Friday, March 30, 2012

Declaring our Chametz ownerless

Bitul Chametz (declaring our Chametz ownerless)

After searching for any left overs of Chametz (see HERE Bediqat Chametz) Thursday April 5th at night we pronounce the first declaration of Bitul Chametz:

"Kal Chamira Deika Birshuti Dela Chaziteh Udela Biarteh Libtil Veleheve (Hefker) Keafra Deara"

The translation is:
"All kind of Chametz or fermenting agent that belongs to me, that I haven't seen or that I haven't eliminated, should be considered ownerless, as the dust of the earth."

The reason for the Bitul is the following: as we've already said, during Pesach the ownership or possession of Chametz is forbidden, even if our Chametz is hidden or even if it is not in our house. During Pesach there cannot be any Chametz that belong to us. Therefore, through this statement (bitul) we renounce our ownership of any Chametz that belong to us and that involuntarily we might not have found or removed. Technically speaking, the Chametz will become subsequently ownerless, like the dust of the earth. Therefore, even if any Chametz is still found in our property, is not ours anymore. 

For this declaration to be valid, it is necessary to understand every word we are uttering. Thus, one should say it in a language he or she understands. To become absolutely conscious of this declaration, our Sages recommended repeating it three times.

Bi'ur Chametz (Getting Rid of Chametz)

The following day, Friday April 6th, in the morning, after we finish eating Chametz (in our community, every year we stop eating Chametz at 10.00 AM), we take the Chametz found last night together with all the leftover of the Chametz that remained from our last meal and we proceed to its physical elimination (bi'ur). This can be done by burning the Chametz in a safe place, but it can also be done by disposing it, or throwing it in a lake or a river to the fish or by feeding it to the birds. After we disposed of our Chametz  we pronounce once again the Bitul. This time the declaration is more comprehensive. It includes not just the Chametz that we have not seen or that we do not know about, but also the Chametz that we have seen and found:

"Kal Chamira Deika Birshuti Dechaziteh Udela Chaziteh Debiarteh Udela Biarteh Libtil Veleheve (Hefker) Keafra Deara"

The translation is:

"All kind of Chametz or fermenting agent that belongs to me, that I have or have not seen and that I have or have not eliminated, should be considered ownerless, as the dust of the earth."

This last Bitul must be done Friday April 6th, before 11.00 A.M. (the fifth hour of the day). Once this Bitul is done no more contact with Chametz is allowed until Pesach is over.

Shabbat Shalom!

Candle lighting in NYC: 7:00 PM

Shabbat ends in NYC: 8:09 PM

Click HERE to read the complete Printable Sephardic Guide for Pesach 2012 and all other Pesach links

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bediqat Chametz, last inspection of Chametz (and Pesach out of town).

The night before the Seder, when the first three stars are visible and once our house is clean of Chametz and ready for Pesach, we do the Bediqat Chametz, which is the last inspection in which we search for any Chametz food that might have remained involuntarily in our property after cleaning.
This year, 5772/2012, the night of the Bediqa will be Thursday April 5th, after 8:00 P.M. That night, with the aid of a candle or a flashlight, we search all spots in our house where we might have brought and/or stored food. We should especially search the kitchen, food storage rooms, the pantry, the refrigerator, the freezer and all other places in which we might have eaten or kept food. In the Bediqa we are looking especially for Chametz "food" that we could have overlooked during the cleaning process, and not so much for Chametz 'crumbs', which will be rendered hefker--ownerless--by the Bitul (See yesterdays HOTD). 

Attention should be given also to cars, since it is not uncommon to eat or keep snacks in a car. Cars should be washed and cleaned before the night of the Bediqa and then we should search them usually after we search our homes. We should also search our office or place of work, because we often bring food there. If it is impossible to search these places right after we do the Bediqa at home, it should be done before the Bediqa or early in the morning of the following day.

When a family spends Pesach out of town, the cleaning and the last Chametz inspection (Bediqa) of the main house should be done the night before leaving home, without saying any berakha. The Chametz found should be disposed, giving to a gentile or sold. The night of the Bediqa, Thursday April 5th, the family should search for Chametz again, but this time with the berakha, in the house or in the Hotel room where the family will stay for Pesach.

√ For Minhaguim of SEFIRAT HAOMER see HERE

√ Watch HERE why is important to learn Hilkhot Pesach

√ Click HERE to download the list of products authorized for Pesach 5772.
√ For a comprehensive Passover guide and an extensive list of products which follows the Ashkenazi tradition please click HERE .

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Understanding the prohibition of owning Chametz during Pesach

What makes the prohibition of Chametz so unique is that, unlike any other forbidden foods, it includes the ban of itspossession.  There are three Mitzvot in the Torah related to this prohibition: bal year-e and bal ymatze (Chametz, 'shall not be seen', and 'shall not be found'=We can not own Chametz during Pesach), and tashbitu (disown, dispossess of your Chametz before Pesach begins). There are two identical prohibitions (also an exceptional case!) and one positive commandment virtually for the same issue: owing Chametz during Pesach.

