ShailaText – Pesach Guide
Since its inception, ShailaText has dealt with thousands of questions of practical halochoh. Covering all areas of Torah and mitzvos, the log of answers provides a fascinating insight into the real-time issues faced by members of our communities in many day-to-day scenarios. In publishing this Pesach log, we are offering a halachic guide to accompany you throughout the preparations for this joyous period of the year. From cleaning the house and kashering the kitchen to the erev Pesach matzah-free diet, read on for practical halachic FAQs.
cleaning the house
What does one have to do with children’s books that are read at breakfast?
If you are likely to use them over Pesach in areas such as the kitchen and dining room where they may come into close contact with food, the pages should be cleaned and checked for chometz. If cleaning is difficult, then it is advisable to put them away with the chometz.
Is one meant to wash all garments such as jumpers and skirts that one intends to use on Pesach?
No, but pockets should be checked and care should be taken that there are no crumbs present. Washing is often the easiest way.
Do I have to move the piano and clean behind IT?
Any furniture in the house which is occasionally moved from its place without calling for assistance, must be moved to clean for chometz. Cupboards which are screwed into place need not be removed, but one should try to insert a vacuum cleaner behind them where possible.
Does one need to empty the vacuum cleaner bag?
Does one need to wash the outside bins?
They should be empty of actual chometz. There is no absolute need to wash them.
I find it really hard to clean my car properly, as some of the crumbs are quite inaccessible – what should I do?
Though there is a preference wherever possible to remove all chometz, small crumbs such as these can be left as they are unfit for eating, since they are situated in an unclean environment. Pretzels and the like should be removed or at the very least sprayed with a cleaning spray to render them inedible.
Cleaning the kitchen
Does one need to cover tiles on the wall for Pesach?
Food preparation areas need to be cleaned meticulously and therefore wall splashbacks should be scrubbed. Covering these walls is not strictly necessary. However, if these areas will not be covered, care should be taken to ensure that hot pots of Pesach food do not come into contact with these surfaces. Many people are careful and cover wall tiles which may come into contact with kitchen utensils.
Must one clean an extractor fan over the stove for Pesach?
Wipe it over with a cloth and detergent, then cover it.
Can one use the usual non-Pesach mop and bucket for Pesach?
Yes. Clean it before Pesach by placing it in bleach.
Do the shelves of the freezer need to be covered?
They can be cleaned by placing them in the bath with some bleach. Lining them with a bag is advisable especially if the casing of the drawer has trapped some crumbs.
How does one kasher a gas stove?
Stove top: Thoroughly clean the stove top and all the parts with a strong cleaning spray. (Be careful not to block the gas valve with overuse of cleaning materials. The recessed area housing the gas valve can be hoovered and then cleaned with a toothbrush carrying bleach).
Pan rests: Either replace them or kasher and cover them. Wait 24 hours after last chometz use, clean thoroughly, place a large pot over the burners and put them on their maximum setting for a quarter of an hour. They should then be covered in thick silver foil, or have chicken wire placed over them, such that the pot does not come into direct contact with the grate.
How does one kasher an electric stove?
For a standard electric ring or electric metal plate on which the pot rests, clean the hob and turn each ring on to full power for 45 minutes. There is no need to wait 24 hours.
However, for electric rings that are embedded into a ceramic glass stove-top, kashering by heating them up will generally not suffice. We therefore generally recommend that one use a dedicated Pesach stove as the other option is to cover the stove top with thick silver foil – but this may crack the glass surface.
However, if you know that you we will be able to avoid spillage and the contact between stove top and pot will remain dry, you may make use of the stove after heating it for 45 minutes (as above).
How does one kasher an induction stove?
Induction hobs cannot themselves be kashered, but they can be used if they are cleaned and covered with induction discs or covers, which are available online. See our Recommended Products page for more info. (Note: Due to the way they work, induction hobs are very problematic for Yom Tov use).
How does one kasher the kitchen sink?
Do not use for hot chometz for 24 hours prior to kashering. It is advisable to ensure no hot water gets used at all during this period. Clean the sink meticulously with a powerful cleaning spray – paying careful attention to the joins around the plug and overflow.
Boil up some Pesach pots of hot water on your Pesach pan rests and pour boiling water onto all areas of the sink, tap and metal draining board.
Taps: Clean these with a strong cleaning agent. Run the hot water until it is at its hottest. Once the hottest possible water is running, pour bubbling water onto the outside of the taps.
As there are numerous halachic concerns in kashering a sink, many people cover their sinks and taps in addition to kashering them.
Can I do hagoloh FOR my kiddush cup and plate? Can I use any sized pot? Can it be a pesachdig pot?
Yes. Ensure the Kiddush cup and plate have not been used for hot chometz during the preceding 24 hours. Clean them meticulously, paying special attention to the rim and any deeply engraved patterns or indentations. A Pesach pot should be used for the Hagoloh.
Is it sufficient to pour hot water from the kettle on my chometz cutlery to kasher it for Pesach?
No. Halochoh requires that kashering be done with the same level of heat as the item was exposed to when it became chometzdig. In this case, you need to dip the cutlery in bubbling water.
