I have discussed previously. Please note that, to avoid confusion, throughout this article, the holiday of Pesach will be capitalized, whereas the offerings, whether referring to the one offered on the 14th of Nisan or on the 14th of Iyar, will be lower case (except when the word begins a sentence or heading).

Parshas Beha’alosecha teaches the fascinating mitzvah of observing korban pesach a month later than usual, called pesach sheini. Someone unable to observe the mitzvah of sukkah during the current week does not accomplish anything positive by eating his mealsin a sukkah a month later. Someone unable to kindle the Chanukah lights does not have the opportunity to do so on the 25th of Teiveis, nor on any other “make-up” days after Chanukah. But in the instance of korban pesach, the Torah teaches: “And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert, in the second year of their leaving the land of Egypt, in the first month [Nisan], saying: ‘The Bnei Yisroel shall offer the pesach in its correct time, on the 14th of this month, in the afternoon…. They shall prepare it, following all its laws and ordnances…’ There were men who were temei meis, thus, unable to observe korban pesach on the correct day, who approached Moshe and Aharon that day [the 14th], saying… ‘We are temei meis; why should we lose out and not be able to offer the korban of Hashem in its proper time, as part of Bnei Yisroel?’” (Bamidbar 9, 1-7).

Moshe responded that he would ask Hashem what to do. Hashem instructed that an individual who was either tamei or at a distance and therefore unable to offer the korban pesach, is commanded to offer it during the second month, Iyar, on the afternoon of the 14th. The Torah then proceeds, “It should be eaten together with matzos and bitter herbs. It should not be left over until morning, nor should any bone be broken; they should prepare it like all the laws of the pesach” (ibid. 11-12). This is very interesting, because, although the Torah appears to be comparing pesach sheini with the korban pesach usually offered on the 14th of Nisan, the Torah never teaches us how to observe the regular korban pesach. The only other description of the korban pesach in the Torah is when the Jews were still in Egypt, and describes the temporary mitzvah called pesach Mitzrayim, and not all of the laws of that offering apply to the korban pesach brought in the years after the Jews exited Egypt. The laws that apply to a regular korban pesach are taught by the Torah she’be’al peh.

Pesach rishon versus pesach sheini

The Mishnah (Pesachim 95a) states: “What are the differences between the korban pesach offered on Erev Pesach [hereafter called pesach rishon] and the one offered on pesach sheini? The prohibitions of bal yei’ra’eh bal yimatzei [against owning chometz] apply on pesach rishon, whereas when observing pesach sheini, he can have chometz and matzoh together in his house. The first korban requires reciting Hallel while eating it, and the second does not. Both require Hallel while the korban is offered, and are eaten roasted, eaten together with matzoh and bitter herbs. Furthermore, if the 14th falls on Shabbos, their shechitah (of both pesach rishon and pesach sheini) and other steps required in offering them supersede Shabbos.”

As we noted, the Mishnah states that it is permitted to have chometz in your house while offering and eating the pesach sheini. But are you permitted to eat chometz while eating the pesach sheini? The late halachic authorities dispute whether it is permitted to eat chometz together with the korban pesach sheini (Minchas Chinuch, Mitzvah 381; Meshech Chachmah, Bamidbar 9:10; Avi Ezri, 5: Korban Pesach Chapter 10).

More on pesach sheini

How else is this night of pesach sheini different from all other Pesach nights? The Tosefta (Pesachim Chapter 8) adds to the list supplied by the Mishnah that, when the pesach rishon is offered, those bringing it are divided into three groups, as described in the Mishnah, who take turns entering the Beis Hamikdash to offer the korban. Pesach sheini has no such requirement and all those interested in offering it are granted entry to the Beis Hamikdash at one time. Tosafos (Pesachim 95a s.v. mah) notes that the Gemara (Pesachim 90a) mentions another difference between pesach rishon and pesach sheini: the first pesach requires that the animal be selected and placed in your house four days before it is offered, on the tenth of Nisan, so that the animal can be observed for four days to ascertain that it has no blemish rendering it invalid. Pesach sheini has no such requirement, meaning that, it is sufficient to examine the animal carefully that it has no blemishes before offering it. There is no obligation to select it four days earlier and examine it frequently in the course of those four days.

As the Rambam and others explain, all the laws regarding when and how the korban pesach is eaten — that it is eaten only on the night of the 15th, that it is barbecued, whole, on a spit made of pomegranate wood and that it should be eaten to complete being satisfied, not when you are hungry (Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach 8:3-4) — apply equally to pesach rishon and pesach sheini. The individuals required to offer the pesach, either rishon or sheini must eat at least a kezayis of the korban pesach. It is worthwhile noting that, to the best of my knowledge, the only time a Jew is required min haTorah to eat meat is the kezayis of korban pesach, either on pesach rishon or pesach sheini. Otherwise, someone can freely remain vegan if he prefers.

Why is this night different?

In explaining why there are halachic differences between pesach rishon and pesach sheini, the Gemara returns to the above-quoted pesukim. The Torah states that the korban pesach sheini should be brought kechol chukos hapesach, “like all the laws of the pesach.” The Gemara asks why the posuk mentions, specifically, that pesach sheini should be eaten together with matzoh and marror, that no bone may be broken and that it should be consumed during the night and not left, uneaten, until morning. Are these not laws that apply to the first korban pesach and that there is, therefore, no need to repeat them?

The Gemara concludes that certain mitzvos related to pesach rishon apply to pesach sheini, even though they are not mentioned specifically in the Torah. These include the requirements of roasting the korban pesach and eating it in one place, since these halachos are details in the preparation and consumption of the korban pesach. On the other hand, halachos that are not details in the preparation and consumption of the korban pesach, such as the requirement to dispose of all of one’s chometz before offering the pesach, apply only to pesach of the 14th of Nisan and not to pesach sheini.

Other details

The posuk states that pesach Mitzrayim required that the lamb or kid to be offered as korban pesach is selected already on the tenth of Nisan, a mitzvah called bikur. The Gemara explains that pesach sheini does not require bikur.

Does a pesach offered on the 14th of Nisan require bikur? Although, as I mentioned above, Tosafos (Pesachim 95a s. v. mah) requires bikur of four days for pesach rishon but not for pesach sheini, other rishonim require bikur only for pesach Mitzrayim and the daily korban tamid, but not for either pesach rishon or pesach sheini (Rashba, Menachos 49b).

Seder pesach sheini

At this point, we can now address our opening question: “Could you please review for me the order of pesach sheini night?”

We are all familiar with the steps of our Seder night: Kadeish, Ur’chatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rachtzah, Motzi, Matzoh, Maror, Koreich, Shulchan Oreich, Tzafun, Bareich, Hallel, Nirtzah. The question now is: how many and which of these steps does someone observe if he is bringing pesach sheini?

Kadeish

There is no recital of Kiddush on pesach sheini, since it is not Yom Tov. Furthermore, there is no mitzvah to have four cups of wine.

There is no mitzvah of magid, recital of the Exodus story, on pesach sheini. In other words, a person who was tamei or distant from the Beis Hamikdash, and, therefore, could not offer korban pesach, observes his Seder on Pesach rishon, the night of the 15th of Nisan, the way that we observe our Seder today without a korban pesach. On that night, he fulfills all the mitzvos of pesach night, including magid, matzoh, four cups of wine and Hallel. The only mitzvah of the night that is postponed for a month is offering and consuming the korban pesach,

Ur’chatz, Karpas

The purpose for the dipping of karpas and, therefore, the washing of hands that takes place before it, is to arouse the children’s attention, so that they should be alert to the events that we are discussing Seder night. But this is included within the mitzvah of magid, which does not exist on pesach sheini.

Yachatz

Splitting the matzoh in half so that the rest of it is eaten as the afikomen is to remind us that the korban pesach is eaten as the final item on the pesach-meal menu. Presumably, yachatz was not observed at all when the Beis Hamikdosh was standing, since we would be eating the korban pesach itself.

Magid

Since there is no mitzvah of magid, reciting the Exodus story, there is also no asking of the four questions at the Seder of pesach sheini. (However, see Sefas Emes, Pesachim 95a and Shu”t Benei Tzion 1:30.)

Rachtzah, Motzi, Matzoh, Maror, Koreich

All of these are part of the observances of pesach sheini.

Shulchan Oreich

There is no requirement of serving a festive Yom Tov meal, although there is a requirement to eat the korban pesach al hasova. There is a dispute between the Rambam and the Yerushalmi exactly what this requires. According to the Rambam, eating korban pesach al hasova means that you should eat of it as much as you want with gusto – you should not feel restricted from eating large portions of it,. According to the Yerushalmi (quoted by Tosafos, Pesachim 70a and Mahari Kurkus, Hilchos Korban Pesach 8:3), this means that you should not be extremely hungry when you eat the korban pesach. This is a rabbinic requirement to make sure that no one comes to break the bones of the korban pesach, in his haste to eat it.

Either approach should apply to pesach sheini. But a difference between the two approaches is that, according to the Rambam, there is no need to eat a meal with pesach sheini – it is adequate to serve matzoh and marror with the korban pesach and make that your full meal. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi, enough of a meal should be served before the korban pesach so that people are not ravenously hungry when it is served (Mahari Kurkus).

Tzafun

See our discussion above regarding mitzvas afikomen.

