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Passover 5779/2019- everything you need is right here!

Complete schedule with candle lighting times, all services, and yizkor info

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How to prepare your kitchen for Pesach

6 Steps to Planning the Perfect Seder

How to prepare for a meaningful seder.

Can I skip the boring parts?

 

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CRC Pesach Guide

Questions? Please contact Rabbi Wall by phone or email

 

 

 

 The Pesach Primer Page 

for Koshering a kitchen.

 

Chametz is a severe prohibition. Therefore, the Rabbis decreed that chametz is never annulled, not in 60, not in 1000, never. The smallest crumb of chametz will render an enormous pot of soup non-kosher. This is why we take extra precautions in our kitchen to prevent any amount of chametz from coming in contact with food.
Please note: Whenever there is a concern that there may be some leftover crumbs that remain stuck to a surface that may accidentally come into contact with food, it is best to use a bleach or other poisonous cleaner to clean the surface to render any remnants non-edible for a dog. Even if plastic can be koshered for year round use, some opinions do not rely on koshering them for Pesach use.

Step One: Countertops and Sinks

One is required to kosher the countertops and sinks for Pesach . Refer to the Kosher Your Own Kitchen guide for countertops which can be koshered . For Pesach, some opinions are strict not to kosher plastic coated and formica countertops. The custom is to clean the surface thoroughly and cover it with a heavy covering that will not rip easily, heavy duty plastic or vinyl etc.
Sinks: If the sink is made of a material that cannot be
koshered , the sink should first be cleaned thoroughly. One should preferably use a Pesach insert. that will prevent the kitchenware from coming in direct contact with the nonkosher-for-Pesach sink. If not available one may use a dishpan. If there is a hole in the insert to allow drainage, some authorities are concerned if the hot water may back up into the insert. Others are not concerned. Whether your sinks can be koshered or not, always use bleach or some other caustic liquid that would render any food particle that may be left in the drain area non-edible for a dog. You must change the airator (this is the little sieve that is screwed in at the end of the faucet).

Step Two: Stovetops

Most stovetops are enameled and cannot be koshered therefore clean it well with bleach or any caustic cleanser and cover it with thick aluminum foil.
Place a metal cover (e.g. a blech) over the grates and turn the gas burners on high for 10 minutes. Be careful! It’s very hot! CAUTION: Only kosher one burner at a time. When doing this on the back burners, the intense heat may cause some plastic or metal to warp. On electric burners, put on high temperature for 15 minutes until it gets red hot. Sometimes it’s possible that the pot actually rests on the stovetop (if the burner is not raised a bit over the height of the stovetop) so make sure the top is covered well with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Electric Shabbos Hotplate:
A Shabbat hotplate should be cleaned well and covered with heavy aluminum. Some Sephardim have the custom to kosher the hotplate by irui (pouring boiling water).

Step Two (ll): Ovens, Oven Racks and Grates

Follow the method in the Step by Step Guide for koshering an oven that is not self cleaning. Since chametz is cooked directly on baking trays and racks they require libun chamur- direct flame or ultra intense heat. However, most baking trays and racks will be ruined if they are koshered by using a torch and therefore cannot be koshered for Pesach. However, they can effectively be koshered by placing them inside an oven during the self-cleaning cycle. The drip pan under the fire used for broiling does not need to be koshered but should be lined with aluminum foil.

Step Two (lll): Self Cleaning Ovens

The oven is effectively koshered for Pesach use by running it through the self-cleaning cycle. It is strongly suggested to cover the oven door with heavy duty aluminum foil.

Step Three – Four: Pots, Frying Pans, Silverware

Check with the Kosher Kitchen Guide to know which materials cannot be koshered . Follow the procedure used during the rest of the year. In addition, if there are places that cannot be completely cleaned, for example the rim of a pot, then one should scrub the area with bleach before doing hagala in order to render any chametz in the cracks totally inedible. You may kosher a non-Teflon frying pan by doing hagala. It’s preferable to do libun gamur, according to some Poskim, b’deved you may do hagala.

