The source of Pesach Chumros:
The Rishonim and Poskim record that the Jewish people are holy and go above and beyond the letter of the law requirements on Pesach. The Arizal states that on Pesach one should be stringent to follow all the stringencies.
Justifying Pesach complaints:
One may not say “How troublesome is Pesach”, as this is similar to the statement of the wicked son. Nevertheless, today people are not careful in the above and some Poskim have learned merit to justify these statements. They learn that one is only similar to a Rasha when one complains regarding the Mitzvos of Karban Pesach, and other Mitzvos which are Biblical, as by saying this one makes it seem that the commands of the Torah are a burden on him. However, today this statement is said in reference to all the great stringencies which are accustomed with Pesach, and when he says on them how troublesome they are there is no prohibition in the matter.
Reason for Pesach Chumros:
First Mitzvah we accepted: The Mitzvah of prohibiting Chametz was the first Mitzvah given to all the Jewish people, and they therefore accepted it with love and affection, and were stringent in it regarding all details.
Chametz symbolizes the Yetzer Hara: The reason that the Torah was so stringent regarding Chametz is because Chametz symbolizes the Yetzer Hara, as just as Chametz is defined as bread that has risen, so too, the Yetzer Hara derives from haughtiness. Therefore, the Torah gave very strict rules regarding the Chametz on Pesach, in order to banish the Yetzer Hara completely from within us.
Banishes the Yetzer Hara to the point one does not sin: The Arizal states that on Pesach one should be stringent to follow all the stringencies, as one who is careful to avoid even a speck of Chametz on Pesach is guaranteed not to sin throughout the year. [This means that his nature will change to the point that it is so refined that he will not naturally do a sin inadvertently. However, regarding sinning advertently, one always retains his freedom of choice.
Idolatry: Chametz is referred to by the Zohar as idolatry.
Ideally, according to Halacha, one is not allowed to be stringent regarding Rabbinical matters more than the stringencies of the Shulchan Aruch, nevertheless, regarding Pesach, the Jewish people are holy and go above and beyond the letter of the law. Nonetheless, this only applies if the custom has some basis or source, one however is not to innovate new Chumros that have no base in Halacha.
Being Machmir not to offend others with your Chumros:
It once occurred by a Pesach meal on the table of the Rebbe Rayatz in New York that a certain uneducated guest dipped his Matzah in the Borscht [beet soup], performing a grave sin in the eyes of the Chassidic brotherhood that were present by the meal. As can be understood, a great tumult transpired surrounding the actions of this guest, and the other Chassidim present gave the guest a piece of their mind. The Rebbe Rayatz inquired as to the reason behind the commotion and was told of the grave actions performed by the guest on his very own Pesach table. The Rebbe Rayatz nonchalantly replied “It is better that the Matzah become red [with the Borscht soup] than you cause the face of a Jew to redden in shame.”
A. Matzah Shruyah/Gebrochts
- What is it? Matzah that has come to contact with water either by cooking with water or dipping in water.
- The Law: The Chassidic custom is not to eat any Matzah dipped in water due to a suspicion that part of the flour may not have been kneaded into the dough and thus now when it will come into contact with the water it will become Chametz. “Now although that this is not a complete and clear prohibition according to the letter of the law, nevertheless one who is stringent is blessed, and is not considered to be a wondrous person which does things without reason, as there is a great reason involved in order to avoid a suspicion of eating flour which was not kneaded into the dough and then came into contact with water, which is a Biblical prohibition according to many Rishonim.“…. “However, one should not protest against those that are lenient as they have upon whom to rely, mainly the Rambam and Rashi, although according to what the Arizal writes that one should be stringent on all the stringencies of Pesach, then it’s obvious that one should be stringent.”
- On the last day of Pesach: On the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora one who is lenient to eat Matzah with water for the purpose of Yom Tov joy, is not losing out on keeping of the above-mentioned stringencies of the Arizal. Our Holy Rabbeim were even scrupulous to dip their Matzas in liquids, and with each different food, in fish, meat, and especially soup. Even those foods which throughout the year are not normally eaten with bread, they would eat with their Matzah.
- The Chabad custom: We are so stringent in the above that we make sure to place our Matzas in bags when we eat them, lest a crumb of it enter the food. Similarly, we check our cups and plates before we eat from them to make sure
- Dipping Matzah in Fruit Juices: “Regarding dipping Matzah in fruit juice it’s obvious that one need/should not be stringent against doing it throughout the entire Pesach.” The Rebbe Rashab would eat his Matzas with wine [and milk]. If fruit juice is mixed with water then it is even more of a problem then plain water regarding its ability to ferment, being that plain water takes at least 18 minutes to ferment, while when mixed with fruit juice it can ferment immediately. Thus, care must especially be taken that when eating Matzah with fruits etc, that there is no water around, including perspiration, on the fruit. Practically one may eat Matzah with avocado, tomato, oil. Nonetheless, despite the above, most Chassidim are accustomed not to eat Matzah with even fruit juice, perhaps due to worry of mixture of water or condensation.
