Monday, March 26, 2007

Passover Preparation

(The original context for this picture is:

Below is the passover guide provided by the rabbinical assembly. At the session on Shabbas, some were interested in which foods one could buy before Pesach for use on Pesach that did not need a special Kosher for Passover hechshure. This will explain. We also copied this and made it available for people in the congregation to pick up in the office.

Passover has its own special rules of kashrut:

The Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide was prepared for the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards by Rabbi Mayer Rabinowitz. It was accepted by the Committee on December 12, 1984. The last paragraph of the introduction as well as Parts A and C under "Permitted Foods," have been amended to reflect more recent decisions of the Committee affecting the status of peanuts, peanut oil, certain cheeses and canned tuna.

The Torah prohibits the ownership of hametz (leaven) during Pesah. Therefore, we arrange for the sale of the hametz to a non-Jew. The transfer, mekhirat hametz, is accomplished by appointing an agent, usually the rabbi, to handle the sale. It is valid and legal transfer of ownership. At the end of the holiday, the agent arranges for the reversion of ownership of the now-permitted hametz. If ownership of the hametz was not transferred before the holiday, the use of this hametz is prohibited after the holiday as well (hametz she-avar alav ha-Pesah).

Since the Torah prohibits the eating of hametz during Pesah, and since many common foods contain some admixture of hametz, guidance is necessary when shopping and preparing for Pesah.

During the eight days of Pesah, hametz cannot lose its identity in an admixture. Therefore, the minutest amount of hametz renders the whole admixture hametz and its use on Pesah is prohibited. However, during the rest of the year, hametz follows the normal rules of admixture, i.e. it loses its identity in an admixture of one part hametz and sixty parts of non-hametz (batel be-shishim). This affords us the opportunity to differentiate between foods purchased before and during Pesah.

What follows is a general guideline. However, your rabbi should be consulted when any doubt arises. Kosher le-Pesah labels that do not bear the name of a rabbi or one of the recognized symbols of rabbinic supervision, or which are not integral to the package, should not be used without consulting your rabbi.

Prohibited foods include the following: leavened bread, cakes, biscuits, crackers, cereal, coffees containing cereal derivatives, wheat, barley, oats, spelt, rye, and all liquids containing ingredients or flavors made from grain alcohol.

Most Ashkenazik authorities have added the following foods (kitniyot) to the above list: rice, corn, millet, legumes (beans and peas; however, string beans are permitted). The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has ruled unanimously that peanuts and peanut oil are permissible. Some Ashkenazik authorities permit, while others forbid, the use of legumes in a form other than their natural state, for example, corn sweeteners, corn oil, soy oil. Sephardic authorities permit the use of all of the above. Consult your rabbi for guidance in the use of these products.

Permitted Foods:

The following foods require no kosher le-Pesah label if purchased prior to Pesah: unopened packages or containers of natural coffee without cereal additives (However, be aware that coffees produced by General Foods are not kosher for Passover unless marked KP); sugar, pure tea (not herbal tea); salt (not iodized); pepper; natural spices; frozen fruit juices with no additives; frozen (uncooked) vegetables (for legumes see above); milk; butter; cottage cheese; cream cheese; ripened cheeses such as cheddar (hard), muenster (semi-soft) and Camembert (soft); frozen (uncooked) fruit (with no additives); baking soda.

The following foods require no kosher le-Pesah label if purchased before or during Pesah: Fresh fruits and vegetables (for legumes see above), eggs, fresh fish and fresh meat.

The following foods require a kosher le-Pesah label if purchased before or during Pesah: All baked products (matzah, cakes, matzah flour, farfel, matzah meal, and any products containing matzah); canned or bottled fruit juices (These juices are often clarified with kitniyot which are not listed among the ingredients. However, if one knows there are no such agents, the juice may be purchased prior to Pesah without a kosher le-Pesah label); canned tuna (since tuna, even when packed in water, has often been processed in vegetable broth and/or hydrolyzed protein--however, if it is known that the tuna is packed exclusively in water, without any additional ingredients or additives, it may be purchased without a kosher le-Pesah label); wine; vinegar; liquor; oils; dried fruits; candy; chocolate flavored milk; ice cream; yogurt and soda.

