During the eight days of Pesach, homes must be cleared of all leavened grain products from five prohibited species of grain (wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye). Ideally, all such food items are to be destroyed. To ease the financial burden, though, a custom developed to arrange a sale whereby all such items are placed in designated areas and sold for the eight-day period to a non-Jew. During the entire festival, any designated cabinets should not be opened, and no items in the designated areas should be used (that would either be stealing or render the sale a sham). As we are currently in the midst of a public health crisis where each act of obtaining food carries individual and collective risk, it is not more preferable to destroy chametz; even the sale of chametz gamur is entirely legitimate for all during this crisis, even one accustomed to not selling chametz gamur in prior years. One need not perform hatarat nedarim(the annulment of vows) to sell chametz gamur if they always destroy it. During the entire festival, any designated cabinets should not be opened, and no items in the designated areas should be used (that would either be stealing or render the sale a sham).
In order to do our part in flattening the curve and limiting risk, all designations for the sale of Chametz will occur online via Google form at: "Sale of Chametz" Form
Although the minhag is to perform a symbolic kinyan (acquisition) with a portable object such as a handkerchief or pen to empower the Rabbi to become the power of attorney for the sale of chametz, this is not required by Jewish law and will not occur this year.
Please fill out all online forms by 5:00 pm on Monday, April 6th. It is customary either to tip or make a donation to the Rabbi’s discretionary fund in exchange for this service. You may do so online via the links sent out in related e-mails.
Please note: All chametz must be sold by 11:42AM on Wednesday morning, April 8, 2020 (chametz cannot be eaten after 10:37 AM).
Normally, there is a controlled fire supervised by the Providence Police Department for the burning of Chametz. This year, however, such public gatherings are clearly not permitted. Moreover, starting fires to destroy chametz at home run the risk of posing a safety hazard, on the one hand, or a halachic hazard of not having a sufficiently hot fire on the other; if the chametz is merely blackened but not burnt through, many legal decisors rule the chametz still extant. Moreover, the creation of relatively large outdoor fires on public property would likely create a perception that the Jewish community is acting selfishly and not taking the wellbeing of the broader community seriously.
What should you do? First, it must be noted that destroying an olive’s volume of bread is sufficient according to those opinions that require an act of destruction. Second, the vast majority of modern authorities rule that other, non-combustion forms of destruction, such as flushing down the toilet, are acceptable. Given the above, poskim at RIETS (my alma mater) have ruled that the ideal is to flush a small amount of bread down the toilet or down a food waste/sink drainage system. Alternatively, thoroughly burning a small amount of chametz in an outdoor grill would be sufficient and socially responsible. Note: There is a debate about whether placing chametz in a privately owned garbage can that remains on private property is sufficient as an act of destruction or not, with Rav Moshe Feinstein z’l ruling stringently. Therefore, it is not advisable.
2) Maot Chittin There is an ancient custom to give charity before Pesach to see that all Jews have their Holiday needs taken care of. After all, freedom from slavery is primarily about learning to live in social responsibility with empathy for those who suffer. As opposed to Matanot Le’evyonim, which can easily be taken care of on the day of Purim, Maot Chittin are needed well in advance of Pesach to allow for proper distribution of funds. This year, there has been a substantial increase in need within our community due to Covid-19. Please send in your donation by donating at the appropriate link on our website, also found in our sale of chametz e-mails. All donations must be made online. The money will be distributed to those in need within our community for food for the holiday.
3) Shabbat Hagadol Derasha
On the Shabbat before Pesach, the Ashkenazic custom is for the Rabbi to give an extended discourse on the laws, customs, and observances of Pesach. Likely, it is called Shabbat Hagadol (the Great Sabbath) either because the Israelites were informed they were going to depart Egypt on the 10th of Nissan that year, which fell on Shabbat, or because of the reference to the Yom Hagadol – Great Day in the haftarah reading. This year, the Derasha will take place via Zoom on Friday, April 3rd, at 3:00 pm. The login information is here:
One tap mobile +16465588656,,9557914827# US (New York) +13126266799,,9557914827# US (Chicago) The topic is entitled “L’Shem Matzot Mitzvah/For the Sake of the Mitzvah of Matzo: What is Shmura Matzo and Why Does It Matter?”
In this year's Shabbes Hagadol Derasha, Rabbi Dolinger will explain the origin and laws of "shmura matzo" and their relevance today. Additionally, he will use the second half of his derasha to offer reflections and practical tips for engaging smaller sedarim.
4) Pesach 5780 Product Information A partial Pesach product list follows. I have tried to include as much detailed information as possible, but it still remains a partial list. Further, it follows the Ashkenazi custom of avoiding kitniyot on Pesach. If you have any questions, you can call me to check on a particular product.
Of course, you can call me with any additional questions you may have at (401) 621-9393 or send me an e-mail me at email@example.com.
Air Freshener: Does not require Pesach Certification Alcohol: See: Rubbing alcohol Aluminum Foil and Pans:Do not require Pesach Certification Ammonia: Does not require Pesach Certification Artificial/Alternative Sweeteners: The following brands may be used: Pure Aspartame (not Equal), Kojel Kosher L’ Pesach Sweet N’ Good, Splenda, Leiber’s Kosher L’Pesach Sugar Substitute, Sweet N’ Low, Gefen OUP, V.I.P. Master OUP. Agave – 100% does not require Pesach Certification. Others require Pesach certification Maple Syrup – 100% pure maple syrup does not require Pesach Certification. Others require Pesach certification Truvia – Not acceptable for Pesach Baby Foods: Formula – Materna formula, made in Israel is the only non-kitniyot Kosher for Pesach formula. However, even Ashkenazim can use formula with kitniyot for infants. Enfamil, Prosobee, Carnation, Isomil, and Similac contain kitniyot. However, they may be used without special Pesach certification. This applies to both powder and liquid varieties. For a complete listing of acceptable, kitniyot-based formulas see: http://oukosher.org/index.php/passover/article/5710 Please note that two Enfamil products, Nutramigel Lipil and Pregestimil, along with Alimentum, contain non-kosher ingredients. One should consult with one’s doctor and the Rabbi before using them. Jars – Generally Require Pesach Certification. However, some products may be used without Pesach certification. Please consult the Rabbi for more details. Cereals – Cereals that do not have wheat, barley, spelt, oat, or rye ingredients are acceptable only if purchased before Pesach. Pedialite- Pedialite, Pediaflor and Pediasure contain kitniyot, but not actual chametz. See "formula" for usage. Baby Oil, Lotions and Medicated Ointments: Do not require Pesach Certification. Baby Wipes: Do not require Pesach Certification. Baking Powder: Requires Pesach Certification. Baking Soda: Does not require Pesach Certification. Bleach: Does not require Pesach Certification. Braces: Wax used for braces is OK for Pesach use. See below under "rubber bands". Candy: Requires Pesach Certification. Speak with the Rabbi for specific candies that are acceptable without Pesach certification. Chapstick: May be used if new and unflavored. Cigars:Flavored cigars may contain chametz-based alcohol. This is not an endorsement of smoking cigars. Cocoa: Any 100% pure cocoa (no additives or lecithin) does not require Pesach certification. Organic or fair-trade chocolates are strongly preferred to those that source from traffickers. It’s the Festival of Freedom! Fox’s Ubet sources its chocolate ethically, and Equal Exchange sells several lines of Kosher for Passover chocolate available for purchase on the internet. Coconut:Shredded coconut requires Pesach Certification. Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil does not require Pesach certification. Coffee: Instant: 100% freeze-dried instant coffee is acceptsble. Spray dried instant coffee Requires Pesach Certification (concern over the spray dry process), except for Classic Roast Unflavored Folgers (not decaffeinated) and Original Unflavored Nescafe Taster’s choice (not decaffeinated). See here for an explanation of how to tell the difference between spray and freeze-dried instant coffee (https://www.aquaspresso.co.za/instant-coffee-explained/). Elite and Gefen can be used only with an OUP. Mount Hagen may be used without Pesach certification. Coffee “Singles”: Require Pesach Certification, except for Classic Roast Unflavored Folgers (not decaffeinated) and Original Unflavored Nescafe Taster’s choice (not decaffeinated). Regular & Decaf: All unflavored caffeinated ground or whole bean coffees may be used on Pesach without special Pesach Certification. All unflavored decaffeinated coffees may be on Pesach without special Pesach Certification (Some authorities are concerned that ethyl acetate is sometimes used for decaffeination. While Ethyl acetate is produced from reactions using Ethanol, which can, in theory, be produced from wheat, this is an extremely uncommon source of Ethanol production in the U.S.; moreover, the Ethyl Acetate remains only in infinitesimal quantities in the final product in any event. This is why some suggest caution with decaffeinated teas and coffees). Flavored: Requires Pesach Certification. Cosmetics:Do not require Pesach certification. However, some are strict about flavored lipsticks. Dates: Require Pesach Certification as their “glaze” may be problematic. Dental Floss: Any unflavored dental floss does not require Pesach Certification. Dill:Seeds - Are considered kitniyot Leaves - Are not kitniyot and may be used without special Pesach Certification Dishwashing Detergent: Does not require Pesach Certification. Eggs: Fresh - Do not require Pesach Certification. Since commercial