Using an Oven on Shabbos & Yom Tov

Cooking in the modern kitchen is a whole new experience. Technological advances have taken the old stovetop and oven and upgraded them to be safer, more efficient, and “smart” for today’s lifestyle. They are also far more complicated. With these transformations, the observant Jew is faced with challenges that did not confront him in the past.

To understand how these changes affect the halachic use of ovens and cooktops on Shabbos and Yom Tov, it is worthwhile to review some laws and concepts as they relate to cooking on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Before proceeding with our discussion, it is important to review some basic terms and concepts.

Definition of Basic Terms Pertaining to Food Preparation on Shabbos and Yom Tov

Melacha
A melacha is a Torah prohibited act derived from the constructive acts performed in erecting the Mishkan. These forbidden acts are known as melachos. There are 39 categories of prohibited acts.

Bishul
Bishul refers […]

Sephardi Minhagim Regarding Kosher for Passover Foods

Rice and all different types of legumes are permissible to eat on Pesach according to the custom of most Sephardim, as long as they are careful to check rice three times to ensure there is no wheat or barley mixed in.1
Care needs to be taken that no dust of flour came into contact with the rice (or any kosher food for Pesach). Therefore, one may use only natural, unenriched rice for Pesach, ideally a rice with a reliable Kosher l’Pesach L’ochlei Kitniyot hechsher.2
Those who refrain from eating legumes on Pesach are permitted to keep them at home; there is no need to sell legumes to a non-Jew.3
It is the Sephardic custom to use egg matzah (מצה עשירה) during Pesach. This type of matzah cannot be used to fulfill the obligation of eating matzah on the first two nights of Pesach. The bracha recited on egg matzah is […]

Sephardi Minhagim Regarding Kashering for Pesach

 

מקצת הלכות הגעלת והכשרת הכלים לפסח לפי מנהגי ספרדים

Utensils that are used during the year with chometz are forbidden to be used during Pesach without kashering them according to Halacha. From the time it is prohibited to eat chometz on Erev Pesach, it is forbidden to use the utensils without kashering them according to Halacha. The proper kashering method used to rid a vessel of chometz is dependent upon the original method of food preparation through which chometz was absorbed into the vessel.1
We do not recite a bracha when kashering an item since it is a negative commandment not to consume the taste of non-kosher food.2
Sephardic custom is that the method of kashering depends upon the most common usage of the vessel. Therefore, it is sufficient to pour boiling hot water from a כלי ראשון on a hot plate after cleaning it to make sure there is no chometz […]

Pesach Guidelines for People with Celiac, Food Allergies and Gluten-Free Restrictions

Yomim Tovim are synonymous with food—and lots of it! During Pesach, the temptation to eat and overeat, perhaps the wrong things for eight straight days, is extra challenging. The good news is that you don’t have to resolve to store away those extra pounds which you will regret just as you store away your Pesach dishes for next year. STAR-K is grateful to Sarah Klugman, RD, of Healthy Bites Nutrition Clinic, in Lakewood, NJ, for sharing her Pesach nutrition advice on which this article is based. They include tips for gluten-free and celiac individuals, as well as those with various food allergies.

Sarah Klugman suggests, “Always make Kiddush in the morning. It’s the key to a successful day! Use light grape juice 1 and have a starch or fruit and milk. Regarding when to make Kiddush and how to fulfill Kiddush b’makom seuda, consult your rav. Good ideas are: starch/fruit […]

Undercover: The Halachos of Schach

Published Fall 2009

When our Torah speaks about the Festival of Sukkos it states, “Chag HaSukkos Taaseh Lecha B’Aspecha Migornecha U’Miyikvecha.”1  “The Sukkos holiday should be observed at the time that you harvest your grain and your wine,” during the fall.  Our Chachamim, sages, have taught us that this pasuk has another esoteric meaning.  The sukkah, in which we dwell during this chag, should be made from the unused parts of the harvesting grain and wine, namely the stalks of grain and twigs of the vine.  These are the items that should be used for the schach, the covering, which is placed on top of the sukkah instead of a permanent roof.

Maryland Beer Alert Pesach 2021/5781

It has come to our attention that two large beer distribution companies, who are the exclusive distributors of many brands in Maryland, are Jewish owned. Due to numerous challenges, a proper sale of Chometz is not possible. As a result, many brands of beer sold in our area will be “Chometz She’avar Alav HaPesach”. The problematic beer in stock will not be depleted until sometime in June. Please check our website after June 1st for an update. Until that time, the beers on the list here should not be purchased. We do not have any information about beers sold outside of Maryland.

For a list of stores where brands listed may be purchased in Maryland see here.

Additionally, one may purchase beer at the following stores with the listed conditions:

Accents Liquor Store (new!) – All beer in the store
Dugan’s – Only beer that has an approval sticker bearing the STAR-K symbol and Hebrew signature of Mashgiach.
Kosher Bite – All beer […]

Bedikas Chometz Guidelines

Before Pesach, a person is obligated to perform bedikas chometz, a search of his house and possessions, to ensure that he does not own any chometz. The bedika should be conducted at the beginning of the night of the 14th of Nissan, immediately after tzeis hakochavim.1 If he did not do so, the bedika can be done all night. Bedi’eved, if he did not perform the bedika that night he should do it on the day of the 14th of Nissan.2

If he will not be home on the night of the 14th of Nissan, he should appoint another adult to perform the bedika on his behalf.3 If he leaves his house within thirty days of Pesach, and is not planning to return and conduct a bedika or have someone else perform a bedika for him, then he should do bedikas chometz without reciting a bracha at night before he leaves.4

If […]

Guide to Purchasing Chometz After Pesach

See here for Buying Chometz after Pesach Chart.

1. A Jewish-Owned Store that did not sell its Chometz to a Non-Jew before Pesach

The Torah forbids a Jew to own chometz on Pesach. In order to dissuade people from owning chometz on Pesach, there is a rabbinic injunction not to eat or benefit from chometz which was owned by a Jew during Pesach. Such chometz is known as chometz she’avar olov haPesach, and it remains forbidden permanently.1

For this reason, one should not buy chometz from a Jewish-owned store immediately after Pesach, unless the owner sold all chometz that he owned before Pesach to a non-Jew for the duration of Pesach and did not acquire any further chometz during Pesach. The laws of mechiras chometz (selling chometz to a non-Jew for Pesach) are complex; therefore, the sale must be made by a competent rabbi or kashrus authority.

If a Jewish-owned store did not […]

“Beer” Chometz – An overview of Beer Distribution in Baltimore and Chometz She’avar Alav haPesach

It is by now well known that much of the beer sold in Baltimore and surrounding counties is distributed by Jewish owned companies, creating a significant Chometz She’avar Alav haPesach issue for our community. The following is a brief explanation of the issue.

What exactly is Chometz?

The Torah[1] forbids eating any chometz – leavened grain products during Pesach. Simply defined, leavening is dough or batter that has increased in volume either through yeasts or chemical means. The process of how this happens is the following.

A chemical leaven such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) react with compounds naturally present in the dough to produce carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide (CO2) released from this reaction becomes trapped inside the dough, thereby causing the dough to expand – and rise.

Another way to cause dough to rise is through a process called fermentation. Yeast, a fungus naturally present in grains (or commonly added to assist […]

What To Do If Chometz is Found During Pesach

Erev Pesach (after the time of Biur Chometz)

If you find chometz on Erev Pesach after the latest time for biur chometz:

If you sold your chometz earlier that morning: You should move the chometz that you found to the place that you are storing the chometz that you sold.
If you did not sell your chometz earlier that morning: You should burn it.

First Day of Pesach

If you find chometz on the first day of Pesach: You should cover it with a utensil.

See below for further instructions for the subsequent days of Pesach.

Second Day of Pesach

If you find chometz on the second day of Pesach, or if you found chometz on the first day of Pesach and had covered it:

If you sold your chometz before Pesach, or you said ‘Kol Chamira’ before Pesach, or the chometz that you found was less than a kezayis: You should cover it with a […]

Guidelines for Hotel Guests on Pesach & Shabbos

The following guidelines are written for hotel guests, but many of the principles apply to rental homes as well.

Kashering

A hotel kitchenette requires the same method of kashering for Passover as a home kitchen. One should secure permission from the hotel before kashering.

Ideally, all kashering should be completed before the end time for eating chometz on Erev Pesach. Sometimes, a person might not arrive at his hotel room until later on Erev Pesach, or on Chol Hamoed Pesach. Following are guidelines for kashering at that time, using the procedures in the STAR-K Pesach Kitchen Guide.

Erev Pesach

An oven and stovetop grates may be kashered. A sink may be kashered as long as one can ascertain that the sink is aino ben yomo, has not been used with heat for 24 hours prior.1

Chol Hamoed

One can kasher only with libun chamur, a blow torch that makes the utensil red hot.2 This is not recommended […]

Important Appliance Pre-Purchase Advice

When shopping for a new appliance, it is worth considering the different features each one offers and whether they meet your needs regarding Shabbos and Yom Tov use. Here are some suggestions and considerations to help you make the best decision for your needs.

