How To Prepare For Passover / Pesach

Note: Regarding all dates on this Passover Preparation - Pesach Preparation web page, see the footnote near the bottom of this web page.

Preparing for Passover or preparing for Pesach is, in short, a monumental task. There are manuals from rabbinical organizations whose contents outline in detail how to prepare for Passover / Pesach using various systematic methods. This page will discuss in detail the many Jewish rituals that are done as one prepares for Passover / Pesach, and the religious reason(s) behind them.

How does one prepare for the Passover / Pesach festival in terms of making the household kosher for Passover / Pesach? For observant Jews, the answer to this question involves a great deal of organization. Preparing for Passover / Pesach in the Orthodox Jewish world is no walk in the park! So how to prepare for Passover / Pesach while observing Jewish laws for Passover cleaning / Pesach cleaning? Stay tuned, the answer follows! (But don't hold your breath, it's not a short answer! Oy, that was close.)

A few days - in many cases weeks or months - before the Passover festival begins, observant Jews clean their households of any trace of fermented grain products and chametz (alternate spellings are "chometz", "hametz", "hometz", "hammes" or "hamez"). Chametz means "leaven" in Hebrew. In the Passover dietary laws, leaven includes any foods or drinks created as a result of leavening or fermention with the exception of matzah which must be made from one of the five fermenting grains specified in the Passover dietary laws. In essence, chametz includes leavened foods, drinks and ingredients that are made from or contain wheat, rye, barley, oats or spelt. Therefore, all grain products such as breads, cereals and other breakfast foods, grain alcohol, grain vinegar and malts, are forbidden during Passover. Why do this? In Exodus 12:15 of the Torah, it states that no leaven (chametz) must be eaten during the Passover festival. Four verses later, the Torah states that no chametz of any kind should be found in the home during the Passover festival. So what do observant Jews do? Observant Jews will kosherize the household for Passover by cleaning the household from top to bottom of chametz or leaven. This process may begin anywhere from days to weeks before Passover begins, depending on the size of the household and the amount to be cleaned. After this Passover cleaning is completed and the chametz has been collected, on the day before Passover begins, observant Jews will go through a procedure with their Rabbi whereby they will symbolically "sell" their chametz to their Rabbi who in turn will "sell" it a non-Jew with the understanding that the "sale" is purely symbolic in nature. The non-Jewish person is then considered to be the owner of the chametz during the Passover festival period. After the Passover festival is over, there is usually some monetary compensation given to the non-Jewish person in order to nullify the transaction, thus returning the chametz to the Jewish people who "sold" the chametz to the non-Jewish person through their Rabbi. This satisfies the biblical commandment from G-d to the Hebrews in Exodus 13:7 to not have any chametz in one's possession during the Passover festival. The process of "selling" the chametz is known as "Mechirat Chametz", which means "sale of leaven" in Hebrew. The chametz or leaven that is sold must be put in a completely sealed-off place that is inaccessible during Passover. When the sale of leaven is carried out, there is a limited amount of chametz that is deliberately not sold. This chametz is then used to fulfill the mitzvot ("commandments" in Hebrew, meaning G-d's commandments) of Bedikat Chametz, Bitul Chametz, and Biur Chametz (see further down in this paragraph), whereby the chametz that was not sold is destroyed either on the day before Passover or at the latest, in the morning at a specified time according to Jewish law - usually around 10 A.M. or so - on the day when Passover begins at sundown. After that, only kosher for Passover foods are eaten except for matzah, which is saved for consumption during the Passover Seder which opens the Passover festival at sundown on the same day. Since the Jewish day begins at sundown in the Hebrew calendar, this means that one can dispose of the chametz on the same day as Passover in the secular calendar because Passover will begin at sundown later in the day. The sale of leaven is also performed in the case where if for some reason the chametz cannot be destroyed. After the household has been cleaned of chametz and at sundown on the night before Passover begins, observant Jews carry out a traditional Passover custom where they search their households one final time looking for chametz. This search is called "Bedikat Chametz" or "Bedikath Chametz" which means "search for leaven" in Hebrew. One is forbidden to work or eat a meal when nightfall arrives, and the search for leaven begins. By this time, one's household should be cleaned of chametz, and only symbolic representations of chametz are used such as bread that must be wrapped in aluminum foil. These pieces of bread are then placed in different areas of the household. After these symbolic representations of chametz are placed in different areas around the household, all who are participating in the search for chametz should be present when a blessing is said before the search starts concerning G-d's command to remove leaven from the household. No words should be said after this blessing until the search for leaven has been completed, unless one has something to say about the search for leaven. Each person participating in the search then goes around the household with a lit candle, a container or paper bag and a feather (yes, a feather!) and uses the feather to put the chametz into the container or paper bag, along with the pieces of bread that were placed around the household. The search must thoroughly cover everything in every room, even any and all garages and garbage cans! After the search is completed, a bracha ("blessing" in Hebrew) and a final declaration - called "Kol Chamira" in the Aramaic language (meaning "nullification of all leaven") - is made saying that all types of leaven that one has knowledge of have been found and removed from the household, and that any missed leaven shall be disowned and nullified. Reciting "Kol Chamira" fulfills the mitzvah ("commandment" in Hebrew, meaning G-d's commandment) of "Bitul Chametz", which means "mental nullification of the leaven" in Hebrew. Where does the ritual of reciting "Kol Chamira" for "Bitul Chametz" come from? The answer is that the Gemara of the Talmud states that one should also perform "Bitul Chametz" prior to doing the "Bedikat Chametz" so as to begin the process by eliminating concerns that there will be chametz in the household during Passover. However, there are differences of rabbinical opinion on whether to do both Bitul Chametz and Bedikat Chametz or to do just Bedikat Chametz alone. If evidence of chametz is found in the household during the following morning on the day when Passover begins at sundown, observant Jews then burn the chametz by a religiously specified time that morning, as mentioned, around 10 A.M. or so. This is called "Biur Chametz" in Hebrew. "Biur" means either "destruction", "to destroy" or "to get out of one's possession" in Hebrew; especially destruction or to destroy by fire, so "Biur Chametz" means destruction of or to destroy the leaven (by fire). After destroying the leaven by burning it, the bracha, and Kol Chamira declaration are repeated, where the Kol Chamira essentially says that all types of leaven that one has knowledge of have been found and removed from the household, and that any missed leaven shall be disowned and nullified. If any chametz is found in a Jewish person's possession - meaning on one's person and/or in the household - during the Passover festival and was not sold to a non-Jew, then that chametz is forbidden to be used or sold at all even after Passover. This law is called "chametz she'avar alav ha'Pesach", which means "chametz that remained during Passover" in Hebrew, and is simply a penalty for either not performing the rituals of Bedikat Chametz and Biur Chametz or not performing them correctly. Throughout the Passover festivals, observant Jews will not eat any food or drink or come into contact with any edible or non-edible product that has leaven in it.

In accordance with Jewish religious law, it is forbidden to purchase and eat bread that has been baked during the Passover festival and so after the Passover festival, observant Jews will only buy bread that has been made after the Passover festival. To ensure that the bread was made after the Passover festival, observant Jews usually purchase bread from rabbinically-approved bakeries. In addition, bread made with animal shortening and/or lard is non-kosher and so observant Jews will avoid bread containing those ingredients.

Aside from cleaning the household of chametz, there is a custom called Ta'anit Bechorot, or Ta'anit Bekhorot. "Ta'anit Bechorot" means "Fast of the First Born" in Hebrew. From sunrise until sunset on the day before Passover, the first born male of every Jewish household fasts in commemoration of the 10th plague of Passover, in which G-d spared the first born male in every Jewish household in Egypt, and instead slew the first born in every Egyptian household. If there is no first born male in a Jewish household, then the oldest male in the family fasts. If there are no children, then the oldest member of the family fasts. This is done because all Egyptian families were affected by G-d's wrath, whether or not they had a first born son. This fast is also in memory of the slain first born Egyptian males, and symbolizes the gratitude of the first born males of Jewish households to G-d as well as serves as a reminder of G-d's might and power. However, first born Jewish males can be exempted from the Ta'anit Bechorot by attending a siyyum bekhorot. Siyyum means "the celebration held after the public completion of study of a tractate of the Talmud or at the end of a year of study" in Hebrew, and siyyum bekhorot means "the celebration held after the public completion of study of a tractate of the Talmud or at the end of a year of study for first borns" in Hebrew. This celebration usually involves eating at a feast. The siyyum bekhorot is done so that the obligation or mitzvah to hold a celebration will override the minor obligation or mitzvah to fast on the day before Passover. The siyyum bekhorot is done on the morning before Passover, with the ritual of burning the chametz done soon after that, and before the morning is over.

As mentioned, chametz means "leaven" in Hebrew, and according to Pesachim 35a of the Mishnah Talmud, the term "chametz" applies to five species of grain and their derivatives which, when mixed with water, create a leavening process. These 5 grains can be used to make challah and therefore, they can become "leaven" or "chametz" which is prohibited during the Passover / Pesach festival except for use in making matzah. Benjamin Mordecai Ben-Baruch is a former principal in the United Hebrew Schools of Metropolitan Detroit and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation and also of the Progressive Jewish Voice. He describes the 5 prohibited grains as follows:

According to Benjamin Mordecai Ben-Baruch, "these are the only items which can become hamaitz (or chametz). While there is virtually total rabbinic agreement since Talmudic times that these Biblical Hebrew terms comprise the sum total of items which can become chametz (or hamaitz), there is not agreement regarding the proper translation of the terms kusmim and shibbolet. Some authorities include oats in the above list but it is doubtful whether oats should be included. Cereal foods such as buckwheat ("kasha") and grains such as rye are sometimes mistakenly included in the above group because of mistranslations of the Hebrew or upon modern Hebrew usages which should not be applied to terms in their Biblical contexts. [NOTE: This does not make rye breads made of a combination of rye and wheat flour kosher for Passover.]" In general, the 5 principal grains and their derivatives that are prohibited for consumption and from even being in one's possession during the Passover / Pesach festival except when making matzah can summarized as follows:

The Talmud states that matzah must be made from one of the above-mentioned five grains in order to fulfill the biblical commandment to eat matzah on Passover. However, these same five grains must not be used as part of any other foods that are prepared during the Passover festival. Why only these five grains? The answer is that these five grains are known to satisfy the description of the events told in Exodus 12:39. According to Exodus 12:39, the Hebrews baked unleavened bread before it had enough time to ferment from the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt in haste. Since the possibility of fermentation was a necessary prerequisite to accepting a grain that would be used for making matzah in order to satisfy the passage told in Exodus 12:39, the Talmudic rabbis believed during their time that pods which contained edible seeds - known as legumes or pulse - would not ferment if water were added to them and so these legumes would not qualify as ingredients for making matzah. Examples of these legumes included peanuts, peas, millet, lentils, and beans, and later on, rice was added to this list by Maimonides. However, it is now known today that these legumes will in fact eventually ferment after coming into contact with water.