Glass

The one important exception is with regard to glass for Ashkenazim -- all Ashkenazim hold that glass cannot be koshered for Pesach, even those who hold differently with regard to the rest of the year. Sephardim hold that glass does not need to be koshered since it does not absorb taste even during cooking, therefore it is enough to simply clean the glass thoroughly.

Step Five – Seven: Microwave, Dishwasher, Food Processor

Be sure that your dishwasher is of the type that can be koshered . Follow the instructions set out in the Step-by-Step guide taking special care to clean out all remnants of food particles before the koshering process. If the water does not reach boiling point then place a very hot stone or metal in the washer in order to bring the water to the boiling point. The racks must be thoroughly cleaned and can be koshered by irui or changed for Pesach. Food processors are not practical for kashering if the bowl is made of plastic. If it’s made of glass see above for the Ashenazic and Sephardic customs. If it was NEVER used for hot chametz, or washed with hot chametz, then one can kosher it by soaking the entire utensil 72 hours with a change of water after each 24 hour period. A microwave is koshered according to the Step-by-Step method. If your microwave is made of a material that cannot be koshered you may use it if you cover all food completely or cover all surfaces with contact paper or cardboard. It is best to cover both both the food and the inside. You do not have to cover the fan.

Step Eight: Toaster Ovens

It is virtually impossible to kosher a toaster oven for Pesach. Clean it well and put it away.

Step Nine – Ten: Containers, Fridges, Countertops

Follow the instructions set out in the Step-by-Step guide taking special care to clean out all remnants of food particles before the koshering process. It is a worthy custom to cover all areas exposed to food just in case that some tiny crumb was not cleaned away. One can use aluminum foil or cardboard etc. For this purpose. It is good to puncture them with small holes for better cold air circulation. The rubber seals on the refrigerator doors must be cleaned thoroughly as many crumbs are usually lodged there.

The Floor and Cabinets

Clean the cabinets well with soap and water. It is a worthy custom to cover the shelves with paper in case they were not cleaned well. Sweep and wash the floor.

Step Eleven: T’vilas Kalim

Keep in mind that many people add new utensils every year to their kitchen. Be sure to take your new kalim to the mikvah!

The only difference between Pesach and the rest of the year in the foods permitted and forbidden is the prohibition on chametz and kitniyot. Chametz includes all grain products, including matzos that were not specifically prepared for Pesach, all leavening agents, and for Ashkenazim rice and kitniyot (legumes -- peanuts, peas, beans, etc.). Not only can we not eat chametz, we are also not allowed to own chametz during Pesach. This is an issur d'oraita (prohibition in the written Torah). Chametz that is too costly to discard may be sold to a non-Jew. Consult your Rabbi about this procedure. Kitniyot is not sold, just put away.

© Pirchei Shoshanim 2005
This lesson may not be reproduced in any form without permission of the copyright holder. 

 

15 Steps to Freedom

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

The Sages designed the Passover Seder as 15 steps to make you enormously successful. Here's the key to unlocking the code.

Passover is the time when each Jew embarks on a personal journey from slavery to freedom. In order to guide us in our quest, the Sages carefully wrote a book outlining 15 steps to freedom. It's called the Haggadah. The Sages say that Passover occurs on the 15th of Nissan (the Jewish month), to teach us that just as the moon waxes for 15 days, so too our growth must be in 15 gradual steps. Think of these as 15 pieces of the Passover puzzle. Assemble them all and you've got freedom!

1. KADESH

To begin the Seder, we make Kiddush and sanctify the day. The word "kiddush" means special and unique. The first step to personal freedom is to recognize that you are special. You have a distinct combination of talents, skills and experiences that qualifies you to make a unique contribution to the world.

In Egypt, the Jews were forced to build the store-cities of Pitom and Ramses. Why was this tortuous labor? Because these cities rested on swamp-land, and every time the Jews built one level, it sunk into the ground. Slavery is a life with no accomplishment, no achievement, and no meaning.

On Passover, we begin our journey toward personal freedom by asking: What is humanity's biggest need? What can I contribute most profoundly to nurture and protect the world? And... what am I going to do about it?