Bareich

Since there is a requirement to eat matzoh, there is a requirement to bensch after the meal on pesach sheini. Yaaleh Vayavo is not recited, because it is not Pesach.

Hallel

As mentioned above, Hallel is recited only on the afternoon of the 14th of Iyar, when the korban pesach is offered, but not in the evening or the next morning, neither in shul, nor as part of the “Seder.”

Nirtzah

It seems to me that the customs of nirtzah all relate to the mitzvah of magid and the specific sanctity of the night of Pesach and not to the observances of pesach sheini.

Seder Plate

Does the pesach sheini Seder plate reflect this difference? It should contain marror and charoses, but there will be no need for any other items, since there is no mitzvah of karpas. Bear in mind that when we will again be able to offer korban pesach and korban chagigah, there will no longer be small roasted items on the Seder plate, what we usually call the zero’a and the beitzah, because the korban pesach is a full roasted lamb that will require a platter, and the korban chagigah is probably much larger.

Women and pesach sheini

There is a very major difference between men and women regarding pesach sheini. For women, offering pesach sheini is an opportunity, not a requirement. Therefore, if they were unable to offer pesach rishon and choose not to offer pesach sheini, there is no punishment of kareis. Also, they cannot bring their own pesach sheini, unless a man is involved who is required to do so.

Similarities

There are other ways, not mentioned in the Torah, in which pesach sheini has similar laws to pesach rishon. Both korbanos require that you stay overnight in Yerushalayim until the morning of the 15th of Nisan, a mitzvah called linah (Pesachim 95b). (If not for this requirement, someone could eat his korban pesach in Yerushalayim during the early part of the evening, and then sleep outside the walls of the old city [Rashi ad loc.].)

Both pesach rishon and sheini are offered on the afternoon of the 14th of the month, whether it is Shabbos or not (Pesachim 95b).

Violating either one intentionally incurs kareis, a characteristic these mitzvos aseih share with only one other positive mitzvah, bris milah.

Not tamei

Although the Torah mentions pesach sheini only in the context of someone who was either tamei or distant, the halacha is that pesach sheini applies to anyone who missed pesach rishon, whether it was because he was hospitalized, uncircumcised, ill, an onein (the first stage of mourning when he is not permitted to participate in korbanos) or even because he simply forgot. The reason the Torah singles out someone who was tamei meis or distant is because someone who failed to bring pesach rishon because of these two reasons and failed to bring pesach sheini is exempt from kareis, whereas anyone who missed pesach rishon for one of the other reasons and then missed pesach sheini intentionally is punishable by kareis (Piskei Hilchos Pesach Sheini Biketzarah). However, the exemption from kareis for a tamei is only for someone who could not have made himself tahor for pesach rishon.

A 12-year-old boy who turns bar mitzvah between the 15th of Nisan and the 14th of Iyar, or someone who converted to Judaism during those days should observe pesach sheini. However, if the child was already included in someone’s pesach rishon, he does not bring pesach sheini.

Someone who intentionally did not offer pesach rishon is chayov kareis for not having done so, but if he then brings pesach sheini, he removes the punishment of kareis from himself. But this is true only if he actually offers pesach sheini. If he was unable to offer pesach sheini, even if this was beyond his control, he is liable for kareis for not bringing pesach rishon intentionally.

This latter rule is true, also, regarding someone who is uncircumcised. If he could not bring pesach rishon because he was uncircumcised, received his bris milah sometime after Erev Pesach, and, intentionally, missed pesach sheini, he will be subject to kareis for not having offered the korban pesach.

Someone who brought pesach rishon and subsequently discovered that he was tamei and not permitted to offer the korban pesach is obliged to bring pesach sheini (Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach 6:12).

Only for the individual

When the Torah introduces the mitzvah of pesach sheini, it says ish, ish, repeating that the concept of pesach sheini is only for the individual. For this reason, should most of the community be tamei, there is no pesach sheini (Pesachim 79a; Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach, 7:1). There are many detailed rules that we will not discuss in this article that determine whether they will offer pesach rishon while they are temei’im, or will be exempt from korban pesach (and the punishment for not offering it) that year.

Conclusion

In explaining the mitzvah of pesach sheini, the Torah taught that several aspects of the laws of the korban Pesach are observed, but not all the laws of the Pesach holiday. This creates a very interesting combination. Although we have become accustomed to observing the holiday of Pesach without its unique korban, this is really one of the most important, if not the most important, observances of Pesach. It is actually so important that the men who were tamei and could therefore not be part of the communal korban Pesach, realized that they were deprived of a basic mitzvah observance. Indeed, they were correct, and the observance of korban Pesach is so important that it has a make-up a month later, something unique among mitzvos.




Eruv Tavshillin

At the end of Pesach, we must remember to prepare an eruv tavshillin.

Freeimages/Eitha

Question #1: Where?

“Is it true that eruv tavshillin is more common in chutz la’aretz than in Eretz Yisroel?”

Question #2: What?

“What is the reason that many people use a hard-boiled egg for eruv tavshillin?”

Question #3: When?

“In what way is the halacha of eruv tavshillin different on Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach from other Yomim Tovim?”

Foreword

With Shevi’i shel Pesach beginning on Thursday evening, the laws of eruv tavshillin are germane both to those living in Eretz Yisroel and to those living in chutz la’aretz. In order to reply accurately to the above inquiries, we must first examine several aspects of this mitzvah that Chazal implemented – particularly, the whys, hows, and whats of eruv tavshillin. Because of space considerations, this article will not be able to address all the issues of eruv tavshillin, but will answer the opening questions that were posed. However, there are other articles on the topic that may be read on RabbiKaganoff.com.

First, the basics: When Yom Tov falls on Friday, an eruv tavshillin must be made on erev Yom Tov to permit cooking and other preparations on Yom Tov for Shabbos. As it turns out, making an eruv tavshillin is much more common in chutz la’aretz than it is in Eretz Yisroel. Since, in our calendar devised by Hillel Hanasi, the beginning of Sukkos, Pesach and Shmini Atzeres never falls on Friday, the only time there is a need for an eruv tavshillin in Eretz Yisroel is when Shavuos or the seventh day of Pesach falls on Friday, or when Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday. On the other hand, in chutz la’aretz, in additional to these instances, often the two days of Yom Tov fall on Thursday and Friday.

Introduction

When discussing the laws of Yom Tov, the Torah teaches kol melacha lo yei’aseh bahem, ach asher yei’acheil lechol nefesh hu levado yei’aseh lachem,“No work should be performed on these days; however, that which is eaten by everyone (kol nefesh), only that may be prepared for yourselves” (Shemos 12:16). We see from the posuk that, although most melachos are forbidden on Yom Tov, cooking and most other food preparations are permitted. However, cooking is permitted on Yom Tov only when it is for consumption on that day. It is forbidden to cook on Yom Tov for the day after, and at times this is prohibited min haTorah. There is, however, one exceptional situation – when Yom Tov falls on Friday and an eruv tavshillin was made, it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

To quote the Mishnah (Beitzah 15b), “When Yom Tov falls on erev Shabbos, it is prohibited to begin cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos. However, it is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, and, if there are leftovers, plan them to be for Shabbos. Furthermore, (there is a way in which it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos) by preparing a cooked food from before Yom Tov which he leaves for Shabbos. According to Beis Shamai, this must be (at least) two cooked items, and, according to Beis Hillel, one cooked item suffices.” (As we are aware, we also set aside a baked item for the eruv tavshillin, but this is not essential.)

Prior to quoting the dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel, the Mishnah has expressed three distinct concepts:

No cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos

1. It is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos (without making the eruv tavshillin).

Marbeh be’shiurim

2. It is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, planning to have leftovers for Shabbos.

Eruv tavshillin

3. Making an eruv tavshillin permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Each of these concepts, which we will explain one at a time, requires clarification:

1. No cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos

It is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Let me explain a question that is implicit here. If it is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos, why does an eruv tavshillin permit it? Or, in other terms, there are three types of eruv that Chazal instituted, eruv techumim, eruv chatzeiros and eruv tavshillin. All three of these mitzvos have the status of a takanas chachamim, which means that they were instituted by Chazal to permit something that is otherwise prohibited because of a rabbinic injunction. An eruv techumim permits walking on Shabbos and Yom Tov beyond the techum Shabbos, the distance outside the city or other “Shabbos residence;” an eruv chatzeiros permits carrying on Shabbos from one individual’s jurisdiction to that of another. Both of these prohibitions permitted by their respective eruvin are rabbinic injunctions. An eruv, which is a rabbinic introduction, cannot permit something that is prohibited min haTorah, as the Gemara asks, “Can an eruv tavshillin permit a Torah prohibition” (Pesachim 45b)?

If cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is permitted min haTorah, and it is prohibited only because of a rabbinic injunction, we can understand how Chazal could create a rabbinic innovation called eruv tavshillin and thereby permit this cooking. To paraphrase this expression of the Gemara, since Chazal created the prohibition, they can also reverse it (ibid.). However, if cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is prohibited min haTorah, how do Chazal have the authority to permit that which the Torah forbade?

Two differing approaches

How we answer this conundrum is dependent on a debate between two amora’im, Rabbah and Rav Chisda (Pesachim 46b), which has major ramifications specifically for this coming Yom Tov, when Shevi’i shel Pesach falls on Friday.

