Are you looking to prepare for Passover but don’t know where to start? Watch Rabbi Steven’s Pesach Prep 101 “Holy Sh!t It’s Passover” to learn how to get your home and soul ready. From selling chametz to kashering your kitchen, we cover it all! Looking for more resources like pre-Passover events, seder guides, haggadahs, and more? Check out our Passover 5784 Resources page!



I’m so excited that Passover is just around the corner. But that’s why we are hosting this particular class. Holy shit. It’s Passover, because this is one of the holidays, where we actually have quite a bit of prep to do beforehand. And so we’re going to talk a little bit this evening about how you might begin preparing your home for Passover, what to expect. And then we’ll have time for any questions that might come up. Welcome to my kitchen, I decided to do this from my kitchen since a lot of the preparation that happens for Passover happens in the kitchen. But it also involves your entire home as well. One thing I think it’s really important to say before we dive in, is that I’m just going to be doing general education on how folks who follow a more traditional Jewish practice might get their homes ready for Passover. This is not meant to be prescriptive. It’s meant to be maybe inspiring of how we can think about how we might want to get our homes, our spaces and ourselves ready for Passover. The thing to remember I’ll probably say this again, near the end of our time together, the thing to remember is that Passover is a celebration of our freedom, we retell the story, we relive the story of the Exodus of moving from meats rhyme, which is transmitted to Egypt, but literally means a narrow place into a place of openness of expansiveness, moving from slavery, to freedom from oppression to liberation. And so the point of Passover is to feel the reenactment of that movement, from slavery to freedom from oppression to liberation. It’s not meant to recreate constraining conditions. And so if the idea of Passover prep becomes way too much of a burden, if it’s stressing you out, if it feels like it’s actually sticking you into a narrow place, if it’s squeezing you, then I actually think it’s a moment like, hey, like, maybe I’ll actually back off a little and maybe I’ll choose one or two things to do to prepare for Passover, maybe I’m not going to take on so much that it actually becomes a burden. And it actually prevents me from celebrating the holiday, which is to feel to feel the gifts of freedom that we might have, even as we continue to work for more freedoms for other people’s and for the world. writ large. Okay, so just keep that in mind. I was I don’t want to stress anybody out. This is not a this is not a stress class. This is a this is a get ready and think about, um, how you might want to get ready for the holiday coming up. So I’m good. Some thumbs up. Awesome. Great. So feel free again to pop questions in the chat as they come up. But I want to just give a basic overview of what some of the meats vote some of the commandments of Passover are, and how we want to prepare a space to meet those particular commandments.

So the focus of Passover, or at least one of the foci of Passover, is the retelling of the story of the Exodus. And a key moment in that story is when our ancestors when those Israelites were fleeing from slavery into the desert into the wilderness as a free people, they didn’t have time to let their bread rise, and so they took their unreasoned dough, they grabbed it, or they baked it really quickly or they grabbed it baked it later. And so therefore, enter matzah, which is this kind of flat cracker like bread. Many of you might be familiar with it, right? Not so dissimilar to a unsalted Saltine. Although actually in some Jewish communities, it’s a bit of a softer bread. The kind of instantiation of matzah as a tool for remembrance then translates into two particular commandments. One is that you’re gonna eat a lot of matzah during Passover. That’s not what this class is about. But I would say actually is a waste of Passover prep, going to the store and at least buying one box of kosher for passover matzah is probably not a bad idea in the next week or so. Because some stores can actually actually run out of it around this time of year. And the other commandment that this gets translated into is to avoid products that are leavened. So products that are loving are called chametz, and chametz is any leavened product that is containing five different grains, wheat, barley, oat spelt, or rye, wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or right and so stringent is the command to avoid those products in their love and form that we actually just avoid those products entirely. So even wheat flour, oat flour, those are things that we’re going to actually avoid even though they’re not actually quite loving to yet because on the off chance that they could become loved and we could consume them. We just we just want to not even get close to potentially potentially eating those products. So we we just cut out wheat, oat, barley, rye and spelt from our diets completely for the eight days of Passover.