eggs are bleached and/or cleaned, they may be purchased on Pesach as there is no concern of chametz attaching to the egg. Likewise, there is no concern that chametz consumed by the hen is meaningfully present in the egg. Liquid - Requires Pesach Certification Fennel:Seeds -Are considered kitniyot Leaves - Are not kitniyot and may be used without special Pesach Certification Fenugreek:According to many, it is considered a kitniyot spice. See “spices”. Fish: Frozen, Unprocessed - Does not require special Pesach Certification if there are no other ingredients besides fish, water and salt. Frozen, Processed (including gefilte fish) – Requires Pesach Certification. Fresh - Does not require special Pesach Certification. Tuna – Many brands do not require Pesach certification; please consult the Rabbi. Many “generic” and “kosher” brands have Pesach certification. Flour:Considered Chametz even if one does not know that it has come in contact with water (commercial flour is sometimes treated with moisture in some manner and the custom is to be careful once the holiday has started). Fruit: Frozen - whole or sliced, without additives and with no syrup - does not require Pesach Certification. Canned - Requires Pesach Certification Fresh - Wax on whole, unpeeled produce may contain kitniyot, but the kitniyot are batel and not a problem at all. Dried - Requires Pesach Certification (chametz flour may be used to prevent sticking). Raisins – see “raisins” Food Coloring: Requires Pesach Certification Garlic: Fresh – Does not require Pesach Certification Peeled – Requires Pesach Certification Glue: Any glue does not require Pesach Certification. Grains:Many are chametz or kitniyot and should be disposed of even if they have not been converted into flour. However, flax and hemp are not chametz. (Some consider flax and hemp to be kitniyot). Halvah: Is acceptable for Ashkenazim (even though it may contain corn syrup, as it is merely a non-noticeable kitniyot derivative). Honey: Any brand of 100% pure honey is acceptable for Pesach. Some brands add corn syrup, (which some permit as shemen kitniyot or a new world food, and by definition not kiniyot, and some forbid as kitniyot) Horseradish:Raw – Does not require Pesach Certification Processed – Requires Pesach Certification Ice: Bags from plain water do not require Pesach Certification. Ices/Ice Cream:Generally Require Pesach Certification. Some Edy’s and Breyer’s products are acceptable for Pesach use. Please consult Rabbi to discuss which flavors are acceptable. Juice:Frozen - 100% pure orange concentrate (All other juices – including grapefruit - require certification as enzymes are used in processing) does not require special certification. Liquid - requires Pesach Certification. Trader Joe’s Orange Juice and select other Trader Joe’s juices do not require Pesach certification (please consult me if you are interested in purchasing). Tropicana Orange Juice requires Pesach certification. Lemon/Lime - ReaLemon brand is OK without special Pesach Certification. (Liquid only -not frozen). Natalie’s Orange Juice is acceptable without Pesach certification. Grape –Please note that Kedem grape juice sold in the 1.5 liter glass bottles is not mevushal. Kitniyot: Due to the stringency of not eating chametz on Pesach, Ashkenazic Jews have developed a custom not to eat Kitniyot (legumes) on Pesach. Kitniyot include alfalfa, anise, ascorbic acid (may actually contain chametz), asparatame (Nutrasweet) according to some, bean sprouts, beans, BHA, BHT, black eyed peas, buckwheat, calcium ascorbate, canola oil, caraway, chickpeas, citric acid (may actually be chametz), coriander, corn (according to some, it is a new world food, and therefore not kitniyot), corn oil (according to some), corn syrup (according to some), cumin (according to some), dextrose, dill seeds, edamame, fennel, fenugreek (according to some), flax seeds (according to some), guar gum, hemp, hydrolyzed vegetable oil, HVP, kasha, kimmel, lecithin, lentils, licorice, lucerne, lupine, maltodextrins (chametz or kitniyot derived), millet, MSG (according to some), mustard, peas, polysorbates (may actually be chametz), popcorn (according to some, see corn), poppy seeds, rice, sesame seeds, snow peas, sodium citrate (may actually be chametz), sodium erythorbate (may actually be chametz), sorbitol (could be chametz if outside the U.S.), sorghum, soy oil (according to some), soy, string beans, sunflower seeds, tofu (from soy), vetch, vetching, wild rice, xanthan gum (may actually be chametz). Many Kitniyot products on the market are certified as Kosher for Passover, especially those from Israel, France and other European countries. **Also, this year, the Orthodox Union will have a full line of products l’ochlei kitniyot (for those who eat Kitniyot). Please consult with your Rabbi regarding any questions you may have. Not Kitniyot – Amaranth, dill leaves, fennel leaves, peanuts (though some have a custom to be stringent), corn (according to some, including me), pumpkin seeds, quinoa (see below), saffron (though some have a custom not to eat saffron for other reasons). Some prohibit kitniyot derivatives, such as corn syrup (if one holds that corn is kitniyot in the first place), whereas other permit kitniyot derivatives (Rav Kook zt’’l, others), especially if they are a minority ingredient (Rema) and not recognizable. Lactaid: See “milk” Laundry Detergent: Does not require Pesach certification. Matzot: Egg Matzot - Matzot made with fruit juice or eggs, which include “Kosher for Pesach” Egg Matzot, egg Matzah crackers, etc. may not be eaten on Pesach by healthy Ashkenazim. Even the sick and elderly cannot fulfill their obligation at the Seder with these matzot. Streit’s Products - All Streit's products made in the United States and Canada are under Kof-K certification regardless of whether the Kof-K symbol appears on the package. Grape Matzot - sold by Manischewitz, have the same halachot as egg matzot. In addition, Manischewitz sells Passover Tam Tam crackers that are also made from egg flour dough and must be treated accordingly. Manischewitz also sells Tam Tam crackers made from flour and water that can be eaten by all. Matzah sticks (Kedem) and matzah crackers (Kedem and Manischewitz) are ordinary matzah products and can be eaten by all. Spelt & Oat– Kosher for Passover hand and machine shemurah matzah are available at http://www.lakewoodmatzoh.com; they certify that certain varieties are gluten-free for those with gluten allergies. They can be purchased this year at many kosher supermarkets. Please note: It is questionable whether the oblgation of eating matzah on the first night of Pesach can be fulfilled with oat matzah. Margarine: Requires Pesach Certification. Meat: Fresh - Does not require special Pesach Certification. Frozen - Does not require special Pesach Certification. Medicine: All – Medicine does not require Pesach certification, as it is not eaten in the normal way of benefitting, according to most authorities. This applies to pills that are swallowed, pills that are chewable, and liquid medicines. Even flavored medicines are dangerous if consumed in large quantities and eaten not for the flavor but for the medical value. This applies both to medicines and supplements, and whether one is very ill or only slightly ill. Milk: Fresh - Does not require Pesach Certification. Unflavored milk in the United States may be purchased on or before Pesach without special certification. Flavored milks require Pesach Certification. Lactaid - Can be purchased on or before Pesach for those with Lactose intolerance. Both chewable and non-chewable lactaid pills are acceptable. Powdered- Powdered milk is acceptable. Soy and Rice – Are kitniyot, and should be used only by Ashkenazim who are ill. However, some brands contain actual chametz. The following brands do not contain actual chametz: Vitasoy San Sui Original Natural, Soy Dream Original un-enriched. These products may be purchased before Pesach for those who need them. Mouthwash: Does not require Pesach certification. It is not eaten for benefit, is dangerous if consumed in that way, and is used for health purposes. Mushrooms:Raw – Do not require Pesach Certification Canned – Require Pesach Certification. Mustard: Actual mustard is not permitted for Ashkenazim on Pesach because its seed grows like kitniyot. Rokeach produces substitute mustard that is certified for Pesach. Nail Polish Remover: Does not require Pesach Certification. Nutritional supplements: Many supplements contain kitniyot but may be consumed by those that need them. A few general guidelines: Unflavored products are preferable to flavored ones. The following products should not be used: Jevity 1.2 or 1.5 with oat fiber, Promote with Fiber, Benefiber, or Ensure Fiber with FOS. Nuts: Must be free of added preservatives and other additives. Products coated or sprayed with BHT or BHA should not be used on Pesach. Raw whole, chopped or ground nuts (e.g. walnuts, almonds, etc.) without added preservatives or other additives such as BHT or BHA are approved for Passover. Note: Midget Pecans & Pecan Pieces require Pesach Certification, as they are soaked in Chametz during processing. Peanuts are not kitniyot (Rav Moshe Feinstein), but some have the custom to refrain from eating peanuts. Oils: Cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil and safflower oil may be used for Passover. Canola oil is considered kitniyot by some and is subject to debate. My position (following Rav Kook zt’’l) is that all kitniyot oils are permissible on Passover. Any brand of 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil may be used without certification. Oven Cleaner: Does not require Pesach Certification. Paper Goods:Napkins- Do not require Pesach Certification. Plastic - Does not require Pesach Certification. Paper – Does not require Pesach Certification. Parchment paper – Does not require Pesach Certification (corn liquor used commercially to feed the microbial source of the citric acid used in the silicone coating is not problematic as kitniyot are only prohibited when eaten) Biodegradable Plates – Many have raised concerns, as they often use corn in the production of biodegradable and compostable plates; these concerns have no basis in Jewish law. Corn is, at worst, kitniyot, and therefore only possibly prohibited as a food, but not for benefit. Moreover, there is no discernable flavor of corn that enters from the plate. When using disposable plates, it is absolutely preferable to use more