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Various Laws Pertaining to the 9 Days before Tisha B’Av

1.  Wearing laundered cloths: 

It is forbidden to wear laundered cloths, to change bedding sheets or towels during this period.  Also, changing undergarments is forbidden unless they are soiled.  It is often mistaken to think that undergarments are excluded from this prohibition. Therefore should someone wish to change them regularly during this period per the rest of the year, the Poskim advise him to prepare them before Rosh Chodesh for a short while so that they will no longer be considered “freshly” laundered.

2.  Preparing one’s clothes:

How long to wear the garments. There is no prescribed fixed length of  time for this process since it depends on the environment in which one wears them.  For example, someone sitting in an air-conditioned area requires more time than someone walking in the heat of the day in the street.

Wearing multiple garments together.  If one wears them while walking in the street, it helps to “unfreshen” all of them at the same time, however sitting at home will not help prepare the outer garments in the same way it prepares the undergarments.

Placing them on the floor.  Even though we have a heter from the Poskim to do this as a way of “unfreshening” our clothing, this is really only applicable to floors actually made of earth as was the case in previous years, unlike the tiled or carpeted clean floors we have today,   Therefore one needs to actually step on them.

3. Laundering.  It is forbidden to launder clothes either by hand or by machine.  However, spot cleaning is permitted if someone would be embarrassed by the mark on his clothes or if refraining from cleaning the spot immediately results in the clothes being permanently stained.

4. Polishing shoes.  There is a difference of opinion among the Poskim whether to permit polishing ones shoes or not.  It appears to me that if they are very dirty or someone lives in a very dusty place, there is room to be lenient.  (In practice though, one shouldn’t need to polish dusty shoes but should rather wipe then down with a cloth.)

5. Clothes which became soiled.  If someone would be embarrassed to wear such clothes or such a person is an Istanus who could not stand wearing them in such a condition, and does not have any “non-fresh” garments which were prepared before Rosh Chodesh, then he can wear laundered clothing but it would still be preferable for him to prepare the clothing during the nine days itself in the ways mentioned above before he wears them – if such a person will be able to bare such a discomfort.

6. Children.  All the heterim to change and launder children’s clothing are only applicable in cases of dirty garments, however it is prohibited to change non-soiled clothing.  Certainly not to launder garments that are not soiled.  In all cases it is not permitted to place over-garments together with undergarments that one is already washing.

The week in which T”B falls: 

Until 3 years old: it is possible to launder and change clothes as per normal.

3 to 6 years old: it is possible to change clothes on a per need basis. Also it is permitted to launder their clothes should they run out.

6 to 9 years old:  The law is per 3 to 6 years old described above, only one should be more careful not to end up in such a predicament if at all possible.

9 to Bar Mitzvah:  Preferably (l’chatchila), one should hold per the law of adults.  In reality such children normally become dirty and therefore one may be lenient and change their clothes on a per needs basis, after the fact (bedi’avad).

7. In honor of Shabbos.  It is permitted to change into laundered clothing.  But new clothing is prohibited unless one has no others. One is permitted to polish shoes.

The question arises as to is what is considered the time frame for “The Honor Of Shabbos”?  It is those times which are typically recognized as being “In Honor of Shabbos” such as on Motzei Shabbos in which case the Minhag is to extend the duration of wearing such items, however,  there are those who are stringent not to.

Sheets.  One is prohibited to change the sheets even for the “Honor of Shabbos”.  (There are many who are not aware of this prohibition).

Towels. The Mishna Brura does not address the law of towels.  The Taz brings the teachings of Harash”l together with the “Eliya Rabba” permitting changing them.  If they are already slightly soiled, then certainly one can change them were Shabbos to fall out on Rosh Chodesh.

1. General Laws of Washing (excluding issues of discomfort).

Entire Body:  Is prohibited even with cold water.

Face, Hands and feet:  Is permitted with cold water, but prohibited with hot water.  There are those however that are stringent not to wash the feet, because nowadays we do not walk bare-foot.