There is also the question of avoiding the creation of leavening during the making of matzah with any of the above-mentioned five grains. Jewish tradition determined that the time it takes for flour to ferment under normal conditions is a period or range that is needed to walk a Roman mile, which was estimated at 18 to 24 minutes. The shorter time of 18 minutes was eventually adopted as the standard time for flour to become chametz. From this reasoning, it has been established that when any of the five species of grain mentioned above come into contact with water at room temperature and they are not kneaded together, they will become leaven or chametz from eighteen minutes onward. If heat or other ingredients are added, this may lessen the time for those grains to become chametz. Therefore, since matzah is cooked using only wheat flour and water and absolutely no other additives, to avoid it becoming leaven or chametz one must put the matzah ingredients into the oven well within the time frame of eighteen minutes which began from the point at which both the wheat flour and water came into contact with each other. Matzah can only be made with water that has been stored and cooled overnight, and the grain must not have come into contact with water or have been tampered with in any way. It is kneaded into dough either by hand or by a machine in a cool room because heat may create instant leavening. After kneading the dough, it is rolled into thin sheets, perforated many times to allow air to escape which will both retard leavening and prevent the dough from rising and swelling when baking, and then baked. From the time the wheat flour and water come into contact to the time the sheets of dough are put into the oven to the time the sheets of matzah complete their baking should be no longer than 18 minutes to prevent leavening. The oven must also be heated to the proper baking temperature to prevent leavening. After matzah is baked, the oven must be completely cleaned of dough crumbs. When matzah is kneaded and baked within 18 minutes at the correct temperature to prevent leavening, no more leavening can occur with the matzah. This means that matzah products such as ground matzah meal, farfel, or flour can then be cooked with hot water or blended with any other Passover ingredients because now it will not become chametz. The making of matzah is usually supervised by a rabbinical authority to assure its authenticity.

Matzah And Its Name

Matzah is also known as "Lechem Oni" in Hebrew and is cited as such in the biblical book of Deuteronomy, known as "Devarim" in Hebrew. Why is matzah referred to as Lechem Oni (Devarim 16:3)? The Hebrew word "onim" means "to declare", and as a result, Lechem Oni means that many things are declared in connection with matzah, such as the songs of praise to G-d known as "Hallel" and the reading of the Haggadah, which are respectively sung and read at the Pesach/Passover Seder table [the opinion of "Rashi", the acronymn for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (or Yarchi), 1040-1105, born and died in Troyes, France, who was a renowned biblical and Talmudic commentator].

Shmurah Matzah

What is shmurah matzah? Shmurah or Shmura means "watched" or "guarded" in Hebrew. This "watched", "guarded", or "protected" matzah is named as such because the grain that comprises it is carefully "watched" for signs of having any contact with water right from the time the grain is harvested, since any contact with water will introduce the possibility of leavening occurring and disqualify it from being used for Passover. All types of matzah, whether shmurah matzah or matzah pashutha (pashutha matzah means "regular matzah" in Hebrew) must be kneaded and baked within 18 minutes to avoid leavening. In the case of shmurah matzah this means that when the dough is kneaded, cut into rounded-shapes and placed in an oven for baking, the total process - from the beginning of kneading when the dough comes into contact with water to completing the baking - must take less than 18 minutes otherwise the dough will become chametz (leaven) and not fit for Passover consumption. Factors such as heat in the working environment, warm water, and dough which is left standing will hasten the process of the dough becoming chametz, so matzah factories segregate the matzah oven from the area where the dough is kneaded. According to Pesachim 94b of the Talmud, there is an explanation that at night, the sun underneath the earth will heat up the wells and streams, causing their waters to become tepid. Therefore, Rabbi Judah ordered that this kind of water should not be used in the preparation of matzah because the tepid water will speed up the process of fermentation. He ordered that matzah should be made with water that has "lodged" or been kept overnight in the household at cool temperatures so that when this cooler water comes into contact with the flour when preparing matzah, fermentation will not be as rapid as with tepid water. To further ensure that matzah does not become chametz, hand-made matzah factories will close down their production facilities every 18 minutes to thoroughly clean all equipment, including rolling pins and mixing devices, to ensure that no traces of dough remain from the previous batch of dough. The workers will also wash their hands thoroughly, and the rabbinical supervisor will check everything to confirm that no traces of dough remain. Some machine-made matzah factories will follow this approach as well, using a mixture of shmurah and regular matzah flour. Their equipment for making matzah is designed to be dismantled for this purpose. This kind of matzah is known as "18 minute matzah". However, most owners of factories that make machine-made matzah do not shut down their factories after 18 minutes, but rather clean their equipment at the start of a production cycle of matzah-making, then follow the opinion of the Talmud which states that it will take much longer than 18 minutes for the dough to become chametz if it is constantly being kneaded, so their production facilities will be set up so that the dough is constantly being worked on. They also use equipment that does not allow the dough to stick to it, and set up the equipment to ensure that the dough does not remain in the production system prior to baking for a period of time that comes close to 18 minutes. This is done to keep the dough moving through the system well within 18 minutes so that there is enough time left for the dough to be baked within 18 minutes.

Matzah is usually not eaten on the day prior to the start of Passover to enhance the novelty of eating matzah at the appropriate times during the Passover seder, which opens the Passover festival. Some Jews will not eat matzah for an entire month prior to the start of Passover to further enhance the experience of eating matzah when it is required during the Passover seder.

Why Is Shmurah Matzah Made In A Round Shape?

In ancient times, people would make their bread with multiple shapes moulded around the edges of the bread symbolizing each G-d they worshipped. Since the Hebrews believed that G-d is eternal, they made their matzah in a rounded shape because a round shape has no beginning or end, therefore it is eternal and thus symbolized G-d.

What Are The Differences Between Shmurah Matzah And Regular, Or Commercial Matzah?

Shmurah matzah differs from regular commercial matzah in shape and how it is made. Whereas commercial matzah is made by hand or machine and cut into rectangular sheets, shmurah matzah is made by hand in a circular shape, similar to the shape the Hebrews made matzah when they fled Egypt. Ideally, one should use shmurah matzah on the first two nights of Passover, the Passover seder nights. Another difference is in the time when the matzah is 'watched'. Whereas shmurah matzah is 'watched' from the time the wheat is harvested to make sure that water does not come into contact with the wheat, regular or commercial matzah is 'watched' from the time the wheat is ground into flour.

What Kind Of Matzah Can Be Eaten For Those Who Cannot Digest Shmurah Or Shmura Matzah?

Matzah Ashirah - Matzah Ashirah means "enhanced" or "enriched" matzah. This refers to matzah that is made from flour which has been kneaded with fruit juice, wine, oil, milk, eggs, or honey in place of water. Since this type of matzah does not contain the same ingredients that were used by the Hebrews to make matzah in their flight from Egypt, it is not used for the mitzvah (which means "commandment" in Hebrew, in this case, G-d's commandment to observe Passover) of the Passover Seder, meaning it is not used either for the Passover Seder rituals, or in the Passover Seder itself. According to European Halachic tradition, this matzah can be eaten during the Passover festival by those who cannot digest shmurah matzah. This includes the sick, elderly, and young children. There is also oat matzah for those that cannot tolerate digesting wheat, but one should consult a rabbinical authority to ensure that this matzah is valid for Passover. If just a slight amount of water comes into contact with the dough of matzah ashirah, it might immediately become chametz, so rabbinical authorities prefer that it not be used at all for the duration of the Passover festival.

Matzah Ashirah is also known as "Lechem Ashirah" in Hebrew, meaning "rich bread". It is called "rich bread" because it consists of one of the prescribed grains mixed with a liquid other than water, and one of the prescribed grains mixed only with water is known in the biblical book of Deuteronomy I.E. Devarim as the "bread of poverty" (Devarim 16:3), meaning the bread that the Hebrews ate as slaves in ancient Egypt. Thus, rich bread - Lechem Ashirah - cannot qualify as matzah even if it is baked using the proper methods. At the same time, though, according to Rabbi Idi bar Avin, Matzah Ashirah or Lechem Ashirah cannot qualify as chametz because all liquids other than water, are chemically incapable of creating the leavening action which creates chametz. Thus, Matzah Ashirah or Lechem Ashirah is therefore too rich for matzah and too "poor" for chametz.

Even though matzah may be baked properly to ensure that it will not turn into chametz, most Chassidic (or Hassidic) Jews are still not entirely comfortable with the idea that matzah will be free from turning into chametz. Gebrochts (alternate spellings: "Gebrachts", "Gebruchts", or "Gebrockts") means "broken" in Yiddish ("Matza Sh'ruya" or "Matza Sheruya" is the equivalent name in Hebrew, meaning "soaked matza"), and refers to baking or cooking with matzah meal or matzah mixed with liquid. Most Chassidic Jews and many non-Chassidic Ashkenazic Jews will avoid gebrochts because they feel that there may still be tiny bits of unbaked yeast flour remaining in the matzah or matzah meal that may turn into chametz when the matzah or matzah meal is mixed with liquid, although Halachic Jewish law does not state that this possibility exists once matzah has been properly baked. To cater to Chassidic communities that observe the stringency of "No Gebrochts", travel agencies offering Passover vacations might say "No Gebrochts" in their advertisements. In addition, Chassidim and non-Chassidic Ashkenazic Jews who observe the stringency "No Gebrochts" will not eat matzah balls or matzah brei during the Passover festival, two favorites of the Ashkenazic menu during Passover.

Ever notice on a box of matzah that there is a phrase which says either: "Challah is Taken," or "Hallah is Taken?" Well, stop eating the matzah for a second and look at the box of matzah, and you'll see it, in most cases. What does this mean? (I said it first). In the process of making matzah, when the dough is formed, there is a ritual among observant Jews to remove and burn a small piece of the dough before the remainder of the dough is baked to create matzah. This is done in memory of the Temple sacrifice, when bread was offered as part of the sacrificial ritual to the priests ("Kohanim" in Hebrew) in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the logic of Jewish (Halachic) law and by extension, popular Jewish custom and understanding, it is the "taking of challah" that makes challah challah, not the egg dough, the braiding of the dough, or even the poppy seeds that are sprinkled on top of the dough. Since bread is the center of a traditional Jewish meal, then an individual must eat bread in order to make the food into a meal, and by extension, say the blessings for a meal. So when one reads on a box of matzah that "challah is taken," one can then recite the Motzi (or Motzei) blessing over bread (in the case of Passover, over matzah), which is step #7 (Motzi or Motzei) and step #8 (Matzah) respectively, in the 15 step process of the Passover seder. "Lechem" is the Hebrew word for "bread," and is well-known for the Motzi or Motzei blessing over bread which represents all food eaten at a meal.

By Biblical law, challah is taken only within the boundaries of the Land of Israel. However, the Sages instituted the taking of challah outside the Holy Land so that people living in the Diaspora (meaning all Jews living outside Israel) would not forget the mitzvah. In order for the mitzvah of challah to have Biblical force, all (or according to the Sefer HaChinuch, a majority) of Jews must be present in the Holy Land. Ever since the forced dispersion of the Jews at the end of the First Temple era, this criterion has not been met. Therefore, challah today, both in and out of the Land of Israel, is a Rabbinic rather than a Biblical mitzvah.

The word "challah" or "hallah" originally appeared in the Torah and in biblical and later Hebrew meant "dough offering," in reference to the Torah stating that one should offer a portion of dough when making bread to the Kohanim ("priests" in Hebrew) in the Temple in Jerusalem in biblical times. This "dough offering" or challah was in the shape of a round loaf or cake, which were baked into loaves of shewbreads. After the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., the ritual of setting aside a dough offering or challah for the priests ended. Nonetheless, to commemorate the Temple and the challah offering, Jews continued to set aside a portion of their dough when they made Shabbat ("Sabbath" in Hebrew) and festival breads, and burn the portion of dough set aside to signify the absence of the Temple. Since women were the ones who baked the shewbreads in the Temple's baking chamber, the responsibility of making challah after the destruction of the Temple was given to women. Although rabbis distinguished challah from bread after the destruction of the Temple to retain the essence of Judaism, over time, the term "Challah" or "Hallah" was eventually applied to the loaves of bread themselves.

