Assorted Pesach Issues
Question: Is it halachically acceptable to celebrate Pesach away from home
after selling one’s home with all of its chametz contents to a non-Jew?
Discussion: Anyone who owns chametz is obligated to get rid of it before
Pesach begins. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: By destroying
it or by selling it [or giving it away] to a non-Jew. Either way,
one fulfills his basic obligation and does not transgress the Biblical
injunction against owning any chametz.
But there is something else to consider: The Rabbis obligated each person
to search for chametz on the night before Pesach. [If one leaves town before
that time, he is still obligated to search for chametz the night before he
leaves, although no blessing is recited for that search.] In the opinion of
many poskim, the search for chametz is obligatory whether or not one owns
his chametz by the time Pesach arrives, since once the rabbinic ordinance
was enacted, it cannot be abrogated regardless of the circumstances.
Consequently, selling the house to a non-Jew does not free one from his
personal obligation to search for chametz.
A solution to this problem is to set aside one room in the house, even
a small one, and not sell it to the non-Jew along with the rest of the
house. That room should be cleaned for Pesach and thoroughly searched for
chametz on the night before Pesach, with the proper blessing recited for the
bedikah. One who will have already gone out of town by the night before
Pesach should follow the same procedure on the night before he leaves—but he
may not recite a blessing on the bedikah.
Question: How extensive does the search for chametz have to be? How is it
possible to thoroughly search a whole house in a short period of time?
Discussion: Halachically speaking, an extensive and thorough search is
required in any place where chametz may have been brought during the past
year. Since it is almost impossible to properly check an entire house in
a short period of time, some people actually spend many hours checking and
searching their houses on the night of bedikas chametz, often devoting a
good part of the night to the bedikah. But most people cannot—or do
not—spend so much time searching their homes for chametz. How, then, do they
fulfill this obligation?
Several poskim find justification (limud zechus) for the laxer version of
bedikas chametz, as the house has undergone many weeks of meticulous
pre-Pesach cleaning and scrubbing and there is no vestige of chametz around.
Once the rooms of the house have been cleaned, they may be halachically
considered as “a place into which no chametz has been brought.” While
checking and searching is still required in order to ascertain that no spot
in the house was overlooked, the search need not be as thorough and exacting
as if no cleaning had been done.
A better suggestion—for those who do not do a meticulous search on the
night before Pesach—is to do partial searches earlier. As soon as a certain
area in the house is cleaned, the area should be carefully checked for
chametz—either at night using a flashlight or in the daytime by natural
light. The wife or an older child can be entrusted with this search. If the
house is checked in stages, then an exhaustive search need not be repeated
on the night before Pesach in the areas that were already checked, provided
that it is certain that no new chametz was carried into those areas.
Question: Is it permitted to get a haircut or do laundry on erev Pesach
after midday (chatzos)?
Discussion: It is forbidden to do melachah, “work,” even if it is needed for
Yom Tov, on erev Pesach after chatzos. Two basic reasons are given for
this rabbinic prohibition: 1) When the Beis ha-Mikdash stood, erev Pesach
was considered a Yom Tov, since the Korban Pesach was brought on that day.
It retains the status of Yom Tov today even though the Korban Pesach is no
longer offered. 2) To give everyone a chance to properly prepare for
Certain forms of personal grooming and certain households chores that are
halachically classified as “work” are forbidden to be done on erev Pesach
after chatzos. Thus it is forbidden to get a haircut or a shave, to sew
new clothing or to do laundry on erev Pesach after chatzos. One
must arrange his schedule so that these tasks are completed before midday.
L’chatchilah, one should even cut his nails before chatzos.
If, b’diavad, one could not or did not take care of these matters before
midday, some of them may still be done while others may not: sewing or
completing the sewing of new clothes may not be done at all; a haircut and
shave may be taken only at a non-Jewish barber; laundry may be done only by
a non-Jewish maid or dry cleaner. Other chores, such as ironing
clothes, polishing shoes, cutting nails, sewing buttons and other minor
mending, may be done with no restrictions.
Question: What should be done if a package containing chametz arrives at
one’s home or business during Pesach?
Discussion: One who knows or suspects that the package may contain actual
chametz may not assume ownership of the package. If he can refuse to accept
the package, he should do so. If he cannot, he should not bring it into his
house or yard and should have specific halachic intent not to “acquire” the
chametz. The package is considered “ownerless”—anyone who wants it is free
to take it.