Now, you might say wait a second Rabbi Steven, isn’t matzah made out of wheat? Yes, it is. It is. In fact, it is. In fact, wheat and water mixed together. But matzah especially about which is kosher for passover is produced in such a way that the the ingredients are mixed. The dough is formed, it is shaped it is baked all within 18 minutes under strict supervision. And so it is the only only wheat containing product that we are going to encounter during the ages of Passover, otherwise, everything else containing those five grains we’re going to avoid completely. Now there is a custom among folks, particularly of Eastern European Ashkenazi backgrounds to avoid another category of products as well. These are called Kitniyot, which loosely translates as legumes. But this includes things like corn, beans, soy rice. So this is a custom in the Ashkenazi community in particular, to avoid these products in addition to chametz for a variety of reasons, it actually emerges around the Middle Ages in France primarily but then it spreads across the Ashkenazi community. One is that those goods were often stored in the same places how mates, so mixing might happen to is that, particularly once they’ve been turned into flour, they resemble some aids and so it might be really easy to mix them up, you’re going to look at two bags, and one is you know, wheat flour and what is rice, rice flour, rice flour, and those would be hard to hard to tell apart. Right? So the the chance of mixing is pretty is pretty high. Another reason is that once we take kitniyot and we turn it into a product, it might look like we’re actually eating a product made of chametz right the visual difference between what’s a cornbread muffin and a muffin muffin is not it’s not great, right? Like they look very similar. And so Ashkenazi Jews develop the custom of avoiding kitniyot as well. This is why you see that special yellow kept coke at stores around Passover. Because that’s actually kosher for passover coke. It’s made with cane sugar, and not corn syrup. However, if you’re somebody who is choosing the Jewish community, if you’re somebody who is not from an Ashkenazi and Eastern European backgrounds, so your family Sephardic or Mizrahi, or from another Jewish community, or particularly if you’re a vegetarian, there has been dispensations from particularly the Reform and conservative movements around kitniyot you may not choose to avoid those products you might be like, look like, I’m a vegetarian, like, I need tofu, right to survive, especially if I’m cutting out other good carby products. So I’m going to choose I’m gonna choose to do that. So I will say as somebody who chose Judaism, myself, and as somebody who has a primarily vegetarian diet, as a pescatarian, I choose to not cut out kitniyot, just because they’re such an essential part of like my core diet. And it’s also because I don’t come from an Ashkenazi background. I don’t have that tradition, but you might choose to embrace that tradition, or we might choose to carry on that tradition, depending. But really, the prohibition is around chametz. That’s the universal prohibition and again, that’s wheat, barley, spelt, oats. And rye. So when it comes to chametz, there are three particular commandments and these are all biblical commandments. So that’s why that’s why the rabbi’s take this so seriously. Anything that’s like a biblical commandment is like, right is one of the ones that we’re going to try to try to really live up to.

Chametz appears in three particular commandments. One is that we don’t eat it to is that we don’t possess it. And three is that any commits in our possession we get rid of right, so we don’t eat it. We’ve kind of already gone over that. Lots of matzah, lots of other alternatives. Rice has been great kosher for passover cookbooks and websites out there. But the Preparing for Passover in particular comes in the not possessing it. And the getting rid of any chametz that is in your possession. And that’s what we’re going to talk about a little bit today. Any questions about anything I’ve covered up to this point?

Okay, couple of silly questions, but so we shouldn’t drink oat milk, either?

Yeah, exactly. You don’t drink oat milk.

And then, I’m just kind of curious about, you know, clearing out your home, because to me, that feels very wasteful, like tossing out flour. So what’s the thought on that? Like, why is it necessary to clear everything out?

Perfect, perfect. So you actually are anticipating one of the beautiful rabbinic loopholes that we come up with as a way of as a way of preserving the fact that or I should say, preserving the goods that we might have that might be wasteful throw away, and also protecting people for whom that might actually be a huge financial burden to get rid of a lot of these products and we’ll talk about in just a second. I see a question in the chat comments is loving is like sourdough starter not baking. So baking soda doesn’t count because it doesn’t contain one of those five products, which is wheat, oat, barley, spelt. And right. Those are the five grains, we’re avoiding those. And again, the reason we get rid of them entirely is because we don’t want them to accidentally become leavened with in our possession. And that’s why we’re getting rid of flour for example, but we’ll talk about what happens if I have like a 20 pound of flour. This is also I would say, this is a great chance to like go through your cover, it’d be like, you know, when I got that, like, this is my classics, Steven here. Like this is like I you know what, I got this like cornbread mix from like Trader Joe’s being like, oh, yeah, I’m totally gonna make cornbread some time. And I’m like, looking at it, you know, a year and a half later, I’m like, I get I need to get rid of the year and a half old corporate mix. So again, right, you’re you’re looking at things that contain wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye.

