Through its rich and multi-layered symbols and rituals, Passover is one of our most beautiful and tangible holidays. Indeed, it is widely observed by Jewish communities throughout the world.
Yet precisely because Passover involves so many restrictions, we can sometimes lose sight of the underlying kavannah, or intention, of its foundational spiritual story of moving towards more freedom, light, and justice.
The Rabbinic Assembly has published a guide to preparing for Pesach that is comprehensive and detailed. It was also done with great care for the kavannah of this amazing holiday and time of year. You can find the guide here: http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/pesah-guide. Below you will also find short descriptions of each of the central mitzvoth of Pesach. Enjoy – and always be in touch with Rabbi Berman with any questions!
There are three positive mitzvoth: to dispose of chametz on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, to eat matzah on the night of Pesach, and to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt on the night of Pesach.
There are five negative mitzvoth: not to eat chametz after noon on the 14th of Nisan, not to eat, see or find chametz throughout Pesach, and not to eat mixtures containing chametz throughout Pesach.
We search our homes and remove all chametz. On Thursday night, April 2, we conduct a final search for chametz (bedikat chametz) in the home, wherever chametz may have been brought during the year. Before beginning our search, we recite the blessing of "al biur chametz."
After the search is completed, we declare all types of chametz in our possession to be dust and ashes, entirely abandoned (bitul). These procedures, prayers and declarations are found at the beginning of most Haggadahs.
Chametz found during the search is set aside for burning the next day. The bitul is pronounced immediately following the final search, and again immediately after the burning in the morning, to include any additional chametz that may have come into one's possession in the interim. The destruction of chametz (biur chametz) in one's possession must be completed before Passover, by mid-morning.
The mitzvah of biur chametz is limited to foods under Jewish ownership and possession. Chametz that has been transferred to a person who is not Jewish person does not need to be destroyed. We can transfer our chametz through a legal and binding contract that gives one who is not Jewish full title to all chametz. You can use this form to authorize Rabbi Berman to act as your agent to sell your chametz.
The day before Passover is observed as a minor dawn to dusk fast day, observed only by firstborn children. The day commemorates the saving of the Israelite first born children from the tenth plague in Egypt.
Firstborns are exempted from the fast by attending a festive meal that is connected to a mitzvah such as the celebration of a circumcision or the completion of study of a tractate of the Talmud. Over the centuries, our rabbis developed the custom of timing their studies to complete a tractate of Talmud on the morning of Erev Passover, so that there would be a special celebratory meal called a siyyum bechorot to exempt the firstborns from their fast.
All are invited to attend our morning minyan at 6:45 AM and join us as we study the final verses of a Talmudic Tractate.
Following services and study, we will celebrate with a special meal and wish one another a Happy Passover (Chag Kasher v'Sameach).
We are asked to give to the poor in order that they can provide themselves with matzah and other necessities that they require for observance of Pesach. To fulfill this mitzvah, you may send a contribution to Temple Reyim, indicating "maot chitim" in the memo line, and Rabbi Berman will distribute the collected funds to families in need.