Deciding which method/level of kashering to use requires a knowledge of how the item absorbed the chometz or became treif, and it is best to contact a Rov before deciding how to kasher. There are four types of koshering:
- Iruy kli rishon – pouring from a bubbling pot of water.
- Roischin – kli rishon – dipping into a bubbling pot of water.
- Libun kal – using a blow torch to achieve a heat that would burn a tissue when touched by the item.
- Libbun chomur – a powerful heat close to 500°c. One can only do this with a pyrolytic oven. Use of a blowtorch in an oven is only advisable if one is experienced in doing so; untrained use can result in permanently damaging the oven.
Remember – you also need to prepare carefully for kashering utensils. All rust, dirt and food residue must be cleaned away. Staining or discoloration does not pose a problem after a thorough cleaning. Handles and rims need special attention, and in some cases the only option will be to kasher these areas with libun to burn away any food residue.
Is there any way to kasher a hot plate for Pesach?
It is preferable to purchase a new one. If difficult, you can kasher your normal hotplate. After cleaning it well, put it on its highest setting for an hour. Many do the additional step of pouring bubbling water over it directly from a kettle after it has been unplugged. Then cover it with a double layer of heavy duty silver foil.
I have a plastic brace that I wear at night to stop me grinding my teeth. How can I kasher this for Pesach?
Pour bubbling hot water from a kettle over it. If this is not an option for fear of ruining the brace, clean it very well and endeavour to avoid eating hot chometz for 24 hours before erev Pesach.
If I get my oven professionally cleaned can I use it for Pesach?
We generally advise purchasing a dedicated Pesach oven. A professional clean is not sufficient for these purposes. Ovens need to be kashered for Pesach by burning them out at very high temperatures – libbun chommur. This level of kashering can be achieved with the pyrolytic setting on a self-clean oven.
Someone who is not in a position to purchase a dedicated Pesach oven, or kasher using a pyrolytic setting, should do the following: clean out well, wait 24 hours, burn out on the highest temperature for an hour. The oven may then be used before Pesach with uncovered food. During Pesach all foods should be cooked covered.
Can you kasher a microwave for Pesach?
Under normal circumstances this should not be done.
Can you kasher a dishwasher for Pesach?
Under normal circumstances this should not be done. Ask your Rov for guidance on how to kasher if there is a particular need to make use of your dishwasher.
Cosmetics, toiletries and medicines
Are you allowed to own regular toothpaste over Pesach?
No. It should be sold and put away with the chometz over Pesach.
How do I know if my perfume and make up is not kosher for Pesach, and if I’m not sure do I need to put it all away?
Liquid products such as perfumes which contain ethyl or denatured alcohol should be sold before Pesach as they may be derived from chometz. Although in their current state they are inedible, some Poskim are stringent and view them as edible chometz since the chometz could become edible through distillation.
Most creams and ointments are not considered to be problematic as one cannot extract the chometz content and they are irrevocably inedible.
Do medications in A bathroom cupboard that are not kosher for Pesach need to be removed and sold or can you leave them in there and just not use them?
Liquid syrups and soluble medications which are not approved for Pesach should be sold. The fact that they are edible means that they are considered to be like real food. Capsules and inedible tablets do not need to be sold and may be used if no Pesach equivalent is available.
Do not stop taking prescribed medication without consulting with your doctor and a Rov.
Is quinoa kitniyos?
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.
I’m out anD about ON PESACH and very thirsty! Can I buy carbonated water or does it need a Pesach hechsher?
One may buy plain, bottled water. One should not buy carbonated water. Needless to say, all other flavoured drinks require Pesach certification.
Is cottonseed oil considered kitniyos? FOR EXAMPLE, if a mayonnaise is made with cottonseed oil?
Our position is that this is permitted, unless you have a custom not to have it.
Are electronic cigarettes a problem on Pesach?
Due to the halachic questions involved we recommend buying a kosher l’Pesach brand.
BedikOH and sale of Chometz
A question on cleaning the house for Pesach: My wife and I are moving to my parents’ house for yom tov. What do we do with our home; do we sell the whole flat, or only specific cupboards? Depending on the answer, what is the halochoh of going back into the flat over yom tov? I would note that due to work we unfortunately don’t have the time to do a proper clean of the whole flat before Pesach.
If you want to avoid having to clean the house, you should do an early mechiras chometz (known as a mechiras yud gimmel) with a Rabbi who offers the option of a sale on the 13th of Nissan. You cannot move back into the house over Pesach. A brief visit to pick up the post or something you have forgotten is allowed.
I live away from home but am going home for Pesach. To what extent do I need to clean my room and cupboards? Do I have to do bedikas chometz in both locations? Do I therefore say the brochoh twice?
You should do a basic cleaning and put away your chometz in a dedicated cupboard which should be sold. The night before you leave you should do a bedikas chometz with a candle/torch WITHOUT a brochoh. (One only recites a brochoh on the night of the 14th.)