While looking at a box of matzah from Israel, I noticed a phrase which said in Hebrew mixed with English: "No Chashash Tevel and Shveet" on it. I wondered what that meant. You may have seen this too, or your eyes may have just "passed over" it (pardon the pun) and you simply ate the matzah. Regardless, after consulting with rabbis, I discovered that this phrase meant that there is: "no worry, that there a 10th taken for tithing as prescribed by Jewish law, and not from the 7th year in the cycle of 7 years". Plus, this phrase is only found on boxes of matzah from Israel. You see, in Israel, tithes must be taken from all crops. If these tithes are not separated then the produce may not be eaten; the wheat, barley or fruit is actually not kosher until the commandments of tithing have been fulfilled. What is a tithe? A tithe is a small portion of the grain used in the production of matzah which is taken out from the batch of grain and usually burnt. The grain used in the production of matzah was grown according to a 7 year cycle, with the first 6 years being growing years for grain, and the 7th year being a "rest" year, in which no grain was grown (signifying a Shabbat or Sabbath for grain, perhaps?). "Chashash" means "worry" or "concern" in Hebrew, "Tevel" means "untithed produce" in Hebrew, and "Shveet" means "seventh" in Hebrew. Combined, these words are a shortened or contracted version of the above-mentioned phrase I quoted. When one sees "Tevel and Shveet" printed on a box of matzah, this historically meant that there was a "Ma'aser" ("10% of the produce" in Hebrew) taken from the produce of each Hebrew family as a tithe to the Levites, who were assistants to the Kohanim ("priests" in Hebrew), where both Levite and Kohen ("priest" in Hebrew, alternate spelling: Kohain) were members of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. This tithing to the Levites comes from the biblical passage found in the Book of Numbers: "To the descendants of Levi, I am now giving all the tithes ("ma'aser") in Israel as an inheritance. This is exchange for their work, the service that they perform in the Communion Tent." [Num. 18:21-22]. Today, however, tithing to the Levites is not necessarily done; rather the tithe is usually just burnt. Historically, in addition to tithing 10% of the produce to the Levites, there was also an additional "Trumah" ("2% of the produce" in Hebrew) from each Hebrew family set aside for the Kohanim which was only to be consumed by the families of Kohanim. Until this tithing was (and is) done, untithed produce I.E. Tevel may not be eaten except incidentally while it is still in the field.

Finally, a word (just kidding, more than a word!) about the five grains that are permitted to be used in the production of matzah (barley, spelt, rye, oats, and wheat). In the context of Passover, there are two categories of grains that refer to the growth of grains in relation to the Passover festival. One category of grains is known as "Chodosh" and the other category of grains is known as "Yoshon" (alternate spellings: "Yashan", "Yoshen"). "Chodosh" literally means "new" in Hebrew, and refers to any of the 5 grains used for making matzah (wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt) that have taken root on the 16th of Nissan or later, meaning on the second day of Passover onward. This grain is referred to as "new grain" I.E. Chodosh grain, and its consumption may be restricted until the following Passover, when it becomes "Yoshon" I.E. "old" grain, and thus permitted to be used from then on. The opposite of "new" grain is, you guessed it, "Yoshon", which again literally means "old" in Hebrew, and refers to any of the 5 grains used for making matzah (wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt) that have taken root on the 15th of Nissan or earlier, meaning before Passover, even if it is harvested after Passover. This grain is referred to as "old grain", and matzah made with "old grain" is permitted to be eaten without restriction for that Passover. A "Yoshon" product in the context of Passover means that yoshon grains, including wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt, were used in its preparation. To summarize, the planting and rooting of any of the five grains must take place before the 16th of Nissan for a given Passover in order for the resulting crop to be considered Yoshon for that Passover or Pesach and hence permitted for use in the production of matzah for that Passover or Pesach. As well, any one of the 5 grains that has been planted on or after the 16th of Nissan are considered to be Chodosh grains and will only become Yoshon grains when the following Passover or Pesach arrives, and hence permitted for use for that Passover.

What is the origin of these rulings about Yoshon and Chodosh grain? The answer to this question can be found in the following quote from the Jewish Community Council of Montreal, known in Hebrew as The "Va'ad Ha'ir" of Montreal (MK = Montreal Kosher; MK is the kosher certification symbol for the "Va'ad Ha'ir" of Montreal):

"A Kashrus (kosher) issue called Yoshon should be noted. In the times of the Bais Hamikdash ("The Temple" in biblical Jerusalem), a special offering called the "Omer" ["a sheaf" (of barley) in Hebrew, referring to a measure of grain] was brought on the second day of Pesach, and one was not permitted to eat from the new crop of grain until this sacrifice was brought. The new crop was called Chodosh ("new"), while the grain from the previous year was called Yoshon ("old"), and one could only eat Yoshon until after the Omer was brought. The Gemorah (the "Gemorah" or "Gemara" is the second part of the Talmud) tells us, however, that when the Bais Hamikdash is not standing, all Chodosh becomes permitted as soon as the second day of Pesach passes (the day of the Omer), even if the Korban Omer ["sacrifice of a sheaf" (of barley) in Hebrew] is not brought. The status of grain grown today depends on when it is planted. For example, winter wheat is planted and begins to grow before the winter. Although it is not harvested until the middle of the summer (well after Pesach), it is nonetheless permitted after the second day of Pesach since it had already begun to grow I.E. taken root. Spring wheat, however, as well as many types of oats, are planted after Pesach has begun, and thus do not enjoy the benefit of the day of the Omer. As such, spring wheat may pose a Kashrus concern. Halachik authorities (rabbinic authorities on Jewish law), however, differ as to whether this prohibition applies to grain outside of Eretz Yisroel (the "land of Israel" in Hebrew), and the prevailing custom among most Jews living outside of Israel is to be lenient. As such, the MK (as well as most other Kashrus organizations) certifies bread and other products that contain Chodosh grain. There is, however, a significant segment in the community that wishes to be Machmir ("strict" in Hebrew) and avoid the use of Chodosh, and for that reason many of our local bakeries make a great effort to use only Yoshon flour all year long. Such bakeries and products are clearly marked as Yoshon, and the MK takes a leading role in ensuring that such products are available."

And from the Orthodox Union:

"Some crops are planted right around Passover or Pesach. These are known as spring crops. Theoretically, if Passover or Pesach is late and planting is early, these crops could take root before the 16th of Nissan, and in this case, such a crop would already be yoshon before it is harvested in the summer. However, in the United States, spring crops are usually planted so late that the crops do not take root until after the 15th of Nissan. Therefore, spring crops are almost always new grain or chodosh at the time of the summer harvest and do not become permitted to be used until the following Passover or Pesach.

Other crops are planted in the fall, lie dormant during the winter, finish growing in the spring and summer, and are harvested in the summer. These are known as winter crops. Since they are planted in the fall, these crops take root well before Passover or Pesach and all winter crops are always yoshon by the time they are harvested. In the United States, spelt and rye are always winter crops and therefore are always yoshon. (Note that we are talking about the rye in the form of grain and not rye bread which also contains wheat flour.)

Barley and oats in the United States are almost all spring crops and are therefore subject to the issue of chodosh. Malt is a common food made from barley and the yoshon status of products containing malt is a subject by itself. Wheat is available in both spring and winter varieties."

In a nutshell, all chodosh I.E. new grain that has been planted and taken root before a given Passover or Pesach becomes Yoshon I.E. old grain, and thus is permitted to be used for that Passover or Pesach. Therefore, from Passover or Pesach until the harvest in the summer all grain is yoshon and mutar ("released" in Hebrew, meaning "permitted") to be used for the following Passover or Pesach. The new spring crop of oats is not harvested until mid July, the new spring crop of wheat is not harvested until early August, and the new spring crop of barley is not harvested until the end of August. Therefore, during the period from after Passover or Pesach until these times, one does not have to be concerned with chodosh grain.

The Orthodox Union, the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis in North America, certifies Yoshon food products by affixing a word or words on the packaging such as "Yoshon" ("old" in Hebrew), "Kemach Yoshon" ("old flour" in Hebrew), or "Made with Yoshon Flour" (no translation necessary!). Alternate spellings one may see on packaging are: "Yashan", "Kemach Yashan", or "Made with Yashan Flour". What does this mean? According to the Orthodox Union, this word or words certify that the food product in question is only made with Yoshon grain or derivatives of Yoshon grain, and that the food product is manufactured using either equipment that is used exclusively for Yoshon production, or on equipment which was down for over 24 hours since non-Yoshon production ceased.

Kitniyot/Kitniot (Sephardic pronounciation; singular form is "Kitnit" or "Kitneet") or Kitniyos/Kitnios (Ashkenazic pronounciation; singular form is "Kitnis" or "Kitnees")

There are other grains which are not permitted by most Ashkenazic rabbis on Passover, and that is kitniyot. What is kitniyot? Kitniyot means either "bits", "small things", or "little things" in Hebrew as an approximate translation and comes from the root word "small" in Hebrew. It is often mistranslated as "beans" or "legumes". In Section 453 of the code of Jewish law called "Orach Chaim" there is an essay called the "Shulchan Aruch" which states that kitniyot is defined as grains that can be ground into flour and baked and/or cooked in a similar manner as the five grains that can become chametz (barley, spelt, rye, oats, and wheat) but are not considered to be the exact same status as the five chametz grains. This has been interpreted to mean that kitniyot grains are not considered to be chametz, and so Ashkenazim who observe the kitniyot ban can attend a Passover seder in which they are served and eat food that has been cooked in the same pot as kitniyot, since the food will not ferment and become chametz. Since most Sephardim eat kitniyot, following the ruling of Rabbi Joseph Karo (16th century, Israel, the "Mechaber"), Ashkenazim who observe the kitniyot ban and who attend a Sephardic Passover seder can eat in the homes of Sephardim as long as they do not eat kitniyot. Furthermore, Ashkenazim are permitted to eat from the same plates and from the same cooking utensils used by Sephardim as long as there are no kitniyot in the food they are eating. Because Ashkenazic rabbis in the Middle Ages claimed that kitniyot grains can be ground into what can look like flour that came from the 5 forbidden grains (barley, spelt, rye, oats, and wheat) - which are forbidden to be used on Passover except when making matzah - kitniyot, any foodstuffs made with kitniyot, and even any foods or ingredients that may have come in contact with kitniyot, are generally not permitted by Ashkenazic rabbis during the festival of Passover, although since the Ashkenazic rabbinical rulings of the Middle Ages, there have been differences of opinion among Ashkenazic rabbis of different denominations and even within each denomination on these three issues regarding kitniyot. An exception is peanut oil because peanut oil is squeezed directly from the peanuts themselves and no peanut flour is used in producing the peanut oil. In the most orthodox sense of the ruling, the kitniyot ban is the same as for chametz (the 5 forbidden grains): chametz, any foodstuffs made with chametz (except when making matzah), and even any foods or ingredients that may have come in contact with chametz are forbidden to be used during the Passover festival, but as already stated, there are differences of opinion among rabbis today with some having far less restrictions concerning the use of kitniyot during Passover.

Regarding kitniyot, there is a great deal of dispute among Ashkenazic rabbis of different denominations and even within each denomination as to what constitutes kitniyot. Generally speaking, kitniyot are small fleshless seeds of annual plants that an individual might ground into flour. An expert on Jewish law (called a "Halakhic" expert) will have lists of items that are deemed to be kitniyot which a person should consult. However, most Sephardic rabbis permit the use of kitniyot, so most - but not all - Sephardic communities use kitniyot and foodstuffs made with kitniyot in their cooking and baking on Passover. The Ashkenazic rabbinical ban on the use of these grains and legumes dates back to the 10th century in Europe. Why did the Ashkenazic rabbis forbid the use of kitniyot on Passover? The Ashkenazic rabbis at that time followed the opinions of the Talmudic rabbis centuries before them who stated that kitniyot grains were not considered as possibilities for becoming chametz after being in contact with water and so they didn't directly ban them. However, these 10th century Ashkenazic rabbis were more concerned with the possibility that the general Jewish population would confuse kitniyot flour with chametz flour (any of the five grains mentioned above: barley, oats, rye, spelt, and wheat), and mistakenly use non-fermenting kitniyot flour with water to bake matzah instead of using chametz flour which will ferment with water. So they decided to place the kitniyot grains in the category of banned foods during the festival of Passover. What are the differences between chametz and kitniyot? One difference between the laws concerning chametz and the laws concerning kitniyot for Ashkenazim as interpreted by many Ashkenazic rabbis today is that kitniyot have less restrictions on their usage as compared with chametz. For instance, unlike chametz where an observant Jew must dispose of it prior to the start of Passover, the observant Ashkenazic Jew does not have to sell their kitniyot, and they may use items that are non-edible which contain kitniyot, for instance, pet food, heating fuel, or medications.

