Passover In Brief

Passover, an eight-day springtime festival, commemorates the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage. Based on the injunction against eating or possessing leavened bread for eight days, Passover involves a unique set of kosher laws. Kosher consumers are most careful about what they eat on Passover. In fact, many people who do not observe kosher year-round may do so on Passover. According to some accounts, 40% of the kosher market revolves around the Passover holiday.

Passover’s strict prohibitions guard against eating food products containing any edible fermented grain products known as chometz. Included in this category are wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye which have been leavened due to contact with water. Jews are expected not to derive any pleasure or benefit whatsoever from chometz. Furthermore, a Jew may not own chometz or have chometz in his possession.

Ensuring that foods are kosher for Passover […]

The 10 Commandments for the Prudent Passover Consumer

I. Thou Shalt Read Product Labels Carefully
     – Make sure a reliable Kosher for Passover certification appears on the package. Don’t assume the product is kosher for Passover just because it is in the Passover section of the supermarket.

Preparing/Kashering the Pesach Kitchen

Updated February 2022

View / Download PDF of Article Here

View / Download How to Clean/Kasher 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. […]

Kashering for Pesach According to Sephardi Minhagim

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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.1We do not recite a bracha when kashering an item since it is a negative commandment not to consume the taste of non-kosher food.2Sephardic 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 […]

The Mitzvah of Tevilas Keilim

Click HERE for a convenient summary of tevilas keilim guidelines and a handy chart.

Introduction:
In His infinite wisdom, Hashem Yisborach has spiritually elevated the mundane activity of eating and has vested it with special sanctity, kedusha. The food we eat must be kosher, the table upon which we eat our meals represents the holy altar, the mizbeach. Similarly, the vessels and utensils (keilim) used for preparing food and for dining must be given special holiness. When these dishes and/or utensils have been previously owned by an aino Yehudi, we have to immerse these keilim, in a mikvah before their first use.

Keilim (vessels/utensils) can be categorized into three halachic groupings; utensils requiring tevila (immersion) with a brocha: utensils requiring tevila without a brocha; and utensils not requiring tevila at all. Utensils require tevila with a brocha when they have direct contact with food during […]

Understanding Kitniyos – What They Are, What They Aren’t

View / Download PDF of Article Here

View / Download STAR-K Kitniyos Chart Here

As is commonly known, the Torah prohibits chometz on Pesach, and the consequence of chometz consumption on Pesach is very severe. In order to distance us from the possibility of violating Torah precepts, Chazal with their supreme insight, instituted a minhag as a protective fence. The minhag to guard us from chometz violations is to refrain from consuming kitniyos on Pesach.

What are Kitniyos?

Kitniyos are popularly defined as legumes. But what are legumes? The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 453, defines kitniyos as those products that can be cooked and baked in a fashion similar to chometz grains, yet are not halachically considered in the same category as chometz. Some examples are rice, corn, peas, mustard seed, and all varieties of beans (i.e., kidney, lima, garbanzo, etc.). The Torah term […]

Kosher for Passover Foods According to Sephardi Minhagim

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 […]

Kosher for Passover Quinoa

QUINOA UPDATE 2022

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 South America in the 1980s. 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 […]

Quinoa: The Grain That’s Not

Tired of potatoes, potatoes, potatoes for Pesach? Try quinoa (“Keen-Wa”), a sesame-seed-sized kernel first brought to the United States from Chile nineteen years ago, according to Rebecca Theurer Wood. 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.

Feeding Your Pet: Barking Up the Right Tree

February 2022

To some people, the concept that there are restrictions regarding what can be fed to animals may seem amusing. They wonder: “Really now, must dogs also eat kosher?” Of course, animals don’t need to eat kosher food. However, Halacha clearly instructs people regarding what, how and when to feed them.

The Talmud Yerushalmi1 states that before acquiring an animal, one must be sure he will be able to properly provide for it. Certainly, the owner must also know the applicable halachos. The following is a discussion of some of these halachos, including the subjects of meat and milk mixtures, Pesach, buying and selling non-kosher pet food, feeding animals on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and feeding animals before you eat.

STAR-K is not necessarily recommending ownership of pets; rather, we are providing information for those owners who […]

Halachos of Taking Medicine on Pesach

Reviewed March 2022

For many years, Rav Gershon Bess prepared a Guide for Pesach Medications and Cosmetics which was published and distributed by Kollel Los Angeles. A partnership with STAR-K and the Kollel to make this information more widely available to the general public is still going strong after more than a quarter century. The Medications and Cosmetics Guide, available in Jewish bookstores nationwide, serves as an invaluable resource for kosher consumers seeking to purchase these items for Yom Tov.

Sefer Kovetz Halachos (Hilchos Pesach 12:4) states in the name of HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, shlit”a, that lechatchila one should take a medication approved for Pesach and mentions the availability and use of reliable Pesach lists and guides (see Hilchos Pesach, ibid., footnote 5).

The halachos pertaining to medication and cosmetic use on Pesach are based on the joint psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, and Rav Gershon Bess, shlit”a.

THE MEDICINE LIST DOES NOT […]

The History of Passover Medicine Lists in Pre-War Germany

In the 1920s, the Jewish community in Germany numbered close to half a million people. They were made up mostly of professionals in finance and retail trade. German Jewry thrived within the general culture of the Weimar Republic. As an influx of approximately 70,000 East European Jews flocked to Germany to escape political oppression and violent anti-Semitism, Berlin soon became the center for Hebrew culture, reaching its peak between 1920 to 1924. It had become a safe haven for Hebrew and Yiddish speaking intellectuals, mostly Russian Hebrew writers. Although some Jews emigrated during this time, mostly to America or Palestine, many more did so after the rise of Nazism in 1933. Unfortunately, the majority of Jews remained in Germany, with catastrophic results.

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

Updated February 2022

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 […]

Pesach Shiurim for Matzah & Wine – For Healthy Individuals and for Diabetics / Those with Food Allergies

Updated April 2022

The challenge of diabetes seems ten-fold when it comes to Pesach. There are a whole new set of considerations – among them, four cups of wine at each Seder; a many-hour wait until Shulchan Aruch; and knowing the carb content of a single hand matzah.

These are real concerns for people with diabetes and related health issues who wish to fulfill the requirements of Pesach al pi halacha without compromising their health. STAR-K has turned to the Jewish Diabetes Association (JDA) for answers, and the JDA has kindly provided the following guidelines to help you prepare your matzah and wine.

NOTE: The following are guidelines for achilas matzah and arba kosos for both healthy individuals and for those challenged with diabetes or food allergies. When in doubt, consult with a rav.1a

I. Matzah

The stipulations for minimum shiurim for matzah, which follow, are based on the psak of Rav Moshe […]

Halachos of Using Cosmetics and Personal Care Items on Pesach

Reviewed February 2022

In addition to pharmaceutical companies, Rav Gershon Bess also contacts many cosmetic companies and bases the following chometzz-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 STAR-K Pesach Guide lists products which do not use chometz-based alcohols.The Biur Halacha (326:10 B’shaar) writes in the name […]

The Kashrus, Shabbos, and Pesach Guide to Cosmetics

Ezra Hasofer established ten takanos (laws) covering a wide spectrum of Jewish life.1 The purpose of these takanos was to enhance Torah study, Shabbos, the Jewish communal court system, and the sanctity of the Jewish home and marriage. One of the takanos was that salesmen should travel from town to town to supply perfume and fragrances to the women of each community.2 It is clear that these items were important in Jewish life since ancient times.

