“Oh, Crap! Pesach is Coming.”

Let’s be honest, the hearts of many Jews – especially those of women – sink with the approach of Pesah on the calendar. The cleaning, the seders, the menu-planning, the expensive food, the kashering, the cleaning – did I mention the cleaning? Instead of welcoming it with excitement and joy as “Zeman Heruthenu – The Time of Our Freedom,” many – because of the intense amount of work, the obsessive definition(s) of hamess, and the ever-growing mountain of humroth – see it on the horizon and whisper to themselves, “Oh, crap! Pesach is coming.” What was once a time of joy has now largely become a time of drudgery. This is why spending the holiday in a Florida hotel somewhere is so appealing.

Some who are reading this may find my title a bit abrupt and possibly a little offensive, but if we are honest we know that it matches the feelings of many men and women regarding this time of year. So, what happened? How did the Jewish people get here? The answer is at once simple and complex; simple, in that all areas of frustration share a common root, and complex, in that the answer contains many parts that developed over more than a thousand years of Jewish history.

Several years ago, after hearing from my wife and many other women (and men, but for different reasons) about their general displeasure with Pesah, I made it my business to change Pesah in our home forever. Now, my wife loves Pesah and actually looks forward to it. This was made possible by meqoriyuth – an honest assessment of the sources. It is my hope that this change can take place in other homes as well.

Over the next month, I would like to address some of these frustrations and re-evaluate many areas of the halakhoth of Pesah in light of the Rambam and other sources. This series will not be exhaustive by any means, as such as undertaking would be incredibly difficult within the span of a month, but it will touch on the main areas of the issue in a practical way in an attempt to revise the common view of Pesah, hamess, the sedher, etc.

More later,

Kol tuv,

YB

4 thoughts on ““Oh, Crap! Pesach is Coming.”

  1. I was going to ask you which items REALLY have hametz in them – such as, do I have to get all new spices? Do I have to get rid of open boxes of obviously non-hametz foods “because of the hametz in the air all year”? My husband wants to get rid of all the hametz in the house this year and NOT to have to “sell” it.

    Thank you for starting this series. I will be following it; and my husband likes the articles I’ve forwarded on to him. I’ll let him know about this series, too.

    All the very best to you and yours!

    Like

    • לק”י

      Shalom again, Hawa.

      Glad you are looking forward to the series. It will be less in-depth than some of my articles simply due to the depth of the material, however my goal is to get practical information out that can be used easily in making Pesah more enjoyable and reasonable.

      Briefly, regarding open obviously non-hamess foods, you do not need to get rid of them. Rather, just setting them aside until after the holiday would be best. There is no such thing – as regards the halakhah – as “hamess in the air.” This is one of the urban myths that rabbis do not correct because they hope that it will lead people to be more careful. Instead, it leads to an undeniable OCD. If the spores in the air were to be of concern, then we would not be able to eat anything at all during the holiday. Remember, this is Pesah, not Ramadan.

      Also, with regard to spices, it depends on where they were purchased. If you buy such things in the shuq and they are side by side with flour(s), but there is no visible flour, then perhaps you should set them aside until after the holiday. However, if you buy spices in containers which list the ingredients as pure spices – especially those from the US and Europe – they there is no need to buy new ones and those which you have may be used on the holiday without worry. If, for some reason, your spice containers are full of dough and flour (as they often are in my house) then simply wipe them off and set them aside until after Pesah. But clean, contained, 100% spices, are perfectly fine to use from before the beginning of Pesah.

      Selling hamess is reserved for cases of great loss or possible lack of food after the holiday. A baker whose livelihood would be in danger if he got rid of everything can make a real halakhic sale. The original baraytha that discusses this subject uses a Jew on a sea voyage who needs to sell his rations for the week to a non-Jewish passenger and then buy them back after the holiday so he can have food. The “sales” that take place today are shameful and nonsensical. Putting them under your sink and claiming that a goy somewhere in the city – whom you have never met – owns all of the food in your house, is silly to any thinking person. The best thing to do is to stop purchasing much hamess after Puriym and then either throw the remainder away, give it to a non-Jew (or a food shelf), and burn the small remainders.

      More to come. All the best to you and your family as well.

      Kol tuv,

      YB

      Like

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