Washing the hair alone:  One may be lenient and wash the hair only, even with soap and hot water in cases where the hair becomes matted from dust and sweat.  This is allowed because there is no “enjoyment” derived in doing so.

Swimming in a pool or the sea:   Is prohibited.  If however it is required for healing purposes, one should ask a Posek.  People who are learning how to swim and may stand to loose money should they not attend the lessons, should also ask a Posek.

Mikveh:  If someone is used to going everyday, it is permissible to go as per usual even if one is accustomed to performing numerous “tevilos”.  However, someone who does not go regularly is not permitted to go during this period – The exception to this is someone who is meticulous about keeping “Tevilos Ezra” and may indeed go.

On all accounts it is prohibited to submerge in hot water.  Moreover,  lingering in the mikveh longer than is necessary is also forbidden – one should submerge and exit as soon as one is finished one’s tevilos.

In places where the rules of the Mikveh compel one to shower before submersion, one is permitted to shower but without soap.  If someone is accustomed to showering after the Mikveh to remove the chlorine etc., it is permitted for  this reason alone, and no more.

2. Washing not for Enjoyment:

Someone who perspires excessively and generates an unpleasant odor, or, who due to discomfort from the perspiration cannot sleep or focus, is permitted to wash.

Someone who becomes dirty is permitted to wash the dirty area alone.

For  purposes of healing, it is permitted to wash.

Pregnant and nursing mothers are permitted to wash.  However, they should diminish the degree to which they would normally do so during the year.

It is important to understand that all the heterim given in point 2. above are only as a means of reducing the amount of discomfort.  Therefore a person must diminish the amount of washing one would normally do and only wash in order to remove this discomfort.

For example, should a person be able to accomplish the same using cold water rather that hot, it not permitted to use hot water.  Or if one is able to wash without soap, it is not permissible to wash with soap.  Or, if one needs to wash only parts of the body, he is not allowed to wash the entire body.

Furthermore, it should not be done in public in case someone would mistakenly learn that it’s in fact permissible to wash regularly.

3. Children:

Babies until age 6:  It is permitted to wash them per usual.

Ages 6 to 9:  If they are used to washing everyday, it is permissible.

Ages 9 to Bar/Batmitzah: It’s best to diminish if possible per adults.

4. Washing Erev Shabbos:

According to the Mishne Brurah:  Someone who is accustomed to washing erev Shabbos is permitted to bath with hot water, but without soap, and only one’s head, face, hands and not the entire body.

Indeed, it is our practice not to wash with soap and to wash only with hot water.  However, today since we shower for the most part, and it is difficult to prevent water landing on all parts of the body together with the fact that in general the whole body becomes more sweaty, it is permissible to be lenient and wash the entire body but without soap in honor of Shabbos.  And one who needs to wash with soap should however not do so in public, such as at the Mikveh.

5. Motzei Tisha B’Av.

M’ikar Hadin, the same laws apply per the nine days.  However, one can be lenient if he does not feel good as a result of the Fast or the heat and may then wash in a manner per the rest of the year on condition that the washing is not for enjoyment.

Various Minhagim related to Sefiras HaOmer Part I

This is the period of time in which the students of Rabbi Akiva died, and therefore it is not appropriate to increase in our happiness (simcha) and in so doing, we observe an element of mourning outlined below:

1. We don’t get married.

2. We don’t have haircuts.

3. We don’t dance.

4. We don’t play musical instruments.

There are also those that don’t make a shehechiyanu, or wear new clothes.

There are a few differences in our observance of which days to implement these levels of mourning.  Today, the majority of Ashkenazim in fact observe some of these levels (for example not having haircuts) for the entire period of Pesach to Shavuos.

What is included in the levels of dance?

1. Even though the Poskim only mention dancing, the agreement of the Poskim is in fact to include the playing of, and listening to musical instruments (including recorded music) in this prohibition.

2. Specially recorded compilations of vocals-only music are also prohibited.  However, if they are not tunes that promote simcha, but rather arouse the soul, it is permissible for those who need it.

3. Listening to recorded Chazanos (Cantorial music) without musical instruments is permitted for those who need it, but not in public.