Some Examples of Kitniyot:

Some Examples of Items that are NOT considered Kitniyot:

String beans are not considered to be kitniyot because kitniyot is not considered to be a biologically-based category. Rabbinical disputes about what is and is not kitniyot are based on the original rulings of: (1) "The Smak" (an acronym for Rabbi Moshe of Kouchi, 13th century, France), an Ashkenazic rabbi who stated that the products of kitniyot look like products from chametz. For instance, rice flour (kitniyot) might be difficult to distinguish from wheat flour (chametz). So to prevent this potential confusion, all kitniyot were banned for Ashkenazim. Later on, the "Ramah" (an acronym for Rabbi Moshe Isserlis, 16th century, Poland) also supported this ruling; and (2) The Beit Yosef (Rabbi Yosef Karo, 16th century, Israel, the "Mechaber"), whose rulings Sephardim follow, stated that grains may accidentally become mixed with kitniyot and a person may then inadvertently eat actual chametz as a result. Nevertheless, The Beit Yosef ruled that kitniyot are permitted to be used during Passover, and so most, but not all, Sephardim use kitniyot during Passover. It depends on the custom of one's community. Therefore, one would have to ask the rabbinical authority for the Sephardic community (Moroccan, Syrian, Egyptian, Iranian/Persian, Iraqi, etc.) in question, or one's preferred rabbinical authority in a given Sephardic community.

There are also differences of rabbinical opinion as to whether or not fresh green beans, fresh peas, and peanuts constitute kitniyot, and whether or not products that derive from kitniyot are considered kitniyot, for instance, corn oil or soya oil, etc. An important thing to note is that the ban on kitniyot is a minhag (a "custom" in Hebrew), and not a mitzvah (a "commandment" from G-d), but the custom of banning kitniyot is nonetheless upheld by many Ashkenazic rabbis.

Kashering Or Koshering The Household For Passover

To kosher the household for Passover, one must first understand the meaning of "Kashrut" (alternate spellings: "Kashruth", and "Kashrus"); secondly, the meaning of "Kosher"; and thirdly, understand the meaning of "Kosher for Passover". Firstly, Kashrut means "clean", "fit", "proper", or "correct" in Hebrew. There is a body of rabbinical Jewish law that describes in detail what foods Jews can and cannot eat. This body of law is called "Halacha" or "Halachah" which means "way" or "path" in Hebrew, meaning the way to do things (other spelling variations are: "Halakhah" or "Halakha"). This body of Jewish law also outlines in detail how these foods must be prepared and eaten. Secondly, Kosher describes foods that meet these standards. Kosher food, Kosher drinks, and a Kosher household all mean that all foods, drinks, cookery, utensils, and all other items, areas, and appliances in rooms - are also kosher according to the laws of Kashrut. However, in the case of the Passover festival, all these items must not only be kosher, but "Kosher for Passover". This is a different kind of kosher. So thirdly, what is the difference between kosher and kosher for Passover? Kosher refers to foods, drinks, and even non-edible items as being "fit" or "proper" according to the dietary laws as specified in the Bible and Rabbinic laws, while Kosher for Passover refers to foods, drinks, and even non-edible items as being "fit" or "proper" according to the dietary laws that are specific for Passover as specified in the Bible and Rabbinic laws. For instance, as mentioned above concerning kitniyot, Jewish dietary law prohibits the consumption of various grains and legumes that can cause leavening to occur when mixed with water during the 8 days of the Passover festival (7 days for most Reform Jews and some Conservative Jews, and Jews in Israel), so one must follow the dietary laws and Rabbinic laws to make something kosher with this in mind. To make something kosher during the remainder of the year other than the 8 days of Passover does not involve the Passover dietary laws and Passover Rabbinic laws so different instructions are followed in the dietary laws and Rabbinic laws.

What Types Of Kosher Exist?

According to Jewish (Halachic) law, there are three categories of kosher foods: (1) Meat, (2) Dairy, and (3) Pareve or Parve (foods containing neither milk nor meat derivatives in them). Jewish (Halachic) law also outlines which foods are considered to be meat, which foods are considered to be dairy, and which foods are considered to be Pareve or Parve. There are even guidelines in Jewish (Halachic) law for cooking and serving foods in each of these three categories.

A food can be either kosher or not kosher, but even if the food is kosher, it does not mean that all kosher foods have the same status. There are different levels or degrees of kosher, as we will see in the following paragraph.

For kosher foods, there are different levels of kosher and names assigned to each level. "Certified kosher" means all the ingredients in a product must be kosher, including flavorings, stabilizers, toppings, etc. But how kosher is each ingredient in a product? This depends on how much each ingredient meets the dietary laws as outlined in Halacha or Jewish law. For meat products, the level of kosher that is accepted by almost every Kashrut (Kosher) organizations in the U.S. is "Glatt" Kosher. Glatt means "smooth" in Yiddish, and refers to the lungs of an animal being smooth, with no adhesions. "Chalak" or "Halak" is the Hebrew word for "Glatt". The "Glatt" criteria applies to the meat of adult, large herd animals. This list includes the meat of steer, heifers, bulls, cows and buffalo. Therefore, a butcher could legitimately advertise "Glatt kosher" rib steaks and "kosher" rib steaks. However, small herd animals, deer, sheep, lambs, calves, and all fowl (chickens, turkeys, and ducks) always have to be "Glatt" to be considered kosher. That means that adhesions are not removed from calf lungs. Such defects would render the calf treif, or non-kosher. Sometimes suppliers or proprietors will advertise "Glatt" kosher chickens to promote their product. This infers that the "Glatt" chicken is of higher kosher quality than "regular" kosher chicken, and that a chicken could be kosher without being "Glatt". This is a myth since every chicken in the United States must be "Glatt" to be considered kosher. Generally speaking, it was the custom of the Ashkenazi Jews, Jews of Central and Eastern European descent, to eat glatt and non-glatt meats, and accept both as kosher. Certain Sephardic communities, Jews of Spanish and Middle-Eastern descent, required an animal to be "Glatt" in order to be considered kosher.

There are companies that sell meats, claiming them to be kosher but not "Glatt" kosher. These meats are shunned by most Kashrut authorities in the U.S. Two types of Glatt kosher meats exist: "Bet Yosef" (or "Beit Yosef") Glatt meat and "Prime Kosher" Glatt meat. Bet Yosef (means "House of Joseph" in Hebrew) is a reference to Rabbi Yosef (Joseph) Karo (or Caro), the "Mechaber" (1488 - 1575), a Sephardic rabbi who lived in Tzefat, Israel. Rabbi Karo wrote a commentary called the "Shulchan Aruch" (or "Shulkhan Arukh"), which is an abridged, and easier-to-understand version of an earlier code of Jewish law that he authored entitled the "Bet Yosef". The Shulkhan Arukh ("prepared table" in Hebrew), by Rabbi Joseph (or "Yosef" in Hebrew) Karo is considered the most authoritative compilation of Jewish law since the Talmud. Meat that is "Glatt/Halak Bet Yosef" kosher means that it meets the requirements of being Glatt kosher as outlined by Rabbi Karo in the "Shulchan Aruch", meaning the animal had a completely clean lung. Most Sephardim eat this type of Glatt kosher meat. Ashkenazim follow another and slightly more lenient ruling established by Rabbi Moshe Isserles, the "Ramah" (1530 - 1572), who lived in Krakow, Poland. Rabbi Isserles ruled that up to two easily-removable adhesions from the lung can still qualify an animal to be Glatt kosher as long as all the other qualifications for being Glatt kosher meat are met. This would be termed "Prime Kosher" Glatt meat. However, in the case of meat from young animals such as lambchops or veal, all these meats must be Glatt/Halak Bet Yosef kosher for both Sephardim and Ashkenazim. It should be emphasized that Isserles's ruling is certainly legitimate and, in theory, non-glatt meat, if inspected properly, is 100% kosher for Ashkenazim. From the above explanation, it is clear that referring to chicken, fish, or dairy products as glatt is a misuse of the term. In addition, even when referring to meat, it only attests to the status of the lung, but makes no comment about the standards of, for example, the slaughtering procedure. Today, the Orthodox Union (and most other kashrut organizations in the U.S.) will only certify meat that is glatt, albeit not necessarily glatt Bet Yosef. The Orthodox Union in the U.S. will only certify meat that is Glatt Kosher, but not necessarily Glatt/Halak Bet Yosef kosher. If the meat does not qualify as Glatt, then it falls into the non-glatt categories. There are two non-glatt categories of meat: baseline kosher and non-kosher. If the meat that was rejected from the glatt kosher categories is deemed to be acceptable as baseline kosher by a Mashgiach (means "Overseer" in Hebrew), who is a rabbinical authority responsible for supervising, preparing, and serving kosher food, then it qualifies as a product for the non-glatt audience of Jews who still observe eating kosher animal meat. If the meat does not qualify as even baseline kosher by the Mashgiach, then it falls into the second category of non-glatt kosher meat, and is deemed non-kosher meat and sold to the non-Jewish market. When meats and other food products are being produced as kosher products, they must be produced on kosher or kosherized equipment.

As touched on in the previous paragraph, there have been many misconceptions about the meaning of "Glatt". Many people think the term "Glatt" refers to a higher standard of kosher, and they use the term "Glatt" to differentiate food items which have higher standards of kashrut or kosher from food items which have more relaxed standards of kashrut or kosher. In fact, the term "Glatt" has colloquially taken on this meaning. To be accurate, the term "Mehadrin" refers to the highest standard of kashrut or kosher, not "Glatt". There is more to the koshering meat process than simply having a "Glatt" endorsement on the product, for instance, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, the kosherness of the slaughtering process. Therefore, a product labelled "Glatt" may not always mean "Kosher". There may be times when one sees a sticker on a product such as a corned beef sandwich or an omelette which says "Glatt Kosher". This is probably due to the fact that the stores or catering services in question have only one kosher or kashrut sticker to label all their products and so they will use this sticker to label their products. Although it is technically inaccurate to label chicken, fish, lamb, or dairy products as Glatt, it is not uncommon to find such labeling. In the majority of cases, it is probably not being done to mislead; but in some instances it may be intended to imply that the product was processed under a superior hashgahah ("careful watchfulness" in Hebrew, referring to rabbinic supervision of every detail in the koshering process), as per the term's informal usage. In all cases, integrity and reliability are the best measures for determining whether or not a product is "Glatt" kosher or "Mehadrin", and this means that the product in question that has a label of "Glatt" kosher, "Super-Glatt" kosher, "Mehadrin", or "Mehadrin-Glatt", or similar such names should be endorsed by a respected Rabbinic Authority or respected kashrus organization. Furthermore, meat and poultry should be purchased from a butcher who displays genuine integrity and commitment to Torah and mitzvos along with his reliable supervision. In all matters dealing with whether or not a product is kosher, it is best to consult your local Rabbinic authority.