Advice Re: Cooktops

Electric smoothtops may present a problem of kashering for Pesach. Check with your rav.
Electric cooktops may pose a problem with adjusting the temperature on Yom Tov.
Electronic ignition may pose a problem with initiating a flame on Yom Tov.
Some cooktops (gas or electric) have knobs that light up when the burner is turned on, and on some of these cooktops an illuminated ring displays on the knob itself. Some knobs are backlit with a soft glow to indicate an ‘On’ setting, and some knobs offer progressive illumination that adjusts to indicate the burner setting. These types of knobs pose a problem.
Additionally, be aware that some high-end […]

How to Check Matzos

The production of Kosher l’Pesach (KFP) matzos involves a great deal of meticulous work. The process begins with the inspection of wheat kernels to ensure that they have not been adversely affected by moisture in the air or prematurely sprouted. Grinding of the grain must be performed according to the dictates of Halacha, which precludes any pre-grind soaking of the grain and requires special preparation of the milling equipment to ensure that no contamination exists from non-Passover flour in the grinders and filters. The KFP flour is then loaded onto trucks, either pneumatically or in bags under controlled conditions, and shipped to the bakeries.

A bakery which has been kashered for Pesach will have already prepared special water (mayim shelanu) to be used for Pesach matzos. Hand matzah bakeries do not use regular municipal water for fear that the chemicals added to the water may affect the leavening qualities of the […]

Proper Schach Storage

Stored improperly, schach can become a target and breeding ground for insects. These insects could then drop onto the table and into your food.

When schach is wrapped in plastic or any similar non-breathing material, ambient temperature changes may lead to development of condensate inside the wrapper. This can create a moist environment ideal for breeding insects.

People tend to keep schach mats in their original bags and then store it in areas that are not climate-controlled (e.g., basement storage rooms, garages, sheds). These types of conditions often lead to infestation.

While we do not have statistics to show how often schach is infested, it would seem prudent to prevent schach infestation by not storing it in plastic. If you must wrap it, use paper, or leave the plastic open so it can vent. Under dry conditions – whether temperatures are cool or hot – insects won’t thrive.

If you are concerned your schach […]

Halachos of The Pesach Seder

The following contains halachic guidance concerning some of the common issues that arise when conducting a Pesach Seder. In particular, it discusses preparation for the Seder, the four cups of wine, and the obligation to eat matzah, Maror, Koreich and Afikomen. This is by no means comprehensive. For a more comprehensive guide, see HaSeder HaAruch by Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Weingarten (three volumes, 1431 pages).

Preparations for the Seder

A person should complete all of the necessary preparations for the Seder on Erev Pesach to enable him to start the Seder without delay.1 (If Erev Pesach falls on Shabbos, he cannot prepare for the Seder on Erev Pesach since he may not prepare for Yom Tov on Shabbos.)

The following preparations should be made prior to Yom Tov:

If meat or chicken will be eaten at the Seder, it may not be roasted. Meat or chicken cooked with a quarter inch or more of […]

Preparing/Kashering the Pesach Kitchen

See How to Clean/Kasher Kitchen Items for Pesach Checklist here.

As the Yom Tov of Pesach nears, and the diligent balabusta begins to tackle the challenge of preparing the kitchen for Pesach, undoubtedly the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to shine. Although moving into a separate Pesach home sounds very inviting, such luxuries are often not affordable and definitely not in the Pesach spirit. Among the basic mitzvos of the chag is the mitzvah of tashbisu se’or mibateichem, ridding one’s home and possessions of chometz. However, if we are to use kitchen equipment, utensils, or articles that can be found in our kitchen year-round, it may be insufficient to just clean them thoroughly. One is forbidden to use these items unless they have been especially prepared for Pesach. This preparation process is known as kashering.

The Torah instructs us that the proper kashering method used to rid a […]

Pesach Cosmetics and Personal Care: The Halachos and Lists

In addition to pharmaceutical companies, Rabbi Gershon Bess also contacts many cosmetic companies and bases the following chometz-free list on his research.
L’Halacha, all non-food items not fit for canine consumption (nifsal mei’achilas kelev i.e., something that one would not feed his dog) may be used on Pesach. This includes all cosmetics, soaps, ointments, and creams.1 Nonetheless, people have acted stringently with regard to these items.

Below are several reasons why people are strict:

Many products, including shaving lotion and perfume, contain denatured alcohol which can be restored to regular alcohol (see Igros Moshe O.C. 3:62). According to some opinions, one should not use such products, if chometz-based (Sefer Kovetz Halachos Pesach Chapter 12, footnote 7 has a brief discussion regarding the different opinions). The list notes products which do not use chometz-based alcohols.
The Biur Halacha (326:10 B’shaar) writes in the name of the Gra that one should be strict and […]

Schach

The following schach mat manufacturers are certified by STAR-K. Please see letter of certification for usage instructions.