- Eating on vessels used with Gebrochts: The custom is to not use any vessels on Pesach which had wet Matzah fall on it that Pesach. However, from a previous Pesach, it is not a problem to use even though no koshering was done.
- May children eat Gebrochts on Pesach? In a letter from the earlier years the Rebbe writes that one may be lenient to with regards to children in feeding them Gebrochts. However, in a Sicha of 1988 the Rebbe states that children should not eat Gebrochts on Pesach, being that Matzah is Emunah, and with faith one cannot be lenient. [However, babies which will not be able to eat anything else, may eat Gebrochts, and it is better to eat it then to eat Kitniyos.]
- May one take a bite off a large piece of Matzah or is one to only enter small pieces into his mouth? Some are accustomed to only enter bite pieces of Matzah into their mouth at a time, in order to prevent saliva [which is equivalent to water] from coming into contact with the bitten area. Rav Groner told me he never heard of such a custom.
B. Matzah Ashira/Machine made Matzah:
See Halacha 12C!
- The custom of the Rebbe Rashab: The Rebbe Rashab avoided using sugar due to suspicion that a Chametz ingredient was used in the boiling process, or alternatively the workers would dip their breads into it, and thus there is a suspicion that a crumb of Chametz remained in the sugar. There is a story with the brother-in-law of the Rebbe Rashab which owned a sugar production plant and had made a specially supervised batch of sugar to be used by the Rebbe Rashab on Pesach despite that even throughout the year there was no suspicion of Chametz in the sugar. When the Rebbe Rashab was brought the sugar cubical his face became stern with concern, and he followed to break open one of the cubicles, and unexplainably a wheat kernel fell out.
- The Rebbe’s directive: Regarding if this stringency applies for all Chassidim the Rebbe writes that if one knows for certain that there is no suspicion of Chametz in the sugar then he does not see a reason for one to be stringent.
- The custom of some to boil the sugar: There are many which boil the sugar before Pesach and thus make sugar water in order that if there were to be a speck of Chametz in the sugar then it would dissolve through the cooking and become nullified in 60x before Pesach and would thus be allowed to be eaten. Some have the custom to filter the sugar water afterwards.
D. Alcoholic beverages:
- The Tzemach Tzedek would not drink any alcohol/liquor on Pesach even if it was supposedly made without Chametz, and so was the custom also of the Rebbe Rashab, as well as that he spoke against drinking it on Pesach. Rebbe Akivah Eger sent a proclamation prohibiting it without a revealed reason, saying that he is saving the reason for himself. This proclamation is mentioned in the Teshuvahs of the Tzemach Tzedek and seems to be the source for why the Tzemach Tzedek avoided drinking it. In many places this stringency became widespread while in others it did not. There were amongst Rabbanei Anash which also ruled that it may be drunk on Pesach.
- Preparing before Pesach: There was a certain Chassid which was accustomed every year before Pesach to prepare all the water that he will be using for Pesach. When he came to the Rebbe Rashab to ask if he can retract this custom being that it had become too burdensome for him, the Rashab told him that initially there would not have been an issue for him not to follow this custom, however since he already started bit he should not stop it being that this was the custom of the Baal Shem Tov. The Rabbeim were not stringent to prepare water before Pesach.
- Filtering: The custom is to place a thick covering over the tabs of water in order to filter it from any possible Chametz that would be inside. When the Rebbe once came for the Seder in Tomchei Temimim he checked to make sure that a filter was placed by the water.
F. A vessel or food that fell on the ground:
- A vessel which fell on the ground is put away and not used for the rest of Pesach. The same applies for food which falls on the ground, although if the food has a peal there are those which peal it, and then use the food.
- The Rebbe Rashab said that the Tzemach Tzedek forbade radishes on Pesach without giving any explanation. The Rebbe Rashab himself would sell his radish jelly before Pesach.
- Garlic is not Chametz, or Kitniyus, and is thus permitted to be eaten over Pesach. Nevertheless, there are those who are accustomed not to eat garlic on Pesach. Those families who are accustomed to follow this custom are not to swerve from it. However, those families who did not receive such a custom are not required to accept it upon themselves. Nevertheless, if one is part of a community in which everyone is accustomed to be stringent, he is not to be lenient in public regarding this matter.