Bedikas Chometz Guidelines

View / Download PDF of Article Here

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 […]

The Busiest Day of the Year: The Laws of Erev Pesach

Pesach 2022

View / Download PDF of Article Here

Erev Pesach is one of the busiest and most unique days of the year. With every hour comes another set of halachos. Many halachic times, including the time for searching for chometz and the latest time for eating chometz, are well known. However, many halachos of Erev Pesach are often confusing and not commonly understood. The purpose of this article is to elucidate some of the lesser known laws of Erev Pesach.

Note: These halachos apply to Erev Pesach that occurs on a weekday. If Erev Pesach occurs on Shabbos, special halachos apply to both Friday (13th of Nissan) and Shabbos (Erev Pesach). See HERE for the Erev Pesach Shabbos article.

I. CHOMETZ

1. Searching for Chometz […]

Halachos of The Pesach Seder

View / Download PDF of Article Here

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 […]

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 […]

Machine Matzos: Timing is Everything!

Published Spring 2009


Meticulous, scrupulous and passionate are terms that describe the fervor, zeal and seriousness displayed by the kosher consumer regarding Pesach kashrus in general, and Pesach matzohs in particular.  The kosher consumer has become more sophisticated and savvy with each passing year.  Kosher consumers are willing to pay top dollar for a quality kosher product.   Pesach matzohs are no exception.  Machine matzohs with fine mehadrin hechsherim are readily available on the supermarket shelf.  Are all machine matzohs created equal?

Matzah For All: The Sugya and Saga of Oat Matzos

Pesach 2022 (Revised)

VIEW / DOWNLOAD PDF OF ARTICLE HERE

Introduction

Much has been written about the
relatively recent innovation of matzah made from oats. The value of publishing
another treatment on the topic is twofold: to provide current information, and
also to maintain an awareness that oat matzos are not simply another, albeit
more expensive, variety available to consumers. Rather, they are a niche
product intended for a specific demographic group. To a lesser extent, some of
the issues may apply to spelt matzos as well.

I am indebted to מו”ר הרה”ג HaRav Abba Zvi Naiman שליט”א, Mara D’Asra in Bais Medrash of Ranchleigh, for including an earlier draft of this article as part of the eleventh edition of Kuntress Lemaan Tesapeir for Peach 5782. This excellent journal has been published by the kehilla yearly since 5772. Back issues are available for download at: www.zichronyaakoveliyahu.org/publications.html.

Also, the article can be viewed in the Passover section […]

The Guide To Halachic Food Measurements

Updated April 2022

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.

How much must one eat to recite a bracha acharona, the blessing after eating? How much bread must one eat to be obligated in netilas yadayim, hand washing, or to fulfill one’s obligation of seudas Shabbos? The answers to these and other questions relating to shiurim have been addressed by gedolei haposkim, but are often not well known. There are many age old opinions regarding shiurim and it is often difficult to translate the measurements […]

The Traveler’s Halachic Guide to Hotels – Including Guidelines for Pesach and Shabbos

Updated April 2022

Yosef chose the hotel he was staying in for its many amenities, not the least of which was the free Continental Breakfast it offered its guests. Surely, when kosher symbols on products are becoming more and more prevalent, he wouldn’t starve! The breakfast menu included cereals, pancakes, waffles, muffins, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, hardboiled eggs, as well as hot coffee and juices. Can Yosef eat anything offered on the Continental Breakfast menu, or should he prepare his own breakfast using the microwave and coffeemaker in his hotel room?

Chana’s brother’s bar mitzvah, held in a hotel during Shabbos, turned out to be a real nightmare! The closet light went on automatically when she opened the closet door; the housekeeper had turned off the light in her room, preventing her from reviewing her Parsha notes; she drank a bottle of water from her room’s ‘refreshment bar’ which unbeknown to her […]

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 […]

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 utensil if you […]

Guide to Buying Chometz After Pesach

Updated February 2022

See HERE for the 2022 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 alav 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 […]

Maryland Beer Alert Pesach 2022/5782

Updated April 4, 2022

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 […]

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 […]