Mar 23, 2009

A Flurry of Pesach Questions!


As always, I know that checking with my LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi) is the best route to go, and I fully intend to throw these questions his way during our meeting Wednesday (or via email if I can't manage to get all my queries in then). But I like to throw questions out to the greater viewing community to see how different folks, from different backgrounds, approach issues of halakah! We all have different minhagim (customs), and as someone becoming more religious, I'm particularly fascinated in how different minhagim end up where they do.

For example: My rabbi, who has a German ancestral background, has a Shabbos tradition of washing before saying the blessing over not only the challah, but also the wine. So, one gets up, washes, comes back, and blesses the wine, then blesses the challah, and it's one fluid movement. His is the first house I've ever been at where such a tradition is observed, so the rebbetzin explained why! During Pesach, the children ask why the night is different than other nights, and during Pesach you bless the wine, wash, then bless the matzah. So, it makes sense to mix things up every other night of the year, no? Logical to me.

At any rate, here are a series of questions that I've derived from studying the haggadah (the text used during a Passover seder) and the OU Passover Guide. Feel free to answer, or simply to muse at my curiosities!

  • Why, during the seder, do we only toss water on each hand ONCE (as opposed to thrice)?
  • Why is red wine preferred for the seder? Why do people typically use red wine for the Shabbos wine, too?
  • Why should the drinking of each cup of wine and eating of the matzah/maror be completed within 4 minutes?
  • If my toaster oven is essentially free and clean of chametz, can it be koshered l'pesach and subsequently for the rest of the year? Every item ever cooked in it was cooked on a foil-covered baking pan? Thus can I kasher the baking pan without using a torch? I don't own a torch ...
  • What's the best material to use when covering fridge shelves?
  • As far as I'm concerned, Quinoa is legit l'pesach. Do you eat Quinoa on Pesach?
  • I'm confused about the restriction re: the whole "avoid chametz products" after Pesach issue. Does this mean I can't go to a grocery store owned by Jews (a chain, for example) and buy bread? Ever?
I'm stoked for a full week of FRESH veggies and fruit, though. My fridge will be filled with fresh goodies. Although ... how seriously do I need to sit and dig through my fresh goods in order to make sure they're kosher l'pesach. I mean, is the Bug Checker really necessary?

8 comments:

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

In regards to the German custom of washing before Kiddush, what the rebitzen told you is obviously not the halakhic reason.

In regards to the Pesach questions: (I love it when you have these!)

1) I haven't heard about that (I've been washing three times for karpas). ..perhaps that's done to differentiate from bread-related washing, though from what I've read many poskim feel that the two types of washing should be no different.

..a better question would be why do we wash for bread in the first place, essentially it's quite complex..

2) The "judaic" opinion is that red wine is generally better than white, and "better suited for a mitzva".

3) The Talmud derives that that's ("כדי אכילת פרס") the amount of time food is generally consumed in, and therefore these eatings which are the fulfilment of a command should be eaten within that time frame.

4) I wouldn't say anything on that without looking it up..

5)...plastic? ..aluminum foil..(the entire endeavor is essentially unnecessary though...but it's still better to do).

6) What the f--k is Quiona? ....oookay, I just did a Hebrew Google search, and I see that some rabbis write that it should be ok for Pesach since it wasn't always considered food for humans, though the majority say that it would be like other kitniot; ok for Sepharadim, but not ok for Ashkenazim who wish to continue with that practice.

7) It's only not ok if full-fledged Chametz products were in full ownership of a Jew during Pesach (which is somewhat hard to find). ("Yashan" is another story though, but that's only a concern in the winter).

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Re: Bug Checker- According to the Orthodox Union rabbis, there should idealy be at least a sample check on vegetables in which insect infestation is prevalent in the season in which one wishes to eat them.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Oh, and uh, beleive it or not, I just came accross another bloger who seems to have more information about quinona:

http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/

March 23, 2nd post.

Anonymous said...

As a follow up to #7 above, the problem is actually quite real on the NY/NJ area(again ask your LOR) since some significant food distributors are Jewish - so any chametz food they owned over Pesach is a problem even after Pesach. This would affect those disctributors' food for (at most) up to 2 weeks after Pesach.

Chaviva said...

Tons of good answers. I was hoping for a solid opinion on the toaster oven, though. Curses!

But, you know, I'd love to hear about WHY we wash before challah. Feel free to espouse :)

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Well, personally I just know the "official" reason, which is somewhat superficial:

With the destruction of "the Temple" Jews were not able to continue most forms of ritual purity (since becoming ritually pure was very Temple-related). One such practice was the fact that the "Priests" had to eat their bread in purity (which required, in part, a ritual washing of the hands before it's consumption (itself an extra-biblical innovation--a reminder to the "eaters of this commandment" (Teruma) that eating it required one to be in a state of purity.

The post-Temple scholars decided that one form of those "rituals" must be kept in actual practice, so that that biblical concept shouldn't be too distanced from our minds (doing things "in remembrance of the Temple" is the reason for many current practices). They decided it should take the form of everyone having to (ritually) wash their hands before the consumption of bread.

"Washing" though, has taken on different conceptual associations since then, like the fact that one's hands must be "spiritually clean" before eating bread, etc.

Though there's honestly a lot more to it than what I wrote.

...I just found a Wikipedia article discussing it..which I haven't read yet. ..might prove interesting..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual_washing_in_Judaism

By the way, it would be appreciated if you can share some of the answers offered by the rabbi on the questions you posed..

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

...I just checked out the Wikipedia article and it's not quite professional (I just edited a few annoying mistakes myself!).

Zohara bat Sarah said...

I just read in a haggadah that red wine is preferred because it is more reminiscent of blood.

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