4. Singing is permissible, but there are those that prohibit singing in a group of people, however they allow singing songs that arouse the soul.  It is permissible to sing Zemiros on Shabbos and Motzei Shabbos even in a group.  It is also permissible to sing together with the children in Cheider.

5. With regards to recorded stories, shiurum etc which are sometimes accompanied by interludes of music, it is permissible to listen to them provided the intent is the content and the music is only incidental.

When and where is it permissible to play and listen to music?

1. Seudas Mitzvah (Bris Milah, Pidyon Haben, Barmitzvah day itself).

2. There is a difference of opinion amongst the Poskim as to whether or not it is permissible when completing a Tractate of the Talmud, where that is the practice.  There are those that permit it, but the stringent will be find blessing in refraining from doing so.  However, it is certainly permissible to sing in a group, even happy melodies.

3. It is not permissible to play musical instruments at an engagement party or meal.

4. With regards to a Hachnasas Sefer Torah which is accompanied by musical instruments (recorded or live), one needs to ask a Posek if it is correct or not during the Omer, as it is a public gathering and in many cases it is not specifically necessary to hold it during the Omer.

5. “On-hold” music is permissible when it is not the intent to listen but rather to speak on the phone.  It is however, appropriate for the owner of the phone or system to change the on-hold music if possible. This would also apply to those with real music ring-tones on their cell phones.

6. One who is learning to play a musical instrument, if it is for purposes of earning a living, then it is permissible.  However, for enjoyment it is prohibited.  Even only parts of a song (for example just playing the melody or just the chorus) is also not permissible.  Only with regards to small sections of such musical parts, is there room in which to be lenient.

7. Children who are learning to play a musical instrument or the teacher, should ask a Posek as the Halacha could change according to the situation.

8. Listening to music while exercising – if the lack of music will reduce the level of exercise, then it is permissible.  However if it is to increase one’s enjoyment while exercising, then it would be prohibited.

9. Listening to music in order to keep one awake behind the steering-wheel  of a car while driving – if there is no alternative means in order to keep one awake, then it would be permissible to listen to recorded music.

10. One who is accustomed to listening to music at work, and a lack of it would reduce his ability to produce, should consult with a Posek on how to act accordingly during the Omer.

11. Children of the chinuch age should be taught all the relevant laws above, however, if there is a great need, there is room in which to permit listening to recorded music temporarily, but not as usual on a regular basis.  Either way, it should never be in public.

Various Minhagim related to Sefiras HaOmer Part II

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

A. Making a Shehechiyanu

From the Halachic perspective, there is nothing to prevent a person from saying a bracha of Shehechiyanu during this period, which is not comparable to the three weeks of mourning (bein Hametzarim), where one has to actively prevent himself from making a Shehechiyanu. The days of the Sefirah are only a remembrance to mourning the students of Rabi Akiva that passed away.

However, there are those that hold not to make a Shehechiyanu – i.e. not to eat a new fruit or wear new clothing.

In Practice, one who has a previous minhag not to make Shehechiyanu because of the minhag of his community, or he clarified the Halacha himself making the stringency not to say Shehechiyanu, then he should not change his minhag.  However, if the reason that a person made such a stringency is because he only thought that it was the Halacha not to make a Shehechiyanu, then it is permissible for him to change his minhag allowing him then to make a Shehechiyanu going forward.

One who in fact has no minhag whether or not to make a  Shehechiyanu, has no obligation to prevent himself from making a  Shehechiyanu.  However, in regards to a new fruit, if one can wait to make the Shehechiyanu on Shabbos, then he will find blessing.

Even according to those who hold not to make a Shehechiyanu, they do in fact hold to make a Shehechiyanu on Shabbos, Chol Hamoed Pesach and Lag B’Omer.  There are also those that permit making a Shehechiyanu from Rosh Chodesh Sivan onwards.   It would appear then, that anyone who has a specific need, can make a Shehechiyanu throughout the period of the Sefirah.

B.  New Clothing

i. There are those that hold not to wear new clothing throughout the Sefirah. This minhag is not mentioned what-so-ever in the Halachic writings.  In practice then, it would depend on one’s minhag as outlined above.

ii. Even according to those who hold not to make a Shehechiyanu on clothing, there are a few days in which to permit it. i.e on Chol Hamoed Pesach, Shabbos and Lag B’Omer itself.

  • Some permit it from Pesach until Rosh Chodesh Iyar, whereas others permit it from Rosh Chodesh Sivan until the end.
  • Clothing that is not deemed important enough on which to make a Shehechiyanu are of course allowed by those that hold this way.
  • For specials needs or times (Bris Milah, Barmitzvah etc), for reasons of discomfort or for reasons of Honor bestowed upon certain important individuals.
  • With regards to a minor below the age of Chinuch, it is obvious that they are excluded and it would appear that even for minors who are of the age of Chinuch, it would be allowed.
  • It would appear then, that those who hold not to make a Shehechiyanu would permit one to buy new clothing on condition that one would only wear it after the Sefirah.

C.  Miscellaneous other Minhagim

i.  One is allowed to buy new utensils and articles even if one would have an element of joy from this.

ii. It is permissible to move into a new apartment. However, there are those that specifically prevent themselves from doing so. One who has no pervious tradition to do this should not be stringent in this matter.

Iii. It is permissible to repair and paint one’s dwelling in these days.

Note: Those in Eretz Yisrael who travel to Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Lag B’Omer, should be careful when using or reserving public transport, not to leave immediately following Shabbos (as it falls out this year), because it could cause the driver and those working for the transport company to desecrate Shabbos, Heaven forbid (and this applies even if the Driver is a non-Jew).  i.e. There needs to be enough time that would have passed in order that the driver could have left his point of origin after Shabbos to arrive at the place of pickup.  Moreover, ones need to be careful that one should not prepare for his trip to Meiron during Shabbos itself (“Hachana”).

FAQS on Avodas Hashem – Sefiras HaOmer


Why do we find that Breslover Chassidim scream and pray with such intensity in the Mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer?


The Mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer is seemingly an easy Mitzvah. All we need to do is to say, “Today is … days of the Omer.” But in reality, some of the greatest secrets are contained with it. Each day one specific heavenly Sefirah shines its own individual light in its own way. The Rebbe teaches that even everything which people discuss between themselves every day of Sefira, is in accordance with the light of that day’s Sefirah, even though they themselves are unaware. (See Likutei Moharan I 182)

Of course, we can’t cover the entire subject of Sefiras HaOmer in such a short article. It’s recommended that you take time to study the teachings of the Tzaddikim which provide many practical approaches towards Sefiras HaOmer. But we will still discuss the simple understanding of Sefiras HaOmer as a preparation for the imminent Kabbolas HaTorah on Shavuos. The most important preparation is the yearning and anticipation for the renewal of our Yiddishkeit on Shavuos.

If we would take a good look at what happens in our lives, we would see that what we are missing in Avodas Hashem is essentially the lack of practical guidance. Every day, each of us passes through so many types of experiences, and we don’t find a way to draw close to Hashem from within them. In reality, there is something we can do in every situation, but everyone needs a different individual solution ,depending on the time and the place. One person can’t tell someone else what he needs to do. Every person has to call out to Hashem himself, until He enlightens him with a new understanding of his circumstances, and perhaps a simple, practical idea as to how to properly deal with what he’s going through.

This is preparation for Kabbolas HaTorah. Every day of Sefiras HaOmer, according to the Sefirah of that day, new understandings and pathways open for us in order to help us correct our negative character traits or immoral desires. But everything depends upon our enthusiasm and faith that every day of Sefirah is an opportunity to find new ways to draw near to Hashem. (For further elaboration, see Likutei Halachos, Rosh Chodesh 6:7)

Try hard to use these precious moments of Sefirah. Take a few minutes every day to try awakening your genuine longing for Hashem which you already have in your heart. Verbalize them, and pray and request from Him that He should assist you to approach the holy Torah anew, and to always help you find your proper path.