The term "La-Mehadrin" or simply "Mehadrin" refers to the most stringent level of kosher supervision. The term "Mehadrin" means "those who beautify" in Hebrew. This is a term which is used to describe people who insist on doing every Mitzvah I.E. commandment from G-d (specifically meaning the 613 commandments of the Torah) in the best and most beautiful way possible. Since there are both standard levels of kosher or kashrut and more stringent standards of kosher or kashrut, there are many instances where one can be lenient or stringent in the laws of Kosher. An individual who eats Mehadrin doesn't rely on leniencies or loopholes, and eats only the highest standard of Kosher. Thus, "Mehadrin" can also refer to the "best" or "highest quality" of kosher. Another way of stating the definition of "La-Mehadrin" or simply "Mehadrin" is that it means "extra stringencies in the laws of Kosher or super Kosher", which means that it goes beyond the strict letter of the law. "Mehadrin" requires extra stringencies with regard to the butcheries, the Kosher ritual slaughtering at the abattoirs, as well as extra stringencies in the "nikur" or "treibering" (porging or de-veining) and Koshering process, for instance, blowing up of the lung of the Kosher slaughtered animals, splitting the backs of fowl for the salting process and the restrictions of certain types of casings for processed meats. A final point that must be made is that "Mehadrin" is not "Glatt Kosher". "Mehadrin" describes the highest standard of kosher or kashrut while "Glatt Kosher" describes the lungs of an animal being smooth or "Glatt", with no adhesions. Therefore, "Glatt" is just an endorsement that the lungs of an animal were clean. As stated, there is more to the koshering meat process than a "Glatt" endorsement on the product. Therefore, a product labelled "Glatt" may not always mean "Kosher".

Note: alternate spellings of "Bet Yosef" include: "Bayt Yosef", "Beit Yosef", "Bait Yosef", and "Beyt Yosef".

"Pareve" (from Yiddish: "Parev", and Hebrew: "Parve") is another type of kosher. Pareve means "neutral" in both Hebrew and Yiddish, and, accompanied by a kosher symbol on a food product, refers to any edible product that has neither dairy nor meat products in it or derivatives of dairy or meat products in it. The word "Pareve" or "Parve" along with a kosher symbol on a food product means that the food product in question is safe to eat under all circumstances for the kosher-keeping Jew. In addition, Pareve products have not been cooked or mixed with any dairy or meat products or derivatives of dairy or meat products. Technically-speaking, Pareve products have no meat, fowl, fish, poultry, or dairy products in them. Examples of Pareve products are juices in their natural, unprocessed state; fish, fruits, nuts, eggs, vegetables, herbs, coffee and tea, pasta, soft drinks, many types of candy and snacks, and grains. To make manufactured edible products Pareve, they must be made using koshered utensils, cookery, and equipment that are "neutral", meaning they have had no contact with meat nor dairy items. Edible products that do not have either dairy nor meat products in them can then be labeled "Kosher Pareve". Although foods marked "Pareve" or "Parve" have neither meat nor dairy ingredients in them, they may still contain eggs, fish, or honey, and occasionally gelatin. More usefully, Pareve foods are almost certain to have vegetable-derived stearates and glycerides and exclude almost all animal-based colorings or flavorings. The Halachic dietary laws state that dairy and meat products must not be mixed together, and so an edible product that is Pareve means that this product will not conflict with the dietary laws of Halachah that would render it non-kosher, or terayfa. Terayfa means "torn" in Hebrew, and originally referred to a biblical reference in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 22:30) that instructed Jews not to eat any animals that were "torn" in the field, meaning animals that were killed by other animals. The meaning of this restriction was eventually extended to refer to all forbidden foods and foods that did not conform to the Halachic dietary laws. The word "Terayfa" is often mispronounced as either "treyf", "treif", "trayf", or "traif".

Other kosher designations on products or items: In addition to the "Kosher Pareve" status of a product, items with a small "DE" (meaning: "Dairy Equipment") next to the kosher logo indicate equipment previously exposed to dairy products was used to produce an item, but it is otherwise Pareve. A small "D" may accompany a kosher symbol on a food product. This small "D" (meaning: "Dairy") means "Kosher Dairy" ("Cholov Stam" or "Chalav Stam" in Hebrew) and may mean that the item contains dairy or was only produced with dairy equipment. As always, check the ingredients. What many may not know, however, is that milk proteins such as whey, caseine or caseinate in the ingredient legend indicate that the product is dairy, even if the container says non-dairy, as is the case with many so-called non-dairy creamers. This is because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, a department in the United States government) and Halachah do not define dairy in the same way. According to the FDA, any product that doesn't contain milk can be marketed as non-dairy, even though it may contain milk derivatives. Halachah considers such a product dairy. Consumers should therefore check for the "D" on "non-dairy" creamers to determine if they are dairy or not. The French equivalent for the small "D" on a food product is "LAIT", meaning "milk" in English. If the word "LAIT" appears on the food product along with a kosher symbol, the word "LAIT" also represents the words "Dairy", and "Kosher Dairy" ("Cholov Stam" or "Chalav Stam" in Hebrew) and, like a kosher symbol accompanied by a small "D" as discussed above, may mean that the item contains dairy or was only produced with dairy equipment. A food product with either a small "D" or the word "LAIT" that is accompanied by a kosher symbol means that one can safely eat the food product alone, but not together with meat, because eating milk products or their derivatives with meat products or their derivatives is prohibited by Jewish law. Also, note that a "P" designated on a product indicates Kosher for Passover, not Pareve, and means that the product in question is both kosher for Passover, and kosher for the entire year. "Pas Yisrael" (literally meaning "the bread of Israel" or "the bread of a Jew" in Hebrew; alternate spelling: "Pat Yisrael") is another kosher designation that one may see on a product. The "Yisrael" in "Pas Yisrael" literally means "Israel" in Hebrew, but in this context it refers to an observant Jew who participates in the baking process. For this reason, "Pas Yisrael" also means "baked with Jewish participation" in Hebrew, and refers to bread or cake made under the auspices of an observant Jew - that is, an observant Jew who was involved in at least a portion of the baking process (the usual method of involvement is for the observant Jew to kindle the flame). As a result, to ensure that baked goods are "Pas Yisrael", an observant Jew must ignite the oven in which the product is being baked. One may also see another phrase on a food product designating that the food product in question was baked with Jewish participation, and this phrase is: "Afiya Yisroel" or "Afiya Yisrael". "Afiya" simply means "baked" in Hebrew, and "Yisrael" or "Yisroel" literally means "Israel" in Hebrew, but in this context, it refers to a religiously observant Jewish person who participated in the baking process of the food product in question. Finally, "Bishul Yisrael" refers to "cooked foods made with Jewish participation", where "Bishul" means "cooked" or "boiled" in Hebrew, and "Yisrael" literally means "Israel" in Hebrew, but in this context it refers to an observant Jew who is reliable in and has a great knowledge of kosher issues and laws who participates in the cooking or boiling process. This stricture applies only to food that meets two conditions: it must be food that is not eaten in its raw state, and it must be not just a simple food, but food that would be served at a royal table. For example, a cup of coffee is not distinguished, and one can buy coffee even if it was brewed by a non-Jew. How much involvement by an observant Jew in the baking or cooking process is a matter of dispute among the Talmudic Sages, with many different opinions for different circumstances.

Just as "Bishul Yisrael" refers to "cooked foods made with Jewish participation", meaning an observant Jew who participates in the cooking process of cooked foods, a food product labelled "Non Bishul Yisroel", means that there is no guarantee that an observant Jew participated in the cooking process of a cooked food item. Therefore, a product labelled "Kosher" but also labelled "Non Bishul Yisroel" means that the food product has the status of a partial or qualified certification of kosher, and that to make the food product a full and unqualified certification of kosher, the producer of the food product must hire Jewish employees to oversee the production process of the food product. It is possible, however, for a food product to be "Bishul Yisroel", meaning the food product was produced with the participation of Jews, and yet not be kosher.

"Bishul Akum" or "Bishul Acum" means that a food was cooked exclusively by a non-Jew. According to the ruling of the ancient Rabbis, no Jew - Ashkenazic or Sephardic - is permitted to eat any food product that is produced by "Bishul Akum", or in other words, produced exclusively by a non-Jew. The Orthodox Union does not certify any food products that are produced by "Bishul Akum". Which foods are regarded as "Bishul Akum", and what is regarded as "Bishul Yisroel" when it is needed? These are complex issues. Food that can be eaten raw may be cooked by a non-Jew and therefore is not subject to the ban on "Bishul Akum". Also, a food product that requires further cooking is not subject to the ban on "Bishul Akum". Furthermore, a food that does not "go onto the table of kings" is not subject to the ban on "Bishul Akum". The aforementioned exceptions to the ban on "Bishul Akum" are the same for Ashkenazim and Sephardim, however there is a difference of opinion among poskim as to what does and does not go onto the "table of kings", and that is a completely separate issue. ("Poskim" means "one who makes a legal decision" in Hebrew, referring to rabbis who decide complicated cases of Jewish law and custom where previous authorities are inconclusive. "Posek" is the singular of "Poskim", and refers to just one rabbi in the aforementioned definition of "Poskim".)

Ashkenazim and Sephardim differ when it comes to determining what an observant, G-d-fearing Jew who is reliable and knowledgeable in kosher issues and laws must do in order for the food product to become "Bishul Yisroel", meaning to what extent does an observant Jew participate in the cooking process in order for the food product to be declared "Bishul Yisroel". Ashkenazim follow the ruling of the "RAMA" ["RAMA" is an acronym for Rabbi Moshe Isserles, the "RAMA" (1530 - 1572) who lived in Krak w, Poland. "Moshe" is Hebrew for "Moses".], who stated that if an observant Jew does ANYTHING in the processing of the food product, for instance, such as lighting the fire or turning on the machinery, then the food product is considered "Bishul Yisroel" and is permitted to be used for consumption. Sephardim, however, follow the opinion of the "Mechaber", an acronym for Rabbi Yosef Caro [or Joseph Karo, (1488 - 1575), who lived in Zefat, Israel.], who stated that an observant Jew must actually put the food product on the fire (or into the machines) in order for the food product to be "Bishul Yisroel".

Where does the prohibition against mixing dairy and meat products together originate? I thought I'd never ask. The short answer is that it originates in the Hebrew Bible in three different places. The Torah tells us not to "boil a kid in its mother's milk" (Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; and Deuteronomy 14:21). Furthermore, the Oral Torah explains that this passage is interpreted to mean that one should not eat dairy products and meat products together. The Rabbinical Sages then expanded this law to include not eating poultry and dairy products together, but on the other hand, it is permitted to eat fish and dairy together as well as eggs and dairy together.

There are some differences of opinion concerning whether to eat meat and fish together, but the reason or reasons for this prohibition is not clear, and it is thought to have originated with medical opinions recorded in the Middle Ages.

Any food products that have been processed in any way should only be purchased if they bear reliable kosher certification, meaning they should have a reliable kosher symbol; usually, but not always, in the form of a small label, affixed to them. The words "Kosher for Passover" or "Kosher l'Pesach" are not enough: it must be a reliable kosher symbol.

Can Pareve foods lose their Pareve status? The answer is yes in two situations: (1) If additives are added to the Pareve food, then that Pareve food will lose its Pareve status; and (2) if the Pareve food is processed on equipment that is used for dairy products.

Based on the three above-mentioned passages in the Torah, Jewish (Halachic) law says that meat and dairy products are not permitted to be cooked together or eaten together. Furthermore, one cannot even derive benefit from foods that have a combination of meat and dairy products in them, such as selling a product containing both meat and dairy in it, and even feeding such a product to a pet!

To ensure that meat and dairy products are separated, separate utensils, appliances, and accessories are used to make meat and dairy products in a kosher kitchen. For Pareve or Parve foods, it is also useful to have separate Pareve or Parve utensils.