Another question about getting rid of all the chametz. So let’s go over this. And then we’ll answer some more specific questions as they arise. So one way to get rid of chametz is to throw it out. And so one of the things that we should do before Passover is, it’s really like a good spring cleaning is to do a thorough cleaning of our house. So for most rooms, this is going to just involve vacuuming, this is a good chance to like get under those couch cushions, this is a good opportunity to like move that furniture. This is also a good opportunity, honestly go through your closet and like think like what clothes can I give and like donate to charity. Right? They do. This is supposed to be time when we really kind of turn it over our homes in ways that we may not normally when we’re cleaning, because we never know where like a crumb of chametz might have found its way into a corner of our home. Again, right? This is not meant to stress you out. But I do think this is a really good opportunity to take care of our space, right to actually say like, the space that we live in can be treated with respect with dignity, it can be a sacred space, where Passover, in some ways, is about because it’s a home based ritual, right? We’re not going to synagogue, it’s actually about turning our homes into a sacred space to observe this particular holiday. And so this is a moment of actually showing a lot of care for our homes by saying like, okay, like, I haven’t lifted my couch cushions in a while. And the other thing too, right. And this is where I want to kind of try to ease ease up the gas a little bit is this is certainly true for spaces where Hi mates is likely to be found, right? You don’t, don’t go don’t go overboard. And like no judgment, if you eat in your bed, I’m not somebody who eats in my bed. So the chance of the chance of chametz being in my bedroom is pretty low, the chance of there being like some chips stuck between my couch cushions is pretty high. Right? So I’m gonna probably spend a little more time on my couch in my living room that I’m going to spend in my bedroom. And so I’m gonna spend more time in my living room that I am going to be like I say, my closets or bathrooms where there isn’t really likely to be food. But again, I said this is a really good opportunity to turn over your space a little bit. And to treat it with care and to, again, use this as an opportunity to kind of elevate your space. It’s like this is right, this is your home. This is the sacred space even if it’s charitable, you can you can enlist help. And absolutely, let’s help from people.

What do you do, though? Well, again, this is also a good chance, as I said, to go through your cabinets and be like, Okay, what’s a product I get? What’s what’s an old product? What something that’s gone bad, what some it’s expired. I also just use that opportunity to see like, even things that aren’t chametz that like, Oh, like this thing that’s actually like, you know, two months out of date it actually use that as an opportunity with my medicine cabinet as well. And they’ll be like, Oh, this aspirin is like, like bad a year ago, like it’s right get rid of it. But let’s say you have like a large large bag of rice that would just be so wasteful to throw away and you can’t donate it because it’s already opened. Or let’s say you are somebody who drinks alcohol and you have like a really large Scotch collection. And there are a bunch of like, half full three quarter full bottles. That would be really wasteful to give to throw away. Certainly you can give it away. But one loophole that we found in the rabbinic tradition is to sell your chametz protect technically you’re selling it in perpetuity. But wink wink the deal is that whoever we sell it to is going to give it back to you at the end of Passover. And so most communities, including Mishkan will have a forum and so you can go onto our Passover Resources website. I will send it out after this class. And you will find the forum where you basically say, this commits in my possession. I am going to sell to a lovely person in our community. And it is no longer mine. And at the end of Passover they say you know, I actually don’t want to I’m tearing up the contract. I’m backing out of this deal. You can have your flatmates back, technically, technically that person like when to come into your home and like read your book

For cabinet, they could, but we usually choose somebody who’s not going to who’s not going to do that. But one thing that we want to do with chametz that we’re selling is we’re going to put it in a place that is not as accessible, right? So you’re not going to say keep it in your pantry. So what I like to do is I will pick a cabinet somewhere in my kitchen. And I’ll designate that as like The Handmaid’s container, right, so I’ll gather all of the I made my bar cabinet, I just keep that close anyways, and then anything that I’m keeping, I’m going to sell over Passover, I’m going to put into one cabinet, I usually just like kind of tape that cabinet off and put a little sign on it do not open until after Passover. And that’s where the chametz lives for the duration of Passover, right. So that’s an it’s going to happen in conjunction with your cleaning, as you go around your house, as you go through your cabinets, you take all the commands that you’re either going to throw away, you toss it, and then you take the chametz that you are keeping and you’re going to put it in one place, and you’re going to store it there. And I like to, I think it’s like a nice moment of like, kind of leaning into the holiday of like doing like like taping it up and putting a big X on it and be like this is the like this is where I’m keeping it, it’s kind of a less exciting version of a Christmas tree.