If you see that despair has already begun to take a hold of you, with thoughts such as, ‘can I even change?’ and ‘what can my prayers help?’, then realize that this is precisely the Avodah of Sefirah; stubbornly standing strong day after day, ‘yes, I’m waiting and anticipating my salvation, and I’m not giving up, I’m counting day after day!’


Just the thought that I’m going to have to shout so much by Sefiras HaOmer makes the entire Mitzvah burdensome on me. Do I have to force myself to scream?


Avodas Hashem is not a competition who can scream louder or for the longest time. There is no duty to scream. It isn’t even a custom … It’s something authentic for someone who understands that we are heading towards something immense.

Everything in Avodas Hashem becomes cumbersome when you make a plan for yourself to copy what you’ve seen in others, or even what you’ve seen by yourself in past successes, and you try to make your Avodah look like that. Thus we find entire Tefillos becoming confused just from checking the entire time if you feel anything, or are you crying, are you screaming enough, etc. This is literally a foreign thought in the middle of davening.  The Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan II 95, “During the recital of prayers it’s necessary to distance oneself from every form of outside thoughts in the world, and to direct your mind only to the words which you are speaking to Hashem.”

Don’t make any plans, and approach the Mitzvah in an exalted frame of mind, “I am going to bring satisfaction to Hashem in performing this Mitzvah.” Don’t look at anyone else. The Torah writes, “Count for you” – for yourself. Everyone has his own special Sefirah, his own private longing for Hashem. (See Hil’ Pesach 9)

Keep your mind on what you are saying. While reciting the Brachah, concentrate on the simple idea that Hashem has sanctified us with His Mitzvos, and thank Him for inviting you to become sanctified through His Mitzvos. While actually accounting, again keep in mind the simple yearning and anticipation, one day closer to Kabbolas HaTorah. Say the prayers after the Sefirah slowly, without pressure. Just pay attention to the words you are saying.

The more you connect to the straightforward message of the Mitzvah without troubling yourself how you have to scream and how you have to contemplate this and that, etc., the more you will become truly inspired to count the Omer correctly every day. You may even merit a few days out of the Sefirah to actually scream and let out your heart to Hashem.

Our intention here is not to stop you from screaming until you feel you are doing so authentically. Of course, you can come to inspiration through your voice also, and your heart can thereby also be inspired to scream. But the main thing is to connect with the genuineness of the Mitzvah, without looking to scream.

It’s highly recommended that you study a Halacha or two from Likutei Halachos on Sefiras HaOmer. If you need help finding something, you can use the Otzar HaYirah, which summarizes all of Reb Noson’ teachings. Think about what you have learned, and discuss it with your friends, and try to come to an understanding of what your Avodah will be this year throughout the days of Sefirah.

Throughout the day, try to think about what you’ve learned. For example, in Hil’ Pikadon 4 Reb Noson writes that Sefiras HaOmer is a time to internalize that every day in a person’s life is important, even though many times it seems as if a day doesn’t count because of all the troubles and bothers of that day. We therefore say “Today is the … day …” when we count the days of Sefirah, to internalize that every day is counted, and every day can be used to serve Hashem.

Take such an idea, and remind yourself of it throughout the day, and not just during the actual counting of the Omer. ‘Today is a day!’ You will thereby merit a new yearning for Kabbolas HaTorah.


Spirit of the Law – Shabbos Part V

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:12:

“It is a mitzvah to wash one’s hands and face … in hot water every erev Shabbos, and if it is at all possible, one should wash his entire body in hot water..”

Rebbe Nachman writes that we must realize that when we do something which distances us from Hashem, the sin forms a blemish that enclothes our souls like a garment. We all unfortunately have very many such garments, and we remove these garments a little at a time. For this reason we often seem to regress while we travel the path of spiritual development. We misunderstand the truth of our situation if we see temporary regressions as symptoms of outright failure. They only show that we are slowly releasing ourselves from these blemished garments which cover our souls.

At first, our progress was checked because we were held back by these garments. Subsequently, our progress improved and we felt better because we had divested ourselves of the uppermost layer of the soiled spiritual garments. A later regression does not necessarily mean that we did anything to instigate a fall—rather, it is just a sign that the next soiled garment is surfacing and it needs attention.