Strictly speaking, these three Mitzvot would be fulfilled at once by the 'bitul'. A verbal declaration by which we renounce to the ownership of any Chametz that belong to us, regardless of where that Chametz is located.

But the Chakhamim explained that there are some practical issues with just declaring our Chametz owner-less. First, we may declarethat we do not own anymore our Chametz, but, if we posses something valuable, will we really mean that we renounce to its possession? Second, Chametz is the most common food, so even if we declare it owner-less, keeping any edible Chametz at home, might cause us to eating it accidentally...

This is why they instructed us to dipose of our Chametz before Pesach. 

There are four steps, then, that we should take to fulfill the Biblical commandments and the rabbinical instruction: 

1. We clean our houses, cars, offices and other properties before Pesach to identify and remove all chametz from our properties. 

2. We run a final search all our properties to make sure that we have removed everything Chametz from them (Bedikat Chametz). 

3. We physically dispose or get rid of any Chametz found in our properties before and during the Bedika (Bi'ur Chametz). 

4. Then, we declare and state that whatever Chametz we may still own anywhere, which was not detected and eliminated by us, does not belong to us anymore and from now on it is considered ownerless (hefker) as the dust of the earth (Bitul Chametz).
We will explain each one of these steps, B'H, in the coming HOTD.
√ For Minhaguim of SEFIRAT HAOMER see HERE

√ Click HERE to download the list of products authorized for Pesach 5772.
√ For a comprehensive Passover guide and an extensive list of products which follows the Ashkenazi tradition please click HERE .

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting your kitchen ready for Pesach (part 2 of 2)

During Pesach, it is forbidden to use the same cooking utensils or tableware that was used year-round for Chametz. Even when the vessels are superficially clean, the Chametz absorbed in the walls, will be reabsorbed in the Pesach food (noten ta'am). It is customary and most recommendable, then, to have a separate set of cookware and tableware for Pesach. If this is not possible, one can still use some of the year round utensils after a process called:hag'ala, which is a form of sterilization that serves to eliminate any particles of Chametz absorbed in the utensils' walls.

All  types of hag'ala follow one single principle: kebol'o kakh polto, which means that the expulsion of any substance absorbed in the walls of a utensil, will occur in the same way that those particles were absorbed there in the first place. The process of hag'ala, then, is different for each type of utensil, depending on the material from which it is made, the way it is normally used, way of cooking, etc.

Some examples of hag'ala

Glass: According to the Sephardic Minhag, any clear-glass utensils like cups or plates used throughout the year for Chametz should be thoroughly washed and they can then be used for Pesach without any further hag'ala. (Since glass does not absorb, it would not reabsorb back any Chametz particles).

Metal: Forks, spoons or knives should be thoroughly cleaned and then immersed in a pot of boiling water. Then, they are washed with cold water and can be used for Pesach. It is preferable, wherever possible, to perform the hag'ala only after the utensils have not been used for twenty-four hours.

Porcelain: Ceramic, pottery or porcelain china and tableware which was used throughout the year for Chametz are not suitable for Pesach. In other words hag'ala does not sterilize them; therefore they cannot be used for Pesach. 

These are only some examples of hag'ala. Ask a Rabbi for more details.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting your kitchen ready for Pesach

Dishwasher: After you thoroughly clean the dishwasher, run it on a complete cycle without dishes but with detergent (For priceless information about a perfect cleaning for your dishwasher see THIS). Then the dishwasher becomes Kosher for Pesach. Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Hayim (Shelita) recommends when possible to replace the dishwasher racks or to use an added base to cover the year round racks. In any case, you need to make sure that no Chametz residue got stuck in the dishwasher racks or elsewhere.
Oven: The oven should not be used for 24 hours. Then you must clean it thoroughly and, if it is a self-cleaning oven, you run one self-cleaning cycle and the oven is Kosher for Pesach. If it is not a self-cleaning oven, after you thoroughly clean it, let the oven run on the highest temperature setting for approximately one hour, including the racks, then the oven is Kosher for Pesach.

Microwave: Take a bowl of water, with some detergent or soap in it, and then let it boil in the microwave until the microwave walls are filled with its steam. The vapor penetrates the walls rendering the microwave Kosher for Pesach. If you can't do this and you need to use a year round microwave for Pesach, cover completely the food with a container or any other hermetic microwavable covers.

Refrigerator/freezer: Clean it and wash thoroughly each of its parts, making sure there are not chametz left-overs stored or stuck in its walls.

Sink and countertops: The sink, even when made of porcelain, clean and pour on it boiling water. Countertops clean and pour on them boiling water. If that is not possible they should be covered to use them for Pesach. For a regular table, after it is cleaned, just cover it with a new or a Pesach tablecloth.