It’s the it’s the do not go for chametz cabinet for Passover. During the kind of search for her mates, there actually is a tradition, the night before Passover to go through your house with a candle and a feather. And to kind of sweep up any last bits of commands that you might find this a great activity to do with friends or with kids. Sometimes, particularly for kids, you I have heard people actually like putting just like a little like, a little cracker somewhere for the kid like sweep up, you know, obviously don’t like spread a bunch of crumbs everywhere. And then what we say that evening, and the next morning, is there’s a formula called the tool where essentially we say like, I did my best, anything I didn’t find, right that like bagel crumb in the deepest recess of like my carpet under like the credenza, like, you know, it’s I it’s not mine, it’s null and void. I renounced my ownership of it, you know, I’ve I’ve cleaned to the greatest extent possible. There is a tradition in some communities actually even take the homies that you’re getting rid of, and burning it the morning before Passover begins, and the scope your habits. So if you go particularly to more Orthodox communities, don’t be surprised if you see some like, kind of there’s old, like hibachi grills out there and people are, are burning commits.

And that’s a way to kind of like to like really kind of fulfill the commandment of getting rid of it like Like, like, No, I’m not only just throwing out I’m like, I’m like getting rid of this company. It’s like it, it’s no longer mine. Okay, so that’s kind of the rest of the house, then you get to the kitchen, and the kitchen is a little more complicated. One thing you’re going to do in the kitchen is you’re just gonna give it a good clean anyways, right? So just clean it like you normally would. But the kitchen is where you get into the laws of cash route of keeping kosher, and where you encounter the idea of a lot of Rabbi science, right. So when we’re thinking about food, and this actually applies to, to the laws of separating meat and dairy as well, for anybody who observes that. But generally, the idea is that certain things within our tradition have Kevin essence to them, or you almost think of it as a flavor to them, that can get absorbed by the utensils, or the tools that we use to cook or eat with it. Okay. And this is why, for example, for people who more strictly observed the laws of Katroo, they’ll have separate utensils, dishes, etc, for meat and for dairy. But we’re not going to worry about that we’re gonna worry particularly about Cummings, right, because we don’t want primates and we don’t want little bits of chromates essence to get into our food over Passover.

And again, this is where Rabbi science comes in. The primary vector of transfer of the essence of a food into a utensil is heat. Okay, so that’s something important to remember right? And so, however, a object absorbs the essence of something is how we’re going to get it out. And so let’s start with cold things. Like the refrigerator, right? Anything that is going to encounter for mates in a cold forum just needs to be cleaned. This isn’t get a zoo this day. This is when this is the moment to take the shelves out of the refrigerator and give it a good clean, right? But it just needs to be clean, just easy wiped down often like a chemical cleaning agents are some good soap and water. We just need to clean it out. Because they do again, right heat is a vector of transfer cold is not a vector transfer. So we’re just getting rid of any kind of chametz that might be sitting on the surface. The same is true for let’s say if you have glasses that you might use for beer, those can just be can be washed cleaned out. I for those things in particular, I just throw them in the dishwasher. This is a good kind of like a do your dishwasher cycle over and over again. Okay,

The problem is, is when it comes to heat, like how do we deal with things that might absorb that chametz goodness through heat. And again, the idea is that we have to get it out in a similar manner as how it might be absorbed. So let’s start with the kind of most extreme example. And then we’ll work our way down. The most extreme example is going to be your stovetop, and is going to be your oven. Because the oven gets to a very, very high temperature. So the easiest way to get your oven ready for Passover, and if you’re absorbing more traditional Passover laws, is to put it on a self cleaning cycle. Or to put it at its highest heat setting to kind of burn up any chametz that might be caught in it, right. So give it a good clean, highest heat setting or a self cleaning cycle. And the same is true for any kind of baking implements like baking sheets, for example. Just be careful, sometimes baking sheets can warp and stuff or they could have really high heat. So if that’s the case, you might want to put those baking sheets away. Also know how much one bakes on Passover anyways, right, but we will be using your oven, or you put it on the highest heat setting where you put it on the self cleaning cycle, I usually just like to put my oven on, when I’m doing my kitchen cleaning, just leave it on for that, for the kind of the duration of like cleaning, they’ll turn it off after that. If you have a gas stovetop, you cleaned it off, you turn all the burners on and you let the stovetop get very, very, very hot, you might notice that some people are more traditionally observant, will then put foil around there, around kind of the openings of the range. And that’s just to ensure that there’s any homies that is stuck underneath, right, it doesn’t get out during Passover. And again, there’s kind of levels of stringency here, you might be like, Look a good deep clean my oven and cleaning cycle, turn my stovetop on, that’s good enough for me, you might be like, Look, I want to make my kitchen look like a spaceship. So I can put foil on everything. Right? It’s kind of it’s kind of up to you. For an electric stovetop, you use give it a good a good wipe down. It’s typically glass, I always love more glass. So you give me a good wipe down. And you’ll turn the heat on on your lecture stovetop to kind of burn away anything that might be stuck on it. But you’re gonna need your stovetop on anyways for helping you get other things prepared for Passover. Right. So then we’re going to turn to the next kind of less extreme, right, and these are things that also might absorb candidates through heat, and we’re going to either pour boiling water over them, or we’re going to immerse them in boiling water. So anything like that is all metal. So for example, the spoon, anything that is all metal or say knives can be immersed completely in boiling water, so you get a big pot of boiling water ready to go. Get that water to roll it roiling boil, everything it’s cleaned. Usually it’s a traditional to clean something, let it rest for a day. So this can be done maybe a day or two before Passover. So you clean it, let it rest for a day, put the boiling water on and dip it in boiling water. This is a great opportunity to like polisher your utensils like it’s like I use just like wow, just like get rid of all the likes of the water spots on that build up like on my spoons and stuff.

But again, this is a labor of love. You can do as much of it as you want and as little as you want, but anything’s metal you boil or dip in boiling water. The same is true for anything like these kind of like rubber. It’s like a rubber spoon, right? So dip this in boiling water. What is the challenge? Generally wood can also be made kosher can be kashered. For Passover in this way, if it doesn’t have any cracks in it, if what is super porous has cracks in it. Generally speaking people just put that away for the duration of Passover. This might also for somebody who is very strictly observant. This might be a problem if you take a look here there’s a crack here right kind of where the rubber and I would meet I can’t take it apart. For my level observance totally fine. I’m just gonna dip this in boiling water but for somebody who is more strictly observant, they might say look, there’s like there’s no way to get this clean, right? There’s this crack here. So I’m just gonna put this away for Passover. Things like metal spoons, super easy there. But it’s kind of a dipping dipping method. ceramics, concrete, those kinds of materials things are super porous. They cannot be kosher for passover so they’re just put away and they’re just put away for pass. So this is this is often why people who are more traditionally observant will have dishes for Passover and dishes that they use your route. If you like me inherited your grandmother’s China this is a great use for your grandmother’s China. Those are those are my Passover plates. I use them for Passover. So I have my other plates away.

Great. What are we missing here? Countertops. So countertops you certainly can’t dip them in boiling water and so the trick is to clean them really well let them rest for a little while, right getting these little cracks that are like between your stovetop for example, and then to pour boiling water on them. Because this can be dangerous, because it’s not possible for all surfaces. This is why you might see again, in more traditionally observant households, people just cover them after cleaning them rather than pouring boiling water on them. And then folks are super, super strict might clean them, pour boiling water on them. And also, and also cover them as well. Just be careful not all countertops are made take stand extreme heat. Alright, so just just be careful with the countertops. I think, honestly, just a good clean is great. If you want to cover them again, some people love the aesthetic of Passover turning your your kitchen into a spaceship, I put a foil on everything. And for those of you who can and who want to, you can also pour boiling water on your countertops to clean those for things like pots and pans that cannot be again cannot be immersed, right? Your biggest pot, for example, here I have a problem, mostly that and something that’s boiling, people have the tradition of letting just a little bit of boiling water run over the sides to finish that, to clash with that.

I think that is all of the surfaces and objects in this kitchen. There is a fantastic guide. For those who are wanting to embrace a more traditional practice over Passover, put out by the conservative movements. It’s on the Mishkan website under our Passover Resources. I will send that out as well. Do you steam clean something? So that’s a really good question. I have not heard of people using steam cleaning for anything other actually than the microwave. I forgot what the microwave here. So the microwave often gets caught by folks by cleaning out the inside and then putting like a Pyrex of water into the microwave. And then and then putting it on for about six minutes usually I think is the recommended time or at least until most of the water is boiled away, don’t let all the water boil away. Because that can be bad for microwaves apparently.And so that’s that’s this the only steam cleaning implement that I know of is people seem to clean it inside of their microwaves. Honestly, it’s also just a great method for cleaning your microwave alerts, it’s like it’s a good way to get all the gunk off the skin clean method.

Any other questions? What would you cover the counters with just a tablecloth that’s not touched? I mean, yeah, people can sometimes use our tablecloths or fabric that has not touched on meats, which can be a little more challenging, since we often use whatever class when there’s bread around. And that’s why you’ll often see people use FOIL, because it’s disposable, you’re getting a new new thing of FOIL out. And again, it’s about levels of of how kind of far do you want to go in, in, you’re leaning into I should say, the laws of pass around a lot of these rituals and recommendations were developed after right the biblical tradition and has developed over time, you have folks who are so strict on the Passover observance, that they actually get all new spices, for example, lest an errant crumb, you know, got into one of their spices, the likelihood of a crumb getting into like your cayenne pepper is probably pretty low. But again, right, it’s kind of about how much you want to lean into this right for you might be sufficient to just give your kitchen a really good clean and be like, Look, this is my reset for Passover. And for other people that like no, like, I really need to make sure that there was no chametz coming into contact with my food for these eight days. So I am going to clean it and I’m going to cover everything in tinfoil. And, again, for some people like that can be really histologic. For some people, it could be a way of really getting into the spirit of Passover through an aesthetic representation.

But again, as I started, as I started tonight with I really want folks to only lean in as much as it feels meaningful. The moment it begins to becomes constricting or stressful, is I think the moment to reassess and say Is this really how I want to embrace the spirit of this holiday, which is truly celebrating our freedom? Well, that was another question I had is just more the, I guess, reasons why we do this. I understand why we wouldn’t eat it because our ancestors, you know, had to leave and it’s, you know, a way to honor the story. But this just seems extreme or like, you know, when we were leaving Egypt, I don’t think they were worrying about their kitchens being you know what I mean? It’s like, why are we doing why this specificity? Absolutely.

So, generally speaking, this is meant to be a satisfying answer, but generally speaking when it becomes to a Torah based prohibition, a price this is something that is either prescribed or prohibited in the Torah. So we’re talking about owning chametz, eating chametz, or having it in your domain. The Rabbis want to ensure that we don’t come even close to violating that prohibition. And so the rabbinic tradition, a big part of it is to build fences around, or base prohibitions. And so it’s actually a really good example of how those fences start to get built. I always use the, I always use the example the power substation, because I think it’s actually really great visual representation. Because for traditional Rabbinic Judaism, we have to get our minds right of rabbinic theology. We’re talking about second temple into post Second Temple theology. Right? Divine stuff, right, divine substance kind of gods have is really powerful, and also really dangerous, right? The presence of God with the Jewish people, according to traditional theology is what allows us to thrive in the absence of God is when disaster strikes us. It’s kind of like electricity, right? Like a live wire, right? When channeled in the right way, it can be really productive. But when it gets out of control, it can be very destructive, right? So imagine the power substation, electricity is contained in the wires, and we insulate them, right, we put rubber around them. That’s kind of the first fence because you don’t want to touch the live wire. And then we put a building around it. And then around the building, right, there’s usually probably a fence and on the fence, there’s barbed wire, and there’s like a little gravel moat, and maybe even another fence around that. And so that’s the rabbinic tradition is saying that we don’t want to get you even close to potentially getting electrocuted, right. So we’re going to actually create barriers to ensure that you don’t even make the mistake, right of accidentally kind of violating this prohibition. But again, because we know, in our Jewish practice that these are fences, we can actually decide what feels important to us.

Because we might not share the theology, right, that violating Passover is going to be disastrous for the Jewish people. All right, we might, um, take on a lighter or a different practice, as we have of embracing the meaning of Passover, again, for you might be sufficient to just eat matzah because that’s a beautiful way of reenacting this moment in our history. Um, but for those of you who want to also lean a little bit into some of the traditions that have developed, right, this is kind of what this is all about. But that’s why again, you’d certainly get a different answer from an orthodox rabbi. But for me, right, I really want to ask the question of how much is this? A way of making meaning for the holiday? And where does it you have actually to draw a line because it becomes actually becomes too stressful? becomes a burden, it becomes not meaningful for me.

Does that make sense?

Yeah, I just wonder why specifically, like, chametz, it’s like, why not pineapples?

You would have to ask the author of the Bible. So God and/or the accumulated tradition of a bunch of humans developing a story about God over time. And look, this is I, you know, this is something that I always tell folks particularly teach about kashrut to write the laws of keeping kosher, is that foodways in particular, are often arbitrary. You know, why do some societies eat horses and some societies don’t? Right? We came up with a list of animals that are like good and not good. There’s a lot of delicacies in other cultures that we would be like, Oh, God, you eat that. And it’s because sometimes the choices are arbitrary. It doesn’t mean that that’s not meaningful, per se, right? There can be a lot of meaning to holding tradition of common identity of shared of shared tastes. And we might also say, like, look like