Rebbe Nachman’s words offer powerful encouragement for us when we feel that we are experiencing a yeridah (descent). The general rule is that we can remove all the soiled garments slowly, over the course of many years, by learning Torah diligently with the intention to connect to Hashem and with the knowledge of the flaws that we want to correct.

Reb Nosson of Breslov writes that when washing on erev Shabbos, one should focus on the fact that he is removing the soiled garment of the soul and replacing it with clean garments in the merit of Shabbos. On Shabbos, the main element of our soiled spiritual garments is nullified by the holiness of the day itself. This is why we don our Shabbos finery after bathing on erev Shabbos. This parallel the clean garments with which our souls are dressed—the extra soul-level or neshamah yeseirah that arrives in honor of the Shabbos.

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:13:

“It is forbidden to share a mikveh or bathing area with one’s father, father-in-law, mother’s husband, or sister’s husband…”

The Gemara teaches this halachah and its rationale is that bathing with one of these people can trigger lewd thoughts. Although there are various reasons suggested for why most are lenient about this law, the consensus is that one must be careful to fulfill it. The general rule is that the sages prohibited any activity which could lead to illicit thoughts when a person is in a low state. The reason for this is simple: better safe than sorry. Since what we do matters so much it is very important to have proper safeguards in place so we will not come to do what we may regret later. Another example of this is the prohibition against yichud.

Rebbe Nachman, zt”l, offers a prescription for avoiding negative thoughts. Since two thoughts cannot exist simultaneously in one’s mind, one has the ability to force a redirect in thinking at any moment in time. The thought process is literally like a horse that can stray from the road. However, as soon as one is aware of it the problem is easily rectified. One simply takes the reins in one’s hands and directs the horse in another direction. The horse has no choice but to go where directed. Similarly, one takes hold of his thoughts and turns them in a different direction. This is explained further in Chayei Moharan. There, Reb Nosson, zt”l, describes what he heard from a fellow student in Rebbe Nachman’s name.
“Thoughts were created fluid. For this reason, one’s mind is always on the move, going from thought to thought. [Note: It takes a lot of training to think of one thing for a long period of time. Rav Pinchas of Koritz, zt”l, said that an average person cannot focus on the same good thought for over a half-hour, even on Shabbos! ] This is like the pendulum in a clock that swings from second to second. Even when one sleeps, one’s thoughts are always moving fluidly. When one slumbers deeply he doesn’t remember what he thought but he was always thinking and his thoughts continued to march along. Just insert a different thought into the flow.”

On this subject, Reb Nosson taught that our thoughts are in our hands to think as we will. This is the main place where our free choice is manifest. If I don’t think about it, I will not do it. Similarly, if all day I am focusing on learning or connecting to Hashem, eventually I will achieve this. The main thing in thinking good thoughts and not bad thoughts is that first bad thought. We must be ever vigilant to redirect the beginnings of what seems to be leading to places we don’t want our thoughts to go. When our trend first seems to be turning to a bad place it is still quite easy to redirect our thoughts to better places.

The main protection against negative thoughts, however, is simplicity and temimus. We must accustom ourselves not to be sophisticated and to refrain from thinking extraneous thoughts. We should not let our thoughts roam and we shouldn’t think “too much.” We must cry out very much to Hashem about this—someone who is accustomed to thinking bad thoughts needs to be careful not to give up at all but to cry out to Hashem each time he falls. He must take hold of his thoughts at all times and return them from the depths of the evil inclination to the purity and simplicity of the true Tzaddik.

Someone asked Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l, what he can do to help weed out troubling thoughts. After all, one is not really in control of his thoughts, is he? The Rav told him to return early that night. When the inquirer approached the house he could hear the large family being put to bed. He knocked on the door but no one answered. Assuming that he had not been heard, he knocked again. There was no response. He spent the next ten minutes knocking until he finally left. When he next saw the Rav, he asked about this peculiar occurrence.

