PESACH 2023 פסח תשפ”ג
קהל אור צבי 

This compendium is dedicated for the רפואה שלמה of שרה בת דבורה

Please remember to make an Eiruv Tavshillin for the first days

We clean our homes of all chametz products because, on Pesach, even the ownership of chametz is forbidden. The main reason for this is that as we are accustomed to eating chametz year-round, we might, accidentally consume chametz on Pesach. We focus on accessible, edible chametz; inaccessible chametz is dealt with through bittul, i.e., the reciting of the nullification formula both after the bedika and before the chametz burning. Ripping out car seats to find inaccessible chametz crumbs is thus unnecessary.

Strictly speaking, all grain products, e.g., liquor, beer etc., ought to be disposed of before Pesach. But this is hard to do in a world in which people have large quantities of preserved chametz. So, for many years now, many rely on sources permitting the sale of chametz to a non-Jew. The chametz that will be sold is set aside in a segregated area and then legally transferred to non-Jewish ownership. Some don’t rely on this leniency and discard rather than sell their chametz. If you are spending Peach in a different time zone, your sale must reflect that, e.g. in Israel, Pesach starts seven hours earlier, so the sale must take place seven hours earlier.

Grain alcohol, a fermentation product, is chametz. Edible items containing grain alcohol such as whisky, are certainly forbidden. We are stringent with perfumes and with other liquid inedibles containing ethyl alcohol because that alcohol might be grain based. Such alcohol, even if denatured, i.e., inedible, can be reconstituted and would then be considered chametz. Inedible solid products containing grain alcohol (or any other chametz, for that matter), e.g., lotions, soaps, shampoo, shoe polish, ink, pure talc powder, cleansers etc. are permissible for Pesach use. Nevertheless, here too, given chumras Pesach, even inedible items that have a clear chametz base, i.e., wheat & oat based soaps, are best avoided.

The house has been thoroughly cleaned, but we still perform the rabbinic mitzva of searching for chametz on the night that precedes Pesach. The search this year occurs on Tuesday night, April 4th at 8:22. The beracha, al bi’ur chametz is said before searching. The beracha introduces both the search and the bittul, i.e., the nullification formula recited immediately after the search. The nullification is a halachic dissociation from any chametz overlooked during the search.

Don’t talk between the beracha and the beginning of the bedika. It is also best not to discuss matters extraneous to the bedika from the moment the beracha is made until the bedika and the subsequent nullification are complete. The search is carried out with a single-wick candle or a flashlight. The traditional feel of a candle and the safety and ease of a flashlight can be melded. Make the beracha, begin the bedika with a candle and, for the finer parts of the bedika and for the children who are assisting, use a flashlight.

Many rationales are offered for the minhag of some to place 10 pieces of bread before the search begins:
a) to add a level of excitement to the search.
b) to ensure that some bread is found so that the bedika beracha should thereby be validated.
c) to ascertain that chametz will remain for the burning / bittul the following morning.
Some find this tradition disconcerting because bandying chametz around the home right before Pesach is dangerous. Limit the potential problem of an unfound piece of chametz by limiting each of the 10 pieces of chametz to less than a kezayis (27 grams) each.

The pieces are gathered during the search. Upon concluding the search, the bittul (nullification formula) is recited. The bittul is found in most Haggados. People who don’t understand the Aramaic text of the bittul should familiarize themselves with the meaning of the text or recite the following translation of the Aramaic : “All leaven that is in my possession, whether, I have seen it, and whether, I have I have removed it, should be considered void and I relinquish my ownership of it. It should be considered as the dust of the ground.”


If you are leaving home for Pesach and won’t be home the night before Pesach, do the bedika at your home without a beracha the night before you leave. If you won’t be home for the entire Pesach you can “sell” large swaths of your home and clean and do a bedika on the “unsold part.” (Apprise your rav of the details to ensure the appropriate handling of particulars.) If you are in a hotel room the night before Pesach, do the bedika in the hotel room with a beracha, just as you would at home. If you are spending Pesach with friends or relatives and will be at their home the night before Pesach, then listen to the homeowner’s beracha and perform the bedika in your room. (Although you will recite the bittul formula, a verbal nullification is not reason enough to require a personal beracha.)