environmentally sustainable options, in the spirit of learning to be free and responsible human beings. Paper Towels: May have starch-based glue at beginning and end. (Some say do not use first 3 and last sheets.) It is, however, totally acceptable to be lenient and use normally. Pet Food: See section five below. Pumpkin:Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are not considered kitniyot. They may be used without special Pesach Certification if they are raw and without additives. Quinoa: Quinoa is permissible on Pesach, and is not considered kitniyot. Ideally, one layer of quinoa should be spread on a board or plate and checked for any foreign matter. Pasta: May be manufactured in the same machines as regular pasta and may not be used without Pesach Certification. Raisins: Do not require Pesach certification. Rice: May only be eaten by those who eat kitniyot but not by Ashkenazim. Carolina, Giant, Emperor, Mahatma, Riviana and Success are acceptable brands but they should be checked for other grains before using. (Interestingly, the Talmud records that rice-based dishes were actually present on the Seder plate!) Rubber Gloves: Permissible for Passover. Rubbing Alcohol: Any isopropyl or synthetic (acetyl-, lanolin-, benzyl- and methyl-) may be used. Salads: Pre-Washed salads are kosher for Passover without special Pesach Certification. However, many contain kitniyot (such as peas), so one should check all of the salad ingredients. Salt: Non-iodized, without dextrose, iodine or polysorbates, does not require Pesach Certification. Iodized salt is often processed with corn derivatives; it is acceptable for Passover according to many authorities, though some are customarily stringent. Sea salt does not require Pesach Certification. No salt substitutes are available. Seltzer: Flavored: Requires Pesach Certification if natural flavors or other vague terms are listed in the ingredient list. All flavors of Vintage Seltzer are acceptable. Unflavored: Does not require Pesach certification. Silver Polish: Does not require Pesach certification. Soda: Coca-Cola: Special Pesach certification not required (corn syrup is merely a derivative of kitniyot according to those who hold that corn is kitniyot and is permissible when not the majority according to the Rema). However, special Pesach production is made with real sugar instead of corn syrup for those who are strict, and is noted by a yellow cap or the lid of the can. This includes Sprite, Diet Sprite and Seagram’s Ginger Ale. Pepsi Cola: Same as Coca-Cola. Special Pesach production is also made with real sugar instead of corn syrup. Spices: Does not require Pesach Certification per se. Many are acceptable without special Pesach certification (speak to Rabbi). Sugar: White - All pure, granulated cane sugar without dextrose - does not require Pesach Certification. Brown – Requires Pesach Certification. Domino’s Dark Brown Sugar, Light Brown Sugar, and Golden Light Brown Sugar are acceptable without special certification. Confectioner’s – Requires Pesach Certification. Domino’s Confectioner’s Sugar is acceptable without special certification. Substitute – See Artificial Sweeteners. Vanilla – Requires Pesach Certification Tablecloths: Should be washed and laundered, and then may be used on Pesach (even if the stains do not come out). The same is true for aprons, bibs, potholders, etc. Teas: Regular/Decaffeinated - Does not require Pesach Certification. (Some authorities are concerned that ethyl acetate is sometimes used for decaffeination. While Ethyl acetate is produced from reactions using Ethanol, which can, in theory, be produced from wheat, this is an extremely uncommon source of Ethanol production in the U.S.; moreover, the Ethyl Acetate remains only in infinitesimal quantities in the final product in any event. This is why some suggest caution with decaffeinated teas and coffees).Flavored – The following are acceptable: Wissotzky teas with OUP, Swee-Touch-Nee Herbal Caffeine-free Seren-I-Tea with OUP, Good Earth with OUP, G’Day Herbal Teas with Star-K, and Wissotzky with OUP. Many flavors of Celestial Seasonings teas are also acceptable (speak with Rabbi). Instant - Nestea regular and decaffeinated without sweetener may be used without special Pesach Certification. Any pure whole-lead tea is Kosher for Passover. Thickening Products: See “Nutritional supplements” above Toiletries: Toiletries which are inedible and not put in the mouth do not need Passover Certification. This includes deodorants, perfumes, shampoos and most cosmetics (see “cosmetics”). Toothpaste: Does not need Pesach certification. Toothpicks: Any wood or plastic (unflavored and uncoated) may be used. Vegetables: Frozen - Requires Pesach Certification as many are packaged with gluten. Also, the same equipment may be used during the year to make pasta products. Bodek (OUP), Garden Pure (OUP), Meitav (OUP), B-Tam Star KP are some acceptable brands. Trader Joe’s brand of frozen vegetables are also acceptable, as are others which are explicitly labeled gluten-free. Canned – Does not require Pesach Certification. Ashkenazim should be careful to avoid kitniyot. Fresh uncut: Does not need Pesach Certification, but should be rinsed before use Fresh cut and packaged – See “salads” Vegetable Wash: May contain kitniyot and requires Pesach Certification according to some Vinegar: Requires Pesach Certification. Many brands do not require special Pesach certification (speak with Rabbi). Vitamins: See “medicines” (under “capsules”). They are permissible for Passover. Water:Any fresh, bottled, spring or distilled water that is unflavored does not need Pesach Certification. Added fluoride or minerals do not present a problem. Water Filters: Do not need special Passover Certification. Wax:(including wax for braces) Does not require Pesach Certification Wine:All Kosher wines are acceptable for Pesach. However, some may contain corn syrup (kitniyot), and many are strict. The most preferable Seder wines are red, not mevushal, and have no added water or sweeteners. Yogurt: Needs Pesach Certification. However, many specific brands and flavors are acceptable (speak to Rabbi).
5) Pet Food One of the many challenges of Pesach is finding permitted pet food. There are two separate kashrut issues to be aware of: the first relates specifically to Pesach; the other relates to the rest of the year.
a) Due to the prohibition of deriving any pleasure or benefit from chametz, we are not permitted to use or own pet food that is chametz gamur on Pesach. Rav Chaim Soloveitchik z’’l ruled that a chametz mixture that is not fit for human consumption may be owned and benefited from. Most pet foods contain mixtures of the five grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt). Almost all dry pet food list wheat or oats as their first ingredient. This is true for fish food and bird food as well. Some are lenient if they are not fit for human consumption, following the opinion of Rav Chaim, while most are stringent and do not use this pet food.
Benefit from "Kitniyot" (legumes) is permitted on Pesach even for Ashkenazim according to all opinions. Therefore, rice does not pose a problem in pet foods.
b) The year-round problem concerns meat and milk. Commonly, dog and cat foods that contain meat (not chicken) and milk together are rendered forbidden to Jewish pet owners all year round.
6) Kashering for Pesach
Traditionally, Jews were encouraged to “kasher” all of their dishes for Passover. In fact, the laws of “kashering” in the legal codes are to be found among the laws of Passover. The luxury of having multiple sets of dishes is of relatively recent origin and is not a necessary expense for the proper observance of Passover. Moreover, the use of environmentally problematic disposables should be discouraged, on Passover and at all other times. It would be a mistake of values and judgement to use only disposables out of a fear of not correctly using “koshering” techniques transmitted by the Rabbis. The laws were designed for regular practictioners.
The Oven: In a conventional oven, gas or electric, the oven must be clean before kashering can begin. Oven cleaner may be necessary to remove baked on grease. If a caustic type of oven cleaner (such as Easy-Off) was used to clean the oven and some stubborn spots remain, the spots may be disregarded. Once the oven and racks have been cleaned, they may be kashered by libbun kal. Turning the oven to the broil setting for forty (40) minutes satisfies the requirement of libbun kal. In a gas oven, the broil setting will allow the flame to burn continuously. In a conventional electric oven, the highest setting, broil or 550oF, renders the oven Kosher. In a continuous cleaning oven, one should conduct a visual inspection to be sure the oven is clean. If it is clean, one may turn the oven to the broil setting for forty minutes in order to kasher it. If it is not clean, proceed as directed below. Since caustic or abrasive oven cleaners, e.g. Easy-Off, cannot be used without destroying the continuous clean properties of the oven, a non-abrasive, and non-caustic, cleaner must be used to clean the oven in the unlikely event it is necessary. Grease spots will usually disappear if the top layer of grease is cleaned with Fantastic and a nylon brush. Then the oven should be turned on to 450oF for an hour so that the continuous clean mechanism can work. If the spots don't disappear, the oven should be left on for another hour to allow the continuous clean mechanism to deep clean. If the spots do not disappear, the spots may be disregarded. In all of the above cases the oven should then be kashered by turning the oven to the broil setting for forty minutes. In a self-cleaning oven, the self-cleaning cycle will clean and kasher the oven simultaneously. This is also true for convection ovens with a self-cleaning feature. The oven need not be cleaned well before the process begins because everything inside of the oven is reduced to ash. The oven door and rubber around the door should, however, be clean before beginning the self-clean cycle. The Cooktop: Any visible food should be removed. Some turn on the burners on both gas and electric ranges for a period of ten (10) minutes; in my opinion and according to my teachers, this is not strictly required as one does not cook food directly on the burner/cooktop. The rest of the stovetop area should cleaned and unused for 24 hours. Since the surface is not regularly used directly for cooking, no further kashering is required.
