Shalom, Yes, we are within the 30 days before Pessah,
There is a lot to do and many things to prepare.
The clock is ticking.... Click on the subject you wish to read about:
1. Shabbat Hagadol Read more
2. What is Hametz? Read more
3. Bedikat Hametz - Searching for Hametz Read more
4. Kashering kitchen and utensils Read more
5. Sell your Hametz Read more
1. Shabbat Hagadol:
Hagadol=The big, the great Shabbat.
What is so great about it? Why it is called "Shabbat Hagadol"?
Shabbat before Pessah is called "Shabbat Hagadol" - the big / great Shabbat. To remind us of the great miracle that happened on the Shabbat before the original and the first Pessah.
It was on the 10th of Nissan the year of: 2448 to creation.
(The Exodus from Egypt happened on the 15th of Nissan that year).
People of Israel were commanded by Hashem, to take a lamb, (one of the major Egyptian idol), on the 10th of Nissan. Tie it to the bed and wait till the 14th of Nissan and then sacrifice it as "Korban Pessah" – the sacrifice of Pessah).
Miraculously the Egyptians did not raise a hand against the Israelites, nor harm them despite the humiliation of their deity.
For this great miracle that started on the Shabbat before Pessah, we call: "Shabbat Hagadol"- The great Shabbat.
"Shabbat Hagadol", written in Hebrew שבת הגדול reminds us of the year, that miracle on Shabbat happened, according to the acronym and Gimatriya - numeric value, of the Hebrew letters:
ש=שבת, ב=2000, ת=400, הגדול=48
Usually on Shabbat before Pessah, the Rabbi gives a "Drasha Gedola" - Long Sermon, longer than any Shabbat.....(to explains the Halachot, Minhagim-customs etc.).
Shabbat HaGadol originates with a special Haftarah, specifically the verse which refers to a day in the future which will be Gadol, meaning "great". "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of Hashem". (Malachi 3:23)
2. What is Hametz?
Hametz - leaven, is any dough from the five grains:
Barley, Rye, Oat, Wheat, Spelt (I usually remember them as the acronym: B.R.O.W.S.).
When mixed with water, if these grains are not baked within 18 minutes, they become Hametz (from the word Hamutz חמוץ- sour), and are forbidden on Pessah.
The prohibition of Hametz:
1. Not to eat Hametz - בל יאכל
2. Not to have any benefit from selling the Hametz אסור בהנאה
3. Not to have Hametz in our possession בל יראה, ובל ימצא
4. Remove / Nullifies / Burn the Hametz "תשביתו שאור"
There are a number of factors that speed up the fermentation process. These include warm water, and dough that is left standing.
3. Bedikat Hametz - Searching for Hametz
Bedikat Hametz, should be performed as soon as it is dark (Check time when Shabbat is over. It is the perfect time, in this case).
What do we do?
One checks all the rooms where one thinks that Hametz was brought into them, even the basement, attic, store-rooms and wood-sheds, simply everywhere one can think of, we must check them.
We must also check all containers in which Hametz was kept.
Before the search one should sweep well all these places and clean them from all Hametz, so that it will be easier for one afterwards to check. Clothing, coats (pockets), must be checked also.
Special Custom:It is customary to take 10 pieces of Hametz wrapped in paper and place them around the house. (if given to children, one must note where are all the pieces were put...). It should be noted that these ten pieces do not constitute the entire search. As mentioned the entire home must be searched.
Why 10 pieces?
To remind us of the 10 plagues that Hashem did in Egypt and the 10 plagues that He will do upon all our enemies.
To remind us that Eretz Yisrael is sanctified with 10 sanctities. The same way we search and clean our houses for Pessah Holiday, so to Hashem will clean up the Land of Israel from all "Hametz" – enemies.
The Hametz=is 'Yetzer Hara'='bad inclination'=power of Tum'ah (non-purity). All year round they try hard to make us fail. Comes Pessah, (the original time where Hashem pushed down the Tumah and elevated the Jews to be able to exit Egypt). All 10 powers of Kedusha – purity and Holiness, (i.e.,'wake up'). In order for them to control and not the evil, we put 10 pieces of Hametz, collect them to show control, nullify them and burn them. In this way the pure and the good stays in the world, and the bad and evil are gone.
A plate: To put all the collected Hametz pieces or other Hametz that was found.
A feather: To brush the crums, if any were found.
A wax candle (or flashlight): To see well while searching.
A knive: To peel off any kind of Hametz that is stuck.
A wooden spoon: To collect the Hametz.
Salt in the plate: To drive away all evil spirits (as explained before). Also to wish for us, that as the salt that stays forever, so too we hope to stay and fulfill this mitzvot and others for many years to come.
Prior to search: say the blessing
"Al Biur Hames"
"ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם, אשר קידשנו במצוותיו וציוונו, על ביעור חמץ"
(Means: "Bless are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to remove - Hametz - leaven'').
Now perform search.
It is better not to talk during the search.
Declaration of "Bitul Hametz" (nullifies the Hametz) – "Kal Hamirah" said after the search. Meaning of the declaration:
"May all leaven in my possession which I have not seen, or removed - be annulled and considered as dust of the earth".
Why do we say this in Arameic?
As it is known, the evil spirits do not understand Arameic. If we would say this sentence in Hebrew, the evil spirits would say: "Look what they do to the bread and food!" Therefore, we say it in Arameic which they do not understand and do not pay attention to our acts.
4. Kashering kitchen and utensils:
During Pessah we may not use any kind of utensil which was used during the year to cook, fry, bake, eat or drink Hametz, whether hot or cold. Unless, the utensils were treated in a special way as will be explain here.
It is therefore customary to use entirely different crockery for Pessah. If one is unable to purchase new vessels for Pessah, there is a method by which they may become Kasher for Pessah.There are two ways of doing this: