Only a few days left until Pessach and there is still so much to do. I am going to start my serious cleaning for the Chag. Moving furniture and getting rid of the last Chametz products.
Thursday night is already BEDIKAT CHAMETZ – the search for the last Chametz in everyone’s household. Before the search, we are saying a special Bracha (Blessing). The Chametz we find during the search, we are going to burn (BI’UR CHAMETZ) the next morning. Ashkenazi Jews follow the tradition not to eat KIDNIYOT on Pessach. We don’t eat beans, peas, corn, humus and any further product containing Kidniyot. It is extremely important to look at the labels on all kinds of food products during Pessach. What is kasher le’Pessach and what without Kidniyot additions. Sephardi Jews, on the other hand, eat Kidniyot and most (not all) Sephardic Jews eat rice. For Ashkenazi Jews, rice is Chametz.
The Torah commands every Jew to get rid of any Chametz on Pessach. Grains such as oats, wheat, barley, spelt or rye are totally forbidden and the Torah adds a severe punishment: Jews consuming Chametz during Pessach are excluded from the Jewish nation. This doesn’t mean being excluded in a literal sense but rather a spiritual exclusion.
In case one doesn’t want to throw away all his Chametz, he can sell it. This procedure is called MECHIRAT CHAMETZ and can even be done online. The selling of the Chametz is a more symbolic act. The Jew receives a certificate saying that his Chametz is not his anymore. A few days before Pessach, Israel’s two Chief Rabbis sell all Chametz to a Druse leader (it has to be a non – Jew). Another symbolic act and right after Pessach is over, ownership goes back to the Jews. Especially bakeries sell their Chametz, as well as other food producers but also private households.
Some Jews go really nuts about their Pessach cleaning and cover their shelves and kitchen counters with aluminium foil. I do a normal cleaning and don’t drive myself crazy. There are Jews who exchange their entire kitchen dishes. Pots, pants and cutlery. I do this to a certain extend.
Jews who do use their regular dishes during Pessach take their pots to public places where the pots are boiled in hot water and thus thoroughly cleaned out. Shopping before the holiday is an important subject too. I still have to get Mazza Shmurah.
Photo: Miriam Woelke
The Pessach holiday is an expensive event and many Jewish families depend on charity in order to have a Seder. In Israel the intermediate days (Chol HaMo’ed) of Pessach and Sukkot are like a travel season. Thousands of Israelis are off from work and either travel abroad or going on trips around our country. Parks, museums, the Dead Sea, beaches, nature … everything will be packed.
Pessach is a holiday where Jews go up to Jerusalem. Just like in Temple times when Jews came to Jerusalem in order to bring their holiday sacrifice (Korban Chagigah).
The To – Do – List is still very long and time is running out. Every year the same craziness …
BI'UR CHAMETZ IN BNEI BRAK (APRIL 2011)
Bi'ur Chametz, the burning of the last Chametz (forbidden grains during Pessach) in the middle of Bnei Brak. Near Rabbi Akiva Street.
Its a custom that religious Jews burn their Lulav from Sukkot together with the Chametz before Pessach. Many Haredim came with their Lulavim and even with the brooms the family cleaned up for Pessach. Everything was thrown into the fire.
Chametz represents the own Yetzer HaRah and with the burning a few hours before Pessach starts, we are symbolically getting rid of our Yetzer Harah.
Public Kashering Kelim (Dishes) for Pessach in Rabbi Akiva Street.
The boiling water where the dishes are put in for a few seconds.
The father of the girls in the background brought his Kiddush cups for kashering.
Copyright / Photos: Miriam Woelke