The Broiler: The broiler pan and grill cannot be kashered by just turning on the gas or electricity. Since food is cooked directly on the pan or grill, they must be heated to a glow in order to be used on Pesach. An alternate method is to replace the pan with a new pan and Kasher the empty broiler cavity by cleaning and setting it to broil for forty minutes. If one does not intend to use the broiler on Pesach, one may still use the oven, even without kashering the broiler, provided that the broiler has been cleaned. Similarly, other cooktop inserts such as a griddle or a barbecue broiler would require “libbun gamur”- heating the surface to a red glow before usage. If not, the insert should be cleaned, covered, and not used for Pesach
Glass: Since glass is not bolea (“does not absorb”) as a matter of fact, it can be used for Pesach as long as it is cleaned thoroughly with soap and water. The same is true for Pyrex, or similar materials that do not absorb. According to many authorities (Rabbi Yitzhak Abadi, Rabbi Nahum Rabinovich, etc.), glazed china falls into this category as well, as the glaze is similar to a layer of glass that prevents absorption entirely; I agree with these opinions, though most are stringent for Passover and think that is desirable.
Microwave Ovens: Clean the microwave and do not use for twenty-four (24) hours. Then boil a cup of water on high for 10 minutes in the microwave. The glass plate should be cleaned with soap and water to make sure there is no Chametz.
Metal Utensils that have been used for cooking or serving Chametz may be kashered by cleaning them thoroughly, waiting twenty-four (24) hours, and then immersing them, one by one, into a pot of water which has been heated and maintains a rolling boil. If tongs are used to grip the utensil, the utensil will have to be immersed a second time, with the tong in a different position so that the boiling water will touch the initially gripped area. The entire utensil does not have to be kashered at once; it may be done in parts. If an item is too large to be immersed in a pot, it may be Kashered by pouring boiling water over it instead of immersion. If this is done, care should be taken to make sure that water is poured over the entire item by the end of the process. If there is a large pot you wish to Kasher, you may also do so by cleaning the pot, waiting twenty-four (24) hours, and filling the pot to the brim with water. Bring the water to a boil, and place an object in the pot so that the water will be caused to overflow. There are two options when choosing a pot to Kasher vessels in. (1) A Pesach pot of any gender (meat or milk) that has not been used in twenty-four hours. (2) A non-Kosher-for-Pesach pot may also be used for the purpose of kashering, provided that it is thoroughly clean and has not been used for twenty-four (24) hours.
Sinks: According to many authorities, sinks do not require Kashering as they are not regularly used to cook foods. According to this opinion, the sink should be thoroughly cleaned before Pesach.
According to other authorities, kashering is recommended since hot food sometimes contacts the sink. Most sinks are made of metal, such as stainless steel, or granite. These sinks can be kashered by the following method. Clean the sink thoroughly. Hot foods should not be poured into the sink for twenty-four (24) hours. Then, kashering is accomplished by pouring boiling hot water from a clean pot or kettle over the sink.
If the sink is made of glazed earthenware (e.g. porcelain), the sink is not bolea, and therefore kashering is not required. However, the sink must be thoroughly cleaned to be sure that no edible food products remain.
Blech/Plata: A blech may be Kashered by cleaning any food, placing it over the burners, and turning the burners on high for approximately thirty minutes. A plata/warming plate may be Kashered by cleaning it, plugging it in, and leaving it on for approximately thirty minutes.
Coffee Maker: A coffee maker may be Kashered by making sure it is clean and leaving it unused for twenty-four (24) hours.
Tea Kettle/Water Urn: A tea kettle or water urn that has only been used for water in the last year may be used for Passover so long as it is clean and does not have any food on the inside or outside.
Countertops: Countertops need not be Kashered for Pesach, but must simply be cleaned thoroughly. However, some are strict and kasher countertops as well. To Kasher, clean the countertop well, and pour boiling water over the surface of the countertop after waiting twenty-four (24) hours without use. Some have the custom to cover any countertops which have not been kashered. This is not required, but is certainly a valid custom.
Dishtowels/Aprons/Potholders: These items should be placed in the laundry, if possible, and cleaned. Once they come out, they are acceptable for Pesach use, even if all of the stains have not come out entirely.
Dishwashers: It is my opinion that dishwashers do not require kashering, as all of the hot food in the dishwasher in considered “pagum” (rancid) because of the soap involved. However, many Rabbis are of the opinion that dishwashers require kashering. This can be done by simply running the dishwasher on an empty cycle. This is valid for all dishwashers, including those with plastic racks (there is a debate as to whether plastic can be koshered; those who rule leniently are the clear winners of this argument on the merits, in my view).
Reminder: Cleaning is important, but there is no need to cause strife, fighting, mental illness, marital discord, or anything else of the sort. Pesach is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.
Spiritual Tip #1: According to the mystical tradition, eliminating chametz represents our introspective search to eliminate pride and arrogance (leavened product), and to return to our true selves in humility; this is a prerequisite for freedom. Puffing ourselves up is an easy defense mechanism, and is perhaps the main thing that prevents transcendent connection both to other people and to God. This year, pride and humility should have a different feel entirely, and might provide a fruitful topic for seder discussion or introspection. Did you feel we were beyond the insecurities of the past (e.g. plague, war, and famine)? What have you learned that might change what freedom looks like on the other side?
Spiritual Tip #2: This year, seders will be much smaller, and in some cases, they’ll be alone. For the second half of my Shabbat Hagadeol Derasha, I’ll be discussing tips for more meaningful small or solo sedarim. Give some thought not just to the menu but to how you’ll construct a meaningful seder given your particular circumstances this year. A little forethought and planning can go a long way. That being said, hold the seder lightly enough to allow it to work its magic. For a ritual named for its order, its often in the messiness and chaos that the most memorable or impactful teachings emerge.
Spiritual Tip #3: Look for fair trade chocolate and coffee for Passover. These products, in particular, are prone to actual slavery and highly abusive labor practices. Ignorance is not bliss if you’re captured as a slave. Fox’s Ubet has a fair trade certified line sold at Whole Foods. Equal Exchange has fair trade certified chocolate that is Kosher for Passover at many local supermarkets and over the internet. Consider it a fulfillment of the commandment not to return to Egypt.
Spiritual Tip #4: Don’t think about the pink elephant. We can’t and shouldn’t ignore the relationship between Jewish practice and the most significant global crisis in generations. Find ways to engage the issues of collective action, collective fault, responsibility, monotony, international conflict, spiritual suffering, isolation, etc. in the context of the seder. Bring your experience to the table and the text.
Guests and Seder Size: It is my opinion that, absent extreme extenuating circumstances (domestic abuse, serious health or mental health concerns, etc.), folks are forbidden from having any guests at their seder outside of those currently living in their residence. For one, the RI state guidelines limit gatherings to five (5) people or fewer and this would be a violation of local law, and therefore Jewish law. More importantly, though, we’ve undertaken a dramatic shutdown and restructuring of society to save lives and also to lessen the still overwhelming impact on the health system. These are values we do and should champion. While there is tremendous pain and grief in missing the fullness of a ritual that thrives on community, conversation, song, and debate, Judaism presents a hierarchy of values and mitzvot. We are called to give up the spiritual pleasure of larger sedarim for the communal responsibility of saving life. After all, it’s this fealty to communal responsibility that’s at the heart of what Jewish freedom is all about. The preservation of life is our foremost value; we violate nearly the whole Torah for its sake. This is clearly the overriding concern this year.
I know what you’re thinking. But what about my socially distanced seder? Can’t I just have one relative? Am I really to leave my mother alone in isolation for the holiday? Look, it’s not pleasant or easy, and if there is really a dangerous situation, psychologically or physically, then you’re probably the exception. But Passover is the single most observed ritual, with about 75% of those who identify as Jewish attending a seder each year. If folks make exceptions, however unlikely the risk of infection or transmission on an individual level, the scale of millions of unnecessary social interactions is certain to exacerbate the disease, lead to substantial numbers of additional deaths and infections, and position the Jewish community as self-interested and irresponsible. Instead, let’s focus on having small or even individual seder experiences that are meaningful or at least tolerable.