It is best to have special Pesach utensils. Earthenware and synthetic utensils are non-kasherable. Certain metal and glass utensils (not Pyrex or other types of glass that are used in the oven) may be kashered. Silverware, metal pots in which items are cooked via a liquid medium and metal table cutlery, can be kashered through standard hagalah, i.e., immersion in a keli rishon, a Pesach or a chametzdik pot that first goes through its own kashering process. To kasher the pot, first wait 24 hours since its last use. Then, fill the pot with water. Bring that water to a boil, allowing the water to boil over the pot’s rim. The pot has now been kashered. Fill the pot with water again and bring that water to a boil. Make sure that all rust and dirt have been removed from the utensils that you are kashering. Drop the utensils/cutlery (which should not have been used with anything hot for 24 hours), one by one, into the boiling water. Rinse the utensils/cutlery with cold water after the hagalah process has been completed. Knives with serrated edges or with attached handles or silverware with grooves that cannot be well cleaned are more difficult to kasher.

Standard glass used for hot foods is a matter of debate, with Ashkenazim veering towards stringency and equating glass with earthenware and Sephardim veering towards leniency. Drinking glasses that were not used for hot chametz can, in cases of necessity, be kashered through a milui ve-irui process, i.e., filling glasses with water for three 24-hour periods and changing the water for each one of those periods. Sinks, stovetops and all surfaces normally used for food should be readied for Pesach use. Metallic sink surfaces can be kashered. These surfaces must first be thoroughly cleaned and then dried. The sink should then remain unused for 24 hours. Take a chametzdik pot that had not been used in the past 24 hours and kasher it. Then fill the pot with water again and bring that water to a boil. The boiling water should be poured on all parts of the sink, including the faucet. The faucet should be swiveled to ensure that the boiling water reaches all of it, in its entirety. Sink filters with small mesh holes should be replaced; filters with large holes can be kashered with hot water. Enamel and Formica must be covered. Chametzdik dish racks, sink racks, washbasins and blechs should not be used.

Self-cleaning ovens should be thoroughly cleaned and kashered by running a self-clean cycle. Make sure to clean the areas of the oven which are not reached by the self-cleaning process, i.e., the edges and the sides of the door. Regular ovens should be cleaned thoroughly with an “Easy Off” type cleaner and set on the highest setting for an hour and a half.

Stovetop grates should be placed in a self-clean oven for a cycle (be careful-they might become discoloured) or burnt out on top of the stove by covering them with a kettle, blech or a layering of aluminum foil and turning on the flame full force for ten minutes. Ensure that the hot aluminum foil does not extend beyond the stovetop where it can touch, and possibly melt, the plastic knobs. When kashering grates, you can also kasher stainless steel between-the-grates stovetop areas as well. Before turning on the flames that will kasher the grates, cover the entire between-the-grates- area with aluminum foil. This way, the flames will heat – and kasher – that between-the-grates area as well. If the area is enamel, it should be covered for Pesach. Kashering/covering this area is necessary because a trickling overflow from food inside a pot might connect the food in the pot, to the unkashered chametzdik stovetop.

Glass stovetops are trickier because keeping them covered with a blech or with aluminum foil can cause small cracks in the glass. Kashering should, therefore, occur in one of the following ways. (a) After kashering the burners as previously outlined, run a blowtorch over the surface of the glass. Cracks can be avoided by quickly moving the torch back and forth over the entire surface so that there is a uniform rise in temperature. (b) Kasher the burner area only. Do this by turning on the burners, full force, for 10 minutes. The outlying areas of the stove will, nevertheless, not be kashered because the heat does not extend beyond the burner area. Given that the outlying area have not been kashered, it is important that cooking pots not extend – or that they not be slid – beyond the kashered burner area. There is, also, the “connecting trickle” problem when spills connect the food in the pot to the non-kashered stove top. A disc on the burner area addresses these issues. This disc lifts the pot off the stove top and creates a break between the pot and the stovetop.

