Ask The Rabbi

For the week ending 5 April 2003 / 3 Nisan 5763

Pesach

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman - www.rabbiullman.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Pesach in a Box?

From: Joseph C.

Dear Rabbi,

This year my wife and I are kashering our home for Passover for the first time. We are now purchasing Passover dishes, utensils, etc. My question is, when we remove the everyday dishes, where do they go? May we put them in the boxes that held the Passover dishes? Is it better that the Passover dishes not come in contact with a surface that was touched by everyday dishes? Do we cover the inside of the cabinets? Do we change the plastic containers in our kitchen drawers?

Dear Joseph C.,

First of all, congratulations on your first "Kosher for Passover" home. Many happy returns!

You can store clean everyday utensils in the boxes that held your Passover dishes. After Passover, you can put the Passover dishes back into the same containers. Just be careful not to get them mixed up.

It is customary to cover cupboards and utensil holders that will be used on Passover. If you can't do this or can't obtain new utensil holders, remove the inserts, clean the drawers completely and put the Passover cutlery directly into the drawer.

By the way, I must warn you about one of the mysteries of Pesach: The Pesach utensils are taken out of a specific amount of storage space, and yet they never seem to all fit back in again! I have never found a rational explanation for this phenomenon! Symbolically, perhaps we too should resist returning to the confines of everyday living after tasting the spiritual liberation of Passover.

A "Telling" Story

From: Fred in Tennessee

Dear Rabbi,

What is the Haggadah?

Dear Fred,

The Haggadah is a book that Jews read on the first night of Passover. It tells about our slavery in Egypt and the miracles G-d did for us when freeing us. The word haggadah means "telling," which comes from the Biblical command: "And you shall tell your child on that day, saying: 'G-d did [miracles] for me when I left Egypt in order that I should fulfill the Torah's commandments" (Exodus 13:8 and Rashi).

As a Jewish family sits around the festive table on Passover night and reads the Haggadah, all of its members are not only retelling that formative experience of the Jewish nation, but are reliving it as well. Egyptian exile and the Exodus from it, say our Sages, are blueprints for Jewish history. Each generation can find in the Haggadah great guidance in understanding its own trials and triumphs. The Haggadah is thus simultaneously a crash course in Jewish history and a plan for future redemption.

Meaning of Leaning

From: Roger H. in Walsall, UK

Dear Rabbi,

When and why did the tradition of reclining at the Passover meal begin? In the book of Exodus it seems that the people were instructed for all time to eat the Passover meal with sandals on their feet and staffs in hand as if ready to move on. So why do we lean, which seems to indicate a lack of readiness to move on?

Dear Roger H.,

Leaning symbolizes freedom and aristocracy. It is first recorded in the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), but dates back much farther than that. Rather than being a tradition, reclining while eating the matzah and drinking the four cups of wine is a halacha. In fact, in certain circumstances, one does not fulfill the mitzvah if one ate matzah or drank wine without reclining.

The reason why we recline, whereas the Jews in Egypt were commanded to "eat on the run", is because they were indeed getting ready to leave Egypt. But that command was specific for those people and for that year alone. We, however, intentionally recline to demonstrate our being free to serve G-d and to help us really feel it.

Sources:

  • Pesachim 99b, 108a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 472.

If You Can’t Eat It, Beet It

From: Bonnie H.

Dear Rabbi,

I am a vegetarian and it is abhorrent to me to have an animal leg on my table at Pesach. I have been told that somewhere in the Talmud it says that a roasted beet can take the place of a roasted shank bone. Can you help me find the source?

Dear Bonnie H.,

The Talmud says that two cooked foods are to be placed along with the other traditional items on the Seder plate. Rabbi Yosef explains that these two foods are to be meat, one roasted representing the Passover offering and the other cooked representing the festival offering. Rabbi Huna says even beets and rice can be used for the two cooked foods. The custom is to use a roasted shank bone and a boiled egg. If an egg is used instead of meat for the cooked item, perhaps a beet can replace meat for the roasted one.

Sources:

  • Pesachim 114b; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 473:4.

Pesach Hut

From: Saul "The Maven" Caplan from beautiful, politically correct, Safety Harbor, Florida

Dear Rabbi,

I deliver pizzas 2-3 evenings a week. Do I have to take the entire week of Pesach off?

Dear Saul "The Maven" Caplan,

On Pesach, it's forbidden to eat, own or derive any benefit from chametz. I asked a renowned halachic authority here in Jerusalem about your case. He said that you are not allowed to deliver pizza during Passover. Since you earn wages by doing so, you are thereby considered to be deriving benefit from the chametz.

By the way: If this pizza shop delivers on Passover, they probably also put meat on some of their pizzas. If so, you may have to find another job. You see, milk and meat that is cooked together is similar to chametz in that you are not allowed to derive benefit from it. You should consult with the nearest Orthodox Rabbi about this issue, or get back to us.

Public Domain

Re: Hamentashen (Ohrnet Purim)

If you look in Guidelines to Purim (Targum publishers), questions 224 and 219, you will find the following:

This three-cornered pastry alludes to a midrash which says that when Haman saw the merits of the three patriarchs, he lost his strength. The Yiddish word hamantasch when written in Hebrew — tash-haman — means that Haman became weak. The filling is usually made from poppy-seed in memory of Esther.

There is a custom to eat seeds and pod foods e.g. rice, peas and beans. This is in memory of Esther who ate these foods in the palace of Achashverosh in order to avoid eating non-kosher food. She was following the lead of Daniel and his colleagues who acted similarly in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Best wishes,

Yitzchok Jaeger

Re: Ethics – Playing With Fire (Ohrnet Purim)

Shalom.

I should also like to mention the horrific effect these meaningless bangs have on our "much loved" animals. I live in South Africa and every year at those times of the year when there is an "excuse" to use firecrackers our SPCA staff are on emergency duty night and day collecting distressed and terrified animals from all over the city.

In spite of publicity campaigns there are many uncaring persons who persist in annually buying bigger and bigger bangs. We have even had instances of persons ramming firecrackers up the rectums of their animals as a "big joke".

It's a seasonal challenge to have to go and speak nicely to one's neighbour, pointing out the possible consequences of their childrens' revelry, when in reality I could quite cheerfully respond a tad more forcefully.

Sincerely,

Tricia

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