Tag Archives: chametz

Selling the chametz – myth or mitzvah

Traditionally before Passover / Pesach we remove the leaven foods from our home, so that we can bring Pesach food in without fear of it being tainted by the leaven that is forbidden on this holiday. Most people I know will just put away all the regular not-kosher-for-Pesach food in sealed cabinets, and employ their Rabbi to sell the chametz. The rabbi sells the chametz for all the people in his community to a gentile that he knows, for a small sum which is returned right after the holiday. In order to facilitate this sale the Rabbi asks for location of all chametz items. Technically this gentile should be able to come into the houses of anyone who has sold him their leaven items and take what he wants, after all it does belong to him. However, this is all seen as something symbolic even though contractually binding.

Some people will finish up every crumb, every drop of chametz so they have nothing to sell. (A friend of mine is working his way diligently through his single malt collection). But still some of these people will sell their chametz pots and pans and appliances, just to be sure they do not own any chametz. Is this taking things a step too far, is this really necessary? Can a pot really be counted as chametz, if it is clean? I mean, we wouldn’t use it to cook for Pesach unless we had kashered it, but is it technically chametz or just a pot that was used to cook chametz in it?

After we have done the symbolic search for chametz (bedikat chametz) and burned that bread, we say the Kol Chamira “All leaven or anything leavened which is in my possession, which I have neither seen nor removed, and about which I am unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.” – shouldn’t that nullify our need to sell any of the chametz in our possession? After we have said the Kol Chamira prayer – we don’t own it anymore…

I came up against an interesting situation this year. As you know the KoD and I maintain two homes (ok that makes us sound like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous – so not!!) due to our current immigration issues that are soon to be over BH. I was told that I have to sell my chametz here in Montreal, but that the KoD not only has to sell his chametz in NY, but he has to also sell my chametz again, just so we are covered. Why? Because as his wife anything that I own apparently becomes his. Therefore my apartment is no longer mine, it belongs to the KoD and it is therefore his responsibility to sell my chametz. Even though he does not live here!!! As you can imagine I am not right pleased about this.

So I am asking you folks out there to tell me about selling your chametz, why you do it, why you feel it’s necessary, why don’t you do it, what are the halachas, what are the chumras etc.

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And now it starts!!

The pre-pesach insanity. The minute Purim is over, for most balabustas, it’s full steam ahead for pesach preparations. Suddenly you cannot eat anywhere but the kitchen, the dining room is off limits. Closets must be emptied and reorganized. Light fixtures have to be taken down and scrubbed. The moms are on a mission to rid the house of anything chametzdik. In some houses there is not much decent to eat between now and Pesach.

But really, this craziness goes so much further than that. Most of this Pesach cleaning is really spring cleaning, but using Pesach as the excuse. According to the halacha, you don’t need to take down each individual crystal from your chandelier and scrub it in hot soapy water. There will be no chametz there, and certainly no recognizable or edible chametz. Just plenty of dust. Women who are not machmir on many things year round, suddenly in the month before Pesach are incredibly strict on what can pass muster as being clean for Pesach.

I like my home to be clean even when not preparing for Pesach. When I have the energy and the inclination I might take down the light fixtures (even though I am Hungarian I have no chandeliers) and clean them, but it will not be explained as cleaning for Pesach. Taking everything out of the closets in my room so I can wipe down the walls and ceilings and vacuum the floors – that’s nothing to do with Pesach – I don’t keep bread in my bedroom closet. To clean for Pesach you need to just get rid of chametz. Dust is not chametz. Lint is not chametz. A disorganized closet is not chametz.

If you keep your house organized and clean year round, then cleaning for Pesach should be no great hassle, and doesn’t really need to be thought about till the week before. Rooms where you know there has been no chametz don’t even need to be cleaned for Pesach. The kitchen and dining areas are really the only places that need a thorough going over and you can’t really do that until just before the holiday.

I have made Pesach annually since I got married the first time around. I have it down to a science. I would like to think that I don’t make the kids insane for weeks in advance. That I am not a dictator who has a panic attack every time someone walks out of the kitchen with a cookie in hand. When the kids were babies, yes, I found cheerios etc in interesting places. Soon enough they learned to do the chametz wiggle before leaving the kitchen in the week before Pesach.

So many times I hear women complain about how exhausted they are by the time they sit down for the seder. It’s unnecessary to be that tired. It’s a holiday. I want to enjoy my holiday with my family, not be a burned out wreck because I have been a cleaning and scrubbing fiend for a month!!! “Avadim Hayinu” – we were slaves – in Egypt, not in present day 2010! Please, get it all into perspective, ladies, and show up at the seder in your yomtov finery, with a smile showing naturally on your face, and know that you will enjoy yourself, not fall asleep by the second cup of wine.

Yes – once the house is Pesachdik there is a lot of work to be done. The changing over the kitchen, the shopping and the cooking. Food preparation for Pesach is a lot more time consuming. Get everyone involved. Plan your meals. You CAN cook on yomtov, it doesn’t all need to be prepared before hand. There is no need for us women to be zombies – let’s enjoy every part of the pesach preps.

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