Vayikra 5778

RABBI BORUCH HIRSCHFELD שליט”א

Taking the Stress out of Pesach Preparations

During Pesach, the Torah strictly forbids Jews from owning, eating, or deriving benefit from food products containing Chametz. Additionally, the Arizal assures that anyone who is exceptionally careful not to eat even a bit of Chametz during Pesach will be able to avoid sin much easier during the coming year. This is truly an attractive offer, and many people go out of their way to be completely certain that they did the best that they could to rid their homes of any Chametz.
Obviously, preparations must be made in advance to ready oneself and one’s home for the upcoming Yom Tov. However, it seems that there are many people who are unaware of what is actually necessary to do, and what is extra. We can end up spending so much time and effort on some of the things that don’t need that amount of work, and forget about the really important things. While spring cleaning is nice, it should not be confused with Pesach cleaning. By the time that many of us get to the Seder, we are simply too knocked out (and let’s face it – downright grouchy) to participate in the Mitzvos of the night properly. The best we can do is hope that the next night will be better.
What follows is Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld’s guide to a Kosher home for Pesach. It is what Halacha does and does not require as far as cleaning and Kashering for Pesach. There are, of course, many additional Chumros, extra more stringent steps, that can be taken, but the following is what you need to know, if you want to do what is necessary.

Selling the Chametz
All Chametz that one wishes to use after Pesach must be sold to a non-Jew via a legal transaction. The owner may appoint his Rav as his agent to sell that Chametz. During the holiday, this Chametz should be stored away in closets that are marked “Chametz”. The closets should be taped or tied up throughout Passover.

Cleaning the House
To ensure that there is no Chametz in the house during Pesach, it is important to clean it well in the days before Yom Tov. The rooms in which you generally don’t bring any Chametz, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, the garage, and an unfinished attic, need only basic cleaning and vacuuming. Of course, any Chametz found in these rooms should be removed. Special attention should be given to childrens’ bedrooms, as there is a greater likelihood of missing some well concealed Chametz stashed away. The dining room, family room, den, etc. also need a bit more attention. Drawers which had contained food should be dusted. Chairs should be vacuumed, and couch pillows lifted and cleaned.
Any table that you may have taken apart during the year, for example those with extra leaves, should be pulled apart and cleaned. If you wish to eat on these tables during Pesach, you must first cover them with a waterproof tablecloth and then place a freshly laundered tablecloth on top of that. Tablecloths made of synthetic material that were used during the year should not be used on Pesach.
All dishes and silverware which are not designated for exclusive Pesach use should be put away, rendering them inaccessible during Pesach. These rooms should be vacuumed, and the refuse and vacuum bag disposed of before Pesach.
(over)

Unless you see Chametz actually attached to the walls or ceiling of the house, these do not need to be scrubbed down before Pesach. Cracks between the floorboards should be vacuumed. You do not need to scrub them clean with a knife and pin. Any Chametz that you can’t get to after washing and vacuuming does not pose a problem for Pesach.

The Kitchen

This is the area that usually causes the greatest concern. Kashering and cleaning properly can be tricky, but it is not as hard as you might think, once you know what you are doing. We will go through the items one by one.

Kashering: In this section we will discuss some of the basic laws of Kashering the kitchen for use on Pesach. Note: Before Kashering anything, the item should not be used with heat for at least 24 hours in advance of the Kashering.

Stove-top: If you wish to Kasher a gas range for Pesach, first clean the top of the stove, then cover the area around the grates with foil. It is recommended to double-layer any covering done with foil. Clean the grates and any removable pieces well, and put them in the oven on high for 1 -2 hours. (They may be placed there at the same time that the oven is being Kashered.) For electric coil stoves, turn on all the heating elements until they glow, and it is ready for Pesach use. Glass top electric ranges should be turned on their highest temperatures for about five minutes to Kasher the circular cooking areas. The area between the “burners” cannot be Kashered. It should be cleaned well and used only with the separation of an elevated metal rack.

Oven: if you own a self-cleaning oven, it may be used for Passover cooking, after setting it to self-clean and allowing it to run for a full cycle. If your oven does not have a self-clean feature, clean the oven and grates with an oven cleaner such as Easy-Off, then turn on the oven to its highest temperature for 1 – 2 hours.

Sink: First, it is best to pour some drain cleaner, such as Drano, down the drain, in case there are any large pieces of Chametz stuck there. A stainless steel sink may be Kashered by pouring boiling hot water on all the walls and surfaces of the sink, including the faucet and exposed metal hardware. It is best to have another person observe the pouring, as it is sometimes hard to see where exactly you poured the water. After pouring the hot water, cold water should immediately be applied with a rag, or poured onto all of those surfaces. If the cold water was not poured on, though, it does not invalidate the Kashering. For porcelain sinks, clean well with Ajax or similar detergent, then cover the sink with a store bought sink insert, or make your own with aluminum foil or contact paper. One should use a separate sink rack for Pesach. Lastly, turn on the hot water in the faucet and let it run for a few moments at its hottest temperature. Then allow only the cold water to run for a moment, and the sink is ready to use.

Countertops: Any laminate such as Formica, or other synthetic material, should be covered with a non-absorbent material (foil, plastic sheets, or contact paper) for the duration of Pesach. Hot Pots should be placed only on an added layer of thick foil.
Natural stone such as pure granite or marble may be Kashered and used without being covered. There should have been no contact with heat for 24 hours before the Kashering. Clean the countertops well with cool water during those 24 hours. Next, boil water in a Pesach pot on a range that has been Kashered for Pesach until the water bubbles. Quickly pour the water over the dry counter surface, followed by a rinsing with cold water, and the counter is ready for Pesach. On Pesach, one should avoid putting anything directly on the grout line.