Rav Chisda contends that, min haTorah, it is always permitted to cook on a Friday Yom Tov for Shabbos. This is called tzorchei Shabbos na’asin beYom Tov, literally, “Shabbos needs may be performed on Yom Tov.” Since Shabbos and Yom Tov both have kedusha, and are both sometimes called “Shabbos” by the Torah, cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is permitted min haTorah, just as cooking on Yom Tov is permitted for the same day (Rashi ad loc.). The prohibition not to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos is a rabbinic injunction; Chazal prohibited this in order to make sure that people do not cook on Yom Tov for a weekday, or on the first day of Yom Tov for the second, both of which might be prohibited min haTorah. Making an eruv tavshillin permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos, since a person thereby realizes that, without an eruv tavshillin, he cannot cook on Yom Tov even for Shabbos — therefore, he understands that he certainly cannot cook on Yom Tov for any other day.

The other position — ho’il

Rabbah contends that it is often prohibited min haTorah to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos. In other words, he maintains that tzorchei Shabbos einam na’asin beYom Tov – notwithstanding that Yom Tov is sometimes called Shabbos, it is still prohibited min haTorah to cook on Yom Tov for any other day, including Shabbos!

If that is true, how can an eruv tavshillin, which is a rabbinic solution, permit that which is prohibited min haTorah?

The answer is a halachic concept called ho’il, which permits cooking on Yom Tov min haTorah whenever you might have a need for extra cooked food on Yom Tov itself, even when you are not expecting to need the extra food and it is unlikely that such a situation will arise. For example, after finishing the Yom Tov day seudah, min haTorah it is permitted to cook another meal, provided it will be ready to eat before the Yom Tov day is over. This is because it is possible that unexpected guests may arrive at your door, and you now have a meal ready to serve them. The idea that perhaps something will happen is expressed as the word ho’il; this word is now used as a brief way of referring to a complicated legal concept.

Therefore, whenever it is possible that guests may yet arrive on Yom Tov, it is permitted to cook for them min haTorah. Although miderabbanan it is not permitted to rely on ho’il to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos, since this is only a rabbinic injunction, eruv tavshillin can permit the cooking.

However, this heter applies only as long as the meal will be ready to be eaten while it is still Yom Tov. There is no heter to begin cooking a meal on Yom Tov that will not be ready until Yom Tov is over. In other words, according to Rabbah, when ho’il does not apply, it is prohibited min haTorah to cook. Under these circumstances, an eruv tavshillin will not permit someone to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Thus, there is a halachic difference between Rabbah and Rav Chisda that affects us! According to Rabbah, it is not permitted to put a cholent on the fire on Friday that will not be ready to eat until sometime on Shabbos. Usually, it is perfectly fine to cook food on Friday that will be left on a properly covered fire when Shabbos starts and not ready to eat until the Friday night seudah. However, this Yom Tov it is not permitted to do this, according to Rabbah. Since this food will not be ready to eat on Yom Tov, the law of ho’il does not apply. Since the rule of ho’il does not apply, there is no heter to cook the cholent on Yom Tov for Shabbos, even if one makes an eruv tavshillin! Thus, the menu for Shabbos may have to depend on what one is planning to cook, or, more accurately, on whether it will be cooked in a way that it can be eaten on Yom Tov.

How do we rule?

The Mishnah Berurah, in Biur Halacha (527:1), notes that it is unclear whether we rule according to Rabbah or according to Rav Chisda. He concludes, therefore, that it is preferred to be machmir and have the food cooked for Shabbos in a way that ho’il applies, particularly when we are dealing with a potential question of a Torah law, such as when the first day of Yom Tov falls on Friday, as it does this Shevi’i shel Pesach. This means that all the food cooked for Shabbos should be edible before Shabbos arrives. The Biur Halacha rules that, under extenuating circumstances, it is permitted to rely on the rishonim who rule according to Rav Chisda’s opinion, but it is preferable lechatchilah to have the food for Shabbos cooked in a way that it will be already edible on Friday.

When the the first day of Yom Tov falls on Thursday, and, therefore, Friday Yom Tov is miderabbanan, there is more latitude to be lenient.

Why is Shevi’i shel Pesachdifferent?

At this point, we can answer the third of our opening questions: Why is eruv tavshillin more significant on Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach than any other Yom Tov?

In the calendar we currently use, the first day of Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach never fall on Thursday, although they both often fall on Friday. When this happens, Friday is Yom Tov min haTorah, and it is important to plan the menu such that the meals cooked on Friday for Shabbos will be ready to eat when there is still time to eat them on Yom Tov.

Marbeh be’shiurim

At this point, we will examine the second point that we derived from the Mishnah, where it stated, “It is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, and, if there are leftovers, plan them to be for Shabbos.” In other words, even without having made an eruv tavshillin, there is a way to cook more than you need on Yom Tov in order to have plenty of leftovers, or, shall we call them, “plan-overs.” One may cook amply for the Yom Tov meal, knowing that there will certainly be leftovers that can be served on Shabbos. As a matter of fact, if one follows the halacha correctly here, it is even permitted to cook on the first day of Yom Tov planning to have enough leftover to serve on the second day, or even on a weekday. This is provided that each dish is, or could be, served at a Yom Tov meal on the day that it was prepared.

This plan-over preparation is called marbeh beshiurim, literally, “increasing the quantities,”which means that, while preparing food on Yom Tov, it is permitted to include a greater quantity while cooking, provided no additional melacha act is performed. For example, if you need to heat a small amount of water for a cup of tea, you may place a large pot of water on the fire, since only one act of heating water — placing a pot on the fire — is being performed.

However, it is prohibited if an additional melacha action is performed. For example, if the pot is already on the fire, you may not add extra water to it, since this involves a new melacha action.

Adding more

Here are other examples. You are making a cholent or cooking soup; you may add greater quantities of meat, beans or other ingredients than you will need for your Yom Tov meal into the pot before it is placed on the stove, because you place the entire pot onto the fire at one time.You may fill a pot with meat on the first day of Yom Tov, even though you need only one piece for the first day.

However, it is prohibited to prepare individual units of a food item, knowing that you are preparing more than can possibly be eaten on Yom Tov. For this reason, you may not fry more schnitzel or similar items than you will possibly need for a Yom Tov meal, since these involve separate melacha actions. Similarly, it is forbidden to bake more than what you will possibly need for the day (Beitzah 17a). Adding water or meat before putting the pot on the fire simply increases the quantity cooked, but does not increase the number of melacha acts, whereas shaping each loaf or roll is done separately, thus increasing the number of acts performed.

Why is this permitted?

Why is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov by use of marbeh beshiurim? We would think that cooking extra on Yom Tov is forbidden, just as in a situation of pikuach nefesh, where it is forbidden to cook more than what is necessary for the needs of the ill person. Why, then, is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov, as long as no extra melacha actions are performed?

The Ran (Beitzah 9b in Rif pages, s.v. Umiha) explains that there is a qualitative difference between the performance of melacha actions on Shabbos (or Yom Tov) to save someone’s life, and cooking on Yom Tov. Although saving lives is a huge mitzvah and supersedes Shabbos, the act performed is still an act of melacha. On the other hand, prohibited activities on Yom Tov are defined as melachos that are not food preparatory. Preparing food on Yom Tov involves no melacha activity whatsoever, and is as permitted on Yom Tov as it is to set the table on Shabbos. Since no melacha activity is performed, there is nothing wrong with adding more to cook while the Yom Tov meal is prepared, provided that no additional melacha action is done.

Hard-boiled eruv?

At this point, let us examine one of our opening questions: “Why do many people use a hard-boiled egg for eruv tavshillin?”

It is permitted to continue cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos only as long as the eruv tavshillin, or at least a kezayis of the cooked part of the eruv tavshillin, still exists. In the days before refrigeration, someone who prepared meat or a different food on Wednesday or Thursday for eating on Shabbos was faced with a practical problem. Once you cook food, it begins to spoil very quickly, if it is not refrigerated. Therefore, notes the Aruch Hashulchan, it was not uncommon that the eruv tavshillin was no longer edible when people were cooking on Wednesday for Shabbos, and an inedible eruv tavshillin is considered the same as one that no longer exists. If your eruv rots, there is no heter to permit cooking for Shabbos.

Using a hard-boiled egg for the eruv tavshillin resolved this problem, since an egg cooked before Yom Tov and kept without refrigeration will still be edible on Shabbos.

However, in today’s world, when you can place the cooked part of your eruv tavshillin in the refrigerator and it will last until Shabbos, it is preferred to use as eruv tavshillin a cooked delicacy that you intend to serve at the Shabbos meal. For this reason, my practice is to use for the eruv tavshillin the gefilte fish that will be served on Shabbos.

Conclusion

The Torah refers to the Yomim Tovim as mo’ed. Just as the word ohel mo’ed refers to the tent in the desert which served as a meeting place between Hashemand the Jewish people, so, too, a mo’ed is a meeting time between Hashemand the Jewish people (Hirsch, Vayikra 23:3 and Horeb). Unlike Shabbos,when we refrain from all melacha activity, on Yom Tov the Torah permits melacha activity that enhances the celebration of the Yom Tov as a mo’ed. Permitting us to cook delicious, fresh meals allows an even greater celebration of this unique meeting time with Hashem.




Erev Pesach on Shabbos Guide

This year, the first day of Pesach falls on Sunday, which means that Erev Pesach falls on Shabbos. This changes many Pesach observances. Below is a simplified guide to the practices of Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbos.

Photo by alex ringer from FreeImages

Thursday

Since Erev Pesach is Shabbos, the fast of Taanis Bechoros is pushed earlier, to Thursday. A bechor or the father of a minor bechor is obligated to fast on Thursday, but he can discharge his obligation by making or attending a siyum. If attending a siyum is not a viable option because of COVID safety concerns, please consult with your LOR (=local Orthodox rabbi) as to whether you can attend a siyum online.

Thursday night

Bedikas Chometz

Regular bedikas chometz is performed with a bracha. After completing the bedikah, one recites the first bitul.

Friday

Friday morning davening is regular, without tachanun, because it is the month of Nisan. Although, on Erev Pesach, Ashkenazim do not say the chapters of mizmor lesodah and la’me’natzei’ach in shacharis, they do say these parts in the Friday davening, since it is not Erev Pesach. Since Sefardim do not recite la’me’natzei’ach on any day when tachanun is not recited, they do not recite it the entire month of Nisan.

Selling the Chometz

Reminder: make sure to have already attended to the sale of your chometz.

Burning the Chometz

We burn chometz on Friday morning, even though one may own chometz until Shabbos morning. Place the chometz that is to be eaten on Shabbos in a secure place and make a mental note where that chometz is located. We do not recite the second bitul after burning the chometz on Friday morning, but, instead, we recite it on Shabbos morning, when we finish eating the chometz.

Doing Melacha on Erev Shabbos

Although it is prohibited to perform certain melacha-work during the afternoon of Erev Pesach, and haircuts and shaving must be performed in the morning, there is no limitation on doing melacha-work on this Friday any different from any other Erev Shabbos, because it is not Erev Pesach.

Eruvei Chatzeiros

The minhag is to renew an eruv chatzeiros with neighbors on Erev Pesach. This year, it should be renewed on Erev Shabbos.

Matzoh baking

Those who are accustomed to bake matzohs on the afternoon of erev Pesach usually bake them in the afternoon of this Erev Shabbos, even though it is still permitted to eat chometz.

Seder preparations

Ideally, all of the seder preparations should be performed on Friday, including roasting the zero’a (shankbone) and the egg, preparing the saltwater, making the charoses, checking and washing the marror, grinding the horseradish. Make sure to open the boxes of matzos and bottles of wine, as one would before every Shabbos. Although this is unusual in today’s world, if you need to separate challah from your matzoh, remember to do so before Shabbos. If you forgot to do so before Shabbos, what to do if you first discover the problem the first night of Pesach will depend on whether the matzoh was prepared in Eretz Yisroel or in chutz la’aretz. Briefly explained, although it is prohibited to separate challah on Shabbos or on Yom Tov (unless the dough was mixed on Yom Tov), someone who prepared dough in chutz la’aretz and forgot to separate challah may put aside some of the product (in this case, some of the matzoh), eat the rest of the matzoh on seder night, and separate challah from the leftovers after Yom Tov (in this case, on Chol Hamo’eid). However, someone living in Eretz Yisroel cannot use this solution, and will have to find other matzoh to use for the seder.

Shabbos Food Preparations

If you are preparing chometz-dik food for your Shabbos meals, do not make sticky chometzdik food that will adhere to your pots or plates. (Presumably, most people will prepare Pesachdik food for all meals.)

Shabbos Candles

Be careful not to place the Shabbos candelabra on the tablecloth on which chometz will be served, since it will not be possible to remove the candles in order to remove the tablecloth.

Planning three meals

Friday night meal

One should kindle the Shabbos lights near where one intends to eat the Friday night meal.

One is required to recite hamotzi at the first two Shabbos meals, using two “breads” (lechem mishneh).

It is permissible to eat chometz hamotzi in one part of the house and the Pesachdik meal in another, since his intent when washing and making hamotzi was to eat his meal in this way. He should return to where he made hamotzi for bensching. Each person should eat at least one kebeitzah of bread (egg size) to fulfill the mitzvah of seudas Shabbos and justify making netilas yadayim with a bracha. (Since one may not weigh on Shabbos, one who intends to weigh his chometz, in order to determine that he is eating the correct amount, should do so before Shabbos.)

Egg or grape matzoh, or matzoh cookies (all of these qualify as matzoh ashirah) may be used for lechem mishneh at these meals. According to many authorities, Ashkenazim should eat as much matzoh ashirah as one would eat bread with this type of a meal (i.e., certainly more than the egg size mentioned above). Sefardim should eat four egg sizes of the matzoh ashirah. Please note that Rav Moshe Feinstein was more lenient than the above approaches, ruling that as long as the kevi’us seudah is on the matzoh ashirah, which presumably requires eating at least a kebeitzah, that the brocha is hamotzi.

Note that someone who has the custom to refrain from eating matzoh after Purim or Rosh Chodesh may still eat matzoh ashirah.

If using chometz plates to serve a hot meal that was cooked in a Pesachdik pot, one should pour the hot food into a Pesachdik plate or platter before pouring it into the chometz-dik plates. (Presumably, most people will be serving the meals on disposable dishes.)

Shabbos Morning

Daven early. One is required to eat one meal in the morning. There is a recommendation (hiddur) to eat two meals on the morning of Erev Pesach, separated by a brief interruption.

For those who wish to eat two meals in the morning, I suggest:

Immediately after davening, make kiddush, hamotzi, eat a piece of fish, and bensch.

Take a break, and begin the next meal with enough time to finish eating before the latest time to eat chometz. Some poskim prefer that a fleishig course be eaten with the first morning meal, before breaking.

Bitul chometz

After completing the eating of the chometz, dispose of the remaining chometz into the toilet (taking care to crumble it into small pieces and only flush a small amount at one time) or into a communal garbage bin (if it is within the eruv), but do not place it inside your own garbage can. Then recite the second bitul chometz. One may continue eating the meal without new brachos, notwithstanding that he may no longer eat chometz.

Shabbos afternoon

Since most people follow the opinion of davening mincha before seudah shelishis, one should daven mincha early.

Seudah shelishis

In the early afternoon, one may serve a heavy Pesach-dik meal (meat, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, etc.) without any hamotzi at all. If you eat “gebroktz,” it is recommended to eat kneidlich at this meal. According to the Mishnah Berurah, it is permitted and recommended to eat kneidlich, even if you have a minhag not to eat matzoh from Purim or from Rosh Chodesh and there is no halachic problem with eating them on Erev Pesach.

Many poskim recommend that Sefardim serve matzoh ashirah at seudah shelishis. These matzos require netilas yadayim. The bracha before eating these matzos is hamotzi, and they require bensching, afterward.

If one eats cooked matzoh, kneidlich or matzoh ashirah for seudah shelishis, one should complete eating seudah shelishis before the “tenth hour,” which is a half hour before “mincha ketana,” or three quarters of the day. Some authorities contend that even those who eat only fruit and vegetables this Shabbos for seudah shelishis should eat before the tenth hour. One may eat a small quantity of fruit or vegetables after this point.

It is advisable to take a nap Shabbos afternoon, but one should not mention that he is taking a nap in order to be awake for the seder. (Some poskim consider this statement to be preparing on Shabbos for after Shabbos.)

Most poskim contend that one should not move one’s seder matzos before Shabbos is over. Since many people bring their own matzoh to the seder, if they are eating at someone else’s house, they should not carry these matzos until Shabbos is over. Also, remember not to begin preparations for the seder until Shabbos is over and after saying “Baruch Hamavdil bein kodesh lekodesh.”

Chag Kosher vesomay’ach!!




Selling Chometz before Pesach

Photo by Deb Collins from FreeImages

Question #1:

“A room is rented to a non-Jew, because it contains the chometz that was sold to him as part of the mechiras chometz. May I enter the room in order to remove something that was not included in the sale?”

Question #2:

“On an occasional emergency basis, my daughter requires use of a medicine that is not listed as being chometz-free. Should we include this medicine with what we sell to the non-Jew, and if we do, what should we do if she needs it during Pesach?”

Answer:

As we all know, a Jew may not own chometz on Pesach; this is included in the Torah’s double prohibition, bal yira’eh and bal yimatzei. Furthermore, the Torah commanded us with a mitzvas aseh, a positive mitzvah, to destroy any chometz left in our possession after midday on Erev Pesach. According to most poskim, these prohibitions apply both to chometz gamur (pure chometz) and to ta’aroves chometz (chometz mixed into another product). In addition, Chazal required us to search our homes and property the night before Pesach for chometz that we may have forgotten, the mitzvah we refer to as bedikas chometz. According to many authorities, this requirement of searching for chometz is, at times, required min haTorah, and certainly fulfills a Torah requirement.

In addition, Chazal created a penalty on a Jew who owned chometz during Pesach in violation of bal yira’eh and bal yimatzei, prohibiting this chometz from use forever, referring to the product involved as chometz she’avar alav haPesach. I will note that this financial incentive has often proved extremely effective in convincing marginally observant Jews to perform mechiras chometz.

Although a Jew may not own chometz on Pesach, there is nothing wrong with his selling his chometz to a non-Jew before it becomes prohibited. The Mishnah states explicitly that one may sell chometz to a non-Jew before Pesach. However, the Mishnah does not discuss whether I can sell my chometz and leave it in my home, knowing that the non-Jew does not intend to keep or use it. To be more specific, does the Jew’s expectation that he will receive the chometz back invalidate the sale? Also, does the non-Jew really intend to buy the chometz, or does he think that this is a charade, and that he is not really purchasing it? This would, of course, undermine the sale.

The Tosefta (Pesachim 2:6) provides us with background to these questions:

A Jew is travelling by ship and has with him chometz that he needs to dispose of before Pesach. However, the Jew would like the chometz back after Pesach, because there is a dearth of kosher food available. Apparently, the cruise liner being described by the Tosefta did not have a supervised kosher kitchen, nor any supervised airline dinners on board.

The Tosefta rules that the Jew may sell the chometz to a non-Jew before Pesach, and then purchase it back afterwards. Alternatively, the Jew may give the chometz to the non-Jew as a present, provided no conditions are attached. The non-Jew may then return the present after Pesach. Thus, we see that one may sell or give away chometz to a non-Jew and expect it back, without violating any halachos, provided that the agreement does not require the non-Jew to return it or sell it back.

In contemporary times, people usually do not undertake to sell their chometz themselves, but instead appoint a rav to sell the chometz for them. The reason for this is that the  non-Jew does not take the chometz with him; we leave it in our houses. Since this may have the appearance of a charade, the sale must be performed in a way that halacha recognizes as a valid sale. Since these laws are very detailed and complicated, it is better that a lay person not handle the arrangements for mechiras chometz by himself.

When I was in the first year of a previous rabbinical position, I realized shortly before Pesach that one of my shul members, who was an attorney by training, had not yet arranged sale of his chometz. I called him, asking him if this was an oversight. He answered me that he always arranged his own mechiras chometz by drawing up a contract with a non-Jewish business associate.

Halachically selling chometz via a written contract without any other maasei kinyan does not make the chometz the halachic property of the non-Jew. It might still work because of dina demalchusa dina or similar reasons too complex to explain in this article. The bottom line is that according to many halachic opinions, our lawyer violated the two Torah prohibitions of bal yira’eh and bal yimatzei by owning chometz on Pesach, and also the positive mitzvas aseih requiring that we destroy or otherwise cease our ownership of chometz before Pesach. Merely drawing up a contract with a non-Jew is certainly not the way to sell your chometz and be able to leave it in your house over Pesach. Be’dei’evid, after the fact, this sale would probably be considered valid enough that his chometz would not be prohibited as chometz she’avar alav haPesach. Unfortunately, I did not have a relationship with this attorney to explain to him why his plan was not the best approach to the problem. In other words, if you are an attorney trained in American law, realize that you may not be an expert in Anglo-Saxon common law, Chinese law, Napoleonic Code, the codes of Hammurabi, or halacha, even though we can correctly call halacha “Talmudic Law.”

One of the standard methods we use of guaranteeing that the sale of our chometz to the non-Jew is fully valid is to rent to him the area where the chometz is stored. Thus, we return to our first question as to whether I am permitted to enter that area for my own purposes.

There is also another concern involved in entering the area where the sold chometz is located: The Gemara states that it is permitted to have a non-Jew’s chometz in one’s house on Pesach, provided that a barrier the height of ten tefachim (about thirty-seven inches) is constructed around the chometz, presumably to guarantee that no one mistakenly eats it. So, we have two concerns:

(1)   Does entering the area invalidate the sale?

(2)   Is it prohibited to enter the area because of concern that I might eat the chometz?

Regarding the first question, whether entering the rented area violates the sale agreement, several authorities rule that it does not (see Chok Yaakov and Machatzis Hashekel, Orach Chayim 472:1). Regarding the second issue, whether entering the area is prohibited because of concern that you might eat the chometz, this question is raised by the halachic authorities (see commentaries to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 448:3). Most authorities conclude that it is permitted to enter the area for a brief period of time in order to remove something that was forgotten there (see Shu’t Nimla Tal, Orach Chayim, #167).

At this point, let us examine the second of our opening questions:

“On an occasional emergency basis, my daughter requires use of a medicine that is not listed as being chometz-free. Should we include this medicine with what we sell to the non-Jew, and if we do, what should we do if she needs it during Pesach?”

Most mechiras chometz contracts that I have seen allow for this. They specify that if someone should need a medicine that is sold, the non-Jew permits the use of the medicine, over which he maintains ownership, but that he will be compensated after Pesach for what was used. Since this provision does not exist in all mechiras chometz contracts, I suggest that someone who foresees that they may have this issue should clarify it in advance with the rav who is facilitating the mechiras chometz.

There is another basis to be lenient. Medicines generally do not have a good taste, except for medicines meant for children. Thus, most medicines are inedible, and, according to most poskim,not a chometz problem. Let me explain:

The Gemara states: One does not get punished for violating any prohibitions of the Torah unless he consumes them the way they are usually eaten (Pesachim 24b). It is not prohibited min hatorah to eat or drink a prohibited substance that is now inedible, either because it became spoiled or because a bitter ingredient was introduced (Rambam, Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah 5:8).

Can chometz change its stripes so that it is no longer considered chometz? The answer is that it can lose its status as chometz – when it is decomposed or otherwise ruined to a point that it is nifsal mei’achilas kelev, a dog will no longer eat it (see Pesachim 45b). Since it no longer can be used for either food or feed, it loses its status as chometz that one is prohibited from owning and using on Pesach (Tosafos ad locum; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 442:9; cf. Rashi, Pesachim op cit., whose position is more lenient).

However, there is a question based on a passage of Gemara that states that chometz burnt before Pesach may be used on Pesach (Pesachim 21b). The rishonim raise the following question: Why does the Gemara say that one may benefit from the burnt chometz, but does not permit eating it, since it is no longer considered food and therefore not included under the prohibition of chometz?

There are two major approaches to answer this question, which result in a dispute in practical halachah. According to the Ran, since the burning rendered the chometz inedible even by an animal, one may even eat it, even though the Gemara does not mention this. This approach seems to have the support of the Rambam (Yesodei Hatorah 5:8), who permits consuming a prohibited beverage after a bitter ingredient was added to it.

However, the Rosh contends that the rabbis prohibited one from eating the inedible chometz because of a principle called achshevei, which means that by eating it one is treating it as food. Most later authorities follow the Rosh’s approach, prohibiting someone from ingesting inedible chometz because of this rabbinic prohibition (e.g., Terumas Hadeshen #129; Taz, Orach Chayim 442:8; Magen Avraham 442:15; Shaagas Aryeh #75).

Does oral intake of a chometz-based medicine qualify as achshevei? If it does, then it is prohibited to ingest inedible chometz even as medicine, unless the situation is life-threatening.

We find a dispute among later authorities whether ingesting medicine is prohibited because of achshevei. We can categorize the positions into three basic approaches:

1. Taking medicine is considered achshevei.

The Shaagas Aryeh (#75) rules that ingesting medicine is prohibited miderabbanan because of the rule of achshevei.

2. Taking medicine is not achshevei.

Rav Moshe Feinstein maintains that medicine never qualifies as achshevei. His reason is that people take even very bitter items for their medicinal value; thus taking something as a medicine does not demonstrate that one views it as food.

3. It depends on why the chometz is there.

The Chazon Ish advocates a compromise position. Although he agrees with the Shaagas Aryeh that consuming something as a medicine qualifies as achshevei, he contends that achshevei applies only to the active ingredient – the item for which one is taking the medicine. However, he maintains that achshevei does not apply to the excipient ingredients, those added so that the medicine can be made into a tablet.

According to Rav Moshe, as long as the medicine is foul-tasting, there is no need to check if it contains chometz. The chometz is nifsal mei’achilas kelev, and the consumption of medicine does not qualify as achshevei. The only need for a medicine list is when the medicine is pleasant tasting.

On the other hand, according to the Shaagas Aryeh, barring a situation of pikuach nefesh, one may not ingest a medicine containing chometz on Pesach, and it is important to research whether it contains chometz. According to the Chazon Ish, this is a concern only when the chometz is the active ingredient, which is rare in a tablet medicine.

A lay person should not decide on his or her own not to take a necessary medicine without consulting with a rav or posek, and, of course, their physician.

Even according to the Shaagas Aryeh, there is nothing wrong with owning or even benefiting from these medicines on Pesach – the only prohibition would be to ingest them. Thus, a Jewish-owned pharmacy is not required to remove from its shelves foul-tasting medicines that are on the prohibited chometz lists.

Regardless as to which approach one follows, one must be absolutely careful not to look down on someone who follows a different approach. In any situation such as this, this attitude will unfortunately cause great harm, since it can lead to feelings of conceit. Remember that the prohibition of chometz is to sensitize ourselves greater to concerns about conceit. It would be terribly ironic if an attempt at being more machmir in the halachic arena would cause someone to become conceited, the exact opposite of the intent of the mitzvah.

According to Kabbalah, searching for chometz is symbolic of searching internally to locate and remove our own arrogant selves. As we go through the mitzvos of cleaning the house, searching, burning, and selling the chometz, we should also try to focus on the spiritual side of this search and destroy mission.




The Pesach Sleuth

Photo by Matus Laco from FreeImages

Imagine walking into a factory, noticing the ceiling, 25 feet overhead, lined with rows upon rows of similar-looking pipes. “How am I possibly supposed to know what goes through these pipes? How can I possibly check if they have been cleaned properly, and how can I possibly kasher them?”

When we purchase products for Pesach, we look for a hechsher that we respect, and we rely on that hechsher to make sure everything is done properly. Fortunately, an experienced mashgiach will know how to trace all those pipes and figure out what each one contains, although it will take him time to do so. Yet, most of us do not know what it is like to be in a factory that is supervising a Pesach-dik production run, nor do we know what it is like to be checking a factory to see if it is maintaining its kashrus program. We also don’t really know why one hechsher is acceptable and another is not. Most people apply the “What do the neighbors use?” system, or, more accurately, “What does the chevrah use?” or “Do bnei Torah eat from that hechsher?” approach. Although one article cannot answer most of these questions, it can provide some direction and background.

Pesach-dik ketchup

Let me begin with a typical kosher-for-Pesach story. Ketchup, a common North American household product that, in some households, is an irreplaceable staple, is a relatively simple product containing tomato paste, water, corn sweetener, vinegar, salt, spices and flavoring. Several of these ingredients require replacement for a Pesach-dik product. Corn sweetener is kitniyos, and would require replacing, probably with a kosher-lePesach sugar made from either cane or beets. Pure spices ground for industrial use should be fine, but spice extracts or oleoresins will require more research. The water should not present any problem, and the tomato paste and salt used for commercial production should also be fine, but it always pays for the hechsher to double check the manufacturer.

Both the vinegar and the flavoring could contain chometz, and almost certainly contain kitniyos if they did not come from a specially-made Pesach run. Let us see how these sensitive ingredients will be handled:

Vinegar

Regular vinegar, usually called white vinegar, is manufactured from alcohol processed with yeast, vinegar food, and perhaps other raw materials, until the alcohol turns to vinegar. Every one of these ingredients can involve a potential chometz issue: Alcohol is commonly produced from grain. Vinegar food may alsoinclude chometz ingredients. Kosher lePesach vinegar would require that the alcohol, the yeast and the vinegar food all be specially made from a non-chometz, non-kitniyos source. Assuming that the hechsher certifying the production of the ketchup is not the one that certified the vinegar, the rabbonim or poskim of the hechsher on the ketchup will decide which hechsher for Pesach-dik vinegar they will accept.

In theory, kosher lePesach vinegar could be  produced in a much easier way with virtually no halachic complications. Chemically, white vinegar is a solution of acetic acid and water. Pure acetic acid can be produced synthetically, and, therefore, a product identical to vinegar can be produced by simply mixing glacial acetic acid and water, which would be a very easy item to produce, simple to supervise ,and less expensive than kosher-lePesach vinegar.

So why not?

If it is much easier to produce kosher-lePesach vinegar this way, why is it not done? The answer is that it is illegal in the United States to call this product “vinegar,” notwithstanding that it is perfectly safe to use and will accomplish whatever the “vinegar” in your product will. In the United States, this ingredient must be labeled as “diluted glacial acetic acid” or something similar, and companies are concerned that customers will not purchase a product with this ingredient listed on the label.

Vinegar in the United States must be produced by the fermentation of alcohol, and the alcohol used for this production must also be fermented and distilled from sugars or starches. Nevertheless, there are many countries of the world where it is perfectly legal to use synthetically produced vinegar in food production and to label it as “vinegar.”

Flavoring

Ketchup requires the addition of herbs, spices or flavoring. The size of flavor-producing companies varies in as great a range as you can imagine. I have seen flavor companies that are quite literally mom-and-pop shops, and I have also been inside flavor factories the size of a small city. Some flavor companies manage without any major sophisticated equipment, whereas others own hundreds of production machines that each cost in the millions of dollars.

Spray towers

Here is a very practical example: Many products are dried today in a massive piece of equipment called a spray dryer or spray tower. The purpose of this piece of equipment, usually about the height of a three-story building, is to convert a liquid product into a powder. It does so by pumping the liquid until it is dropped through the top of the spray tower. In the tower, which is usually gas-fired, very hot air, usually about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, is forced along the inside walls of the tower, and the liquid product is dropped through the middle. The temperature is hot enough so that all the liquid evaporates, leaving behind a powder that drops to the bottom of the spray tower, where it is boxed or bagged.

Many thousands of spray towers are used in the United States alone. Possibly the most frequent use is to powder skim milk, which is highly perishable, into nonfat dry milk, which occupies a fraction of the space of the liquid product, and, if kept dry, has an indefinite shelf life without any refrigeration, thus making it very easy to store and ship.

Assuming that this spray tower is used only for milk, the major question that will occur is how to kasher it for a cholov Yisroel production. There are many halachic issues here, including that a spray tower physically cannot be filled with water and brought to a boil, which constitutes hag’alah, the most common way of kashering. Furthermore, it is unlikely that this method suffices to kasher the tower, since the absorption into the walls of the spray tower is without liquid.

Another option is to kasher the tower by use of a flame thrower, basically a larger form of a blow torch.

On the other hand, there are halachic authorities who contend that the spray dryer does not even require kashering, since the product is not supposed to touch its walls. Because of the tremendous heat that absorbs into the stainless steel walls of the dryer, product that touches them burns, and will probably pass distaste, nosein taam lifgam, into the final product. Some of these last-quoted authorities contend that a spray tower does not require kashering.

There are also companies that have contract spray-dry equipment. This means that the spray tower is not constantly in use for their product,and, not wanting to leave a very expensive piece of equipment idle,  they will spray dry other products during the “down” time, when they are not producing their own products. For example, I have seen wine powder, powdered meat extract, medicinal items, and even blood, spray dried on equipment that was also at times used for kosher supervised products.

At this point, let us return to our special kosher-for-Pesach ketchup production. A flavor whose components were spray dried, which is a fairly common procedure, would require researching what else was produced on this spray dryer, or attempting to kasher the spray dryer. All of these complicate the research involved in producing our kosher-lePesach ketchup.

To resolve all these potential complications, the flavors used for the production of this kosher-lePesach ketchup were ordered from a small manufacturer. The order was to use only pure essential oils that would be extracted by pressure — in other words, oil that is squeezed out of the spice source in what is called a “cold press” operation and without any extracting aids. Many essential oils are extracted using alcohols such as ethanol or glycerin, which could compromise the kashrus of the product.

Of course, a knowledgeable field representative was dispatched to oversee that the flavor company indeed followed the instructions and used only cold press essential oils.  The flavor company blended together these liquid oils and then added a significant amount of salt to the product. The reason for the addition of the salt was to dry out the finished spice so that it could be easily shipped and stored. From a kashrus perspective, this was certainly a far better alternative to using a spray-dried product and kashering the spray dryer.

Now our hechsher has successfully located all the ingredients and overseen the production of all the raw materials for the kosher-lePesach ketchup. The next step is to send a knowledgeable mashgiach to the production facility where the ketchup is to be manufactured, to ascertain how that equipment will be kashered prior to the Pesach run, and to clarify with the company its production schedule prior to the dates when the equipment will be kashered and the Pesach product manufactured. He also needs to check whether other products are being made in the facility, or a nearby facility, that uses the same heating system to produce chometz products.

And this is for a relatively simple product.

Having shown how a relatively simple Pesach-dik product is made, I will shift from the simple to what is possibly the most complicated: the kashering of hotels for Pesach, which has become a colossal international business. A glance at any frum newspaper includes advertisements marketing opportunities to spend Pesach on any continent, always only with non-gebrochtz, shemurah matzos, cholov Yisroel, and glatt kosher, under a rav’s strict supervision, with several prominent English speakers as scholars-in-residence, babysitting provided during the lectures, and many sightseeing activities available for Chol Hamo’eid. Yet, individuals interested in experiencing Yom Tov this way should be aware that kashering a hotel for Pesach is a mammoth and difficult process. It is even more difficult to do when the entire hotel is not being kashered for Pesach, when the hotel’s regular kitchen staff are used, or when the chef and sous-chefs are not halachically observant themselves.

By the way, travel tours create the most difficult issues regarding kashrus supervision. Many hechsherim will simply not supervise them because of the complications involved with traveling to different places and using products that are available locally. These issues become even more complicated when it comes to Pesach supervision.

Aside from the many nightmares I have heard regarding Pesach hotel hechsherim, I will share with you just one nightmare story of which I have firsthand knowledge. At one point in my career, I was in charge of the hechsherim in an area that encompassed a well-known tourist area. Simply put, if anything was supervised kosher in our area, I knew about it. There indeed were several reliably kosher tours, some of whom used our kashrus organization to supervise their activities and some who did not, but, it seemed to me, still maintained a fairly respectable kashrus standard.

Once, I saw an advertisement in the Anglo-Jewish press for a “glatt kosher tour” through our area. Since none of the tour companies with which I was familiar was involved, I called the number listed for reservations and inquired who was overseeing their kashrus in the area. The woman who answered the phone dutifully notified me that “Jim Klein oversees all food production and kashrus arrangements in that area.” I knew Jim well. Not only was he completely non-observant – he was married to a non-Jewish woman! Yet, the tour was advertized as glatt kosher, chassidisha shechitah. I have no idea if it was chassidisha shechitah, but it was certainly not glatt kosher, and halachically was not kosher at all!

For sure, we know not to use anything “supervised” by Jim. Can we eat something supervised by Yossel? The answer is that we rely on a hechsher that uses yir’ei shamayim personnel who are knowledgeable both in halacha and in the technical aspects of modern kashrus. Particularly, when we decide which Pesach products we allow into our home to enhance our simchas Yom Tov, we use only hechsherim that impress us with their expertise and their concern about the important role they play in our lives.




Practical Aspects of Matzoh Baking

Question:

Personally, I find the different terms used in reference to matzoh very confusing: On the one hand, I have been told that if one is working on the dough constantly, one need not be concerned if more than eighteen minutes elapses before the matzoh is baked. On the other hand, I have been told that if eighteen minutes elapses, the dough becomes chometz. And then I see a product advertised as “eighteen-minute matzoh.” I thought that matzoh that takes more than eighteen minutes is chometz. Also, could you explain to me the advantages of hand matzoh over machine matzoh, and if there is a valid reason why some people use only shmura hand matzoh for the entire Pesach.

Answer:

In order to answer all these questions, I must first explain the process of making matzoh. Although matzoh is the simplest of products, just flour and water, a tremendous amount of detail is involved in preparing it in a halachically correct way. We will divide our discussion into three headings — the flour, the water, and the manufacture.

The Flour Requirements

To fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzoh on seder night, one must be certain that the flour was “guarded” to guarantee that it did not become chometz.

It is important to clarify that there are two different halachic issues. The first factor is that one must be careful that the matzoh is baked in a way that it does not become chometz, so that one does not, G-d forbid, violate the prohibition of eating chometz on Pesach. This concern exists for all matzoh that one may consume any time during Pesach.

However, even if one is guaranteed that the matzoh is 100% free of any chometz, there is an additional factor required for the matzoh that is used at the seder: This matzoh must be made lishmah – with the specific intention of making it for the sake of fulfilling the mitzvah.

The Concept of Lishmah

There are several mitzvos that can be performed only with an item that is made lishmah. These include the mitzvos of tzitzis, tefillin, mezuzah, and matzoh. Thus, for example, the leather used in the manufacture of tefillin must be tanned specifically for the mitzvah of wearing tefillin. For this reason, when placing the hide into the chemical solution that makes the hide usable as parchment or leather, one must state that it is being manufactured lishmah. Even a small job such as blackening the tefillin straps must be performed specifically for the sake of the mitzvah of tefillin. Thus, one who repaints his tefillin must recite before painting them that he is doing this for the sake of the mitzvah of tefillin.

In a similar way, matzoh for the seder must be lishmah, meaning that it is manufactured with specific intention that it not become chometz so that it can be used to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzoh on seder night. For this reason, before beginning work in a matzoh bakery the workers say: Kol mah she’ani oseh hayom har’eini oseh lesheim matzos mitzvah, “Everything that I am doing today, I am doing for the sake of producing matzos that will be used for the mitzvah.”

In addition, the preparation of the flour and the drawing of the water must be performed for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvah of eating matzoh. This intention is referred to as preparing the flour and water lesheim matzos mitzvah.

Although the Gemara (Pesachim 40a) discusses that the flour used for the mitzvah of matzoh must be prepared lesheim matzos mitzvah, it is unclear from the Gemara at what stage the flour must be guarded from chimutz for the sake of matzos mitzvah. Among the early poskim, there are three opinions:

(1) From the time of harvesting

(2) From the time of grinding

(3) From the time of kneading

The Shulchan Aruch rules that it is preferable to guard the wheat from the time of the harvesting, but it is satisfactory to use wheat that was guarded only from the time of grinding. Other poskim require lishmah from the time of the harvest. In common usage, “shmura matzoh” refers to matzoh that was guarded from the time of the harvest.

Harvesting Lishmah

There is a dispute among rishonim whether an act that must be performed lishmah can be performed only by a Jew, or whether it can be performed by a non-Jew who is instructed by a Jew standing over him to perform this act lishmah. This dispute has major ramifications for many mitzvos, such as preparing hides to be made into parchment for writing tefillin, mezuzos and sifrei torah, and preparing hides for manufacture into tefillinbatim” and tefillin straps; or preparing threads for manufacture into tzitzis. According to the first opinion, hide that was tanned by a non-Jew for the sake of the mitzvah is not kosher for use. According to the second opinion, if a Jew stands near the non-Jew and instructs him to tan the hide lishmah, the resulting hide or parchment can be used for the mitzvah.

Similarly, there is a dispute whether a non-Jew may operate the combine used to harvest the shmura wheat, or must a Jew operate the controls that cause the combine to harvest the wheat. (According to some opinions, it is insufficient to have the Jew operate the controls of a regular combine, since the harvester, once it is turned on, continues to operate automatically. Thus, this is considered that the Jew harvested the wheat indirectly. Instead, the combine must be set up in a way that it cuts grain only when the stick is held in a specific position. Thus, the Jew is actually doing the harvesting himself by using the combine as his sickle!)

At times, it seems that matters were simpler when wheat was harvested by hand. A friend of mine, who was born in the Soviet Union, described for me how his father harvested wheat for matzoh baking with a hand-held sickle. However, even harvesting the wheat by hand under these circumstances creates its own interesting shaylah. Poskim rule that when cutting grain for matzoh in a non-Jew’s field, one should preferably not cut the grain that he himself intends to use for mitzvas matzoh (see Sdei Chemed vol. 7 pg. 377). This is because of concern that the field might have been originally stolen, and thus the matzoh baked with wheat from this field might be considered stolen matzoh, which is invalid for matzos mitzvah. There is a complicated halachic reason why this concern does not exist when harvesting wheat for someone else to use.

The Water Requirements: Mayim Shelanu, Water That Remained Overnight

The Gemara states that all matzoh used on Pesach must be baked exclusively with water that remained overnight (Pesachim 42a). One should draw this water from a spring, well, or river during twilight (or immediately before) and leave it in a cool place for a minimum of one complete night to allow it to cool down (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 455:1 and commentaries). Maharil contends that it is preferred to draw the water the day before the baking, rather than draw water for several days in advance (quoted by Be’er Heiteiv, Orach Chayim 455:7). The water should not be drawn or stored in a metal vessel, since metal conducts heat and thus causes the water to become warm (Magen Avraham 455:9). In addition, the water should not be drawn or stored in a vessel that has been used previously to hold other liquids (Magen Avraham ibid.). The latter vessel is not to be used out of concern that some liquid may mix with the water, and this may cause the dough to rise faster than it would otherwise. Many contemporary poskim frown on the use of tap water for matzoh baking because of concern that the fluorine and other chemicals introduced into the water may cause the dough to rise faster (see Piskei Tshuvos 455:7).

It goes without saying that one may not use warm water for making matzos, nor may one work in a warm area (Pesachim 42a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 455:2). It is important to note that the requirement for mayim shelanu is not only for the matzos eaten at the seder, but that all matzos eaten the entire Pesach must be baked exclusively with mayim shelanu.

The Manufacture of the Matzoh

There are many halachos implemented by Chazal to guarantee that the dough does not prematurely become chometz. For example, one must wait a day or two from when the wheat is ground until it is mixed with water (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 453:9). This is because of concern that the flour is still warm from the friction of the grinding, and will therefore leaven too quickly. One may not knead the matzoh dough in a place exposed to the sun or in a warm area. One must be very careful that the heat from the matzoh oven does not spread to the area where the dough is kneaded or where the dough remains until it is ready to be placed inside the oven (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 459). Thus, a matzoh factory must be set up such that the kneading area is close enough to the oven to bake the matzoh quickly, yet be far enough away that it is not heated up by the oven.

Eighteen Minutes

Our original question was: I have been told that if one is working on the dough constantly, it is not a concern if more than eighteen minutes elapses before the dough goes into the oven. On the other hand, I have also been told that one may not pause once one begins to work the dough out of concern that it will become chometz immediately. And I have also been told that the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch state that one cannot wait more than eighteen minutes after the water is added to the flour. Which of these statements is correct?” We now have enough background information to address this question.

As strange as this answer may seem, all the above statements are correct. Shulchan Aruch rules that one should not leave the dough for even a moment without working it, and that dough left for eighteen minutes without working it becomes chometz. Furthermore, Shulchan Aruch states that dough that became warm from kneading will become chometz immediately if it is left without being worked on (Orach Chayim 459:2). Although there are more lenient opinions as to whether the dough becomes chometz immediately, all opinions agree that one must not allow any unnecessary waiting without working on the dough (see Mishnah Berurah 459:18; Biur Halacha ad loc.; Chazon Ish, Orach Chayim 121:16). Thus, it is a much bigger concern that the dough is worked with constantly, than whether it actually took eighteen minutes from start to finish.

Machine Matzoh

Although the use of machine matzoh for Pesach has now become almost universally accepted, it is educational to understand the dispute that existed among nineteenth-century poskim over their use for Pesach. When the first factories began producing machine-made matzoh for Pesach use, many great poskim were vehemently opposed to using it on Pesach. Their opposition centered primarily over the following three issues:

1. The economic factor: There was a major concern that the introduction of the machine matzoh would seriously affect many Jewish poor who were gainfully employed by kneading and baking matzos. Although the problem of Jewish poor is unfortunately still with us, it is doubtful that the increased use of hand matzos would have significant impact on their plight.

2. The chometz factor: There were major concerns whether the factories were producing matzoh that met all halachic requirements. Among the concerns: Does all the dough get cleaned off the machinery, or is some dough stuck to the machinery that remains in place for more than eighteen minutes? Is the dough being worked constantly, or is it left to sit after it has begun to be worked?

