Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Minhagim: Pesach (Part 3)

Bedikas Chometz: Before the start of the search, as is brought in the name of the Ari Hakadosh, ten small (less than a k'zayis) pieces of bread are placed around the house. One must be careful to wrap them well so as not to spread crumbs around the house.
The Rebbe uses a (beeswax) candle to search for the chometz. Any chometz that is found is placed in a paper bag with the aid of a feather and a wooden spoon. Upon conclusion of the bedika, the spoon, feather and candle are all placed together with the chometz in the paper bag. The Rebbe often places the paper bag in an additional plastic bag and then wraps the entire thing in a shmatte (old shirt or other material). Sometimes the Rebbe then ties a string around the whole package.

Biur Chometz: On Erev Yom Tov morning, the shmatte and plastic bag are removed and the paper bag (with its contents) is placed in the fire. The Yehi Ratzon (printed in the siddur of Reb Yaakov Emden) is then recited. Once the chometz is thoroughly burned, say kol chamira, etc.

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The minhag is to bake the matzos that will be used at the Seder on Erev Yom Tov (called matzos mitzvah). After midday, one should immerse in a mikveh and don his Yom Tov garb. These special matzos are then baked while reciting the Hallel. A minhag which is distinctive of Chernobyler dynasties is to recite this Hallel with a berachah.

The following is a description of matzah baking by the Rebbe Reb Yaakov Yisroel, ztz"l, from Reb Sheya's Generation to Generation (page 69-70):

The evening before the Seder night, we would drive out to the country where there was a fresh-water spring to fetch water for baking the matzah. [Reb Yaakov Yisroel] would take out his pocket watch, and we would wait until precisely the moment of sunset to begin filling the glass jugs, because that is when the water is at its coolest, as it must be to avoid the flour being soured by warm water...
After we brought the jugs into the house, the men would form a circle and dance to the tune of "and you shall fetch water with joy from the wells of salvation" (Yeshaya 12:5), while balancing the water jugs on their shoulders. the actual baking of the matzah did not begin until noontime the following day, corresponding to the time of the Paschal lamb ritual in the days of yore. Since I was not yet Bar-Mitzvah, I was not permitted to participate in the actual baking of the matzah, but there were plenty of things for me to do. I cleaned the rolling pins with sandpaper and delivered fresh sheets of butcher paper to the men who were rolling the matzah dough.
All this was supervised by Reb Elia, a Jerusalemite who used to visit us every Passover. Reb Elia was the sweetest man on earth, but on the day before Passover, he underwent a metamorphosis and was an absolute tyrant when it came to the matzah baking. Everything had to be done with haste and precision, lest anyone cause a momentary hesitancy in preparation of the dough. Beware! Reb Elia's voice thundered across the room, instilling the fear of G-d into everyone.
A voice would ring out, "A matzah for the oven!" as one of the men would near completion of his matzah dough. "A matzah for the oven!" I would repeat, running to tell Reb Shaul to prepare the long pole wherewith he would transfer the matzah into the oven.
After the baking was complete, the men joined hands and danced in a circle. There was true joy. We had just completed preparation for the once-a-year mitzvah of matzah. "Next year in Jerusalem!" went the refrain.

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It is customary to have a separate pot for boiling eggs in which nothing else is cooked.
This is done since eggs are often kept together with grain and sometimes a bit is stuck to the shells. This pot is referred to as "the chometz'dige pot". There is a well-known story surrounding this minhag. Here it is as told by Reb Sheya in Generation to Generation (page 103-105):

[Reb Yaakov Yisroel] loved to tell [this] story...Boruch Yochanon was a very pious albeit simple Jew who came to Yankel, the village rabbi, on the eve of Passover, with the problem that his wife had just told him that she had accidentally cooked the Seder meal in a chometz'dige pot. The rabbi responded that there was no way out. The food was forbidden to be used and must be discarded. Boruch Yochanan brought the sad judgment home to his wife. Not having anything to eat, they went to join [the Rebbe Reb Motele] at his Seder.
[Reb Motele] of course welcomed them graciously, but then asked why they were not having a Seder of their own. Boruch then explained about the mishap of the food being cooked in a chometz'dige pot, and that Yankel, the Rabbi, had condemned it.
"What!" exclaimed [Reb Motele]. Yankel ruled it forbidden? Did you throw it away already?"
Boruch's wife admitted that she had not yet discarded the food, but had immediately taken off with her husband to [the Rebbe's] house.
"Then go home and make your Seder, and eat your meal in good health!" [Reb Motele] said. Boruch and his wife quickly complied.
In the meantime, it slowly occurred to Yankel, the rabbi, that since he had ruled the food to be forbidden, Boruch would have nothing to eat for the Seder. He therefore had his wife take several portions from the food they had prepared for themselves and send it by messenger to Boruch's home.
By the time the messenger made the delivery to Boruch's home, the latter and his wife were already partaking of their own food. Boruch then explained to the messenger that the Rebbe had overruled Yankel, and the messenger then carried the food back.
Yankel was perplexed. How could the Rebbe have overruled him, since there was no dissent in the ruling that food cooked in a chometz'dige pot was forbidden? He left his Seder and went to [the Rebbe Reb Motele].
[Reb Motele] did not wait for Yankel to pose the question. "Yankel, Yankel," he said. Where is your common sense? Don't you know how Boruch's wife prepares for Passover? Don't you know that three days before Passover, all the chometz'dige pots and dishes have been put away? Don't you realize that it is a physical impossibility for there to have been a chometz'dige pot in Boruch's kitchen on the afternoon before Passover?"
"But Boruch said..." Yankel protested.
"So he said! So you ask, Yankel," [Reb Motele] said. "You know, there is a practice that women have adopted, that the pot that is used to boil eggs on Passover is not used for anything else. Colloquially, the egg pot has been given the name "the chometz'dige pot" even though it is strictly for Passover use. Go ask Boruch's wife, Yankel, and she will tell you. I did not even ask. I simply knew there was no way on earth for there to be an actual chometz'dige pot in Boruch Yochanan's kitchen on the day before Passover."

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