Friday, March 26, 2010

PESACH and Matza

11th of Nisan, 5770

We ate Matza upon our sudden departure from Egypt. We had no time to prepare anything for the journey, not even bread - so Matza brings the good memories of “rushing to freedom”.

On the other hand, when we were slaves in Egypt we ate every single day only Matza! (Ha lachma anyia di akhalu abahatana beara demisraim). Matza was conceived by the cruel Egyptians as the ideal food for their Jewish slaves. It was cheap, easy to prepare and lasted longer than regular bread in the slave’s stomachs. In our collective memory Matza also brings sad memories… to make bread you let the dough rest for approximately 10 minutes and only then you put it in the oven. In Egyptian captivity, the resting of the dough was skipped. Why? Because the Jewish slaves had to work without a pause. The Egyptians were not willing to concede the Jewish slaves the time that would allow the dough to raise and to be made into bread, because the Jews were not allowed to have even ten minutes to rest from work....

During the Pesach Seder we revive and literally "taste" the bitter experience of slavery and the sweetness of freedom. There are two types of symbols in the Seder: Maror (bitter leaves), Charoset (or Haligh), and vinegar, all reminders of a cruel slavery. On the other hand, four cups of wine, seating reclined –slaves use to seat on the floor – are symbols of freedom and liberty.

The Matza is unique because it represents both: slavery and freedom.

We celebrate our freedom, but without forgetting our suffering.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


10th of Nisan, 5770

“Vehigadta lebinkha bayom hahu…” the Torah instructs us to educate our children telling them the story of Pesach. This is why we have the Seder. The Seder is a very important moment in our lives as Jews. And as families. We are all reunited with our immediate and extended family to remember the slavery, celebrate our freedom and thank HaShem Almighty for saving and protecting us.

The Seder needs to be educational and at the same time… entertaining or at least , participative. If people are bored, then they will talk and kill the spirit of this night … . But, how you get the attention of children who belong to the X-Box generation?

I want to share with you an idea:

Send and email NOW to every family member, your spouse, your children, brothers and those who will attend your Seder. Divide the Hagada and ask every one of them to prepare one specific part: you read this, you explain that, you sing this, you play that (in my house the pick of the night is when the youngest children roll play the 10 Makkot for all of as!). The secret, as always, is anticipation. Do it today, so everyone can be prepared to do something. Suggest them to find some ideas or explanations in, and other Jewish web sites.

I want to share with you a beautiful real email that was sent by a very young member of our community to his friends and family members, inviting them to be prepared for the Seder.

I'm very excited to come home for this year's seder.
We will be having a FUN, MEANINGFUL AND EDUCATIONAL seder!
- You must read this "Seder in a Nutshell" from -
- Jamie - you have to remember or find out the tune to Chad Gadiah . (no improve this year.)
- Whoever is hosting the seder, don't forget to buy a lot of wine.
- Anyone who can, please put together something nice to say--a story from previous seders, or what seder's were like in Iran, stories about mamanjoon or babajoon, or some nice insight you've learned about pesach)
- NO ONE is allowed to get up till THE END!!!!!!!!! Till we say "shanah ha baah be Yerushalyim" (NOT Miami Shirl!)
Everyone get into the Pesach mode!
Thank you for your cooperation in advance.

Remember: The more preparation you put into the Seder the more everyone will enjoy it.

Finally, given all the hard work women must do cleaning the house and preparing Seder, I would suggest the educational part should be organized mainly by the men of the family.

