As we prepare our homes, and cleanse them form Hamess, we diligently search for every piece of Hamess and remove it. We toil hard and spend days and weeks making sure that all our property is completely free of Hamess. We feel as though this hard work that we put in is indeed a remembrance of our slavery in Egypt.
Pesah should be an occasion not only to cleanse our property of Hamess but also to search within ourselves our own spiritual Hamess, to identify it, to take control of it, to dispose of it and thereby cleanse ourselves from it. As Hamess represents pride, arrogance and haughtiness, massa in contrast to that, represents modesty, humbleness and humility.
Pesah is a holiday of inclusion, as we proclaim in the Haggada: “Kol Dikhfin Yete Veyekhol – Kol Disrikh Yete Veyifsah”—“ All who are hungry let them come and eat, all those in need let them come and celebrate Passover.” It is only through modesty, humbleness and humility that we can empathize with those in need.
During this season of redemption, let us pray for all of us and our brethren throughout the world and especially those in the Land of Israel, that we may see the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the redemption of our people.
My best wishes to you and your families for a happy Passover. Tizku LeShanim Rabbot!
Selected Laws and Customs of Passover
1. Bedikat Hamess – The Search For Leaven
On Thursday night March 29, Bedikat Hamess begins after 7:45 pm. Search the home for bread or any hamess by the light of a single candle. All rooms must be thoroughly cleaned before the search is conducted. Distribute 10 pieces of bread and place them in various rooms that are to be searched. During the search, collect these 10 pieces and place them on a plate together with all other hamess planned to be burned the next morning. Consult the Mahzor or Haggada for further instructions as needed. If you are going away for the holidays within 30 days before Passover, you must remove all hamess and make Bedikat Hamess the night before you depart. No blessing is recited if the search is performed before March 29.
Recite the following blessing prior to the search:
BARUKH ATA A DO NAY ELO HENU MELEKH HA’ OLAM ASHER KIDESHANU BE-MISSVOTAV VESSIVANU AL BE’UR HAMESS
BLESSED ARE YOU, G-D KING OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO HAS SANCTIFIED US BY HIS COMMANDMENTS AND HAS COMMANDED US ABOUT BURNING THE HAMESS
The search should be conducted by the light of a wax candle containing a single wick. If this is not available, a flashlight may be substituted. For areas that a candle is not practical or may be dangerous, a flashlight is preferred.
Immediately after the search, one recites the following:
KAL HAMIRAH DE-EEKAH BIRSHOOTI D’LA HAZEETEH UD’LAH BEEARTEH L’BATEL VELE-HEVEH KE-AFRA DE-AR’AH.
“ALL LEAVENED FOODSTUFF, IN MY POSSESSION WHICH I HAVE NOT SEEN NOR REMOVED, SHALL BE ANNULLED AND CONSIDERED VOID LIKE THE DUST OF THE EARTH.”
2. Ta’anit Bekhorot – Fast of the Firstborn
On Friday, March 30 every first born male must fast or waive his fast obligation by attending a service of Siyum— a conclusion of aTractate of Talmud, and participate in a festive meal.
3. Siyum – Tractate Conclusion
Upon conclusion of a Tractate, cake and wine are served rendering the occasion a festive meal. The Siyum is usually held after Shahrit services on Friday, March 30. Every first-born male should attend services and participate in the Siyum in order to exempt themselves from fasting.
4. Last Hamess Meal
Refrain from eating Hamess after 10:11am on Friday morning March 30.
5. Mekhirat Hamess – Selling of the Hamess.
Hamess may not remain in the possession of a Jew during Passover. Hamess, therefore, must be either discarded or sold to a non-Jew. However, Hamess sold to a non-Jew may remain on the property of a Jew within a locked closet, freezer or a refrigerator inaccessible to the Jew during the holiday. Since selling the Hamess requires special knowledge of the Jewish law of sales, one may only sell their Hamess through a Rabbi. An authorization form is available on our website. Print it, filled it and returned to Rabbi Abadie so that it is received no later than Thursday March 29.
6. Bi’ur Hamess – The Burning of Leaven
Hamess must be burned or discarded no later than 11:22 am on Friday, March 30.
After burning the Hamess, one recites the following:
KAL HAMIRA DE EEKA BIR SHOOTI DEHAZITEH U’DELA HAZITEH, DE BEEARTEH U’DELA BEE-ARTEH LEE-BATEL VELEHEVEH KE-AFRA DE AR’AH.
“ALL LEAVENED FOODSTUFF IN MY POSSESSION WHETHER I HAVE SEEN THEM OR NOT, WHETHER I HAVE BURNED THEM OR NOT, SHALL BE ANNULLED AND CONSIDERED VOID, LIKE THE DUST OF THE EARTH.”
7. What is Considered Hamess
Hamess includes such articles as bread, cake, cookies, cereals, whisky, beer, candies, preserves, desserts, leavening, etc. or any food or drink made from or containing wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt or their derivatives.
8. General Kashering Regulations
The gas range should be scoured thoroughly and then heated to the glowing point by early Friday morning. Any dishes, silverware – excluding glassware – used all year are not to be used on Passover. Whenever possible, a complete set of special Pesah dishes, pots and silverware should be used. Any utensils used during the year in preparation and serving of food must be thoroughly cleansed and purged. For the proper procedure to be employed in the purging of utensils, please contact the Rabbi.
On both nights of the Seders, Kiddush should be recited after nightfall, which is approximately 20 minutes after sunset.
10. Counting of the Omer
Starting on the second night of Pesah – Saturday, March 31, the Omer should be counted until Shabuot. The counting should take place after nightfall, which is 20 minutes after sunset.
11. Morid Hattal – “Prayer for the Dew”
It is customary that on the first day of Passover we begin reciting “Morid Hattal” in the prayer of Musaf.
12. Barekhenu – “Prayer for Sustenance”
We begin reciting this prayer on Sunday night April 1, in the Amida of Arbit.
13. Erub Tabshilin
Our sages instituted Erub Tabshilin as a means to enable us to prepare food on the Friday of the Holiday for Shabbat. This year, the last day of the holiday falls on Shabbat and Erub Tabshilin is applicable. On Thursday afternoon, the Eve of Shebi’i Shel Pesah – the Eve of the Seventh Day of Pesah, prior to Yom Tob set aside a piece of massa and cooked food intended for Shabbat (i.e. a hard-boiled egg). Raise it and recite the following:
“BARUKH ATA ADO-NAY ELO-HENU MELEKH HA’OLAM ASHER KIDDESHANU BEMISSVOTAV VESSIVANU AL MISSVAT ERUB.”
“In accordance with the Law of Erub, it shall be permissible for us to bake, cook, prepare and do all necessary things for Shabbat during Yom Tob (the holiday).” Be sure to eat the massa and food by “Seuda Shelisheet” on Shabbat.
14. Tiqun Lel Shebi’i Shel Pesah
It is customary that on the eve of the 7th day of Passover, special prayers are recited throughout the night to commemorate the splitting of the Red Sea and the crossing of the sea by the Israelites on dry land.
Sale of Hamess
The power of selling any and all articles of Hamess left during the Passover Holiday must be delegated to the Rabbi who, in turn, will sell it to a non-Jew for you. This sale can definitely not be transacted by the ordinary layman as the procedure is complicated and must, therefore, be arranged only by a Rabbi. The Rabbi should be contacted a few days in advance. You may also print the form on our website www.mesny.org, fill it and forward it to Rabbi@mesny.org
Any Hamess retained for use after Pesah cannot be eaten nor derive benefot from it, unless it was sold through a Rabbi. It will have to be discarded.