In the contemporary world, a factory for baking matzos can be planned and constructed in a way that a very minimal amount of dough adheres to the equipment, and mashgichim can supervise that whatever dough is stuck can be removed swiftly. One who purchases machine-made matzoh is relying on the supervising agency or rabbi to guarantee that the operation is run in a proper fashion.

3. The lishmah factor: There is another issue involved in the manufacture of machine matzos – is this process considered lishmah? Does the intent of the person operating an electrically-powered machine and his supervising the production make the matzos lishmah? The same issue affects many other halachic questions, such as the spinning of tzitzis threads by machine, and the manufacture of leather for tefillin straps and batim (or parchment). There is much discussion and dispute about this issue raised in the poskim, and it is still disputed by contemporary authorities. (See Sdei Chemed Vol. 7 pgs. 396-398; Shu”t Maharsham 2:16; Chazon Ish, Orach Chayim 6:10 s.v. Venireh de’ein tzorech; Mikra’ei Kodesh, Pesach II pgs. 11-17.) It is primarily for this reason that many halachically-concerned people today who use machine-made matzoh on Pesach still use hand-made matzoh for the seder.

Problems that emerge during the baking:

There are two common problems that can occur while the matzoh is being baked: A matzoh that is kefula (folded) and one that is nefucha (swollen). A matzoh kefula is a matzoh folded in such a way that the area between the folds is not exposed directly to the flame or heat of the oven. This area between the folds does not bake properly and thus the entire matzoh becomes chometz-dik and must be discarded (Rema, Orach Chayim 461:5). A matzoh nefucha is a matzoh that swells up, usually because it was not perforated properly (Rema, Orach Chayim 461:5 and Taz). Thus, while baking, air is trapped inside the matzoh. The matzoh looks like it has a large bubble in it. If the swollen area is the size of a hazelnut the matzoh should not be used (Mishnah Berurah ad loc. #34).

To avoid discovering these problems on Yom Tov, it is a good idea to check one’s matzos before Yom Tov to be certain that none of the matzos are kefula or nefucha. I can personally attest to having found both among the matzos that I had intended to use for the Seder. One should also verify that the bakery separated challah from the matzos, or else be certain to separate challah before Yom Tov. Under these circumstances, it is not permitted to separate challah on Yom Tov or Shabbos.

Is there an advantage in eating only shmura matzoh the entire Pesach?

There are poskim who recommend eating only shmura matzoh the entire Yom Tov. There are two reasons cited for this practice. Some are concerned that once the grain ripens, it can become chometz even while still on the stalk. By eating only shmura matzoh, one avoids this concern since shmura wheat is harvested before it is fully ripe (Biur Halacha to 453:4, s.v. Tov). A second reason for the practice of eating only shmura is in order to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzoh the entire Pesach. Although there is no requirement to eat matzoh after the seder night, one fulfills a mitzvah by eating matzoh the rest of Pesach (see Baal Hamaor, end of Pesachim). One should strive to fulfill this mitzvah with matzoh that is made lishmah from the time of harvesting. According to both approaches, this practice is only a chumra and not halachically required.

The halacha is that one can fulfill the mitzvah of matzoh only by eating matzoh that is your property. Thus, one cannot fulfill the mitzvah with stolen matzoh. Some have the practice of being certain that they have paid for their matzoh before Pesach in order to demonstrate that the matzoh is definitely theirs (based on Mishnah Berurah 454:15).

There is an interesting dispute between poskim whethera guest at someone else’s seder fulfills the mitzvah with matzoh that is the property of the host. Sfas Emes (Sukkah 35a, s.v. Bigemara asya) contends that fulfilling the mitzvah requires that one owns the matzoh that he is eating — enough that he could sell it. Therefore, a host must give to each of his guests their matzoh as a present or they have not fulfilled the mitzvah. However, the universally accepted practice is to follow the opinion of the Mishnah Berurah (454:15), who states that one fulfills the mitzvah with borrowed matzoh.

We should all be zocheh to eat our matzoh this year together with Korban Pesach in Yerushalayim.




Pesach Shaylos

Unfortunately, many of the questions in this article are not going to be germane this year. There are a number of articles on the laws of the Seder, chometz, kitniyos, Yom Tov, the mourning period of the omer, keeping the second day of Yom Tov and other aspects of Pesach available on this website.

This week’s article is somewhat different from what I usually send. It is a combination of an interview I once gave for Mishpacha magazine’s Advice Line column and various actual questions I have received and answered via e-mail. Obviously, the answers are much briefer than those I write for an article, and may not be thoroughly explained.

Paying (for) a Visit

Question: We are a young married couple with one child, and we live in Eretz Yisrael. My parents and my in-laws live in the States, about a 3-4 hour drive from each other. As Pesach approached and we discussed plans to visit them, it became clear that one set of parents would pay half the airfare for our trip, while the other set would not pay toward this expense. We decided that we still wanted to visit and would pay the other half ourselves. However, we are undecided where to stay and how to divide our time for Yom Tov. Please help.

Answer: One family is paying for half of your tickets; the other side is not contributing. To the best of my knowledge, there are no obvious halachic guidelines for such an issue; it falls into the category of the “fifth Shulchan Aruch” – what we usually call common sense and, hopefully, good judgment. I am therefore offering you my personal thoughts and judgment.

At first glance, it does seem fair for you to spend some more time with the side that is putting up money. However, several mitigating factors must be kept in mind:

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

Second, it is probable that the parents with more resources 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.

These factors point to the fact that you, as a couple, 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 working through sticky situations together as a unit.

Try to depersonalize the discussion and really focus on the points that the other person is making. Sometimes it is helpful for you each to “plead” the other side’s perspective. 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 spend more time visiting the parents who are paying. Keep speaking until you reach a decision with which you are both comfortable.

I wish you much hatzlacha.

Pesach Cleaning

To: Rabbi Kaganoff 

Subject: URGENT – cleaning toys, pens and more for Pesach

Question: I just organized 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 anything that has a chance of ending up on our table during Pesach must be washed in bleach.

Please explain. I have limited time, energy and finances, and I don’t have the luxury of being able to waste precious time and energy on things that are not necessary.

Answer: I do not know the source of this misinformation. It sounds like what you are doing is 100% fine.

Bedikas chometz

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

Answer: If you want to avoid doing bedikas chometz in the other rooms, you can “close them off” by putting signs on the doors that they are sold/rented to a non-Jew and, therefore, not checked for chometz. Ask the rav through whom you are 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 United States. But we have no location picked out, no timetable when we intend to return there, and, aside from a few small items in my parents’ and in-laws’ house, we really have nothing in the United States.

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

I know what different poskim would tell me about keeping one or two days of Yom Tov, and I could easily ask the posek who would 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); if one has no rebbe, one can be meikil in a case that is derabbanan, such as whether to keep two days Yom Tov or not.

Another Yom Tov Sheini in Israel Shaylah

Question: My mother and sister, who are not religious, live in the United States. They will be visiting us in Israel for all of Pesach. We keep one day of Yom Tov. How should I handle their second day of Yom Tov?

Answer: Don’t plan any family activities that require them to do melacha, but don’t say anything to them about their doing work. In other words, you need not actively try to keep them from doing melacha that day, but also don’t do anything that would 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 Seder for them? (They would have no interest in it and would find it a burden.)

Answer: Do nothing. You are not required to make a Seder for them, and I do not see any gain from attempting to have them attend or make a Seder.

I would like to clarify the difference between planning a family activity and arranging a Seder for them. In the first case, you would be causing them to do something that is prohibited according to most authorities. In the second case, you are not causing them to do anything.

Yom Tov for an Israeli Who Is Outside of Israel Shaylah

Question: My elderly father, who is not observant, will be having surgery during Pesach, and I will therefore be visiting my parents in England over Yom Tov. Since I live in Israel, this is generating many questions:

1. Can I do laundry on Chol Hamoed for my parents, since they will be 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 do not have enough clothing, purchase those items – 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: As a rule of thumb, if they will use it on Chol Hamoed or Yom Tov, you may buy it on Chol Hamoed.

3. I read your article about someone who lives in Israel not doing melacha on the second day of Yom Tov while in Chutz La’aretz. If my mother would like a second Seder, or wants 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. Since it is Yom Tov for her, can I be motzi her?

Answer: You cannot be a shaliach (messenger) 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 a kohen, as is my husband. Since I do not know people where my parents live, it will 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 would be unable to visit your father, then bring the baby along. [This is allowed since there is a very small Jewish population in the city where your parents live. The halacha would 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 has a dental hygienist in the office only on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I am at work on those days and can’t leave to go to the dentist.

Answer: One should not schedule this dental cleaning for Chol Hamoed.

Conclusion

Four mitzvos of the Torah are called os, a sign of Hashem’s special relationship with us: Bris Milah, Shabbos, Yom Tov (including Chol Hamoed) and Tefillin. Because Chol Hamoed is included in this very special category, Jews should treat Chol Hamoed with great respect. Indeed, the Gemara states that disregarding the sanctityof the Yomim Tovim, including Chol Hamoed, is like practicing idolatry (Pesachim 118a with Rashbam). Some commentators explain that this includes even someone who fails to serve special meals in honor of Chol Hamoed (Bartenura, Avos 3:11). By observing Chol Hamoed properly, we demonstrate that we recognize and appreciate this special relationship between Hashem and Klal Yisroel.