Bedikat Hametz - The Search For Leaven
After the house has been thoroughly cleaned, it is the traditional practice to make a final ceremonial search for whatever hametz may remain. The search, called Bedikat Hametz, is usually conducted on the evening of the day preceding Passover, and the hametz is burned on the following morning. This year, Bedikat Hametz is conducted on Thursday evening, April 17th, and the hametz is burned on Friday morning, April 18th. Before the search, it is customary to deposit small pieces of bread in strategic places, so that the inspection has a purpose. Traditionally, the search is carried out by the light of a candle, with a feather and a wooden spoon to collect the hametz.
Siyum for the First-Born
The day before Passover is observed as a fast day for the first-born males in each family. The object of this fast is to remind them that the first-born of the Israelites escaped the doom visited upon the first-born of the Egyptians on the midnight of the first Passover.
However, if the first-born participates in a mitzvah, he may take part in the feast which accompanies it, and need no longer fast. Such a mitzvah is a siyum, or conclusion of a portion of Talmudic literature. This year, the special service for the first-born will take place on Thursday, April 17th, following the morning service.
All first-born males and their fathers are invited to attend. The services and siyum are meaningful for all parents and children, first-born or not.
Kashering of Utensils
- Earthenware (china, pottery, etc.) may not be kashered. Fine translucent china which has not been used for a year may be used if scoured and cleaned in hot water.
- Metal (i.e., wholly of metal) utensils used in fire (spit, broiler) must first be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned and completely immersed in boiling water. Pots should have water boil in them which will overflow the rim. The utensils may not be used for 24 hours between cleaning and the immersion in boiling water. Metal baking utensils cannot be kashered.
- Ovens and Ranges: Every part that comes in contact with food must be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned. The oven and range should be heated as hot as possible for 30 minutes. If there is a broil setting, use that. Self-cleaning ovens should be scrubbed and cleaned and then put through the self-cleaning cycle. Continuous cleaning ovens must be kashered in the same manner as regular ovens. Microwave ovens that do not cook the food by means of heat (convection) should be cleaned, a cup of water placed inside, and the oven turned on until the water evaporates. A microwave that has a browning element (convection) cannot be kashered for Passover.
- Glassware: One way to kasher drinking utensils is to soak them in water for 3 days, changing the water every 24 hours. Another method is to thoroughly scrub before Passover, or put them through a dishwasher cycle.
- Dishwasher: After not using the machine for 24 hours, a full cycle with detergent should be run.
- Electrical Appliances: If the parts that come in contact with hametz are detachable, they can be kashered (e.g., if metal, follow the rules for metal utensils). If the parts are not detachable, the appliance cannot be kashered. All exposed parts should be thoroughly cleaned.
- Tables, Closets, and Counters: If used with hametz they should be thoroughly cleaned and covered.
- Kitchen Sink: A metal sink can be kashered by thoroughly cleaning and then pouring boiling water over it. A porcelain sink should be cleaned and a sink rack used. If dishes are to be soaked in a porcelain sink, a basin must be used.
- Hametz and non-Passover Utensils: Non-Passover dishes, pots, and hametz whose ownership has been transferred, should be separated, locked up or covered, and marked in order to prevent accidental use.
Prohibited foods include the following: leavened bread, cakes, biscuits, crackers, cereal, coffees containing cereal derivatives, wheat, barley, oats, spelt, rye, and all liquids containing ingredients made from grain alcohol. Most Ashkenazic authorities have added the following foods (kitniyot): rice, corn, millet, and legumes (beans and peas; string beans, however, are permitted). Peanuts and peanut oil are permitted. Some Ashkenazic authorities forbid the use of legumes in a form other than their natural state, corn sweeteners, corn oil or soy oil. Sephardic authorities permit the use of all of the above.
- The following foods require no Kosher for Passover labels if purchased prior to Passover: unopened packages or containers of coffee without cereal derivatives, sugar, pure tea, salt (not iodized), pepper, natural spices, frozen fruit juices with no additives, frozen (uncooked) vegetables, milk, butter, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ripened cheeses such as cheddar, muenster, and Camembert, frozen (uncooked) fruit containing no additives, and baking soda.
- The following foods require no kosher for Passover labels if purchased prior to or during Passover: fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, fresh fish and fresh meats.
- The following foods must have a kosher for Passover label if purchased prior to or during Passover: All baked products (matzoh, cakes, matzoh flour, farfel, matzoh meal) and any products containing matzoh, canned or bottled fruit juices, canned tuna (only if it is known that the tuna is packed exclusively in water, without any additional additives or ingredients, may it be purchased without a kosher for Passover label), wine, vinegar, liquor, oils, dried fruits, candy, chocolate flavored milk, ice cream, yogurt and soda.
- The following canned, bottled or frozen (processed) foods must have a kosher for Passover label if purchased during Passover: milk, butter, juices, vegetables, fruit, milk products, spices, coffee, tea, fish, as well as all those products in paragraph III.
If permitted during the year, powdered and liquid detergents do not require a kosher for Passover label.
Since hametz binders are used in many pills, the following guidelines should be followed: If the medicine is for life sustaining therapy, it may be used during Passover. Capsules are preferable.