Monday, March 11, 2013

Wint...errrr...Pesach Is Coming!

But don't fret! 

Pesach does not have to be as scary as everyone makes it sound.

Really, truly... preparing for Pesach is not that hard. If you don't have children and regularly sorta-clean your house, you should be able to clean for it in an hour or two. (Kashering the kitchen may or may not take significantly longer, depending on your kitchen and what you believe is required to kasher it for Pesach.) 

Five things to keep in mind:
1. Crumbs are not a "kezayit." They're garbage. Ask Aish if you don't believe me.
2. Neither you nor the dog will be eating any chametz that may or may not exist under your fridge, car seat, or heavy furniture.
3. Don't take "unfit even for a dog to eat" quite so literally. Case in point: the standard is not "poisonous" in most communities. As Rabbi Soloveitchik famously said about a dog who ate toothpaste, "Your dog is crazy." As interpreted by rabbis I know, "You trust a dog to tell you what's fit for a dog to eat?!"
4. Just because you're required to search for chametz doesn't mean you actually have to FIND any. You're not required to hide any. If you insist on hiding some token chametz, please remember to write down where you hid them (and don't make them bigger than a kezayit!).
5. If you pay a person to spend hours vacuuming the pages of your library, I will nominate you for involuntary commitment to a psychiatric ward.

See? Aren't you more relieved already?

I'm not the only person who says that Pesach prep should not give you a mental breakdown.

If you're uncertain about your community's "theoretical" standards for Pesach (because many OCD-inclined people choose this mitzvah for their entry to the Extreme Machmir Awards), discuss these posts with a friend, mentor, your rabbi, or any other Passover-celebrating Jew you may have access to (if you lack those other resources).

Fair warning: if you're loud-mouthed about how relaxed your Pesach prep was, don't be surprised if people refuse to eat in your house. They could even refuse on principle if you "follow the rules" but your method looks "different" (for example, kashering your kitchen counters instead of covering them). But on the other hand, never be surprised if someone refuses to eat in your house during Pesach. People be cray-cray. A fair number of people refuse to eat in anyone's house during Pesach.

#ProTip: the best part about converting is that you get to choose your minhag. Trust the Sephardi about kitniyot! 


  1. Oh, bless you. I am turning purple trying to tell people that CRUMBS ARE NOT CHOMETZ and that Rabbi Blumencrantz zt"l said quite clearly, "Just sweep up!" and that the three noodles that jumped behind the stove are not a concern.

    I'm starting to wonder if those who murder themselves for the "holiday" are just bucking to get on reality television.

  2. I was under the impression that when a convert chose a minhag, they chose a collection of them, so, for example, if I chose to eat kitniyos on Pesach, then I'd have to follow other Sephardic minhagim in other areas, like kashrus and mikvah. Is this not the case?

    As far as Pesach goes, we do a bit more than that, but we don't obsess to the extent some do. Of course, we also have kids, so bedikas chametz is a lot of fun for everyone. I think it's just important to keep it in perspective, no matter what you choose to do.

    And yeah...gebrokts...still working on that one. Eventually I'll get there. I think Pesach is the only time I really give my husband the side-eye!

    1. What I was told is that I can choose every time I encounter a new "choice." Even within "Ashkenazi Judaism," there are many choices to be made, so it's something even a "straight-up Ashkenazi convert" could encounter eventually. My understanding is that BTs without a family tradition can also choose like a convert does. I refer to myself as "Ashkenazi by default," which we're seeing more of as "Ashkenazi" BTs and converts choose to speak Hebrew with a Sephardi accent and hold that kitniyot is not their minhag. There's a great deal of minhag mixing going on in America today.

    2. Does that cause confusion? I lived for a bit in a community that had both a Sephardic and Ashkenazic shul in the same building. We also had a family who followed Dutch minhags, a Yekkie family, and a couple of Chabad families tossed in the mix. I think if anyone who attended the Ashkenazic shul then ate kitniyos on Pesach there would have been a lot of confusion, but it could have just been the community. There weren't many converts at all and the BT's tended to all be Yeshivish-leaning.

      More and more, since we have some family who are Chabadniks, I'm thinking it might be easier to just take on their minhagim, even though it involves more stringencies. Otherwise, eating together and such starts to become complicated.

    3. @ Anonymous #2: I don't find that it causes confusion. If anything, it causes envy. People often tell me they envy that I was able to choose 3 hours and eating kitniyot. I don't see why it would cause a problem. If I eat on during Pesach, I would eat kitniyot if offered. If I'm eating at home, I might make kitniyot. If I had guests, I might offer one kitniyot dish. However, I would be careful to make sure it didn't get mixed with other dishes. If there's a communal potluck meal, there can be a table set aside for kitniyot or a policy of no kitniyot. It's just common sense, and I don't HAVE to eat kitniyot either. So what's the problem?

    4. But you're married now. Don't you have to take on HIS minhagim?

    5. FrumGeek:

      A) You assume my husband's minhag.
      B) That's the default rule that happens at marriage. Doesn't mean it's the only way. A husband can take on his wife's minhagim (happens most commonly with Ashkenazi husbands and Sephardi wives). And, less known, but what I was told, is that a couple can choose at the time of marriage to consider each minhag question as it arises and choose between the customs at that point. I've met couples who have done both "alternatives." As I understand it, the "vow" to choose another's minhagim is made under the chuppah, and the default, if nothing is said/decided differently, is that the woman takes the man's customs. However, the couple can choose differently by actively choosing it.

    6. What Anonymous 1 said is what our Beis Din taught as well. You can choose a tradition, but you MUST be consistent within that tradition. Obviously, for things where it's *family* minhag (vs Ashkenazi/Sephardic minhag), you may make your own personal choices.

  3. 2. Neither you nor the dog will be eating any chametz that may or may not exist under your fridge, car seat, or heavy furniture.


  4. I love everything about this post--thank you for always having words to help me out as I keep navigating conversion!