Cleaning for Pesach
by Rabbi Shlomo Gissinger
Pesach - Z’man Cheiruseinu - is quickly approaching. We are all anxiously and
impatiently awaiting the arrival of the Seder nights in all their glory. The entire family - father,
mother and children - sitting around the lavishly laden table - discussing in
depth the very foundation of our emunah –
YETZIAS MITZRAYIM. Our anticipation grows stronger with
every passing day. It’s unbearable -
we can no longer wait!!! Or can we??
I must sadly admit that I’ve heard people say, “Pesach is unbearable”, “It’s too
hard”, “Not worth the work”. If my
previous description of the seder
doesn’t seem to match yours - perhaps you’re doing something wrong. I must elaborate a bit and I will
occasionally quote and draw from the writings of HaRav HaGaon Rav Chaim Pinchos
Obviously, the primary problem is the pre-Pesach cleaning, cleaning, and
more cleaning. Unfortunately, the
average housewife does 75% more cleaning than is required according to the
halacha. Spring cleaning should be done after
The following items need not be washed for Pesach: Windows, walls, carpets, ceilings,
doors, and doorknobs. Linens,
bedspreads, curtains, towels, fresh dish towels.
For those who sell their chometz
- all pots, pans, dishes, flatware, appliances (e.g. mixer, grinder, toaster,
microwave etc.) and toys, which are being stored away for Pesach, do not require
The closet/room where chometz
and/or utensils are being locked up does not need to be cleaned for Pesach. Rather, merely take a quick
assessment of the approx. amount of
chometz present there so that it may be properly listed among items being
sold as chometz.
Before beginning specific halachos
regarding the preparation of the home and kitchen for Pesach I wish to make it
clear that I have no intention of abolishing Minhagim which have been
passed down by Klal Yisroel from generation to generation. After all, the Shulchan Aruch
and later poskim commend
Chumros (stringencies) for Pesach
because Yisroel Kadoshim Heim. Nevertheless, some practices adopted
by women today are not an actual continuation of those minhagim. Furthermore, one is not permitted to
perform stringencies when they infringe upon and undermine basic Torah
obligations. For example, as stated
above, women are obligated in all the mitzvos of the
Seder as men are. They also have the mitzvah of Simchas Yom Tov - enjoying the Chag. How can these be accomplished when
they are totally washed out, exhausted and too tense to even maintain a
conversation?! We must
maintain our priorities!
The rationale for some of the
halachos stated below is based on the following premise; The obligation to
search for and destroy chometz applies
to chometz which is the size of one
complete k’zayis (i.e. approx. the volume of one ounce. A standard whiskey cup holds one
ounce) or more. According to some
opinions even less than a k’zayis is problematic unless it is rendered
unfit for human consumption. In
consideration of that opinion, I have recommended, not required, (where
applicable) to apply an ammonia/water solution to the
chometz thus rendering it inedible. Do not confuse this with halacha with
the more stringent issur of consuming
Pockets of adult
clothing (i.e. specifically those which during the year may have occasionally
contained chometz) and all children’s
clothing which will be worn on Pesach should be emptied of food and crumbs. Alternatively, if one resolves not
to put any food in pockets during Pesach - follow the rules in the following
sentence regarding other clothing.
Pockets of other clothing – (not to be worn on Pesach) need only be frisked
for either edible crumbs of chometz
(not little crumbs mixed with lint and dust) or a “considerable amount” of
Note: a “considerable amount” equals a k’zayis. Should one decide on Pesach to wear
clothing whose pockets were not thoroughly cleaned - food may not be put into
those pockets. Note: Clothing which will not be worn on
Pesach and will be in a sealed closet and sold with the
chometz - need not be checked at all.
Toys: a) Only those toys which may contain a “considerable amount” of
chometz must be cleaned of same. b)
Toys which don’t usually contain a “considerable amount” of
chometz but rather have small
particles of slightly dirty chometz
stuck to them, may be used as is on Pesach.
c) In the rare case that the small particles of
chometz appear to be in edible
condition - although according to the view of most
poskim, the toys may be used as is -
care must be taken not to place those toys on areas where food is placed (e.g.
tables, countertops etc).
Furthermore, as stated above, some poskim
rule that in this case the chometz
adhering to the toys should be rendered inedible.
This may be accomplished in the following manner; 1) Waterproof toys may
be soaked (in the tub) in the ammonia solution for a short time and then rinsed. By doing so, any
chometz which may have been stuck to
the toys becomes inedible and is no longer considered
The toys may be dried and used as is. 2) Toys which can not be immersed in
water can either be wiped with a sponge moistened with the ammonia solution as
above, or the chometz must be removed. Note: Any toys not being used on Pesach
need not to be checked but rather they may be sold with the
Seforim/Books: Since the only crumbs that might be
present in Seforim or books are less than a k’zayis, these items do not
have to be cleaned for Pesach.
However, care must be taken not to place them on areas where food is placed
(e.g. tables, countertops etc.).
Nevertheless, to avoid any problems,
Seforim/books which commonly have crumbs in them (e.g. Bentchers,
etc.) should be cleaned or sealed away with the
For a complete Pesach cleaning guide based on the rulings of HaRav HaGaon
Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg, SHLITA
contact the KOF-K 201-837-0500 ext 135.