2. URCHATZ

"Why do we wash our hands at this point in this Seder?" the Talmud asks. "Because it is an unusual activity which prompts the children to ask questions." The very name Haggadah means "telling," for the goal of the Seder is to arouse curious questions, and satisfying answers.

We've all felt the sense of awe upon meeting a fascinating person, or reading an enlightening new book. But as adults we may become enslaved by the idea that it's more sophisticated to "know it all." Passover teaches that to be truly free we must approach life with child-like wonderment. "Who is the wise person?" asks the Talmud. "The one who learns from everyone."

Passover is the holiday of springtime, joy and renewal. Nissan is the first month. And the very word for "month," chodesh, has the same letters as the word for "new," chadash. The Seder is filled with unusual activities. Be curious. Be a student of life. Be free.

3. KARPAS

We take a green vegetable and bless God for creating fruits from the ground. Gratitude is liberating. "Who is the rich person?" asks the Talmud. "The one who's satisfied with what he's got."

This appreciation comes through focusing on details. For example, to get this green vegetable to our table, it had to be planted, harvested, packed, shipped, unloaded, unpacked, displayed, and rung up by a cashier ― before we even bring it home! If we truly appreciate all we have, we'll be constantly proclaiming: "Life is a wonderful gift!"

On a deeper level, we dip the vegetable in salt water to let us know that even those things which appear bitter ― a lost job or a broken relationship ― are ultimately for the best.

Gratitude is an attitude. It requires constant effort and attention. A Jew strives to say 100 blessings every day. The reward is emancipation.

4. YACHATZ

We break the middle matzah, and put it aside to serve later as the Afikomen. Why do we break the matzah now if we don't need it until later? Because a key to freedom is to anticipate the future and make it real.

The definition of maturity is the ability to trade a lower pleasure now for a higher pleasure later. Children lack this perspective and demand instant gratification. (Why not eat 10 candies now? Because you'll get a stomach-ache later!) The challenge of adulthood is training ourselves to look at the long-term consequences. (Why not intermarry now that I'm in love? Because the future portends family tension, confusion for children, and estrangement from one's roots.)

"Who is the wise man?" asks the Talmud. "The one who sees the future." We break the middle Matzah, not for now, but for later. Because true freedom is a long-term proposition.

5. MAGGID

The Sages tell us that the unique ability given to humanity is the power of speech. Speech is the tool of building and construction. God used it to create the world ("And God said: Let there be light."), and the Kabbalists used it to create the golem.

On Seder night, we use our gift of speech for the central part of the Haggadah: telling the Passover story. The very word "Pesach" is a contraction of the words Peh Sach, meaning "the mouth speaks." The Hebrew name for Pharaoh, on the other hand, is a combination of Peh Rah, meaning "the bad mouth." For just as speech has the power to build, it also has the power to destroy. Gossip and slander drive apart families and communities.

On Passover, we use speech to "build" humanity ― by communicating, connecting, and encouraging each other. We stay up long into the night, relating the story of our exodus, tasting and sharing the joy of freedom.

6. RACHTZAH

One aspect of freedom is the ability to elevate ourselves above the lowest common denominator on the street. We've all felt the sensory assault of billboards, gratuitous talk-radio, immodest fashions, and violence on TV.

At the Seder we wash our hands as a preparatory step before the Matzah, in order to carefully consider what it is we're about to eat. One who is concerned with spiritual and physical health is discriminating about all forms of consumption: which movies to watch, which friends to spend time with, and what standards of business ethics to uphold. The streets are filled with a multitude of options. But we must not consume indiscriminately.

We "wash our hands" to cleanse and distance ourselves from unhealthy influences. Freedom is the ability to say: "I choose not to partake."

7. MOTZI

We make the "hamotzi" blessing to thank God for "bringing forth bread from the ground." Which is odd because God brings wheat from the ground ― and man turns it into bread! In truth, God gives us two gifts: 1) the raw materials, and 2) the tools for transforming it into life.