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld explained, “I am the baal habayis. If I want you to enter, you enter. If not, you don’t. You are the baal habayis of your head. Leave the negative thoughts outside!”

courtesy of A Fire Burns in Breslov


What Bracha does one say on Fried Matzah (“Matzah Brai”)?

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

General Laws:

With regards to a piece of bread that has been cooked, the Bracha depends on the size of the piece.  If the size is that of a kazayis or more, it is still considered bread and the Bracha is Hamotzi.

However, if the size is less than a kazayis, it is not considered bread and the Bracha is borei minei mezonos with the after Bracha being al hamichiya.  And this rule applies even if one were to make a keviyas seuda on it.

A.  Cooking pieces together (in water).

i. If each piece is a kazayis or more, the blessing is Hamotzi.

ii. If only one piece is a kazayis and the other pieces less, should one intend to eat all of them, one makes Hamotzi on the large piece, however should one only intend to eat the small pieces, one makes borei minei mezonos.

iii. If all the pieces are less than a kazayis and when cooking them, they stick together as a single entity measuring more that a kazayis, the bracha is still borei minei mezonos.

B.  Frying pieces together in oil.

i. If one deep-fries, it is considered “cooking” as if in water and the bracha follows the laws of B) above.

ii. If one fries in very little oil (only enough to prevent it from burning) it is considered “baked” (in an oven) and the bracha is Hamotzi.

iii. If one fries in an average amount of oil, there is a difference of opinion between the poskim, most holding that it is considered to be “cooked” in water. [Because of the uncertainty], the Mishna Berura holds that it is correct that one should only eat it within the context of a Seuda.

C.  “Matzah Brai” – Broken pieces of Matzah mixed with eggs and fried in oil.

i. If each piece is the size of a kazayis or more, the bracha is Hamotzi and we make Birkas hamazon afterwards.

ii. If the pieces are crushed and less than the size of a kazayis and fried in deep oil, even should they become amassed into a single entity, we make borei minei mezonos and al hamichiya afterwards.

iii. If the pieces are crushed and less than the size of a kazayis respectively, but fried in a in very little oil (only enough to prevent it from burning) one should eat it in the context of a seuda (because of the differences of opinion as to which bracha to say).

iv. If the pieces are crushed and less than the size of a kazayis respectively, and are fried in an average amount of oil, it is preferable to eat it only in the context of the seuda (because of the differences of opinion as to what the bracha to say), however should it be difficult or inopportune to eat it in the context of a seuda, as is often the case with younger children, one should make borei minei mezonos and al hamichiya afterwards.  One should not make a stringency and make hamotzi with birkas hamazon afterward, and would be considered a bracha in vein (levatala) according to most opinions.  (At the very least making borei minei mezonos would retrospectively (bediyeved) cover even regular bread)

Note: All references to the being “in context of a seuda” is when someone is hungry, makes Hamotzi on Matzah and eats the “Matza Brai” which is then covered by the Hamotzi.  In such a case it is enough that one only makes Hamotzi on a kazayis of Matzah.  However, should one only wish to snack on the “Matzah Brai” and therefore makes Hamotzi on a kazayis of Matzah only in order to “cover oneself” in order to get over a potential doubt as to which bracha to make, it is not clear according to the poskim as to whether this approach is in fact correct or not, and therefore, it would be better to make a borei minei mezonos on the “Matzai Brai” alone.

Laws pertaining to Preparing the House for Pesach – Part III

Kashering the Kitchen, its furniture and accessories.

A. The main body of the kitchen area itself needs a thorough cleaning and bedikah since this is the main place where chametz is found throughout the year. With regards to the obligation to perform bedikas chametz on the main floor space, as we have mentioned in previous weeks, one can rely on cleaning alone, but with regards to the corners and crevices/grooves, under the fridge and between the cupboard, one needs to perform a bedikah as well.