For more information about Bedika, Bitul, Selling the Chametz, Pesach out of town, etc, see:

For all general Pesach information and food lists and forms , see:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PESACH, disowning Chametz

9th of Nisan, 5770

As we’ve explained, there are two Biblical prohibitions (Lo-Yeare/Lo Ymatze) which proscribe us from “owning” Chametz during Pesach and one positive commandment to get -legally - rid of it. For practical reasons, our rabbis instructed to actually remove all Chametz from our properties, but we still perform one act by which we cover these 3 commandments at once.
Monday March 29th at night, after Bedikat Chametz, and in the following morning we do the Bitul Chametz: an oral declaration by which we state that if, unknown to us, any Chametz is still within our properties we renounce to its possession.
In this declaration we use the analogy Chametz/dust of the ground. Let me explain: If I have flowers in my property, I do care that no one will take them without my permission. The flowers are not ownerless. They are “mine”. If one day I don’t care anymore about those flowers, I might say: anyone can take these flowers. Halakhically the flowers are then HEFKER, “ownerless”. I’ve renounced to my possession.
There are some elements that by their nature are considered Hefker, we don’t claim possession of them, even if they are within my property. For example, “dust of the ground”, anyone can take some...
When in the Bitul we renounce to our possession of Chametz we say: “I declare any unseen Chametz that might have remained in my property to be owner-less (we should say "Hefker") like the dust of the ground”.
By saying the Bitul we perform one Positive Biblical commandment and we avoid two Biblical prohibitions in one single act!
For more information about Bedika, Bitul, Selling the Chametz, Pesach out of town, etc, see:

For all general Pesach information and food lists and forms , see:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PESACH, Searching for Chametz

8th of Nisan, 5770

After our house is clean of Chametz and ready for Pesach, the night before the Seder (Sunday March 28th ) we do the Bedikat Chametz, which is an “inspection” in which we search for any Chametz that might have remained unnoticed in our property after cleaning. With the aid of a candle or a flashlight, we search all spots in our house where we might have brought food. We should especially search the kitchen, food storage spaces, the pantry, the refrigerator, the freezer and all other places in which we usually store or keep food.

In the Bedika we’re looking specifically for Chametz “food” that we could have overlooked during the cleaning process, and not so much for Chametz crumbs that are anyway declared owner-less (“eliminated”)” by the Bitul (See BH tomorrow). The Sepharadim, then, do not have any tradition regarding the use of a feather and/or a knife, which is essentially part of the Ashkenazi -or Kabbalistic- approach which emphasizes the mystical symbolism of Chametz.

It is customary among some families in our community to place some Chametz, for instance 10 pieces of well-wrapped bread, at certain locations before proceeding to do the Bedika.

We should search our house, offices, workplaces and even cars, since it is not uncommon to bring food or a snack to these places. Cars should be washed and cleaned before the night of the Bedika and then they should be searched for any Chametz, usually after we search our homes.


For a timetable Bedikat Chametz chart etc, see:

To download Mekhirat Chametz (selling of Chametz) form see:

Monday, March 22, 2010

PESACH, Owning Chametz

7th of Nisan, 5770

The prohibition of Chametz is one of the strictest proscriptions of the Torah, and significantly, one of the best-kept traditions by Jews worldwide. The Mashadi Community is extraordinarily careful in fulfilling this Mitzvah. In our Community women spend “literally” months cleaning their houses for Pesach, following a strong ancient Mashadi tradition of adherence to the highest standards for this Mitzvah.

What is exceptional about the prohibition of Chametz is that, unlike any other forbidden food, it includes the ban of its “possession”. Possession is purely a “legal” concept. During Pesach it is forbidden to possess Chametz, even though we don’t see it or even if it is not physically within our property. During Pesach, there cannot be any Chametz which belongs to us.

Therefore, there are four steps we follow to strictly avoid this Biblical prohibition: First, we clean our houses, cars, offices, etc. before Pesach. Second, we have to search all our properties to make sure that we have removed everything Chametz from them (Bedikat Chametz). Third, we have to physically dispose or get rid of any Chametz found in our properties (Biur Chametz) and fourth, we perform a verbal legal declaration stating that whatever Chametz we may own anywhere, we renounce to its possession and from now on, it is considered owner-less and it does not belong to us anymore (Bitul Chametz).