If the package was mistakenly brought into the home or business, one must
have specific intent not to “acquire” it. One may not touch the actual
chametz. If the package comes on Chol ha-Moed, the chametz should be
immediately discarded, either by burning it or by flushing it down the
toilet. If it comes on Shabbos or Yom Tov, it should be put aside and
covered until it can be discarded.
Question: What are the restrictions regarding eating roasted meat on Seder
Discussion: It is a longstanding minhag Yisrael not to eat any roasted meat
on either one of the Seder nights.”Meat” includes meat from any animal which
requires shechitah (ritual slaughter), including chicken and turkey. Roasted
fish, however, is permitted.
“Roasted” includes any type of dry cooking (e.g., pot roasting) or
baking. Even if the item was cooked first and then roasted it is
forbidden. But if it was roasted first and then cooked afterwards most
poskim permit it. A minority opinion forbids that as well.
Fried, barbecued, broiled over an open fire or smoked meat are all
considered roasted meat and are forbidden. Liver, which is broiled, is
not eaten on the Seder night. Deep fried meat, however, is considered
to be cooked, not roasted, and is permitted.
Some families do not eat roasted meat during the daytime Yom Tov meals
either, but most people do not follow this custom nowadays.
Based on the guidelines outlined above, it is important to remember that at
the Seder, it is forbidden to eat the roasted zeroa which is placed on the
Seder Plate. But it is permitted to eat the zeroa during the daytime meal.
In any case, the zeroa should not be discarded, as it is considered a
bizyaon mitzvah to do so, and one should make sure that it is eaten at
an appropriate time.
1. By eating it, burning it, flushing it down the toilet, or throwing
it in a river.
2. This is a complex halachic procedure which can only be administered by
an experienced rabbi.
3. See O.C. 436:3 and Mishnah Berurah 27 and 32.
4. Another possible solution [for people who are away for Pesach and are
staying at another person’s home] is for the guest to “rent” from his
host—with a valid kinyan—the room in which he is staying, and search for
chametz in that room; Maharsham 3:291. But other poskim prefer not to rely
on this solution; see Shevet ha-Levi 4:44.
5. Siddur Pesach K’hilchaso 12:1.
6. O.C. 333:3.
7. Several gedolim, among them the Gaon of Vilna, the Chasam Sofer and the
Brisker Rav, were reported to have spent a good part of the night searching
their homes for chametz.
8. Sha’arei Teshuvah 433:2; Da’as Torah 433:2; Chochmas Shelomo 433:11;
Rav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Mevakshei Torah Ohr Efrayim, pg. 532); Kinyan
Torah 2:122; The basic idea is quoted by Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 432:12.
9. Siddur Pesach K’hilchaso 13:1.
10. See Pnei Yehoshua (Pesachim 50a) for a third reason for this prohibition.
11. Mishnah Berurah 468:1.
12. Beiur Halachah 468:1. According to this reason, even when erev Pesach
falls on Shabbos it is forbidden to do work on Friday.
13. Mishnah Berurah 468:5.
14. Rama, O.C. 468:2.
15. Mishnah Berurah 468:7.
16. Mishnah Berurah 468:5. Although a minority view recommends that one
shower/bathe and polish his shoes before chatzos as well, this was not
accepted by most poskim.
17. Mishnah Berurah 468:7. Towels and children’s clothing which became
dirty (or were discovered to be dirty) after chatzos and are going to be
needed during Yom Tov may be machine-washed even by a Jew.
18. Orchos Rabbeinu, vol. 2, pg. 56, quoting an oral ruling by the Chazon Ish.
19. Rama, O.C. 468:2 and Mishnah Berurah 8. Lengthening and shortening a
hem is also permitted.
20. Mishnah Berurah 446:10.
21. The chametz is severe muktzeh and may not be moved for any reason;
O.C. 446:1. Some poskim add that it may not even be moved with one’s body or
foot, even though other types of severe muktzeh may be; L’horos Nassan 5:30.
22. Mishnah Berurah 476:9.
23. Mishnah Berurah 476:1. Aruch ha-Shulchan 476:2, however, questions why
pot roast should be forbidden.
24. Peri Chadash, quoted by Be’er Heitev 476:1, Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 2 and Kaf
25. See ha-Seder ha-Aruch 95:5.
26. Aruch ha-Shulchan 476:4
27. See Sha’arei Teshuvah 473:2.
28. Chayei Adam 130:6.
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.
Rabbi Neustadt is the Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit and the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din Tzedek of Detroit. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org