Weekly Words by Rabbi Adam- 23 March 2018
Annual Pre-Pesacḥ 7-Point PSA:
1. Flour is not cḥametz. If it’s sealed and has not been exposed to water, it won’t become cḥametz. Obviously, you can’t use flour for much during Pesacḥ, but since it is not cḥametz gamur (totally cḥametz) as many people treat it, it is perfectly fine to put flour away in a sealed cupboard. Bonus points if you use a vacuum container or similar.
2. Matzah doesn’t become cḥametz until 18 minutes after you stop kneading the dough. As long as you continually work the dough after adding water, you do not start the clock until you leave it alone. This means that if you make matzah at home (it’s fun, try it!) you do not start counting the 18 minutes the second the water touches the flour. As long as you are kneading and interacting with the dough, you don’t have to start counting at all and can knead all day without it becoming cḥametz! Once you leave the dough alone, you have 18 minutes from then to have finished the cooked product.
3. Kitniyot is a custom, which – while anyone is welcome to keep it – is not obligatory (on anyone.) During Pesach, the word kitniyot takes on a broader meaning to include, in addition to legumes, grains and seeds such as rice, corn, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, peas and lentils. If you do refrain from eating kitniyot, it still doesn’t work like cḥametz – you can eat from a shared plate and simply remove the kitniyot.
4. Glass is non-porous and can be kashered, including for Pesacḥ. If you’re unsure if something is porous, take R’ Haim Ovadia‘s advice: boil 5 habañero peppers and put them on the utensil, rinse it off, then put plain cooked rice on it and eat the rice. If your mouth is on fire, the material is porous.
5. Selling cḥametz is meant to be an extreme dispensation for cases of serious economic loss (businesses, whisky collectors, etc.) The ideal is to consume your cḥametz before Pesacḥ or to donate what remains to a food bank before the holiday. That said, we will be selling cḥametz through the synagogue, and if you have chametz you’re unable to get rid of, please let Ruth or I know and we’ll send you a form to be included in the sale.
6. Many things are perfectly fine to buy for Pesacḥ, even during the holiday, without a kosher for Passover hechsher, or any hechsher whatsoever. A great list can be found online at: https://www.kashrut.org/files/127059807.pdf
7. The point of the Haggadah and the Seder is to educate, and to provoke the attendees to ask questions (other than ‘What page are we on?’) It’s far better to do less of the traditional text (or do it in English) and provoke a conversation than blast through the Hebrew text with everyone there zoned out.
Wishing everyone a happy week of cleaning, kashering and Pesacḥ preparation! As always, if you have any questions about what you need to do to get ready, please don’t hesitate to ask.