Microwave ovens can be kashered, after a thorough cleaning (including the fan area!), by boiling water from a Pyrex dish inside the microwave until a thick steam permeates the entire microwave. Change/cover turntables (a sheet of Styrofoam works well here). Given the affordability of small microwave units, and the difficulty of cleaning the fan area, consider buying a special Pesach unit. Follow standard oven kashering procedures for convection microwave ovens that are also used in the convection mode. Follow microwave kashering procedures for convection microwaves that are never used in convection mode. As mentioned, all utensils should remain unused for the twenty-four-hour period that precedes their kashering. Warming drawers should not be kashered because the heat settings do not go high enough to effect kashering. The warming drawer should be cleaned, sealed, and not used for Pesach.

Broilers, barbecues, and griddles on which foods are broiled or roasted directly, must to be heated to a glow to effect kashering. This requires blowtorching (only to be done by people well acquainted with activity of the sort). Or replace the broiler pan and/or the barbeque grates. The empty broiler space must still be kashered by cleaning it and setting it to broil for an hour. The part of the barbecue which the food can touch (the part that is level with the grate) must also be kashered by heating it to a glow. If you are not kashering your broiler, you can still use your oven – just clean the broiler as you would anything else.

Ashkenazim do not eat legumes (kitniyos) – beans, corn, peas, rice, etc. and products containing them as ingredients, throughout Pesach. Some include peanuts in the ban; some also include kitniyos derivatives such as peanut oil. Follow your tradition. If you are unsure as to what your tradition is, you may be lenient with peanuts, peanut oil and the like. The kitniyos tradition arose because kitniyos were frequently stored together with grain. Alternatively, kitniyos were banned because flour and bread like items can be produced from legumes. Potatoes (from which potato starch is made) while included in the initial ban according to some, were permitted because of famine. Others claim that potatoes were not banned simply because they were unknown in Europe at the time the ban. Sephardic, Yemenite and Oriental Jewish customs vary from community to community. Imported Israeli foods containing kitniyos may be labelled Kosher for Pesach. There has been considerable discussion in our community about the use of quinoa, with established Rabbanim offering opinions on both sides of the debate. My pesak for the Clanton Park community is to allow the use of quinoa.

A troubling issue that I confront, Pesach after Pesach, (and for that matter, Yom Kippur after Yom Kippur) is the spectre of ill people refusing their medications because of that medication’s alleged chametz component(s). To reiterate a point that I have repeatedly made, few, if any non-chewable pills, contain chametz in their ingredient base. Even if they do contain chametz, non-chewable pills are swallowed; they are not eaten, and if they do not have a pleasant tasting coating, they offer no pleasure to the palate. All non-chewable, solid medications that do not have a pleasant tasting coating (most pills and all capsules) are permissible on Pesach, for any and all illnesses, for any and all people. They need no certification and channelling effort into researching the ingredient base of these pills exacerbates a climate in which ill people endanger their lives in a mistaken attempt at halachic observance. Most adult medications fall within the framework of this leniency. Vitamins are not to be included within the scope of this leniency, but I would permit vitamins ingested because of a clear medical need, e.g., prenatal pills.

Liquid or chewable medications are a wholly different matter. Such medications that contain chametz, are considered bona fide chametz because of their pleasant taste. Chametz liquid and chewable medications may nevertheless be used if medically necessary and if no adequate substitutes can be found. One needing such medications should purchase them before Pesach and consult a rav about how to store and how to consume such medications over the course of Pesach. Liquid and chewable medications that contain kitniyos but no chametz may be consumed by an ill person (ill to the point that one would be recuperating in bed) or by a young child who is facing even slight discomfort. The published Pesach lists are valuable in ascertaining the status of these medications. Please remember that there are additional issues involving the consumption of medicines on Shabbos and Yom Tov that require discussion with a competent halachic authority.