On the night of the 14th in your parents’ house you should perform a bedikoh in the room you are staying in and listen to your parent’s brochoh. It is important to say the text of kol chamiroh (in a language you understand) to nullify all chometz in your possession.
My in-laws have arranged a house for us to stay in over chol hamoed. The owner has already gone away and will be selling his chometz. I am concerned that there may be chometz around the house. Am I permitted to stay there under these circumstances?
The owner of the house is obligated to check his house. He may absolve himself of his obligation by selling the chometz and renting all areas to a non-Jew.
Since you will be freely using the house, the validity of his mechiroh would be undermined.
As such, we suggest that you arrange with the owner to allow you to perform a bedikoh on (or if necessary before) the night of bedikas chometz.
Any chometz should be moved to the kitchen or its cupboards. The sale should be limited to areas where chometz will be stored and you should not regularly make use of those areas. In the event that the need arises during Pesach to retrieve an item from the sold area, a one-off access is permitted.
I don’t think I own any chometz. Is there any reason for me to sign a mechiras chometz form?
Any homeowner or older child (yeshiva bochur/seminary girl) who has their own affairs and regularly purchases food is encouraged to sign a mechiras chometz form in case there is some chometz they have forgotten about.
The council are only coming to take the bins after sof zeman sereifas chometz. Is it OK to leave it for them in black bags outside our property?
I heard that fish food is chometz. Do I need to clean my fish tank or do I need to sell it? (And what SHOULD my fish eat for THE week?!?)
You do not need to clean the tank as the fish can be assumed to have eaten any remains.
Stop using regular food early enough for the last chometz food remains to have been consumed before the time for bedikas chometz. We suggest 24 hours.
Fish pellet or flake food such as Tetra Flakes, Pellets and Granules as well as Fresh Delica Bloodworm contain chometz.
Aquariums sell frozen cubes of bloodworm, cockle, mussel, lance fish and brine shrimp which are all fine as long as they are free of grain derivatives and not enriched by vitamins.
Tiny pieces of fresh fruit eg orange flesh or broccoli are also suitable.
Experts advise that any uneaten food should be removed from the water after approximately 40 minutes.
I was offered some bread crusts ON PESACH to feed the ducks in the park, can I feed it to the ducks? Is it good enough to have in mind just not to acquire the crusts?
No. It is forbidden to derive hano’oh (benefit) from chometz even if you will not own it. Feeding animals is halachically deemed to be a benefit even if the animals don’t belong to you or are indeed hefker (ownerless). This is because you have a certain satisfaction in being able to feed these animals.
We have friends staying in a nearby hotel for the last days of Pesach (and eating with us). Apart from the usual concerns of staying in a hotel on yom tov/Shabbos, I’m concerned about chometz THAT the hotel leaves out for them in the room, WHICH IS included in the cost of the room (this is separate from the mini-bar which they need not pay for). Is there a way round this? Does it matter when they pay for the room? Are there any other concerns to be aware of?
They should have in mind not to take ownership of it. It should either be given back to the person responsible for cleaning the room or thrown away in one of the public bins.
The mini bar is also a concern and they should request that food and drinks not be supplied to the bar.
MatzAh before Pesach
Is one allowed to have food containing matzAh meal (eg schnitzel) on erev Pesach?
On erev Pesach it is halachically prohibited to eat matzah. From Rosh Chodesh Nissan the prohibition is more lenient as it is only a minhag to refrain and not strictly forbidden.
Even on erev Pesach itself, matzah which has been reduced to small crumbs and boiled is permitted, as in the case of kneidlach. However matzah brei and matzah meal cake are prohibited on erev Pesach due to the larger size of the crumbs and the lack of cooking in a liquid.
Many families have the custom to include cakes and biscuits in the prohibition during the pre-erev Pesach more lenient period. As above, kneidlach are certainly permitted.
Until what time can one wash clothes on erev yom tov and can I cut my nails ON THIS day?
Chatzos midday is at 1.00 pm erev Pesach in London (in Manchester at 1.08 and in Gateshead at 1.06). After this time, certain laws of chol hamoed apply. You should ensure to cut hair and nails and conclude any laundry beforehand. Ironing is permitted.
After chatzos, you may go to a non-Jewish barber if you forgot to have a haircut in advance or to shave. In cases of need you may cut nails after chatzos if you forgot to do so beforehand.
What brochoh do we make on matzAh brei?
When matzah (or any bread during the year) is reduced to crumbs smaller than a kezayis AND also cooked in a liquid, one makes mezonos.
In a case where you are frying the pieces of matzah with a small amount of oil, the food is subject to a halachic doubt and you should eat it only after having made hamotzi on a piece of matzah.
What brochoh should we say on cake made from matzAh meal? And what brochoh for matzAh brei, and other recipes that use broken matzAh pieces?
You make a mezonos. To make al hamichyoh there would need to be a ratio of one-part matzah meal to five-parts other ingredients and you will need to have eaten altogether a kezayis of matzah meal.
This guide was compiled and edited by
Rabbi Yisroel Moshe Guttentag and Rabbi Josh Bennett.
Updated Shevat 5780 under the auspices of HaRav Shraga Feivel Zimmerman shlita.