The following processed foods (canned, bottled or frozen), require a kosher le-Pesah label if purchased during Pesah: milk, butter, juices, vegetables, fruit, milk products, spices, coffee, tea, and fish, as well as all foods listed in Category C.

DETERGENTS: If permitted during the year, powdered and liquid detergents do not require a kosher le-Pesah label.

MEDICINE: Since hametz binders are used in many pills, the following guidelines should be followed: If the medicine is required for life sustaining therapy, it may be used on Pesah. If it is not for life sustaining therapy, some authorities permit, while others prohibit. Consult your rabbi. In all cases, capsules are preferable to pills.

KASHERING OF UTENSILS: The process of kashering utensils depends on how the utensils are used. According to Halakhah, leaven can be purged from a utensil by the same process in which it was absorbed in the utensil (ke-voleo kakh poleto). Therefore, utensils used in cooking are kashered by boiling, those used in broiling are kashered by fire and heat, and those used only for cold food are kashered by rinsing.
EARTHENWARE (china, pottery, etc.) may not be kashered. However, fine translucent chinaware which has not been used for over a year may be used if scoured and cleaned in hot water.

METAL (wholly made of metal) UTENSILS USED IN FIRE (spit, broiler) must first be thoroughly scrubbed and cleansed and then made as hot as possible. Those used for cooking or eating (silverware, pots) must be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned and completely immersed in boiling water. Pots should not be used for a period of at least 24 hours between the cleaning and the immersion in boiling water. Metal baking utensils cannot be kashered.

OVENS AND RANGES: Every part that comes in contact with food must be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned. Then, oven and range should be heated as hot as possible for a half hour. If there is a broil setting, use it. Self-cleaning ovens should be scrubbed and cleaned and then put through the self-cleaning cycle. Continuous cleaning ovens must be kashered in the same manner as regular ovens.

MICROWAVE OVENS, which do not cook the food by means of heat, should be cleaned, and then a cup of water should be placed inside. Then the oven should be turned on until the water disappears. A microwave oven that has a browning element cannot be kashered for Pesah.

GLASSWARE: Authorities disagree as to the method for kashering drinking utensils. One opinion requires soaking in water for three days, changing the water every 24 hours. The other opinion requires only a thorough scrubbing before Pesah, or putting them through a dishwasher.

Glass Cookware: There is a difference of opinion as to whether it is to be kashered. One opinion is that it must be kashered. After a thorough cleansing, there should be water boiled in them which will overflow the rim. The other opinion is that only a thorough cleansing is required.

Glass Bakeware, like metal bakeware, may not be kashered.

DISHWASHER: After not using the machine for a period of 24 hours, a full cycle with detergent should be run.

ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES: If the parts that come into contact with hametz are removable, they can be kashered in the appropriate way (if metal, follow the rules for metal utensils). If the parts are not removable, the appliance cannot be kashered. (All exposed parts should be thoroughly cleaned.)

TABLES, CLOSETS AND COUNTERS: If used with hametz, they should be thoroughly cleaned and covered, and then they may be used.

KITCHEN SINK: A metal sink can be kashered by thoroughly cleaning and then pouring boiling water over it. A porcelain sink should be cleaned and a sink rack used. If, however, dishes are to be soaked in a porcelain sink, a dish basin must be used.

HAMETZ AND NON-PASSOVER UTENSILS: Non-Passover dishes, pots and hametz whose ownership has been transferred, should be separated, locked up or covered, and marked in order to prevent accidental use.

Excerpted from "The Jewish Dietary Laws," published by the Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Jewish Ethics-- New and Old Voices

Our older class, taught by the brilliant and excellent pedagogue Josh Millstein, has been learning about Jewish Ethics through looking at traditional sources. Not passively reading them of course, but engaging in the discussion. See here one of their projects compiled and assimilated by Josh:

There was a recent discovery of the first page of the Talmud written by some learned rabbis from Sheiris Israel. The rest of the book could not be located, and even the page itself was so frail and in such danger of just evaporating into thin air that Chief Rabbi Micah Kelber immediately copied down, word for word, the page that he found. This is what he wrote:

Rabbi Hillel saw a skull floating on the face of the water. He said to it: “For drowning others you were drowned; and in the end they that drown others will themselves be drowned.”

