Covid-19 Pesach FAQs – 2020
Special instructions for situations unique to this year’s Pesach celebrations, brought to you by the Federation Beis Din.
I feel confused about the requirements for preparing for Pesach this year, is there anyone I can call to talk to?
The ShailaText rabbinic team is available as usual to provide direction and instruction. The nature of the text-based service does mean that answers cannot always be tailored to your specific needs and situations. If you feel you need more specific guidance, please contact your Rov and discuss your personal situation. Where needed, the ShailaText Rabbonim will make themselves available for telephone sessions, to answer your questions. Please note that the anonymity guaranteed by ShailaText is only relevant for text based shailas. To arrange for one of our Rabbonim to call you, please text us on 07403 939 613.
CLEANING THE HOUSE AND BEDIKAS CHOMETZ
I am unable to clean the house as I normally would as the kids are around and disturbing – how can I limit the areas which need to be cleaned?
Primary focus and attention should be focused on areas used for eating and food preparation to ensure that Pesach food will not come into contact with chometz.
Cupboards which you cannot clean or check should be taped up and sold for the duration of Pesach.
Ensure to retain access to toys and other items that the children will need.
Remember there is no need to remove dirt or dust; a quick look through these areas is halachically sufficient, as long as items will not make it to the food areas.
I am concerned that the children will eat chometz around the house; how should I ensure that the house remains Pesachdig after cleaning?
Though it is very difficult to stop children eating around the house, you can minimise the Pesach concern by substituting Kitniyos foods with some of the chometz foods you would normally serve. This will be particularly useful over the last few days before Pesach. Rice cakes, bamba and corn chips, even if crumbled around the house, do not need to be cleaned away before Pesach.
I am always careful to empty my wheelie bins of any Chometz before Pesach. This year, I am concerned that the special bin collection may not take place due to the heavy pressure on the council. The local domestic refuse site (dump) is also no longer open to the public. What should I do about the chometz remaining in my bins?
There are a number of halachic opinions about the status of bins vis a vis biur chometz. Some Poskim maintain that since the bins are the property of the local authority, any hefker item left in there by Zman Biur on Erev Pesach is of no concern and need not be destroyed.
Other poskim do not accept this argument. There are a number of approaches one can follow:
- Roll the bin out to the street so it is located in a hefker location
- Include the bins and their contents in the mechiras chometz
- Pour some bleach into any remaining chometz
- As above, since there are lenient opinions, one may where need be depart from minhag in this year’s difficult circumstances
I am normally very careful to buy foods only with a pesach hechsher. are there foods which can be bought without a Pesach hechsher if the need arises?
Although people are usually careful to purchase almost all food items strictly with a Pesach hechsher, we have prepared the list below to help guide people’s purchasing decisions.
Please consult a Rov before departing from your regular Pesach purchasing habits.
- Baking soda – Pure bicarbonate of soda may be used without a hechsher. NB Baking powder needs a hechsher.
- Chicken – Should ideally be bought with a Pesach hechsher. May be used if need be without a Pesach hechsher – excluding stomachs due to concern re chometz feed.
- Cocoa powder – Should ideally be bought with a Pesach hechsher. Where unavailable, plain cocoa powder may be used – check to confirm there are no added ingredients.
- Coffee – Should ideally be bought with a Pesach hechsher. Where unavailable, plain unflavoured coffee may be bought without a Pesach hechsher. This does NOT apply to Decaffinated coffee.
- The following has been communicated by KLBD: Nescafe Original, Original Decaf, Gold Blend and Gold Blend Decaf are certified Kosher for Passover all year round, provided they have an English label and UK customer service number. There is no KLBD logo on the packaging.
- Desiccated coconut – If case of need, this may be purchased without a Pesach hechsher.
- Dried fruit – Should be bought with a Pesach hechsher.
- Eggs – Some families are particular to only buy eggs that have been approved for Pesach due to concerns relating to the ink used for stamping. Where unavailable, any white or even brown eggs may be purchased.
- Fish – If unavailable with a Pesach hechsher, fish may be purchased from a regular fishmonger or supermarket as long as the fish has skin on so it can be recognised as a Kosher fish. Fish must be raw and not flavoured, marinated or smoked. The fish should be rinsed before using in Pesach food preparation.
- Frozen fruit and vegetables – These require a Pesach hechsher. In an extreme situation, these may be bought without a Pesach hechsher, provided that there are no additional ingredients.
- Honey – Should be purchased with a Pesach hechsher.
- Milk – All plain Cholov Yisroel milk is acceptable even without a Pesach hechsher.
- Nuts – Raw and unprocessed, nuts may be bought without a Pesach hechsher. In case of need, ground nuts may be bough without a hechsher.
