Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Flurry of Pesach Questions!

As always, I know that checking with my LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi) is the best route to go, and I fully intend to throw these questions his way during our meeting Wednesday (or via email if I can't manage to get all my queries in then). But I like to throw questions out to the greater viewing community to see how different folks, from different backgrounds, approach issues of halakah! We all have different minhagim (customs), and as someone becoming more religious, I'm particularly fascinated in how different minhagim end up where they do.

For example: My rabbi, who has a German ancestral background, has a Shabbos tradition of washing before saying the blessing over not only the challah, but also the wine. So, one gets up, washes, comes back, and blesses the wine, then blesses the challah, and it's one fluid movement. His is the first house I've ever been at where such a tradition is observed, so the rebbetzin explained why! During Pesach, the children ask why the night is different than other nights, and during Pesach you bless the wine, wash, then bless the matzah. So, it makes sense to mix things up every other night of the year, no? Logical to me.

At any rate, here are a series of questions that I've derived from studying the haggadah (the text used during a Passover seder) and the OU Passover Guide. Feel free to answer, or simply to muse at my curiosities!

  • Why, during the seder, do we only toss water on each hand ONCE (as opposed to thrice)?
  • Why is red wine preferred for the seder? Why do people typically use red wine for the Shabbos wine, too?
  • Why should the drinking of each cup of wine and eating of the matzah/maror be completed within 4 minutes?
  • If my toaster oven is essentially free and clean of chametz, can it be koshered l'pesach and subsequently for the rest of the year? Every item ever cooked in it was cooked on a foil-covered baking pan? Thus can I kasher the baking pan without using a torch? I don't own a torch ...
  • What's the best material to use when covering fridge shelves?
  • As far as I'm concerned, Quinoa is legit l'pesach. Do you eat Quinoa on Pesach?
  • I'm confused about the restriction re: the whole "avoid chametz products" after Pesach issue. Does this mean I can't go to a grocery store owned by Jews (a chain, for example) and buy bread? Ever?
I'm stoked for a full week of FRESH veggies and fruit, though. My fridge will be filled with fresh goodies. Although ... how seriously do I need to sit and dig through my fresh goods in order to make sure they're kosher l'pesach. I mean, is the Bug Checker really necessary?