The esteemed Rabbi Kruchkow said, “I agree with Hillel to a degree. I agree that evil will be returned to those who commit it, but the criminal may not receive their punishment in the same way. I think that the punishment will depend on the people affected, the people around them, and perhaps G-d’s will. The punishment may not serve justice if it is the same as the criminal has done in all occasions.”

Honorable Rabbi Cohen said, “Rabbi Hillel is wrong and right: He was right because of Karma – ‘ what comes around, goes around ’ – and he was wrong because sometimes ‘ what comes around, goes around ’ doesn’t necessarily happen.”

And the accomplished Rabbi Starikov said, “I agree with Rabbi Hillel because it is a case of ethics. You should treat people the way you wish to be treated, therefore the favor will be returned. Perchance I made a nasty remark to a fellow pupil I might have destroyed all further chances to carry on a friendship with that person.”

Friday, March 16, 2007

Stop eating Matzah! (Only until pesach, of course...)

As everyone in the shul is maddeningly eating the all the frozen chametz that they have in there freezers and the half eaten boxes of pasta before pesach, one of our members asked a wonderful question, which was:

Everyone knows you have to eat matzah on Pesach, but when do you have to stop eating matzah before passover?

The answer to this question also pertains to those things baked with matzah meal-- like cookies or cakes (I guess some people do this even when it is not pesach. Why? I am not sure). But it excludes dishes that are cooked like matzah brei (is that the right spelling?) or matzah ball soup. Those you can continue eating all the way up until Pesach.

The prohibition against eating Matzah before Erev Pesach is found Hilchot Pesach 471:2. Yosef Karo does not mention it, but it is stated by the Rema (Yoseph Isserles), who writes the Askenazi gloss on the Shulchan Aruch. It is a note on the permission that Karo gives to eating Matzah Ashirah (what we call egg matzah) before Erev Pesach. The Remah comments, "However matzah that fulfills your obligation to eat it in the evening, that is forbidden to eat it (at all) on the 14th day." He cites the Ran in the name of the Rambam for this ruling. The prohibition, according to the Mishneh Brurah (the Chofetz Chayim) is said to have been enacted by the rabbis (again, he cites the Rambam) so that you will remember to eat it in that evening-- which is the specific mitzvah.

Then the Chofetz Chayim continues: "There are some who do not eat Matzah from Rosh Chodesh onwards."

He does not mention anything about Purim. But I did find something online from Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer from Bar Ilan where he mentions "from Purim" but he does not give a citation for it and I have not found one yet.

See here:

1) It is Rabbinically forbidden to eat matzah on erev pesach (OH
471:2). The majority of Poskim maintain that this prohibition starts
only from the morning [alot ha-shahar] (ibid., MB no. 13). The minority
view maintains that one should be stringent from the night before. (IM,
OH, I, 154). Some have the custom of not eating matzah from Purim or
Rosh Hodesh.

In sum, it is rabbinically forbidden to eat Matzah on the 14th starting from amud hashachar (and those who are machmir say even the night before), but it is a custom to not eat matzah from Rosh Chodesh and (according to Prof. Frimer) for others Purim.

If anyone knows the source of some people not eating matzah from Purim onwards, I would love to see it. In the mean time, I think it is safe to stop eating it on Rosh Chodesh which this year falls on the 20th of March.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shabbat b'yachad March 16th

This Shabbas, March 16th, please join us at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center for one of our lovely hamish potluck Shabbas dinners. Everyone is asked to bring a dairy dish to share (see chart below for some guidance). Services begin at 6:30 and after that we all go down into the ball room to eat together.

In order that we don't have too much cake (although some cake is good) we ask you to consider using this chart.

If your last name begins with

A-E, please bring a desert.
F-K, please bring a salad.
L-R, please bring a main dish.
S-Z, please bring an appetizer.

See you soon! Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Bay Ridge Players have been working hard to make this show a special and elegant performance. Please come and join us for a wonderful evening.

Here's a picture of the cast: