Thursday, 31 March 2011

Belt Braces and Something Else

Pesach is just over two weeks away. First night seder 18th April. Let me share this extract from the New London Pesach Guide.


The Rabbis offer a three stage way of ensuring that a home is free of Chametz for the Festival.


First you should remove any Chametz. A good spring clean is a lovely thing to do, but the standard of the Rabbis is not Chametz – Armageddon, but rather removal of Chametz crumbs larger than the size of an olive. Chametz is food made with the five grains wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats mixed with water which has risen. Other foods, even foods which we would not eat on Pesach (for example rice, for Ashkenazim) do not need to be removed, they can simply be put aside, or sealed in a cupboard.


Next you should perform a ‘bittul’ – nullification. This is done twice, once during the search for Chametz (Sunday 17th April at sundown) and once on Monday morning (before around 10 a.m.). The formula can be recited in English as follows:

‘All Chametz in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be nullified and be ownerless as the dust of the earth.’

This is a key part of the preparation process. Even if you have cleaned perfectly, it should be said.


Finally, you should authorize me, or another Rabbi, to perform a Mechirah – or sale to a non-Jew –of any Chametz you do not wish to nullify or throw away. This is an extraordinary leniency from the Rabbis, bending over to make Pesach less onerous and less costly. It is designed to allow us to hang on to bottles of whiskey etc. It has been mocked, but I always delight in the flexibility and sensitivity this notion allows. I would recommend it even if you think you have cleaned perfectly and you don’t think you have anything physical to sell. To sell Chametz you must contact me to let me know that you wish me to sell your Chametz. Please do this in writing (e-mail is best using the following form of words.

You should then put the Chametz in a sealed container or room and leave it until after 10pm the night that Passover goes out.


‘I authorise Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, or any agent appointed by him, to sell all Hametz in my possession, whether held knowingly or unknowingly, whether in an admixture or otherwise. This permission applies to all Hametz at the address [complete as appropriate].’


A happy and Kosher Pesach to all,


Shabbat shalom,


Rabbi Jeremy

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