Cooking and serving Pareve or Parve foods: In general, Pareve or Parve foods can be served with either meat or dairy meals, since they contain neither meat nor dairy products in them. There are some kitchens that have separate cooking items for Pareve or Parve foods such as knives, serving and mixing bowls, pot holders, and pots that are used exclusively for Pareve or Parve foods. And you guessed it: these cooking items are always washed separately from meat and dairy dishes. In addition, there should be other items used exclusively for Pareve or Parve foods such as draining boards, dish towels, and dish sponges.

So what happens if a Pareve or Parve food becomes mixed together or cooked with any meat or dairy product? What happens to the kosher status of the Pareve or Parve food? If a Pareve or Parve food becomes mixed with or cooked with either a meat product or a dairy product, it then becomes either a meat product or a dairy product respectively, and all the kosher laws that pertain to meat products and dairy products respectively now apply to the former Pareve or Parve food, including the laws pertaining to the waiting times between consuming a milk product and a meat product, as we will see in the following paragraph.

All right, so after all these rules, you may have this question (at least I do!): if I can't eat milk products with meat products, how long should I wait before eating or drinking a milk product after I have eaten a meat product? Well, I had to ask, so here's the answer (drum roll, please): the Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law) states that there are two traditions: (1) Wait for 1 hour (adhered to by Dutch Jewry); and (2) Wait 6 hours. The prevailing Anglo-Jewish tradition is to wait for 3 hours. And what about the time interval to wait before eating a meat product after one has eaten or drank a milk product? Only in the case of hard cheese does the same time interval of 3 hours apply. Other than hard cheese, it is not necessary to wait, however, one should clean out one's mouth by rinsing it, or taking a drink and eating something Pareve or Parve.

And if the Pareve or Parve food gets cooked in a pot used exclusively for meat products or in a pot used exclusively for dairy products, which dishes should I serve the Pareve or Parve food with? The logical (and correct) answer is that if the Pareve or Parve food gets cooked in a meat pot, then one should serve the Pareve or Parve food on dishes used exclusively for meat products. Similarly, if the Pareve or Parve food gets cooked in a dairy pot, one should serve the Pareve or Parve food on dishes used exclusively for dairy products. However, there is no waiting time required before eating foods of the opposite time. What if the Pareve or Parve food was cooked in a clean pot reserved for meat and then is required to be served during a dairy meal, or vice-versa? In those cases, one should solemnly say "Oy, gevalt!" and then consult an Orthodox Rabbi! (Just kidding about saying "Oy, gevalt!", which means "Oh, no!" or "Heaven Forbid!" in Yiddish, but do consult the Orthodox Rabbi!)

Further on the subject of dairy products, one may see a milk product with a kosher symbol on it accompanied by the words "Cholov Yisroel" (alternate spellings in other languages: "Kholov Yisra'el" in Yiddish, "Halav Yisra'el" in Hebrew). "Cholov Yisroel" is another kosher term which in a nutshell means that all dairy productions, including cheese and non-fat dry milk powder, have been under constant Rabbinical supervision. "Cholov" (alternate spellings: "Chalav", "Holov", "Kholov", "Khalav", and "Halav") means "milk" in Hebrew, and "Yisroel" (alternate spellings: "Yisrayel", "Yisroyel", "Yisrael") means "Israel" in Hebrew; in this context, "Yisroel" is referring to a person of Jewish heritage, particularly a Jewish person - notably a Rabbi - who is qualified to supervise any and all dairy production.

Milk products or items that have a kosher symbol affixed to them may also say: "Not Cholov Yisroel", "Not Chalav Yisroel", "Non Cholev Yisroel", "Pas Cholov Yisroel" (in French), or "Pas Chalav Yisroel" (in French). This means that although the product or item in question is deemed to be kosher, there was in fact no Jewish supervision of the milk production process. If the milk had been produced on a farm owned by an observant Jew or had the milk been produced on a farm of a non-Jew but under Jewish supervision, then the milk would have been considered to be "Cholov Yisroel" or "Chalav Yisroel". Therefore, a milk product that is labelled "Kosher" but also says: "Not Cholov Yisroel", "Not Chalav Yisroel", "Non Cholev Yisroel", "Pas Cholov Yisroel" (in French), or "Pas Chalav Yisroel" (in French), means that this milk product is a partial or qualified certification of kosher, and that in order for the product to turn into a full and unqualified certification of kosher, the producer of the milk product would have to hire Jewish supervisors to oversee the production of the milk product.

Based on the above information, it follows that if a product is labelled "Cholov Yisroel" or "Not Cholov Yisroel", it must contain milk, even if the words "Dairy" or "Lait" or the letter "D" are missing.

A milk product that was produced by a non-Jewish farmer is termed "Cholov Akum" or "Cholov Acum" in Hebrew, and the Rabbis of ancient times ruled that milk that is "Cholov Akum" (produced and supervised solely by non-Jewish workers) must never be consumed by a Jewish person. In order to change the religious status of milk from "Cholov Akum" to "Cholov Yisroel", an observant Jew who is reliable in and has a great knowledge of kosher issues and laws must be present to oversee the production of the milk from the milking to the bottling of the milk. The observant Jew must be able to make sure that the milk has not been adulterated or that the milk production has not been compromised.

So now that I know which kosher for Passover identification symbols to look for on a product or item, what symbols on a product or item are NOT kosher symbols or kosher for Passover symbols? Well, here are some of the more common symbols: (1) Trade Mark symbol: " " or " TM " is NOT a kosher symbol or a kosher for Passover symbol; (2) Copyright symbol: " " is NOT a kosher symbol or a kosher for Passover symbol; (3) Registered Trade Mark symbol: " " is NOT a kosher symbol or a kosher for Passover symbol; (4) In French, the Trade Mark symbol is most often displayed as " MD " which means "Marque D pos e", while less often, the French version of Trade Mark is displayed as " MC " which means "Marque de Commerce". There may be products or items which are marked with the letter D inside a circle. This is probably a French symbol for "Marque D pos e" and is used as the French equivalent for the English symbol " ", in other words, for the Registered Trade Mark symbol.

You may also see groups of "random" numbers or groups of letters and numbers on a product or item such as "2347" or "P3856". These groups of numbers or groups of letters and numbers are either manufacturing plant numbers, or panel numbers that the product manufacturer places there for reference. They are NOT kosher symbols or kosher for Passover symbols. There may also be government symbols on a product, such as a coat-of-arms, or a crown, or some other symbol connected with a government, and which also may or may not include a number with it. The number is usually an identification number issued by the government to the company producing the product. The government symbol on the product means that the product in question comes from government-inspected producers. Again, as with the previous examples, the government symbol is NOT a kosher symbol or a kosher for Passover symbol.

If one sees a number inside a circle on a product, this may or may not indicate kosher certification. In that case, one would have to contact the product manufacturer and ask them whether or not the number inside a circle on their product represented kosher certification.

In rarer instances, products may have two kosher certification symbols on them, but in actual fact only one of the two kosher symbols is counted for the product.

Finally, a product containing a kosher symbol accompanied by a number such as "COR 15" is still a valid kosher certification symbol for that product.

How Does A Food, Drink, Or Other Product Become Officially Either Kosher Or Kosher For Passover?

There are no special rules regarding wine or other alcoholic drinks. All that is required is for these drinks to conform to the usual kosher rules and kosher for Passover rules. However, beer is not kosher for Passover because it is made with barley. Chassidim, however, drink vodka because it is made with potatoes, which are permitted for Passover.

To earn a kosher endorsement symbol or kosher for Passover endorsement or certification symbol that is placed on the product (this kosher certification symbol is called a "Heksher" in Hebrew), the factory where kosher food is produced and the ingredients of the product in question in the factory must be inspected by field supervisors from a local, regional, or national Jewish Orthodox authority or an individual rabbi qualified to perform the inspection. The Orthodox rabbinical authority then compiles and submits a report for a prompt and impartial review by a panel of experts on kosher law. Any changes required in production, procedures, or ingredients are specified, and arrangements are made for re-inspecting the products by the field supervisors. Once the product is approved, a symbol representing the Jewish Orthodox authority in question is affixed to the product so that customers will see it has been approved by a Jewish Orthodox authority. The kosher symbol that is affixed to a product is the kosher symbol that represents the rabbinical authority for the geographical location where the product was made. The Heksher (alternate spellings: "Heckscher", "Hechsher", "Hecksher") means that all ingredients have been officially declared kosher for Passover and that the processing of these ingredients were officially supervised from start to finish. Want to see a pictorial list of kosher symbols from different rabbinical authorities? Just click to this kosher symbols web page, or this kosher symbols web page. If you really want to see a comprehensive list of kosher symbols for different countries, just head on over to the World Wide Kashruth Authorities Listing in Israel. For the above 3 links, a smaller browser window will open. Keep in mind that there is a difference between an item being "Kosher" and an item being "Kosher for Passover", as discussed above. An item that is "Kosher for Passover" will clearly be marked "Kosher for Passover" in addition to having a kosher symbol on it, as opposed to an item that is simply marked "Kosher" along with having a kosher symbol on it.

So what are the inspectors looking for when they are evaluating whether or not a product is kosher for Passover? They are looking to see that the item in question abides by the regular kosher laws as well as abiding by the specific kosher laws for Passover. What are these laws or rules? I knew I'd ask that. They are looking to see if the item in question does not contain any primary chametz, meaning any of the 5 forbidden grains - barley, oats, rye, spelt, and wheat - that can render the item as chametz. The exception to this rule is when one is making matzo, that is, unleavened bread. In the case of making matzo, at least one of the five aforementioned grains must be part of the ingredients. If the item in question has not come in contact with chametz - leaven - but has or may have come in contact with another item that has chametz, then the item in question becomes secondary chametz. Inspectors guard against an item coming into contact with other items that contain chametz by separating them from chametz items. So to summarize, an item becomes kosher for Passover when it does not contain any primary chametz and has not come in contact with any other item that contains or may contain chametz. However, there is a difference between the United States and Israel when it comes to kitniyot and an item being kosher for Passover. In the United States, an item that is considered kosher for Passover also means that the item does not contain any kitniyot (generally speaking, kitniyot are small fleshless seeds of annual plants that an individual might ground into flour.), whereas in Israel, the item may contain kitniyot.

The following are items that must be certified "Kosher for Passover":

The following are items that do not have to be certified "Kosher for Passover":

Please consult with your local rabbi or rabbinical council in your denominational preference (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, or Humanistic) and cultural classification (Sephardic, Ashkenazic, or Mizrahi) for your city, country or region to obtain a complete list of foods, drinks, and other items that must be kosher for Passover, and a list of foods, drinks, and other items that do not have to be kosher for Passover. Also, check with your rabbinical authority to determine what Rabbinic certification is required on products containing kitniyot.