Sukkah Systems
20 Brighton Ave.
Passaic, NJ 07055
Click here for the current letter of certification.

The Sukkah Project
2317 Grand Park Dr. #2A
Grand Junction, CO 81505
844.478.5568
Click here for the current letter of certification.

Click here for information on proper storage of schach

Kosher for Passover Quinoa

QUINOA UPDATE 2021

The following product is approved for Passover use.

Natural Earth Products
Quinoa, when bearing Star-K Passover symbol

There have been infestation issues in many brands of quinoa. We recommend quinoa be checked prior to use, see www.checkforinsects.com for instructions.

What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is a species of seeds of the Chenopodium or “goosefoot” family, and is botanically related to spinach. It was first brought to the United States from Chile nineteen years ago. Quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years, growing three to six feet tall despite high altitudes, intense heat, freezing temperatures, and as little as four inches of annual rainfall. Peru and Bolivia maintain seed banks with 1,800 types of quinoa.

Quinoa is Kosher L’Pesach and is not related to the five types of chometz grains, millet or rice.

If It’s Not Kitniyos, Why Does Quinoa Need Passover Certification?
We have found that […]

Preparing for Yoshon: Practically Speaking, A Housewife’s Perspective on Keeping Yoshon

When my husband first told me that he would like to start keeping yoshon I asked, “What’s that?” When I found out, my immediate reaction was panic and a feeling of being overwhelmed. To my surprise, it was far less complicated than it sounded. Nowadays, with local bakeries baking yoshon every day and the pizza shop selling yoshon pizza, it’s a breeze to keep the mitzva.

Preparing for Chodosh

The same Torah which does not permit us to eat the meat of an animal that does not have split hooves or chew its cud, also does not permit us to eat from new grain harvest until the barley omer sacrifice was brought in the Bais Hamikdash on the second day of Pesach.

Yoshon and Chodosh Something Old and Something New

The story is told about how in the mid 1970’s the proprietor of a kosher bakery in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood was asked if his products were Yoshon. Not realizing that this Hebrew word, which literally means ‘old’, actually refers to grain which had been planted before Passover, proudly, albeit naively, answered, ” I can assure you that everything in my bakery is 100 percent fresh.” Today, as we approach the millennium yoshon and chodosh have graduated and become household words which have rightfully taken their place among the more popular terms such as Glatt Kosher, Cholov Yisroel, and Pas Yisroel.

Listen to a shiur given by Rabbi Zvi Goldberg

Listen to a shiur given by Rabbi Zvi Goldberg at Congregation Darchei Tzedek, Baltimore on the subject of the various types of schach mats. The shiur includes an explanation of Star-K certified mats.

Guide to STAR-K Certified Schach

The STAR-K currently certifies schach made from bamboo slats held together with monofilament type cord for use during Sukkos. The following is an explanation of the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann regarding this item:

The Guide To Halachic Food Measurements

Conscientious observance of kashrus goes beyond the identification of kosher symbols on your supermarket shelf and the separation of meat and dairy foods and utensils in your kitchen. There are many food related halachos, in addition to those involving preparation and serving. Amongst them are the halachos of shiurim, measurements. They encompass a wide range of issues relevant to food consumption, and have important halachic ramifications.

Eruv Tavshilin

A fundamental difference between Yom Tov observance and Shabbos observance is the allowance of ochel nefesh, food preparation on Yom Tov. “Ach Asher Yei’achel L’Chol Nefesh Hu Levado Yei’aseh Lachem…“1 The Torah permits us to cook, bake, and prepare food on Yom Tov proper, in order to eat the prepared food on that day of Yom Tov. One is not permitted to prepare from one day of Yom Tov for the second day of Yom Tov or for after Yom Tov. This prohibition of hachana, of preparing from one day of Yom Tov to the next, presents a problem when the second day of Yom Tov falls out on Shabbos or when Shabbos follows a two day sequence of Yomim Tovim. Can one halachically prepare food on Yom Tov for the Shabbos Yom Tov or for Shabbos?

Matzo: How it is made and how to differentiate between those that are acceptable and forbidden for use.

The production of matzos Kosher for Pesach (KFP) involves a great deal of meticulous work. The process begins with the inspection of wheat kernels to ensure that they have not been adversely affected by moisture in the air and have not prematurely sprouted. Grinding of the grain must be performed according to the dictates of Halacha which preludes any pre-grind soaking of the grain and which requires special preparation of the milling equipment to ensure that no contamination exists from non-Passover flour in the grinders and filters. The KFP flour is then loaded onto trucks either pneumatically or in bags under sheltered conditions and shipped to the bakeries.