B.  Kitchen Cupboards:

One needs to remove all the contents of the shelves and clean them well so that  not even a single crumb will remain.  One also needs to perform a thorough bedikah even though one has used cleaning materials there, due to a fear that some crumbs may fall into a utensil or food.  The main bedikah revolves around the corners and hinges (where for example “soup almonds” or pasta pieces can fall).  NOTE: Even though one has cleaned there, one needs to do a bedikas chametz before one places the Pesach utensils and food there, as afterwards it is not possible to perform a bedikah.  Many are negligent in this point since when they do the bedikah on the night of the 14th, the shelves are already full of Pesach goods and it is difficult at that point to remove everything and thereby perform a thorough bedikah – and what usually happens is one ends up only superficially looking over the shelves and this is not considered a bedikah at all!

Cupboards that one intends to include when selling one’s chametz, do not require cleaning or bedikah.

There are those that line their cupboard shelves with paper/plastic lining or the like, but it seems that if the selves are made of Formica, there is no need to line them at all as this minhag of covering them comes from yesteryear where most shelving was made of solid wood which had many grooves and there was no real way to clean them well.  Conversely today, when one is able to clean such smooth surfaces well, there is no need.  However, if one was not able to clean one’s surfaces appropriately or there are some grooves or cracks etc, there is room to follow this minhag.

C. Kitchen Drawers:

One has to follow the laws described above in regards to the Kitchen cupboards, but one needs to be even more careful with regards to the corners and railings of the drawers. After one has cleaned them well, one needs to perform a bedikah.  If it is during the day, one can take the drawers into the sunlight (E.g. by the window) and perform the bedikah; if at night, with a flashlight.

Also over here, if one has performed the appropriate bedikah and there is no separation between the bottoms and the sides of the drawers, one does not need to line them with paper/plastic lining (or the like).  However, if one still suspects there may be some chametz in the grooves, instead of the lining, it is possible to spray some detergent there or to seal the grooves with tape.

D. Bread Drawers:

The correct minhag is not to use these at all on Pesach.  One who does in fact make use of this space, should seal all the corners and grooves with tape as even after cleaning, it is very likely still to have crumbs of chametz there.  Also the railings in the case of such drawers, would need to be cleaned exceptionally well and then sprayed with detergent afterwards in case any remaining crumbs should fall into the drawers below.

E.  Drying Racks:

According to the main essence of the Halacha, it is enough to clean the drying racks well.  However, in the case of drying racks built into the cupboards, it is likely that they may have absorbed steam from chametz and therefore, when steamed again during Pesach, the racks will exude this chametz to the Pesach utensils.  Therefore, it would appear that one should kasher them with steam.  In practice, one should boil water in an electric urn/kettle and while it is still boiling steam, hold/place the kettle under the drying racks letting the steam of the kettle draw out any chametz that it may have absorbed.

F.  Counter tops:

One needs to clean these surfaces extremely well and carefully because they will be used on Pesach itself.  It would  appear that according to the strict fulfillment of the precept, one should perform a bedikah on them as well.  In practice, most people in Eretz Yisrael do not have real granite (which is normally a mixture) and therefore it is not possible to kasher them.  One is therefore required to cover them.  It is preferable to cover them with a thick enough material that will not tear on Pesach e.g. pvc, or 100 micro foil.  If one uses such material, there is no need to perform Hagalah (pour boiling water over the counter tops) prior to covering it.  If one wants to be scrupulous, one should not place any hot pots on the surface directly, but rather on an intermediary place-holder between the counter and pot.  Note: those who have genuine stone/granite or stainless steel counter tops should ask a halachic authority about the methods of kashering them, due to the complexity involved which we are unable to go into over here.

G. Ceramic Tiles

One should clean these surfaces (backsplash etc) well, since they are susceptible to absorbing steam given off by, or from splashes of chametz.  Should these surfaces come in contact with a Pesach pot etc, the pot could absorb the taste of the chametz.  In practice, hagalah would not help with ceramic since it is porous and therefore one should cover these surfaces with the likes of regular aluminum foil.

G. Faucets

One should clean them well and pour boiling water over them.  The process is as follows:  First, one should open the hot water and let the water flow until the tap itself becomes hot and then pour boiling water over the tap at the same time.  With regards to removable faucets with a hose, since there are parts that do not get very hot when the hot water is turned on, one should pour boiling water on the hose etc as well.

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