The three matzos are placed on the seder table to:
a) represent the three kinds of Jews: Kohen, Levi and Yisrael.
b) represent our three avos, our forefathers.
c) remind us that there are three times during the seder when matzah must be eaten – at the beginning of the seder meal, when the beracha over matzah is made, for the korech (Hillel Sandwich) when the matzah is eaten together with the maror, and at the end of the meal, for the afikoman.
At the beginning of the seder, the middle matzah is broken in two. The larger part , the afikoman, is hidden. The afikoman is eaten as a remembrance for the non-extant korban Pesach. The korban Pesach was eaten at the end of the meal. The afikoman is, therefore, also eaten at the end of the meal.

Matzah is prepared from the flour of grains that have not been washed, and have been processed under supervision, completely protected from any contact with water. Matzah must be made with mayim shelanu, water that has been stored overnight. The matzah can be manufactured either by hand or by machine. The dough must be pummeled constantly. If it is left idle for longer than 18 minutes it becomes chametz. It is rolled into thin sheets and then baked. All equipment used in the preparation of matzah must be constantly cleaned of dough crumbs, and the oven in which matzah is baked must be set at the proper baking temperature. Properly certified matzos are manufactured with care and are absolutely kosher. Nevertheless, it is important to use matzah shemura, which is “guarded matzah” for the seder. This is because there are opinions requiring the seder matzos to be produced lishmah, for the sake of the mitzva that is to be done with them. Matzah shemura can be either machine or hand baked. German Jews generally favour machine matzos; most other Jews favour the hand baked version.

Once matzah has been baked properly, leavening can no longer occur, and the product can no longer become chametz. Therefore, matzah products such as ground matzah meal, flour or farfel may be cooked in hot water, baked, or blended with any variety of Pesach ingredients. People who do not eat Gebrochts (they do not allow their matzah to come in contact with water) are concerned that there might be a small bit of raw flour that will become chametz if we expose it to water now.

Maror reminds us of bitter Jewish suffering at the hands of the Egyptians. Many people use grated horseradish. Many recommend grating the maror before Yom Tov begin, because of grinding issues. If did not have a chance to grate the maror before Yom Tov, grate your maror on Yom Tov with a shinui, i.e., a change in normal routine. The shinui can be achieved by holding the grater upside down or grating onto a piece of paper rather than onto a dish. Prepare the amount that is needed for that night only. Preparing extra for the following night would be a violation of hachana, i.e. preparing on Yom Tov for the next day. Maror that has soaked in liquid of any sort for more than 24 hours has its bitterness muted during the soaking process and is, therefore, disqualified. Commercially prepared horseradish that has water or vinegar added to it is unacceptable.

Many people use romaine lettuce which should be cleaned thoroughly. Do not allow the lettuce to soak in liquid for more than 24 hours. Therefore, if the second day maror supply was cleaned before Yom Tov do not allow it to soak over the first day and into the second. Wrap the washed maror in damp paper towels instead. Romaine lettuce, while not bitter, is soft at the edges and has a hard stalk in the middle. This situation is a perfect metaphor for the Egyptian exile. The Egyptian exile, comfortable at first, gradually grew harder and harder.

This is a symbol for the Pesach lamb, which we brought as a korban on the eve of Pesach. This offering needed to be roasted. One explanation for the required roasting is that poor people insist on boiling rather than roasting their meat because they want to make a broth out of the meat as well. They extract as much as they can from every piece of meat. Only wealthy people can afford to roast their meats, thereby wasting the broth. On Pesach, we are all “wealthy” and so the offering was roast. Today, given that we have no bais ha-mikdash, and consequentially no Pesach offering, we refrain from eating roast meat or fowl at the seder lest someone think that we are eating some sort of mock Pesach offering.

This symbolizes the festival offering, the chagiga. In the time of the bais ha-mikdash, the chagiga was brought on all holidays. The round egg, which can roll on and on, symbolizes the continuous circle of life, the constant flux from pain to joy and the reverse. The egg is therefore also an appropriate sign of mourning. This small symbol of mourning reminds us of the bais ha-mikdash and of the Pesach offering, both of which we sorely miss.

This is a mixture of nuts, cinnamon, apples and wine. It is a reminder of the clay the Jews used to make bricks to build for Pharaoh. The red wine reminds us of the spilled blood, the cinnamon sticks tell us about the straw Jews gathered for these bricks. The maror is dipped in the charoses to somewhat temper the maror’s bitterness. We then shake the charoses off the maror so that the charoses does not totally negate the maror’s bitterness. It is better to grate the fruits or nuts that will be added to the charoses mixture before Yom Tov and place them in the refrigerator. If you did not have a chance to grate before Yom Tov and are chopping the charoses on the first night of Yom Tov, only prepare the amount that you need for that night. Preparing extra for the following night would be a violation of hachana, i.e. preparing on Yom Tov for the next day.

A vegetable dipped into salt water. Prepare the salt water before Seder night. If you forgot to prepare the mixture before Seder night, then reverse the preparation process, i.e., place the salt in the bowl first, then add water. Also, if preparing the salt water on the first night, only prepare the amount that you need for that night. Preparing extra for the following night would be a violation of hachana, i.e. preparing on Yom Tov for the next day. The vegetable dipped in saltwater might symbolize the Jewish people who were “down and out” like a vegetable which is near the ground being immersed in the tears of Egyptian slavery. Alternatively, it might remind us of the Jews’ passing through the salt water of the Sea of Reeds. A primary reason for the karpas is that there is a question as to whether we make the ha-adama beracha on the maror. The doubt revolves around the fact that the maror is eaten during the meal, after we have already partaken of the matzah. Matzah exempts most items eaten during a normal meal. Items that are not part of a normal meal, i.e., wine, certain desserts, would require their own beracha. The maror can be viewed as normal, akin to a salad vegetable or unusual, i.e., a mitzvah item. And so, there is doubt as to whether you make a ha-adama on the maror. The ha-adama beracha that is made on the karpas, if it is used to exempt the maror of its beracha obligation, helps us resolve this issue. It is imperative, therefore, to have the maror in mind when the ha-adama beracha is made on the karpas.

The first cup of wine is the Kiddush. The second cup is taken at the end of the first of the three parts of the Seder. The third cup follows the bentching. The fourth cup is drunk at the end of the second part of the seder. The number four is used because Hashem used four different verbs, all of which signify redemption, when Moshe was sent to free the Jews. The number four also talks to us about our four imahos, our four matriarchs, and reminds us of feminine strength. We are being reminded about the extraordinary role that women (Pharaoh’s daughter who saved Moshe, the midwives who saved the Jewish children, Miriam who was responsible for Moshe’s birth) played in our redemption from Egypt.

Some authorities believe that there should be five rather than four cups of wine at the seder table. The fifth cup came to be known as the Cup of Eliyahu because the rabbonim of old left the resolution of all unresolved questions to await the coming of the prophet Eliyahu and the Messianic era that he will bring. All our halachic questions, including our debate as to whether we do or don’t need the fifth cup, will be resolved during that Messianic period. The custom of setting up a cup for Eliyahu led to the custom of opening the door during the seder for the entrance of this great prophet.

In ancient times, it was customary for royalty to recline during meals. On Pesach night, we are all royalty. It is obligatory to eat the joyous, critical parts of the seder, i.e. the four cups and the matzah, while reclining to the left. The maror, on the other hand, because of its connotations of slavery, is not eaten in a reclining position. Ashkenazic women generally do not recline, Sephardic women generally do.


For the arba kosos and for Kiddush, the cup should hold at least 98 millilitres (3.3 US fl.oz.), of which you must drink most of the cup, 49 millilitres (1.7 US fl.oz.) for each of the arba kosos. If even 98 millilitres are too much, use a cup that contains 86 millilitres (2.9 US fl.oz.). Here too, you drink most of each cup, i.e. 43 millilitres (1.5 US fl.oz.).

When using a cup larger than the minimum shiur can, you can still address your obligations by drinking most of the shiur, i.e., the same 49 millilitres (1.7 US fl.oz.), rather than drinking most of the actual cup. It is better, though, to drink most of the actual cup, i.e., 4.1 US fl.ozs. from an 8 US fl.oz. cup, and better yet to drink the entire cup, which would mean drinking all 8 US fl.ozs. from an 8 US fl.oz. Consuming so much wine is taxing. It is therefore best to use smaller cups. 100 millilitre or, if necessary, 90 millilitre sherry glasses. These smaller cups allow you to comfortably drink the entire cup for each of the arba kosos.

1. Undiluted wine is best for the arba kosos. The variety of low alcohol wines now available allow one to drink the arba kosos without becoming intoxicated in the process. (Some are halachically stringent and use unsweetened non-mevushal red wines for the four cups. Those following this stringency should be aware that the rationale for this stringency is applicable to year-round kiddush as well).
2. If necessary, you may mix the wine with grape juice.
3. If necessary, Ashkenazim may dilute wine with water but make sure to have a more than 1/4-cup wine to 3/4 cup water. Sephardim should never dilute the mixture with more than 1/4 water.
4. If necessary, you may use grape juice instead of wine. Wine is preferred, though, because intoxicating wine more aptly captures the “freedom” idea of Pesach.
(NOTE – The beracha upon all these mixtures is hagafen.)

You must eat the minimum amount of matzah shemura three times during the seder:
1) After the beracha al achilas matzah. This is the primary eating of matzah; e.g., this is a Torah commandment. Try to eat 2/3 of a machine matzah or 1/2 of a hand-baked matzah, but if necessary, you can be lenient and use 1/3 of a machine matzah or 1/4 of a hand-baked matzah. The matzah should be eaten within a two-minute time span or if necessary, a four-minute time span.
2) For korech, when we eat matzah and maror together in a sandwich, 1/3 of a machine matzah or 1/4 of a hand-baked matzah suffices.
3) The afikoman is also considered very important and it is therefore best to eat 2/3 of a machine matzah or 1/2 of a hand-baked matzah.

If you cannot eat matzah, then matzah shemura meal (upon which you are permitted to recite ha’motzi) is substituted as follows:
1 & 3) After reciting the beracha, al achilas matzah and afikoman – an amount of meal that can be compacted into a vessel measuring 1.5 US fl.oz.
2) For korech – an amount of meal that can be compacted into a vessel holding 0.75 US fl.oz.

A minimum amount of maror is eaten twice during the seder. Once after the beracha, al achilas maror, and once for korech.

If using romaine lettuce (better than horseradish):
1. After reciting the beracha, al achilas maror enough stalks to cover an area of 3 by 5 inches.
If using pure, grated horseradish, use the following amounts:
1. After reciting the beracha, al achilas maror – an amount that can be compacted into a vessel measuring 1.1 US fl.oz.
2. For Korech – an amount that can be compacted into a vessel measuring 0.7 US fl.oz.

The seder is a time to bring our yiddishkeit alive. We do this by rereading and re-enacting the Exodus story. Discuss all aspects of the Exodus in detail. Don’t limit yourself to the Haggadah text. Discussion allows people to re-examine their connection with yiddishkeit and Hashem. We focus on the young children. This might be because the Egyptian decrees (such as the killing of newborn boys) were suffered inordinately by children. Children should participate in the seder to the extent of their ability. It is important that they nap beforehand so that they (and we) can enjoy the seder. In addition to the Four Questions, children should be encouraged to drink the Four Cups, eat the maror and matzah, and ask questions about Jewish life.

Care should be therefore taken when purchasing chametz after Pesach that this chametz should not have been in a Jew’s possession during Pesach.

A special thanks to the COR, the CRC, National Council of Young Israel, the Orthodox Union, the Star K, Nathan Kirsh, Daniel Orner, David Segal and David Spiegel, all of whose resources were accessed in developing this compendium.

A kasheren und zissen Pesach, Rabbi Yehoshua Weber