Unless specifically approved for Passover use by one's local, regional, or national rabbinical authority in one's denominational preference (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, or Humanistic) and cultural classification (Sephardic, Ashkenazic, or Mizrahi), fermented products that usually contain grain alcohol like whiskey, liquor, and medications that are liquid-based, should be treated as chametz. Even products that are not ingested but are put on one's body, such as liquid and roll-on deodorants, cologne, hair-tonic, perfumes, hair spray, toilet water, mouthwash, and shaving lotion should be viewed as chametz unless otherwise approved by a rabbinical authority in one's denominational preference (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, or Humanistic) and cultural classification (Sephardic, Ashkenazic, or Mizrahi) in one's locality. However, if the fermentation ingredients as well as all other ingredients for alcohol and/or wine alcohol fall under the category of foods that are permitted to be used for the Pesach/Passover festival based on the rulings of various rabbis, then this type of alcohol and/or wine alcohol is considered to be kosher for Passover and therefore permitted to be used during the Pesach/Passover festival. As a result, petroleum-derived alcohol and wine are used for Kosher for Pesach/Passover alcohol and wine alcohol. I have also heard of a manufacturer in New York City who makes kosher for Passover beer by skipping the malting process, in which fermentation of a grain occurs by mixing water with the grain, eventually producing sugar. It is this fermentation of a grain which is the reason that traditional beer is not kosher for Passover. He simply eliminates the grain that is usually used in the malting process and instead uses molasses and honey, which he then mixes with the hops, which are dried flowers from the vine of the hop plant. He then cooks the mixture in the newly koshered cookers, passes the mixture over the koshered cooling elements, then allows it to cool in the koshered fermenters, then he adds yeast - which did not come from a bread product - and then he waits about two weeks for the whole thing to ferment, resulting in a reasonable facsimile of beer.

Now that we know what the meanings are of kashrut, kosher, and kosher for Passover, it's time to find out how to kosher (alternate spelling: kasher) the household for Passover.

According to Jewish law as outlined in Halacha, there are five different methods of kashering or koshering items for Passover depending on the type of vessel or item and on the type of method in which it became chametz, or leavened (DISCLAIMER: We Are Not Responsible If You Attempt These Methods On Your Own. We Are Writing This For Informational Purposes Only. Get An Experienced Person In Koshering Items To Perform The Following Five Methods!):

  1. Libun Gamur - Libun Gamur means "full incineration" in Hebrew, and refers to koshering items by heating utensils until the metal reaches a point of glowing. The easiest method to do this is to use a furnace. The utensils in question that are koshered using the Libun Gamur method are those that are used directly on a fire for baking and broiling. This also includes roasters, frying pans, and grill racks.
  2. Libun Kal - Libun Kal means a "light" form of "full incineration" in Hebrew, and refers to heating utensils until a thin splinter of wood or a piece of paper turns brown or shows some marks of burning, and when the piece of paper or wood is touching the item being koshered. The oven can be heated to a point where this can occur. Libun kal is usually done when Hagalah cannot be done. Items that use this method include chairs, sofas, dentures, and dishwashers.
  3. Hagalah - Hagalah means "purging" in Hebrew, and refers to purging or immersing in boiling hot water. This is done for pots, forks, spoons, metal, or wooden utensils that have not been used directly on a fire. This is also used on similar utensils where food is prepared in a liquid state. A special Passover koshering pot should be used for this process.
  4. Erui - Erui means "pouring bubbling boiling water" in Hebrew, and refers to heating up water in a special kosher for Passover koshering kettle until it is boiling, and then immediately pouring the boiling water over the surface of kitchen sinks and kitchen surfaces to kosher for Passover them. This method is also used for metal serving trays, after which cold water is then poured on these trays to rinse them.
  5. Milui V'erui - Milui V'erui means "soaking in cold water" in Hebrew, and refers to soaking items such as glassware in cold water for three days, with the water being changed every twenty-four hours.

Halachic Jewish law outlines different Rabbinical opinions concerning the methods of cleaning each type of item to make them kosher for Passover. There are even different opinions concerning the methods for cleaning different types of the same item, for instance, in the case of appliances, stove tops that are gas-powered, and stove tops that are electric-powered! In the case of a microwave, many opinions do not allow for koshering a microwave, since it contains plastic, but some opinions do allow for koshering a microwave, with specific instructions to follow. Some rabbinical opinions simply say to buy new items such as new stove burners or mixers/blenders/food processors if the item in question is too difficult to clean, or to follow a specified procedure for that item if that is not possible. What are the groups of items to kosher for Passover? The groups of items in question to kosher for Passover include dishes, glasses, cutlery, silverware, kiddush cups, cookery, metal trays, chairs, sinks, machinary, appliances, clothing, towels, dishtowels, cloths, tablecloths, buckets, countertops, cupboards, and any other device, item, room or area in the household that may have come into contact with leaven during the year. There are also certain items that cannot be koshered such as anything that cannot be thoroughly cleaned, for instance, a grater or sieve or vessels with narrow necks, anything that may be damaged by immersing it in boiling water, thermos flasks, glasstop stoves, enamel pots, electric frying pans, all utensils and knives with wooden or plastic handles, teflon coated vessels, and utensils and knives with wooden or plastic handles. As you can imagine, the challenge of koshering a home for Passover is a highly detailed process. Even people that have dentures or braces in their mouth are instructed to thoroughly clean them so as not to contain any residue of chametz in their mouth. Some people with braces or dentures will refrain from eating and drinking hot chametz for 24 hours before the last permitted time of chametz consumption.

Note: As mentioned, there are various procedures for making all the above-mentioned non-edible items kosher using the five methods outlined above (Libun Gamur, etc.). These procedures are usually discussed in a Passover guidebook from either one's city, regional, or national rabbinical authority in one's denominational preference (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, or Humanistic) and cultural classification (Sephardic, Ashkenazic, or Mizrahi).

One may ask: why don't I just have separate dishes, cutlery, glassware, and other items set aside just for Passover? Ah, that is a good question, and to save time, most observant Jews do indeed use separate dishes, cutlery, glassware, utensils, cookery, and other items - if they can afford it - for Passover!

Observant Jews will have four sets of dishes - For Passover: one set of dishes for meat, and another set of dishes for dairy. For the remainder of the year: an additional set of dishes for meat, and another additional set of dishes for dairy. This complies with the dietary laws as outlined in Halachah, the book of Jewish dietary laws.

So, in a nutshell, persons who strictly observe Passover:

...all to ensure that they don't eat or own even secondary chametz.

When Can One Cook For Passover?

Ideally, one should prepare and cook all Passover foods a day or two before Yom Tov. What is Yom Tov? I thought you might ask that, so I was prepared to answer it! The Passover festival lasts 7 days for Reform Jews and Jews in Israel, and 8 days for all other Jews. For Jews who recognize the Passover festival for 7 days, the actual celebration of the Passover festival takes place on the first and seventh days of the Passover festival. The first and seventh days of the Passover festival are called Yom Tov, which means "Good Day" in Hebrew. However, in the context of a festival, Yom Tov means "Good Holiday" in Hebrew. The Yiddish translation of "Yom Tov" is either "Yontev", "Yontef", or "Yontif". For Jews who observe the Passover festival for 8 days, Yom Tov - or the Passover celebration - takes place on the first and second days and on the seventh and eighth days of the Passover festival. With all this in mind, Halachah (Jewish law) states that one cannot prepare and cook food on Yom Tov that will be used for the following Yom Tov day or for any day after Yom Tov. One must eat prepared and cooked food on a Yom Tov day for the same Yom Tov day. If for better-tasting food reasons one does not want to cook prior to Yom Tov, or one does not have enough time to cook prior to Yom Tov, one is allowed by Halachic Jewish law to prepare and cook food for the Passover festival on Yom Tov days, providing that one uses a flame that already exists, meaning one should have the settings for the gas or electric stove or oven set at the correct heating temperature prior to Yom Tov. There is an opinion that says one is not allowed to change the temperature of an electrical stove on Yom Tov, but one can increase the heat of a gas stove on Yom Tov. For an oven, it depends on the opinion of one's local, regional, or country-specific Halachic authority. What about shabbat? On shabbat, Jewish law states that shabbat is a time in which one's own being is uniquely self-sufficient in and of itself. To be thinking or acting on a holy day such as shabbat with a non-holy time or activity in mind is to desecrate the holy day. Therefore, cooking, microwaving, baking, frying, grilling, or even warming on shabbat is prohibited. If one wants hot food on shabbat, the food must be pre-cooked and prepared before one lights the candles for shabbat, which indicates the start of shabbat. One can keep the food warm and observe shabbat by placing the food on the stove, or in the oven, or on the warmer and the control settings are set to a specific heating temperature and covered prior to candle lighting time. Why do all this? Yup, you guessed it: according to Jewish law, the control settings cannot be changed on shabbat because one cannot perform Hachana or Hachanah, which means "preparation" in Hebrew, as in the preparation of food or the heating temperature of a stove or oven, etc. for one day of Yom Tov to the next day of Yom Tov or for any day after Yom Tov, as mentioned earlier in this paragraph. Preparation in this sense means that one cannot start to prepare food or begin to set the heating temperature of the stove or oven, etc. on Yom Tov. It must be done before Yom Tov. When the food is prepared and cooking temperatures are set before Yom Tov, it is considered by rabbinical opinion a "continuation", not "preparation" of the food and heating temperatures. Allowing the preparation and cooking of food on Yom Tov and forbidding it on shabbat is one fundamental difference between observing Yom Tov and observing shabbat.

Passover, Yom Tov, Shabbat, And Food Preparation And Cooking.

During the Passover festival - given the prohibition of Hachana - what if the second day of a two-day sequence of Yom Tov falls on Shabbat or Shabbat follows a two-day sequence of Yomim Tovim (plural form of Yom Tov in Hebrew)? How do we prepare and cook food in these two cases: the shabbat Yom Tov which falls on the second day of a two-day sequence of Yom Tov and for a shabbat that follows a two-day sequence of Yom Tov? Can one prepare and cook food on Yom Tov for the shabbat Yom Tov or for the shabbat following Yom Tov when this is preparing and cooking food from one day of Yom Tov to the next day of Yom Tov, and hence appears to be in violation of Halachah because it looks like one is performing Hachanah?

The answer to this Passover question is that Halachah (Jewish law) provides a method for allowing Jews to prepare and cook food on a Friday for shabbat by making an Eruv Tavshilin. First of all, what is Eruv? Eruv means "mixing" in Hebrew, and refers to mixing something with something else in order to solve a particular religious question that can seemingly appear like a dilemma. There are 4 types of eruv, each of which provides a means of answering potential dilemmas in Jewish law, but to answer the above question concerning preparing and cooking food on Yom Tov for the shabbat Yom Tov or for the shabbat after Yom Tov, I will define just one eruv because it applies to the above question: Eruv Tavshilin. What is Eruv Tavshilin? Eruv Tavshilin means "mixing of cooked foods" in Hebrew. The essense of eruv tavshilin is this: symbolically, one may begin cooking the shabbat meal before the start of Yom Tov, or in other words, the festival of Passover. After Yom Tov has started, one may then continue cooking the shabbat meal on Yom Tov, or in other words, the Passover festival itself. By doing this, one is not desecrating the Passover festival by cooking on Yom Tov, one is merely continuing a prior activity. So how does one make an eruv tavshilin? On the day before Yom Tov, the head of the household sets aside a whole matzah and a cooked food that is the size of an egg, for instance, a hard boiled egg, piece of meat, or a piece of fish, etc. and while holding them recites the following blessing and announcement in Hebrew: "Baruch ata ado-nai elo-hainu meluch ha'olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav vtzivanu al mitzvah eruv". In English, this is translated as: "Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us by His commandments and commanded us concerning the mitzvah of eruv." If one doesn't understand the aforementioned declaration in Hebrew, one should instead say in English: "Through this eruv may we be permitted to bake, cook, insulate, kindle, flame, prepare and do anything necessary on the Festival for the sake of shabbat (for ourselves and for all Jews who lives in this city)". If one understands Hebrew, then one should say: "Baruch ata ado-nai elo-hainu meluch ha'olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav vtzivanu al mitzvah eruv" Then, in English, the person who understands Hebrew says: "Through this eruv may we be permitted to bake, cook, insulate, use flame, prepare and do anything necessary on the Festival for the sake of the Sabbath (for ourselves and for all Jews who lives in this city)." After this is done, the two food items set aside for the eruv tavshilin should be eaten during one of the three shabbat meals, preferably the third shabbat meal, which begins as the sun is setting and continues until the stars are visible in the sky. This third shabbat meal is called "Seudah Shlishit" (alternate spelling: s'udah sh'lishit) and means "the third meal" in Hebrew. If one accidentally did not make the eruv tavshilin, then one should not prepare any food on Friday for shabbat without consulting a person who is an authority on Halachah (Jewish law).

