Thursday, March 19, 2015

Preparing the House for Passover: What Must I get rid of?

Preparing the House for Passover: What Must I get rid of?

The object of this exercise is to get rid of anything that may have leaven, or chametz in it. “What constitutes leaven?” you may ask.

The rabbinic authority in Ashkenazi tradition has created three basic groups for us to understand Passover foods: foods permitted for Passover, Pesadic; foods that are not exactly forbidden by Torah for Passover, but are not traditionally eaten, Kinyot; foods that are forbidden for Passover, Chametz.  

According to, Chametz is defined as, “...any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, which has leavened (risen). Our sages have determined that flour from any of these five grains that comes in contact with water or moisture will leaven, unless fully baked within eighteen minutes.” 

Kinyot are legumes, bean, rice, peas and corn. They were prohibited in the Ashkenazi tradition because in certain forms they can be confused with chametz. Sephardic Jews permit eating kinyot on Passover. Aside from kinyot, fruits, vegetables and meats are kosher for Passover.

Can Messianic Jews eat kinyot? Kinyot are not strictly forbidden for Passover, so technically yes. It is important, however, to stay true to your family traditions. If you were raised Sephardic, eating rice and beans over Passover, by all means, continue to do so. If your family was Ashkenazi and even eliminated kinyot, abide by those rules. I think, however, that Jewish observance has changed over the years in that Sephardic and Ashkenazi are no longer the only choices in family upbringing. I would stipulate, (many would disagree with me, possibly your local rabbi!), that if you were raised Reform Ashkenazi, then you should continue in that tradition as well. There’s no reason that your favorite Passover lunch of peanut butter and jelly on matzah shouldn’t be passed down to your children(Peanuts are kinyot). If you are unsure or don’t have a tradition to draw from, ask your local rabbi.

What about the use of separate dishes? Once again, I think it is important to stay true to family traditions. If it is a meaningful tradition to take out Passover dishes and completely turn over the kitchen for the week, do so. If you are not observant in this way during the rest of the year, I find it more meaningful to focus on what we can do for Passover without stressing me out. I do have a set of china that I use during the week. Using the china reminds my family that this is a special time, and we use special dishes to commemorate.

One of my favorite resources is the MJRC Standards of Observance. Although I don't agree with everything in the document, I think it is a good document to read when you are learning about Messianic Judaism.

Armed with knowledge, we are ready to move on to cleaning.

To help you with this, I created a downloadable file that you can use as is, in a .pdf, or adjust to meet your need, in a Word document. Go here to download the Passover Cleanup Checklist.

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