- Olive oil – Should be bought with a Pesach hechsher. The OU have communicated that any extra virgin olive oil with a regular OU hechsher may be used for Pesach.
- Quinoa – The kitniyos status of quinoa is the subject of some halachic debate. Our Beis Din’s position is that it may be used by anyone with dietary issues or in any case of tzorech (genuine need). HOWEVER, still needs kosher l’Pesach certification to ensure that it has not been processed with chometz or with chometz equipment.
- Salt – Should be bought with a Pesach hechsher. Where unavailable, plain salt may be purchased without a hechsher.
- The following has been communicated by KLBD: Saxa Table Salt is Certified Kosher for Passover all year round by KLBD. No logo on the packaging.
- Spices – Should be bought with a Pesach hechsher.
- Sugar – Tate & Lyle Caster, Granulated, Preserving and Guyanese Demerara are certified for Pesach with or without KLBD-P logo. If certified is unavailable, any plain white caster sugar may be used.
- Sunflower oil – for those who use sunflower oil on Pesach, it should only be bought with a full Pesach hechsher. If this is unavailable, one should buy another Pesach certified oil. Alternatively, one can purchase cold pressed sunflower or rapeseed oils. (This is because cold pressed oils are not refined and therefore have no other additives in them.) If there is no other choice, any sunflower oil with no additional ingredients may be used.
- Tea – Plain black tea is acceptable for Pesach.
- Toothpaste and mouthwash – these require a Pesach hechsher.
- Vanilla sugar – should be bought with a Pesach hechsher.
- Water – may be bought without a hechsher. Sparkling water should only be bought with a Pesach hechsher.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS ADVISED THE USE OF ALCOHOL GEL OR HAND SANITISER, BUT I’M WORRIED THAT THEY MAY CONTAIN CHOMETZ. CAN I USE THEM ON PESACH?
Although hand sanitiser is often derived from chometz, it is inedible and absolutely may be used on Pesach.
I CAN’T FIND KOSHER L’PESACH VITAMINS. CAN I USE REGULAR ONES?
In the first instance, vitamins should be purchased only with a Pesach hechsher. If these can not be found, solid, tasteless of bad-tasting pills may also be used.
How should I sell chometz – I can’t gO out to my Rov’s house?
Though it is customary to appoint the Rov in person and to make a kinyan to formally authorise him to sell the chometz, Poskim permit mechira (selling) to go ahead without this.
The Federation’s mechiras chometz form can be filled in online by following the link https://www.federation.org.uk/mechiras-chometz-2020/.
I am generally makpid to refrain from selling chometz gomur and instead destroy or finish whatever CHOMETZ I have. This year, I am concerned about doing so. can I DECIDE TO sell chometz or do I need to be mattir neder before doing so?
Even those who have a minhag to refrain from selling chometz gommur can temporarily under the problematic circumstances of this year’s Pesach, be lenient due to the circumstances. There is no need for hatoras nedorim in this case.
I HAVE BEEN LOCKED OUT OF MY OFFICE BEFORE I HAD A CHANCE TO CLEAN MY DESK FOR CHOMETZ. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
You can include any chometz you own in your mechira wherever it is. You should specify in your sale that there is chometz in your office, and include the address.
I won’t be able to make it to a Siyum on Erev Pesach; do I need to fast?
Fasting should certainly not be undertaken particularly at this time in order to avoid possible harmful effects on the immune system.
Instead, everything possible should be done to ensure that you can follow this minhag as in all other years by making a siyum yourself. Plan to make a siyum by finishing a learning project in time for Erev Yom Tov. A Masechta of Gemoro or a Seder of Mishnayos are the ideal Limud. If need be, a Masechta of Mishnayos with Bartenura is also acceptable, or a Sefer of Tanach. Make sure to understand the material being learnt.
In the event that this has not been possible, then in the prevailing circumstances this year, the ruling is that one should not fast on Erev Pesach and can eat without a siyum. Although it is halachically debatable, some Poskim have suggested that one should try to at least hear a siyum over the phone.
WHAT IS THE GUIDANCE FOR YOM TOV DAVENING THIS YEAR WHEN WE WILL BE DAVENING AT HOME?
- For those who say it in shul, Halel on seder night should be said at home with a brocho.
- Seder should not be started until nacht.
- משיב הרוח should be said at Mussaf of first day. Piyutim of Tal should be said after Mussaf Amida.
- At mincha, say מוריד הטל or omit משיב הרוח
- Ideally one should not daven Maariv until Nacht
- Sefiras Ho’Omer should be said after Maariv second night
- שיר השירים
- Yizkor – can be recited at home
- ותן ברכה is recited
MAY ONE LISTED TO MUSIC DURING CHOL HAMOED?
Yes the restrictions against listening to music don’t begin until Motsei Yom Tov.