What Are Some Passover Baking Rules?

As mentioned above, no foods or drinks created using leavening or fermenting ingredients should be found in the household during the Passover festival with the exception of matzah which must be made from one of the five leavening grains as outlined in the Passover dietary laws. Technically, while Jewish law states that leavened foods created using leavening or fermenting ingredients are forbidden to be eaten on Passover - an example being baking with yeast - baking soda and baking powder (with the exception of baking powder containing cornstarch) are not fermenting or leavening ingredients themselves but instead are leavening or fermenting agents. In fact, there are Passover versions of baking soda and baking powder that do not contain any of the ingredients on the forbidden list of foods to be avoided during the Passover festival. Many of the "Kosher for Passover" food products one finds in the supermarkets during the Passover festival closely resemble their regular food product counterparts in taste (I.E. "Kosher for Passover" macaroons versus non-Kosher for Passover macaroons) because of the use of Passover baking soda or Passover baking powder in the "Kosher for Passover" food products. In addition, Jewish law states that once matzah or matzah products such as matzah flour, matzah farfel, or matzah meal are certified "Kosher for Passover", they can never be de-Passoverized, so adding leavening agents such as baking soda or baking powder to baking mixes containing already-certified "Kosher for Passover" matzah ingredients still results in the final status of the baked food being a "Kosher for Passover" food product. However, some may feel that this compromises the spirit and uniqueness of the Passover festival. As a result, there are differences of rabbinic opinion concerning the use of Passover baking soda and Passover baking powder in foods produced for the Passover festival. Some rabbis will ban the use of baking soda and baking powder altogether simply because they are concerned that these leavening agents might be confused with actual leavening foods such as yeast or other grains which are on the banned list of foods to be avoided during the Passover festival.

Another ingredient that is substituted in Passover baking is corn starch because corn and its derivatives are one of the foods forbidden during the Passover festival. Potato starch is often the type of starch that is substituted for corn starch for Passover baking. Real vanilla and other types of extracts contain alcohol which is a fermented product and so the real versions of these extracts are usually not permitted for Passover baking. However, artificial vanilla and other artificial extracts mixed with sugar - while not quite like their real extract counterparts - are nonetheless used instead for Passover baking and qualify as being "Kosher for Passover".

Eggs are often used as a substitute for "leavening" agents in Passover baking and so many eggs are bought by observant Jews for the Passover festival. In addition, Pareve (non-dairy) unsalted or sweet margarine is recommended for Passover baking, but not salted, whipped margarine. Today, there are many "Kosher for Passover" ingredients one can find in the major supermarkets and in specialty food stores such as Passover cake meal, Passover icing or confectioner's sugar, Passover eggs, Passover nuts, Passover fruit, Passover brown sugar, Passover chocolate and cocoa, and of course, classic Passover baking ingredients such as Passover matzah farfel, Passover matzah meal, and Passover matzah flour.

Why Are Candles Lit For The Passover Seder Table?

Jewish sages have said: "Great is the mitzvah (meaning "command" in Hebrew, as in G-d's command)" of candle lighting as it brings peace into the world". Peace in the sense that light prevents people from stumbling in the dark! It can also means on a deeper level that light of the candles lights up members of the household with the Torah, which means "teaching", "teachings", or "instruction" in Hebrew, and refers to either the first five books of the Hebrew or Jewish bible, also known as the five books of Moses, or sometimes, to the Hebrew or Jewish bible as a whole. By lighting up the members of the household with the Torah's teachings, this will help guide them safely through life's pitfalls. It is also customary to give Tzedaka or Tzedakah - which means "charity" in Hebrew - before lighting candles on the first night of Passover and on the seventh night of Passover, as long as it is not Shabbat. What is Shabbat? Shabbat means both "rest" and the number "seven" in Hebrew, and refers to the seventh day of the week in the Hebrew calendar as being a "day of rest" for the Jewish people starting from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday because the Jewish day begins at sundown. According to the Hebrew bible, G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, and observant Jews follow this pattern because by doing this they feel they embody G-d's creative involvement with his creation, and are working in tandem with G-d in the sense that both the creation or work of G-d and the creation or work of the observant Jew are ongoing.

When Are Candles Lit For The Passover Seder Table?

To find out when Shabbat or Jewish festival candles are lit for your area, consult with your local, regional, or national Halachic Rabbinical authority, or visit this cool site that calculates the candle lighting time for almost anywhere in the world! The Orthodox Union also lists candle-lighting times. Since Jewish Halachic law states that Jews are not permitted to light a candle on Yom Tov, the candle must be lit with a flame that already is in existence, meaning one must light a candle with another candle. So, for those that observe Passover for 8 days, this means that on the second and eighth nights of Passover, meaning the second day of the first two days of Yom Tov and the second day of the final two days of Yom Tov, candles must be lit with a candle that is already lit. Of course, for this one must use a long-lasting previously lit candle to achieve this. Jewish memorial candles, called Yahrtzeit candles, can achieve this, as they are long-lasting. Yahrtzeit literally means A "year('s) time" in German and Yiddish and in Judaism it refers to an anniversary; specifically, an anniversary of the passing of a close relative, and this annual commemoration of the passing of a close relative is marked on that date by lighting a special candle called, as mentioned, a Yahrtzeit candle. There are Yahrtzeit candles that can burn for 26 hours and Yahrtzeit candles that can burn for 50 hours. The word Yahrtzeit or Yahrzeit is a compound word: "Yahr" means "Year" in Yiddish and German, and "Tzeit" or "Zeit" means "Time" in Yiddish and German. Therefore, a Yahrtzeit or Yahrzeit is a year or year's time, meaning an anniversary.

When lighting candles for the Passover festival on Friday night, one should make sure that one lights candles before the candle lighting time for Friday night so as to make sure one does not desecrate the shabbat or sabbath (Shabbat means "sabbath" in Hebrew). Also, one cannot prepare on Shabbat for Yom Tov or on a Yom Tov day for the next Yom Tov day, so candle lighting should take place after the official candle lighting times for Yom Tov. There are certain blessings for lighting the candles on Shabbat and Yom Tov and they can be found in any Jewish prayer book, called a Siddur, which means "order" or "arrangement" in Hebrew, and refers to the order or arrangement of Jewish prayers for various Jewish religious services and Jewish festivals.

Who Lights The Candles For The Passover Festival?

Lighting shabbat or festival candles has been the special privilege of the woman of the household. Married women light at least two candles and it is customary in some households that single women light one candle in addition to the two candles for the married woman. Members of the family traditionally conduct silent prayers and meditation when candles are lit.

If you want more than just candle-lighting times, offers a free online prayer time calculator ("prayer time" is called "Zemanim" in Hebrew) plus calculations for many other rituals. You can also go to the following site to get a printable calendar of sunrise and sunset times in many locations worldwide.

What Are The Days Of The Passover Festival Called?

For Reform Jews and Jews in Israel, Passover is celebrated for 7 days, and so the 1st day and 7th day of Passover are called "Yom Tov" days. "Yom Tov" literally means "day good" in Hebrew. Yom Tov days are "full festivals", "full holi- or holy-days", or "full festival days" and traditionally, it is preferred that one devote all of their time to celebrating the Passover festival on these days. The remaining days are called "Hol Hamoed" days (alternate spellings: "Hol Ha-Moed", "Hol Ha Mo'ed", Chol Ha-Moed", "Chol Hamoed", "Chol Ha Mo'ed"). "Hol Hamoed" generally means "the intermediate days" in Hebrew. However, taken literally, "Hol" means "weekday/secular", and "Moed" means "meeting", referring to a point in time where we are meeting G-ds' presence in a more intimate way than on regular days. For this reason, all the Jewish festivals are called "mo'ed". A further interpretation of "Moed" based on the aforementioned explanation is that "Moed" can also mean "festival", but taken together, the "Weekday Festival" or "Chol Ha-Moed" is a kind of lesser religious festival rather than literally translated as a "holy-day" or "holy-weekday". The reason for the intermediate days of Passover being a kind of lesser religious festival is that they have the qualities of weekdays ("Chol") since on weekdays persons may go to school, work (if necessary), drive, etc., and also have the qualities of festivals, since on these days we do not do things that can be put off until after Passover, such as washing laundry, taking haircuts, painting our homes, or other jobs. From this, one can say that "Hol Hamoed" means "half-festivals" in Hebrew. These "half-festivals" mean that all the laws of Passover apply to these Hol Hamoed days, but as mentioned, work is permitted nevertheless. So while one observes the laws of Passover on these Hol Hamoed days, one does not necessarily devote all their time to celebrating the Passover festival on these days, making these days "half-festivals".

During Chol Ha-Moed, it is customary to dress in our festival clothes, drink a little wine or grape juice every day, have fancier meals, and take family trips for enjoyment, such as visiting amusement parks, nature reserves, or places of historical interest.

While Reform Jews and Jews in Israel observe Passover for 7 days, all other Jews (sometimes referred to as "Diaspora Jews") observe Passover for 8 days. For an 8 day celebration of Passover, the 1st day and 2nd day of Passover and the 7th day and 8th day of Passover are called "Yom Tov" days while the remaining intermediate days are called "Hol Hamoed" days. The meanings and interpretations of Yom Tov days and Hol Hamoed days as discussed in the previous paragraphs are the same for both those who celebrate Passover for 8 days and those who celebrate Passover for 7 days. So while Hol Hamoed days are still holi- or holydays, they are holi- or holydays to a lesser degree. These "half-festivals" are characterized by a mixture of secular and religious rituals. "Religious" in this case means performing both regular religious rituals and special religious rituals reserved for holy days. For instance, during Hol Hamoed days, regular non-festival weekday prayers have extra holy-day prayers added in as part of the ritual. People will also drive and go to work on these days, thereby mixing secular with religious activities. During Hol Hamoed days in Israel, thousands of Jews still visit Jerusalem and other holy places as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. As you can see, whereas other civilizations sanctify buildings or pyramids, Judaism sanctifies time.

Note: Remember, because of different rabbinical opinions held by and within different Jewish streams of belief or denominations, for instance, in Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, or Humanistic Judaism, and cultural classifications (Sephardic, Ashkenazic, or Mizrahi) please check with a rabbi or rabbinical authority in your city, region, or country that are from any or all of these streams of belief to find out the particular Passover celebration practices where you live. Orthodox Judaism is the traditional form of Judaism, while the other streams are more recent creations. This website is meant to give a general overview of the Passover celebration observed by Jews around the world. Variations within the Passover celebration exist and differ from family to family, city to city, country to country, and region to region due to the influence and integration of local customs, including one's local linguistic, culinary, and musical traditions into the Passover festival. The tractates Mishnah (or Mishna) Pesachim and Gemarah (or Gemara) Pesachim, which are part of the Talmud, explain in great and scholarly detail about Passover customs and practices. One should be strongly familiar with Passover practices before attempting to read and understand these essays.

Footnote regarding the dates on this Passover Preparation - Pesach Preparation web page: all dates discussed on this website are based on the modern Gregorian calendar, however, these dates are but one secular scholarly deduction; there are many other secular scholarly deductions as well as traditional Jewish chronological dates in addition to modern Hebrew/Jewish calendar dates regarding the timeline of events in Jewish history. To see a table of some important events in Jewish history discussed on this website and their various dates deduced from traditional Jewish sources, the modern Hebrew/Jewish calendar, and secular historical timelines, check out our Jewish History Timeline web page.

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