Halachic Digest Part 1 - פסח  ה'תשע"ח


 Click here for a pdf version 

Compiled by Rabbi Yoseph Y. Vigler and Rabbi Mendel Zirkind.

With Editing by Rabbi Y. Zirkind z”l


לע"נ הרב יצחק בן הרב אליעזר צירקינד ע"ה

ח"י אדר תשע"ב


Birkas Ilanos (Bracha on Trees)

  • When you see blossoming fruit trees for the first time during the month of Nissan, you bentch: ...שֶׁלֹּא חִסֵּר בְּעוֹלָמוֹ כְּלוּם וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיּוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת לֵהָנוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם.  (Who has made nothing lacking in His world, and created in it goodly creatures and goodly trees to give mankind pleasure).

  • The bracha is said just once a year—the first time you see it. Some Poskim, including Eliyah Rabbah, maintain that if one did not say the bracha the first time, it can still be said when seeing
    it the second time. Shulchan Aruch HaRav’s says that if one missed the opportunity the first time he saw it, he cannot say the bracha again during that year.

  • The bracha ought to be said specifically during the month of Nissan.

  • The bracha may be recited on Shabbos and Yom Tov too.

  • Preferably, the bracha should be recited when seeing two trees at one time. But even if there is only one tree, you should still say the bracha.

  • The bracha should not be said on trees that grow fruits grafted from two species.

  • In the southern hemisphere, where seasons are the opposite and trees blossom during Elul and Tishrei, the bracha can be said at that time.


Simchas Yom Tov

  • While cleaning and preparing for Pesach, Halacha requires us to ensure that others too have what they need to make Pesach. Even though the traditional Ma’os Chitin fund was originally established for Matzah only it was expanded in latter generations to include all needs for Yom Tov

  • Today this extends to unaffiliated Jews, who are spiritually starved, to ensure they have Shmurah Matzah to fulfill the Mitzvah properly and / or where to make the Seder, selling their chometz etc. The Jew you know is YOUR responsibility. You may be their only link to authentic Judaism. Order the MitzvahShare Matzah kit shipped directly by MitzvahShare.org




Mayan Yisroel’s “My Extended Family” will be providing Ma’os Chitin for underprivileged families from across the neighborhood, as well as taking them on our annual chol hamoed trip to Great Adventures. If you’re having Simchas Yom Tov, help bring it to them too.

$500 for a Yom Tov groceries package for a family


  • It is a mitzvah d’oraisa to make one’s wife and children joyous on Yom Tov. This is accomplished by buying her an outfit or jewelry; and for the kids something exciting too.


Shabbos Hagodol

  • The Shabbos before Pesach is called the great Shabbos because of the miracles that transpired on this Shabbos when the Yidden were in Mitzrayim that a civil war broke out amongst the Egyptians. It is a mitzvah to relate these miracles on this Shabbos.

  • The minhag is for the Rov to give a Shabbos Hagodol drasha of Halachos and agados for Pesach.

  • At Mincha time we recite the Hagada from עבדים היינו until לכפר על כל עונותינו as this is when the Geula began.

  • We DO SAY ויהי נועם.

Preparing the Kitchen

  • Where possible, it is best to use utensils dedicated for Pesach and put away the chometz utensils for the duration of Pesach.

  • If you need to Kasher dishes, or sinks, stoves, ovens, etc. consult a Rov. There are two categories of Kashering: “Libun” (fire) and “Hagalah” (purging in boiling water).

  • Before doing Hagalah, utensils must be spotlessly clean and without any rust. They may not be used for twenty-four hours prior to Kashering.

  • All Kashering should be done before the zman of when the Issur of eating chometz starts (10:53am or 10:27a.m.)

  • Counters, cabinets, etc. should be cleaned thoroughly and covered with aluminum foil or the like.

  • Sink faucets should be Kashered and covered or changed.

  • Stainless steel sinks can be Kashered (consult a Rav for directions)

  • Porcelain / enamel sinks must be cleaned well and lined. Some are Machmir to leave the sink unused 24 hours, then pour boiling water over the porcelain / enamel sink 3 times. Then line it.

  • Garbage disposals can be cleaned by putting ice cubes and Ajax cleanser and running the unit with the water on.  They cannot be kashered.

  • Tables must be cleaned: Table leaves should be opened, and the supports and the leaves carefully cleaned. Then, cover the table.

  • High chairs must be cleaned well and the tray completely covered - or dedicate a Pesach tray.

  • Refrigerators must be completely cleaned and the shelves lined.