Today, technology has pulled us away from seeing the beauty of God's creation. We fine-tune our environment with air-conditioning, synthetic foods, cosmetic surgery, and genetic engineering. Mankind is perilously close to "playing God." But in truth, man cannot create anything perfect; man can only tune into God's ultimate perfection. Which is more awesome to behold ― the world's biggest super-computer, or the human brain? Between your two ears are 10 billion nerve cells ― a communication system 100 times larger than the entire communications system on Earth.

When we make "hamotzi," we hold the Matzah with all 10 fingers – reminding us that while human hands produced this food, it is yet another gift from the Creator and Sustainer of all life.

8. MATZAH

Both bread and Matzah are flour mixed with water, then kneaded into a dough and baked. What is the difference between them? The difference is that bread dough has sat unattended for 18 minutes and becomes leavened (bread). The Matzah which we eat on Passover has been baked quickly.

The spelling of "Matzah" is similar to "mitzvah:" Just as we shouldn't delay in the making of Matzah, so too we shouldn't procrastinate in performing a mitzvah. The lesson of Matzah is to seize the moment. Delaying even one second can mean the difference between an opportunity gained or lost.

Why 18 minutes? Because the number 18 is the numerical value of "Chai," meaning "life." They say that "baseball is a game of inches." Actually, life itself is a game of seconds. The Talmud tells of people who had sunk to the depths of humanity, and then in one moment of insight reversed their lives for all eternity. More than just the difference between Matzah and bread, the Seder teaches us the difference between life and death.

9. MARROR

At the Seder we say: "In every generation they rise against us to annihilate us." The Egyptians broke our backs and our spirits. The Romans destroyed the Second Temple and rivers of Jewish blood flowed. And so it was in every generation: Crusades, Inquisitions, Pogroms, Holocaust, Arab terrorism. Intense and irrational violence has stalked our people to every corner of the globe. Why the hatred?

The Talmud says the Hebrew word for "hatred" (sinah) is related to the word "Sinai." At Mount Sinai, the Jewish people acquired the legacy of morality and justice ― a message that evil cannot tolerate. We taught the world "to beat their swords into plowshares." We taught the world "to love your neighbor as yourself." We taught the world equality before justice, and that admiration belongs not to the rich and powerful ― but to the good, the wise, and the kind. Hitler said: "The Jews have inflicted two wounds on mankind ― circumcision on the body, and conscience on the soul." How right he was and how much more work we have to do.

Throughout the generations, the forces of darkness have sought to extinguish our flame. But the Jews have somehow prevailed. We have God's promise that we will be the eternal nation. For without our message, the world would revert to utter chaos.

At the Seder, we eat the bitter herbs ― in combination with Matzah ― to underscore that God is present not only during our periods of freedom (symbolized by the Matzah), but during our bitter periods of exile as well. He will never forsake us.

10. KORECH

The Hillel Sandwich is "bricks-and-mortar:" broken Matzah held together by bitter herbs and charoset. The Matzah was once whole. So too, the Jewish people can become crushed and divisive. But we are held together by our common links to Torah and our shared historical experiences.

The Talmud says that as Jews in Egypt, we were redeemed only because of our unity. We were unified in our commitment to each other and to the future of our people. Weeks later at Mount Sinai, we stood together and accepted the Torah with one heart and one mind.

Today, we are fighting amongst ourselves under the watchful eye of the world media. It is both embarrassing and discouraging. The biggest threat to Jewish survival may be from within. Our only response is to stand loudly and proclaim: Every Jew is a Jew. Period. The inclusion of the "Wicked Son" in the Seder expresses our conviction that no Jew is ever irretrievably lost. We are all one family, responsible to love and care for one another.

The Matzah may be broken, but it can be restored. It is this Hillel Sandwichwhich has traditionally symbolized our commitment to glue the Jewish nation back together. On the merit of unity we were redeemed from Egypt, and it is on that merit that we shall be redeemed once again.