the biblical author who wrote, you know, the, the actually the parsha that we just read this last week, Shemini, from the book of Leviticus just really hated shellfish. You know, and I don’t agree with them. I like my shrimp, you know, right? Or but somebody might say, like, look like, yeah, it is totally arbitrary. And I’m carrying on, right, a many, many, many generations long tradition. And this is a way that I actually live out this part of my identity. I don’t think either answer is a bad answer, necessarily. Right? For some people, their Jewishness is expressed differently. But for some people their Jewishness is expressed by, by leaning into, I think, particularly for those of us again, who don’t hold a theology of like, the Torah is the word of God, and it is commanded to us right, so therefore, we must keep it. For those of us who see Judaism more as a living tradition, a tradition that is accumulated over time. It might be meaningful to continue to invest those traditions and might be meaningful to transform those traditions. That’s a great kind of as a very Reconstructionist approach to Judaism.

I have celiac disease, I can’t eat any of those things on the list anyway. So, you know, how would I possibly participate in Passover? Do you know what I mean? I definitely I mean, there’s flour in my house because there are others here. But the giving up is not necessarily something that I would be participating in. Because I can’t eat those things anyway. So I’m not sure like I want to think about like, what’s the weigh in, you know, in the sense. I can eat gluten free matzah, I’m totally down with that.

Awesome, amazing. Honestly, actually, the gluten free matzah that I had with a friend last year is pretty was actually pretty good. Matzah gets a bad rap. Like it’s like, like don’t don’t hit on crackers, crackers. They’re like the heroes of food. They carry dips and cheese and other delicious things for our mouths. I’m a big fan of crackers. I think two things. One is the way that I outlined right? I think this is actually a chance for spring cleaning. Right? It’s about thinking what is the excess in my life at this moment? What are the things that are spoiled going bad, or they don’t use or that somebody else could use? I think this is a really good moment for taking a bit of an assessment of our homes. So maybe for you Passover might and this is for any of you, right? Passover might be like, you know, I’m actually going to just use it as an opportunity to go through my closets, right? Like, like, and actually just like look at all these clothes. And really, I mean this way, this is where like Marie Kondo is like, like the the patron saint of Passover, because it’s about right and actually taking the stock of the things that we own, and, and expressing gratitude, right for the abundance that we find in our lives. And also letting go of that which no longer serves us. Cummings also has a spiritual dimension to it as well, which is that it can become symbolic of all that kind of like leavened, like puffed up parts of ourselves, like what is it that is occupying maybe too much of your time or too much of your energy, right that it actually has, has become too cumbersome or too consuming or too distracting. This is a really good moment for doing a little bit of refreshment and ethics, right taking account of the soul is very much a high holiday activity, but I think we can revisit it this time of year as well. Right? What are parts of myself that become a little too like chromates? Right? Oh, taking about bit too much space. And it’s gonna be a really beautiful moment to kind of practice a bit of introspection.

This is also time to think about the other kind of chametz is that take up so much of our time and energy? Is there a relationship that you’ve allowed to consume? You are too much of your time, your energy? Is there a task, something that actually is not a necessity or value add to your life that you’ve become really consumed with? It’s kind of puffed up too much, right? It’s kind of trying to push out other things. I think this is a really good moment to assess that as well. Right? So chametz can be an actual thing. And it could also be symbolic. Right? If you if you had to sit out on the road tomorrow on the path towards freedom, and could only carry some things in your back literally or metaphorically. Right? Like what would you choose to carry with you? That’s kind of the Jewish desert island question. You can bring one friend and one thing right, like, which is so good. It’s not saying you’re getting rid of everything right? It’s a good exercise sometimes to think like okay, like what’s actually what are the what’s the motto of my life? What is the essential what is the foundation? And what’s what’s maybe actually become a little too a little too puffed up and take up too much space when does it need to anymore?

I actually have a question about gluten free matzah. I also can’t eat gluten. I have a similar similar thought to you and but on the box for gluten free matzah, it says kosher for passover. But then it says not to be used as a replacement for matzah at the Seder. I’m just wondering if you know, more context to that.

Yeah, so that is particularly more for as a more strictly or traditionally observant Jews. You’re also not supposed to use like those egg matzah as well like lots of the contents egg and egg which is very tasty. Because many things taste better. Sorry, vegan folks. But the egg matzah has actually made as to be more appealing for for children for people who are sick, or for folks who struggle who struggled around eating or need extra nutrition. The idea is that the matzah, the Seder place was to be like OG matzah that said, right? This is one of those. This is a great example again, right? We have maybe multiple Jewish values competing simultaneously. Your health certainly takes precedent here. And so for your Seder plate, right, you should use your gluten free matzah because that’s what you can eat. And so you can eat safely, right? But it’s more for those of us who can eat. Not gluten free matzah and there’s nobody at our table who needs gluten free matzah. It’s saying that you should you should prioritize using kind of original matzah, if you will, in that case, does that make sense?

