Thirty days before the festival: [Chapter 1]
A. Learning the laws prior to the festival: [Chapter 1 Halacha 1]
- Starting from Purim, the 14th of Adar, it is a Mitzvah on every person to learn the laws of the festival until he is expert in them, and knows what is to be done.
- One should increase in learning these laws from Rosh Chodesh Nissan.
- It is proper to study the Tractate in Talmud relevant to the festival prior to each festival. Thus, prior to Pesach one is to study Miseches Pesachim.
B. Avoiding sticky Chametz starting from thirty days before Pesach: [Chapter 1 Halacha 2]
- From thirty days before Pesach, it is proper to be careful to avoid getting Chametz stuck onto surfaces, in a way that the Chametz will not be easily removable when Erev Pesach arrives.
C. Giving children play dough within thirty days before Pesach: [Chapter 1 Halacha 2]
- Many varieties of Play-doh are made of actual Chametz. The company brand Play-doh, which is the main manufacturer of the item, makes the compound from flour, water, and food coloring. Therefore, in compliance with the above law, it is suggested that children not be given play-doh to play with, starting from Purim and onwards.
- It goes without saying that Pesach arts and crafts should not be made using play-doh.
- There are alternative brands of Play-dough that do not contain Chametz, and thus would not pose a problem in their use over [Chol Hamoed] Pesach.
D. Avoiding getting Chametz in Sefarim: [Chapter 1 Halacha 2]
- One is to be careful that crumbs do not fall into Sefarim beginning from Purim and onwards.
- If one is learning while eating, he is to verify that the Sefer is clean of any crumbs prior to closing it in order so he does not find the crumbs on Pesach.
- Regarding if one must check his Sefarim for Chametz, see Halacha 5
E. Laundry and ironing starch: [Chapter 1 Halacha 2]
- Ironing starches are made either from a legume flour, such as corn, or wheat flour. One may not starch one’s clothing or tablecloths with a Chametz starch if he plans to wear it on Pesach.
- This applies even if the starch is applied prior to thirty days before Pesach.
- One may however use a Kitniyus based starch, even within thirty days before Pesach.
F. Avoiding Matzah: [Chapter 1 Halacha 3]
- The Chabad custom is to abstain from eating Matzah starting thirty days before Pesach, which is from Purim and onwards.
- One is to avoid eating Matzah even if it is a Kefula, Nefucha, non-Shmura, or machine-made Matzah.
- It is disputed amongst Poskim if one may eat Chametz Matzah.
- Egg Matzah which has a strong taste of egg or fruit juice may be eaten.
- One may eat cooked Matzah, such as Matzah balls and the like.
- One may eat fried Matzah if one uses enough oil to alter the taste of the Matzah.
- According to our custom, what is one to do if the only available bread for the Shabbos meal is Matzah? One may eat the Matzah regularly. One is not required to perform Hataras Nedarim in such a circumstance. This certainly applies to a woman who is in a hospital after childbirth, and the hospital, which is already Kosher for Pesach, is only serving Matzah. If one has time before Shabbos, then one can fry the Matzahs with oil , thereby fulfilling both one’s Shabbos obligations and his custom.
- May a child eat Matzah during the thirty days? A child who is not old enough to understand the story of the exodus that is told to him [on the Seder night], may be fed Matzah throughout the thirty days, including on Erev Pesach, as well as on Pesach even prior to Kiddush, if needed. However, a child who can understand the story of the exodus that is told to him [on the Seder night] is forbidden to be fed Matzah on Erev Pesach, and thus according to the custom is to avoid eating Matzah during the thirty days. This law applies whether the child is a boy or a girl.
G. Bedikas Chametz for one who is traveling:
- One who will be traveling from home before Pesach must check his house prior to leaving if he does not plan to sell his Chametz in that area to a gentile. See Halacha 6 for the full details of this issue.
H. Buying Hagada’s: [Chapter 1 Halacha 4]
- One is to buy a personal Hagada for each of his children.
- The Hagada’s are to contain pictures and designs in order to arouse the interest of the child.
I. Buying Pesach vessels: [Chapter 1 Halacha 4]
- One is to buy beautiful vessels in honor of Pesach and have them set on the table for the night of the Seder.
- Those Chametz vessels that are difficult to clean and Kasher, is best not to be used and one should rather buy a new vessel for Pesach.
- Some write that it is always proper to have a Pesach set of vessels rather than to Kasher, in order to avoid complications.
J. Purchasing Nuts and sweets: [Chapter 1 Halacha 4]
- One is to purchase nuts [and/or sweets] to distribute to the children on the Seder night. It is a Biblical obligation of Simchas Yom Tov to purchase nuts [and/or sweets] for his children, and to distribute it to them during Pesach.
K. Purchasing Jewelry and clothing: [Chapter 1 Halacha 4]
- It is a Biblical positive command and obligation for one to rejoice and be of happy spirit throughout all seven days of Pesach, including Chol HaMoed. This obligation applies to oneself, his wife, his children and his entire household [even non-relatives]. The head of the household is responsible for rejoicing his household during this time.
- One is to buy his wife [and adult female children and other adult female household members] jewelry or clothing in accordance to his affordability.]
- If one cannot afford to purchase clothing or jewelry, then he is to purchase them new shoes in order to fulfill this Mitzvah.
- One is to purchase sweets for his children for Yom Tov.
L. Not to say “This is for Pesach”-Setting aside products for Yom Tov rather than for Pesach [Chapter 1 Halacha 5]
- Meat: One is not to say regarding meat or poultry, that “This meat is for Pesach” or “Buy me this meat for Pesach”. Rather one is to say, “This meat is for Yom Tov” or “Buy me this meat for Yom Tov.”
- Writing: One is likewise to avoid writing this statement, such as on a shopping list. Rather one is to write “Purchase list for Yom Tov.”
- Live animal: This statement is especially forbidden to be said regarding a live animal, and particularly against a goat or sheep.
- Other items: It is proper to avoid saying the above statement of “This is for Pesach” regarding any item, even fish and non-meat products. This however is with exception to things which need to be guarded from becoming Chametz, such as kernels.
- Bedieved: If one said the above statements on food, or other items, they nevertheless remain permitted to be eaten. However, if one said this regarding a sheep, or goat, whether alive or regarding pieces of meat, then one is to completely avoid eating the meat, even after Pesach. One may however sell the meat, and in a case of great loss or great need, one may even be lenient to eat it. If the goat/sheep or meat does not belong to him, his statement is meaningless, and the meat may be eaten by its owner.
- What is the law of one asked his wife to buy lamb chops for Pesach? Seemingly, according to all, the meat may still be eaten, as the statement was not made at the time of ownership.
- What is the law if after buying the lamb chops one said this lamb meat is for Pesach? If the father of the house said this, then one is not to eat it even after Pesach, unless there involves a great need or great loss. One may give or sell the meat to others. If the statement was said by other family members, the meat remains permitted to be eaten.
- May one say “This meat is for Pesach Sheiyni”? One is to avoid doing so.
M. Pesach complaints: [Chapter 1 Halacha 6]
- 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 have learned merit to justify these statements.
N. Maos Chitim: [Chapter 1 Halacha 7]
- It’s a widespread custom amongst all Jewish communities, that each community collects charity from its residents in order to distribute them to the poor people of that community.