11. SHULCHAN ORECH

When we think of attaining levels of holiness, it seems strange that one of the mitzvots of Seder night should be eating a festive meal. That is because the Jewish attitude toward our physical drives and material needs is quite different from that of other religions. Our religious leaders are neither celibate nor do they meditate all day on a mountaintop. Rather than negating or denying the physical, Judaism stresses the importance of feasting and marital relations.

God wants it that way. The proof is that instead of creating all foods bland (or in the form of "protein-pills"), God concocted a variety of flavors and textures ― orange, strawberry, chocolate, banana and mango. Why? Because God wants His people to have pleasure! Adam and Eve were put into the Garden of Eden ― the Garden of Pleasure.

The Talmud says that one of the questions every person is asked when they get to Heaven is: "Did you enjoy all the fruits of the world?" On Seder night, we eat the festive meal to teach us that true freedom is the ability to sanctify life, not flee from it.

12. TZAFUN

The last thing we eat all night is the Afikoman. (Matzah for dessert?! And I thought we were having macaroons!) We eat this final piece of Matzah ― not because we are hungry ― but because we are commanded. Physical pleasure, though an integral part of our lives, sometimes gives way to a higher value.

To illustrate this concept, the Talmud compares a person to a "horse and rider." The purpose of a horse is to take you where you want to go; but left to its own devices, the horse will get lazy and may even throw off the rider. That's why the rider has to be in control of making all the decisions. So too, our bodies are the vehicles for moving us through life; they require care and attention ― but not to the extent of assuming a pre-eminent position. There is a difference between eating healthy, and flying to Europe in order to dine on authentic Italian food. A person dominated by material strivings is anything but free. Judaism says: control the physical so it does not control you. Become a master of yourself.

It is this ability to rise above our physical selves that demarcates the difference between humans and animals. The story is told of the Baal Shem Tov looking at his neighbor eating dinner ― and instead of a person, seeing the form of an ox. The man was solely in pursuit of physical pleasure, no different than an animal. Freedom is the ability to put our soul in control. "Who is the strong person?" asks the Talmud. "The one who can subdue his personal inclination."

At the Seder, we hide the Afikomen, search, find ― and win a prize! The same is true with our spiritual yearning to do the right thing. Although it might be buried inside, we can search for it, find it ― and the prize is pure freedom.

13. BARECH

Social pressure is one thing that holds us back from taking charge and doing the right thing. Barech, the "Grace After Meals" was instituted by Abraham 4000 years ago. Abraham would invite idolatrous wayfarers into his tent for a hearty meal, and then tell them the price of admission is to bless God. They thought he was crazy! Nobody believed in God! Abraham was called Ha'Ivri("the Hebrew"), meaning "the one who stands on the other side." He was a social outcast and a lone voice in the wilderness.

Would we have been able to stand up to that kind of social pressure? Do we speak out today against the proliferation of media, sex and violence? Against drugs and crime in our streets? Slavery is a pre-occupation with self-image and social status. ("What will they think of me if I voice my objection? How will I bear the pain of isolation and rejection?")

The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim ― from the root meitzar, which means narrow and constricted. When we left Egypt, we became free of the societal forces which restrict us to a narrow path of fashion, image and ideas. Freedom means doing the right thing even when it may not be socially popular. I have to live with my own conscience. The reality is liberating.

14. HALLEL

As the feeling of freedom inebriates our souls (helped along by the four cups of wine!), we sing aloud in joy. When the Jews came out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea they broke out in song (Exodus chapter 15). When we see the upending of evil, the Egyptians drowning at the sea, we are instinctively grateful to the One who orchestrated the turnaround! God delivers us from slavery unto freedom ― and we are amazed at the beauty and swiftness of it all.

The Jews in Egypt had sunk to the 49th level of spiritual impurity, and only when they hit rock-bottom did they turn to God and cry out. It was at that moment that they were redeemed. Redemption can be as quick as the blink of an eye. Our Egyptian experience began with Joseph sitting in the dungeon prison ― and rising to the position of Prime Minister in the span of one day!

The Seder is the only one of the 613 mitzvot that is performed specifically at night, for on Passover, we turn the darkness into light. With "Hallel," we abandon all intellectual posits, and experience the emotional joy of freedom. Song is the expression of an excited soul. It is the way to break out of oneself and reach for freedom.

