Laws of Pesach

  1. On Passover we cannot eat nor have in our possession any Chametz. This includes any of the known five grains that comes in contact with water (excluding properly baked Matzos). The most common two grains are wheat and barley and there are three similar grains in addition.
  2. Ashkenazim (Jews that originate from European countries) also do not eat Kitniyot, which are beans and grains that have similar characteristics to the five grains. This Minhag begins at sunset of the first night of Passover.
  3. Sephardim and Ashkenazim differ in another item. Sephardim may eat flour from the five grains that is mixed or baked with pure fruit juices and/or eggs. The flour must be special flour that never came in contact with water, from the time the grain was cut. Ashkenazim only allow it for their sick and elderly. This Minhag also begins at sunset of the first night of Passover for Ashkenazim.
  4. Each person must follow their father’s Minhag, with the exception of married women who must follow her husband’s Minhag.
  5. Chametz is Batel (considered irrelevant) when it is 1/60th or less of a food item, only when mixed before Pesach. Kitniyot are Batel in Rov; that means if 51% is non-Kitniyot, it is permitted. This only applies if it was not identifiable by itself. For example; the beans in a bean soup cannot be eaten, but the soup itself is fine. You cannot deliberately mix a food that is prohibited in order to make Bitul.
  6. Kosher for Passover food containers that are open can be used on Passover as long as they are clean (spices etc.).
  7. Items that are not edible (Aino Raui LeAchilah) are not an issue for Chametz. (Examples: Shoe Polish, glue, lipstick, preservatives, whey, soap, Shampoo, etc…).
  8. Please look at our “Pesach List” for a food listing of available items that we have approved for Passover.

Erev Pesach (eve of Passover)

  1. At the start of the night of the fourteenth day of Nisan, which is the night before Passover, every Jew is required to check their property for any Chametz. We are not searching for crumbs, but rather for a substantial piece, like a pretzel or a cookie. Spring-cleaning is nice, but not required as a part of Passover.
  2. We make a Beracha of “Al Biur Chametz,” and we check all places that we expect normally to bring in Chametz. This includes our homes, cars, boats, and offices.
  3. There is a custom to hide ten pieces of bread before beginning to check.
  4. Books do not need to be checked.
  5. Garbage cans, vacuum cleaner bags don’t need to be checked.
  6. Only places that are accessible need to be checked. For example, you don’t have to check behind the refrigerator.
  7. Checking should be done with sufficient lighting, and if necessary with the use of a flashlight. (Save the candle, the wooden spoon, and the feather for a puppet show!)
  8. After the checking is complete, put the Chametz that you still plan to use in a special cabinet or box and say “Kol Chamirah…(look in the Hagadah).
  9. Someone who will be traveling 30 days before Passover & will not be returning until afterwards, does not need to check at all. Otherwise, they must check the night before they are leaving without a Beracha.
  10. In the morning of Erev Pesach, Chametz becomes prohibited to eat after a third of the day, as listed on your calendar.
  11. Within the next hour you must completely rid your possessions of all Chametz. It can be burned, flushed, broken up and thrown to the wind, or you can put it in your trashcan and put the can at the curb.
  12. Selling your Chametz is an acceptable option, but must be done by a qualified Rabbi. Whatever you sell must be locked away for the duration of Passover.
  13. A non-Jewish employee at a Jewish owned company can bring and eat Chametz as usual.
  14. Getting benefit from Chametz by feeding to a pet, working at a restaurant, and the like is prohibited.
  15. Laws about koshering your kitchen can be found on a separate page. Laws of Koshering (Hag’alah & Libun)
  16. Koshering on Erev Pesach must be done before the time listed on your calendar.
  17. It is our custom that each first-born male fasts on Erev Pesach. This fast can be broken on the event of a Siyum, which is a celebration made when someone completes an entire portion of Torah study. This is all part of the tradition.
  18. It is prohibited to eat Matzah the entire day, in order that the Matzah eaten at the Seder table should be special.
  19. Before sundown, we light candles like every Erev Shabbat. We recite the blessing “Lehadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov”. We do not light candles on the second night. The same is true for the second days of Passover.

Pesach (Passover) and the Seder

  1. On Passover, the only bread we may eat is known as Matzah. It is baked with special requirements, and can be made by hand or machine. It is important to purchase Matzah only from a reliable source.
  2. The blessing (Berachah) on Matzah is Hamotzie, and afterwards we make Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals). A simplified version of Birkat Hamazon is available on this website (Grace After Meals).
  3. Passover is a time to bring out your finest dinnerware to commemorate our redemption from Egypt.
  4. During the Seder, men should sit leaning to their left side for the four cups of wine and the eating of the Matzah. This is another commemoration to our redemption. If you are not used to leaning and it is uncomfortable for you, you may eat and drink without leaning.
  5. It is required to drink four cups of wine at the Seder table (in Israel, only the first night) which can be any wine or grape juice; cooked, uncooked, white, or red. The purpose is to enjoy the holiday, and your personal preference is most important. If however, you have an equal choice between a white or red wine, the red is preferable.
  6. The strictest measurement for each of the four cups is one that holds 5.3 ounces. Preferably one should drink the entire cup or at least the majority. If one finds it difficult, the minimum requirement is to drink approximately two ounces.
  7. Follow a standard Hagadah for the basics of the Seder. Each person should try to use one closest to his family’s traditions.
  8. “Karpas” means celery, but any vegetable is acceptable.
  9. The ideal vegetable for Maror is anything in the lettuce family.
  10. “Charoset” is made from dates, pomegranates, walnuts, cinnamon, wine, & apples. It should be somewhat liquefied, and it’s best to add a little more wine before using it, in order to be able to dip the Maror into it.
  11. The measurement for a “Kazayit,” which is the size of the Matzah and Maror required to be eaten at different periods during the Seder, is about 1/6th of a square machine Matzah. For round handmade ones, use your judgment, since each one is a little different. This is with the exception of the first Matzah eating each Seder night, which is a Torah requirement, and therefore one should eat 1/3rd of a square machine Matzah.
  12. After we eat the Afikoman, we may not eat anything until morning. Drinking water or juice is okay.
  13. Preferably one must finish Hallel before Chatzot (as listed on your calendar).

After Passover

  1. After Passover we cannot eat any Chametz that we know was owned by an observant Jew during Passover as a penalty for not getting rid of it.
  2. This is a Rabbinical Gezera (decree) and therefore if one is unsure of the status of Chametz after Passover, it is permitted without extensive research. Therefore, all stores, groceries, supermarkets, convenience stores, and the like are automatically permitted immediately after the holiday.