  • Cookbooks etc. should be put away with the Chometz

  • Appliances e.g. phones, cell phones etc, should be cleaned thoroughly from year round chometz

  • Vacuum cleaners, mops and brooms must be cleaned. The old vacuum bag should be discarded.

  • One who has braces, retainers, fillings or false teeth should clean them well 24 hours before the bedika and refrain from eating hot or sharp Chometz thereafter, and at least ensure that cold chometz not get stuck.


Thursday night Bedikas chometz

  • It is preferable to search and burn the chometz yourself but if necessary (e.g. if you’re working or flying all night of Bedikas chometz) you may appoint an agent to search for your chometz.

  • Even if you appoint a Shliach to do bedika and burn your chometz, it is still proper to annul the chometz (bitul) yourself.

  • The correct time for bedika is immediately at tzeis 7:46pm. Don’t work too late.

  • If you have a Minyan for Maariv, daven first, then go home and immediately begin the search.

  • From tzeis till after the bedika, you may not eat or drink at all.

  • From half an hour before tzeis you may not eat more than a Kebaitza of mezonos or hamotzi, but you may eat fruits and drink.

    • In extenuating circumstances, appoint a shliach who will do the bedika, freeing you to eat and drink. (Still, it is recommended you leave at least one room to partake in the bedika yourself too).

  • A shliach, appointed to check someone else’s chometz or chometz in shul, even if he has done his own bedika, should, if possible, not eat till after all his bedikos.

Where to search

  • Any room or area Chometz may have been brought to, must be thoroughly cleaned and searched.

  • Practically, it is nearly impossible to check every necessary place on the night of Bedikas Chometz, especially in the kitchen, which is often already Pesachdik. One solution is to check with a candle or flashlight before lining shelves and cabinets, even if it is before the night of Bedikas Chometz. You can do this in closets, under heavy furniture, etc.

    • Note - any Bedika done before the night of Bedikas Chometz is without ten pieces and no Bracha.

  • There is no need to check the areas that you will include in the sale to the goy, they but must be closed up or covered with tape.

  • Set aside any chometz you still need before Pesach in a safe place before Bedikas chometz

  • Any crack in the wall or floor, into which a hand cannot fit, need not be checked even if you know there’s chometz there. Nullifying the chometz (bitul) after the search is sufficient.


Talking during bedika

  • Once the bracha is recited, do not talk at all until the bedika begins, as this is a hefsek.

  • It is proper not to speak at all anything unrelated to the bedika until you complete the entire bedika and the bitul after.  However, you may say אשר יצר if you go to the bathroom. And you may answer Amen and ברוך הוא וברוך שמו if someone else makes a bracha.

The Ten Pieces of chometz

  • Before the search, hide ten pieces of hard chometz, wrapped in paper, around the house. Wrapping in aluminum foil is impractical because it won’t burn the next morning at bi’ur chometz.

  • Remember where you put the pieces - If you don’t find all ten you’ll have to search until you do.  It’s advisable for someone to write down the hiding places, so you will have a back-up.

  • The minhag is to use a beeswax candle, a feather (to sweep small crumbs into the bag), a spoon and a paper bag for Bedikas chometz.

  • All ten pieces together should total more than a kezayis since you are supposed to burn at least a kezayis according to some Poskim.

  • However, each of the ten pieces of chometz should individually be less than a kezayis in case you end up not finding one piece. This way, at least it would not be forbidden d’oraisa.

    • (Though you are supposed to get rid of all chometz, even less than a kezayis, some say the verbal bitul would suffice bedieved, even if you didn’t physically burn it).

Bedika in the workplace

  • You need to check any place under your ownership, including your office or business. A Shliach may be appointed if necessary.

  • The minhag is to recite only one bracha even for two locations e.g. your home and business.

  • However, if you or your shliach, who is checking your workplace, is not making a bedika on your own chometz, then you should make a bracha on the bedika at the office.

After the Bedika

  • After the search, extinguish the candle. Put the spoon, candle and feather into the bag with the chometz. The handle of the spoon should stick out of the bag. Make sure the bag is tightly closed and put away till the burning in the morning.

  • Nullify verbally all chometz you may not have found. This bitul should not be treated as a “prayer”: You should say it in English if you don’t understand the Aramaic original.

Bedikas chometz when going away

  • Even if you’re going away for Pesach before the night of the bedika Erev Pesach, you still need to do bedika, albeit without a bracha. The burning of the chometz may be done right after.

  • You may sell the entire house to the goy. But note, it is not right to avoid bedika entirely:

    • If you will be away the entire Pesach, you may either sell the whole house less one room where you do the bedika. Or, do your bedika if applicable, at the place where you will be on Pesach.   

  • If you arrive at a hotel before the night of the bedika, the chiyuv of bedika is yours (on the night of Erev Pesach).  

  • If you are staying in someone else's home the obligation is theirs. If you still wish to do the bedika, you may pay the host to officially “rent” your room. You could then hide the ten pieces of chometz in your room and do the bedika.

  • However, since it remains a shaila if you really own it, you shouldn’t make a bracha but rather listen and be יוצא with the baal habayis's bracha. Then go check for yourself immediately.

  • If you arrive in your hotel on erev Pesach, you should verify if the hotel management did the bedika the night before. In a frum hotel, even if there’s no way of finding out, you may rely on a chazaka. Otherwise you must do bedika by day with a bracha.

  • Needless to say, if the zman of issur has already begun, you may not hide ten pieces of chometz.

  • If you check into any hotel room in the middle of Pesach and they have not done a bedika, you must do a bedika (even on the days of Yom Tov (with the exception of Shabbos) on Pesach itself).  

Other halachos of a hotel

  • If the hotel is enclosed by walls or fences, carrying on Shabbos is essentially muttar.

  • Electric keys may not be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov. Either leave the door open or have a goy open it for you.


Medicines and cosmetics

  • Ointments etc that are medically necessary, yet contain chometz ingredients may be used on Pesach since this chometz is not fit to be eaten by a dog (ראוי לאכילת כלב).

  • However, ointments made on Pesach itself from chometz are not permissible.

  • Ointments that are solely alcohol may not be used.

  • Using soaps and cosmetics with chometz ingredients is a subject of controversy of poskim.

  • All medicines may be ingested if one is in danger.

  • For a regular illness, it is definitely proper to avoid anything with chometz ingredients, or to remove the chometz capsule before taking the pill.

  • If you must take such a pill, it is best to wrap it up in a tissue and swallow. But if you have no other choice, you may take the medicine as is.

  • Medicines with kitniyos ingredients are permissible even for Ashkenazim.

  • There are lists available today to the consumer that enable you to use kosher for Pesach products. Ask your doctor/pharmacist. Cosmetics (mouthwash, toothpaste) are available kosher for Pesach.  




Selling chometz

  • Do not wait until the last minute to sell your chometz. Chometz may be sold any time before Erev Pesach, but there is no reason to wait until the last minute, especially if you are going out of town

  • If you are traveling to a more eastern time zone for Pesach, be aware that the Rov usually sells the chometz on Erev Pesach morning in which case you will already be into the zman issur. You should sell it rather through a Rov in the time zone where you are going to.

  • There is also an option of actually selling the chometz to the Rov so that he now owns your chometz, rather than appointing him merely as a Shliach.  

  • If traveling to a more western time zone for Pesach, inform the Rov you’re selling it to. You don’t want him (lechtachila) to make the transaction with the goy on Motzei Pesach in his time zone when it is still Pesach in your western time zone. Some Rabbonim resolve this by allowing the transaction with the goy to take effect a little later for those in a later time zone.

  • The majority of Poskim hold that the chometz has to be sold in the time zone you are on Pesach, rather than the location where the chometz is.

  • Areas in the house that were sold to the goy should be clearly marked.

  • On Pesach, it is best not to enter a room sold to the goy, unless absolutely necessary.

  • The sale is real, so you can’t sell crumbs of chometz that may be in your car for example, to avoid checking your car. If you won’t be using your car on Pesach, you may sell the entire car though.


Retainers, fillings and braces:

  • If you have fillings or braces, rinse your mouth with hot water (as warm as you usually have coffee). For teeth retainers, also pour hot water on them (Not boiling water as this may ruin them).

Burning of chometz

  • Ensure the chometz is burned to the point that it is not edible by a dog.

  • Pouring alcohol on the chometz to burn easier defeats the purpose, since the mitzvah is to render it inedible through fire, whereas pouring alcohol on it already renders it inedible before the fire reaches it.

  • Throw the wooden spoon and the paper bag used for the bedika into the fire, with the chometz.

  • Some also use the opportunity to burn the Lulav from Succos to use it in another mitzvah.

  • If you have no chometz, you should get hold of some, to fulfill the mitzvah of burning it.

  • No chometz should be left in the garbage on your property after zman issur. Either pour on it alcohol, or take it off your property completely (in a garbage bag, not in a container you own).


חג פסח כשר ושמח!