- The Chabad custom: Some record that there is no Chabad custom to avoid eating garlic on Pesach. [Practically, each family is to follow their Minhag.]
- Our custom is not to eat cinnamon because it may contain Chametz.
- Spice: Although ginger is not Kitniyus, our custom is not to use ginger [spice] over Pesach due to it having worry of Chametz mixtures.
- Fresh ginger: One may eat fresh ginger that has no worry of Chametz.
- Washing the eggs before Pesach: The cook in Tomcheiy Temimim once asked the Temimim why they do not wash the eggs before Pesach? The Temimim then asked Rebbetzin Rivkah if she washes the eggs, and she answered that she is not accustomed to do so. When the Temimim came to the Rebbe Rashab to ask what they should do the Rebbe told them that on the “Safta” they do not want to rely but on the cook they do!
- Cooking the eggs in a separate pot: Many are accustomed to use a designated pot to cook the eggs and do not use that pot for any other purpose throughout Pesach.
- The egg box: One is to search the egg box prior to Pesach to verify it does not contain any grains or Chametz from the chicken feed.
- The Rebbe Rashab would smoke on Pesach. The students would sift it to make sure that there is no Chametz contained in it.
L. Peeling all produce:
- Many have the custom to peel all their fruits and vegetables and to avoid eating anything which cannot be peeled.
- Use separate knife for peeling the fruits/veggies: Many have the custom to designate a separate knife or peeler for the peeling of all the fruits and vegetables throughout Pesach.
- From what time are those that are accustomed to not eat spices or unpeeled foods to begin their stringency? From the night of Pesach or from 5th hour of Erev Pesach?
- One is to avoid eating these foods starting from the 5th hour of the day. However, many are lenient to eat these foods up until the night of Pesach.
M. To wash all ones produce prior to Pesach:
- Some have the custom to wash all their produce prior to Pesach. This includes even the bottles of wine and oil.
N. Processed foods:
- It is a renowned Chabad custom to avoid eating all processed foods on Pesach.
- Matzah and wine: This is with exception to Matzah and wine, which due to inability to self produce, is widely purchased from a store or company. Nevertheless, many families are stringent to produce their own wines and even bake their own Matzas.
- Oil: The Rebbe writes that “Anash use Natala margarine on Pesach”. This refers to a congealed vegetable fat that was processed by a company under a local Mehadrin Hashgacha. Thus, one may purchase any Kosher for Pesach oil that contains a most reliable Hashgacha. Nevertheless, there are those which are stringent to only use melted chicken fat [Shmaltz] as their oil base product for Pesach food and cooking.
- Sugar: See above!
- From what time are those that are accustomed to not eat processed foods to begin their stringency? From the night of Pesach or from 5th hour of Erev Pesach?
- One who is stringent to avoid eating processed foods is to avoid eating them starting from the 5th hour of the day. However, many are lenient to eat processed foods up until the night of Pesach.
O. Eating out by others on Pesach:
- It is stated in the name of his father the Alter Rebbe “On Pesach one does not invite others to eat and drink, however it is permitted for one to take on his own.” This means that the host is not to offer or pressure others to eat our foods on Pesach, as perhaps he is stringent regarding this food. However, from the perspective of the guest there is no issue in one eating another person’s food if he so chooses. Furthermore, one is to make his food available for guests that desire to eat from his foods. Nevertheless, some are custom not to eat at other people houses, or partake in other people’s foods, throughout Pesach.
P. Lending vessels to others:
- Some are custom not to lend or borrow their Pesach vessels throughout Pesach.
Q. Not to wipe lips by Mayim Achronim:
- It is our custom to not wipe the lips with the water of Mayim Achronim throughout all the days of Pesach.
R. Using hot water in a sink on Pesach:
- It is advised not to use hot water that is over Yad Soledes [110° F] on Pesach, in a sink that is not Kasherable, as one can possibly Treif up the vessels in the sink through doing so. Thus, one should not turn on the hot water to the point of Yad Soledes and is likewise not to pour hot water into the sink. If the water is warm, below Yad Soledes, it may be poured into the sink. Likewise, if the hot water of a pot was placed in a Keli Sheiyni, it may be poured into the sink even if it is still very hot.
S. Not to say the word Chametz:
- Some write that one is not to mention the word “Lechem” or “bread” on Pesach, and rather one is to say the word Chametz. Some however write that the Rebbe negated the use of the word Chametz when in reference to actual existing Chametz. [However certainly the word Chametz may be used in general reference such as in Halacha and Torah learning.] Some would avoid even saying the last name of a person that had reference to Chametz [such as the Bagel family].
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