15. NIRTZAH

We conclude our Seder with the prayer, "Next Year in Jerusalem." Every synagogue in the world faces Jerusalem. It is the focus of our hopes and aspirations ― not merely in a geographic sense, but in a conceptual sense as well. The Talmud says creation began in Jerusalem, and the world radiated outward from this spot. Medieval maps show Jerusalem at the epicenter of Asia, Europe, and Africa. The world flows into this place, and all of life's forces resonate there. From Jerusalem, the whole world is cast into perspective.

The name Jerusalem means "city of peace." Peace, shalom, is more than the absence of conflict; it is the seamless harmony of humanity genuinely embracing a common vision. Jerusalem is a vision of God in our lives, a metaphor of a perfected world. Jerusalem gives us hope to achieve what we as a people must do, to sanctify this world.

In Egypt, we hadn't yet absorbed this lesson: we were too burnt out from hard work (Exodus 6:9) and had become immersed in the spiritual abyss of Egyptian society. When we finally were redeemed, it happened so quickly and hastily that even then we were unable to grasp its full significance. What this means is that year after year, each successful Seder adds meaning to the original events, and brings us closer to the final redemption.

As the Seder draws to a close, we sense the process of redemption is under way. We shout aloud: "Next Year in Jerusalem!" We're on our way back home.

 


Can I Skip the Boring Parts?

Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf

The reading of the entire Haggadah is the way in which one fulfills his or her obligation to speak about the exodus from Egypt on the night of Passover. In order to realize the full benefit of this mitzvah, one must both read and understand the complete text of the Haggadah. This means that if you don't understand Hebrew, then you shouldn't read it in Hebrew. This also implies that -- beyond understanding the words -- you should strive to discern their deeper meanings and messages.

Let your imagination loose for a moment and picture this: you have just concluded a marvelous encounter with the most adorable extraterrestrial you could ever hope to meet. A conversation transpired (though no words were actually spoken) and clearly your rendezvous was with a being of superior intelligence whose understanding penetrated the many layers of life and the universe. As a parting gift, you are left with a book, but there's one catch - in twenty-four hours it will mysteriously vanish. Now ask yourself: over those next twenty-four hours, how much time will you spend preparing and eating meals, watching television, or sleeping?

Or... imagine that while rummaging through a long-neglected corner in your attic you were to find a dusty, handwritten manuscript authored by your great-grandfather. Wouldn't you be curious to see what he wrote? And what if the opening lines read: "To my dear children, this is the most important book you will ever read. It is about Jewish life and the wisdom of living written by a Jew who dedicated his life to the pursuit of wisdom. Countless hours have been devoted to finding the words and the thoughts which I trust will serve as a faithful guide in life, and as a key to your freedom..."

The yellowed pages of that manuscript are the timeless folios of every Haggadah. That great-grandfather is the collective wisdom of our greatest sages. You are the heir who happened upon those lost words. A multilayered message about the meaning of Jewish existence, about life, and, most of all, about freedom. And all you've got is one night.

The Hebrew word seder means order, or arrangement. The Passover Seder is comprised of 15 sequential steps, and thus it is quite fitting that the word seder is used to portray the gist of the evening's proceedings.

Shortcuts are convenient. They save time, effort, and sometimes even money. They can also be quite illusory. Sure, you can figure out an ingenious back-alley route to sneak by rush-hour traffic, or curl up with a single volume containing three-page summaries of everything from Shakespeare to Fulghum. But don't try it in life. Not with your children, not with your spouse, and certainly not with yourself.

If you want self-awareness, personal growth, deeper relationships, and a life of integrity ― sorry, no shortcuts allowed. Only seder, only order will do. Deeper living just doesn't flourish in the land of quick fixes. No child ever reaches adulthood without paying a visit to adolescence and no adult achieves inner maturation without first embarking on an orderly, if daring, course of human development.

The legacy of freedom is yours to discover.

Sat, September 21 2019 21 Elul 5779