I see a question there, so matzah is made out of chametz products, right? That’s the great irony of the matzah situation is it’s usually made of wheat. But it could be made from oats, for example. And it is mixed with water shaped and baked within a certain amount of time, it’s 18 minutes, or under strict supervision. It is the only chametz based product that we are eating. And the reasoning is that again, this is a little bit of Rabbi science. But the idea is that like within that period of time, it doesn’t have time to leven. So we will eat it. This is actually an issue moment. There’s a good there’s a big debate within some parts of the Jewish community about what’s the purpose of avoiding chametz, and what’s the purpose of eating matzah. And so you can go out there you can get some really, really great like kosher for passover bagels, you can get kosher for passover muffins, right, like things that are made in such a way that they avoid right kind of the leavening and they don’t have candidates in them. They’re made of other other products. But the question comes is like, well, Passover and I think ritually generally, rituals are most effective because they disrupt us or they disrupt our lives a little bit, they actually throw us off, they get us to pay attention to the moment and actually the whole purpose of the Seder by the whole reason of doing the Passover meal, the Seder is to get to ask questions, so that we retell the story of the Exodus. That’s why we do so many weird things. The Seder is to get like us thinking like, what’s so different about this moment? Oh, yeah. Like part of our narrative is this movement from slavery to freedom, let’s return it, let’s relive it, let’s like live it as if it’s our own story. And so there is a debate whether actually, some of these kind of newer products for Passover that replicate things that we would normally eat are good, or if they’re actually kind of distracting a little bit from the ritual disruption. I’m not gonna necessarily say one is better or worse than the other. But again, that’s kind of like what is the purpose of all this, it’s to give us a little bit of a disruption. And disruption is not bad, right? The you know, Shabbat services or disruption. It’s not what you normally do on an evening, right? Laying the Hanukkah candles, again, that’s a disruption. It’s not we normally do like a disruption doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. But ritual should be disruptive, because it is pausing the normal flow of our lives for even just a moment to get us to notice what is around us. And in particular, during Passover, and the noticing we’re doing is about our ability to choose our ability to to act freely in the world. And then also noticing maybe where we are still constrained, and certainly noticing where other people are not experiencing freedom.

A question about timing — it can be a little overwhelming as a novice to figure out when things start. I’m wondering if you could be a little more specific, and even specific to the point of this year’s dates and just when will people be doing these things and how does that work?

Some people get started early, but the final search for chametz happens the night before Passover, Passover starts on Monday night, this year, April 22. So it would be Sunday night, April 21. Okay, and so all of your cleaning would be done before that right this is this is the cube is the candle at the feather kind of searcher search. And yeah, chametz is generally only eaten through about about midday, the day leading up to Passover, so that’d be Monday, midday. So if you’re like out and about then your sandwiches and stuff, etc. But matzah is not eaten until the Seder itself, which would be the evening of after Sunday on Monday, the 22nd. And there’s a second Seder the evening of Tuesday the 23rd this year. Any other questions from folks?

Great, well, I’m really glad we had this time together. I know there’s so much here. And that’s again, why I really want to emphasize, this is supposed to be educational to allow you to make informed decisions about where you might want to lean in. And where you might want to say like, look, this is actually not part of my Passover observance this year. And for some of us, it might just look like doing a good clean of our homes, and just avoiding handmade products through the ages of Passover and eating matzah. You know, one of my traditions is like, I carry my little baggie of matzah with me, so I can have some for lunch and I can have some burrito with dinner. Other people are who much stricter or much more stringent in their observance, to go light on their observance. One of my favorite things that a co Rabbi once said, is like, look, eating your bacon cheeseburger between two slices of matzah during Passover is Jewish observance. These are moments to embrace a little bit of difference, a little bit of disruption in our lives. And we’re all going to do it in different ways based on our particular context or needs. But hopefully, this has been informative enough to help you make some choices. And again, the holidays is about celebrating our freedom, about taking stock of what we do have in our lives, about getting excited for spring and the blossoms and the budding and the change of weather, you know, the the envisioning of possibility, even when it seems impossible. And so, hopefully, this has empowered you to do that a little bit more. And I hope you all have a really, really wonderful, a wonderful Passover. And any questions that come up later, feel free to send them to me, and I’ll be sending out some more resources as well. But check out our resource page on the Mishkan website, too. There’s a lot of great stuff there.