Last night my folks brought up a very interesting point about Passover: Once we’ve cleaned the entire house, and put away all the leaven and the chometz dishes, the last thing we do the night before the holiday is we go around the house and set out more pieces of bread for the traditional search for leftover leaven.
So we’ve got this nice clean house, and here we are putting bread crumbs everywhere. I had never thought of the search in quite that light before.
What do you do about this conundrum? How do you set out pieces of bread, when you’ve just finished cleaning the house of all bread?
When I look for leaven, I usually find it in little foil envelopes that say Flieschman’s, but then I’m a Protestant smart-ass.
Serious question: are you one to cauterize the kitchen shelves? I understand the tradition of ridding the house of yeast, but I can see doing some serious damage, if not starting a fire, playing with a blowtorch…
I have a self-propelled Electro-Magneto LeavenDetector™ that I set loose to search out and eradicate any remaining slices of bread that escape visual inspection. The scorch marks are the only things left behind.
Seriously, I personally don’t do much. I try not to keep bread around to tempt me and usually rely on willpower. It’s worked fairly well in past, but this year I may break down just so my leftover lunch meat doesn’t spoil.
Other friends of mine that are more frum have described the lengths they go to, things like searching inside books. I’ve never heard of using a blowtorch for leaven cleansing.
No wonder I found you two so adorable at Dopefests–you’re both nice Jewish boys.
On the fighting ignorance front; can some one explain this to me? I think that I get the part about the yeast (leavening?) as part of the Passover tradition of what was eaten that night (there are bitter herbs as well, right?) but what is this business about putting more bread around and then looking for it (I am picturing some sort of an Easter egg hunt or something, but I just don’t know). Also, what are chometz dishes? And further, what’s this business about burning cabinets?
I’m unclear on this as well. I thought you ate the unleavened bread because that’s all there was because you were getting the bum’s rush. So now you can get leavened bread, so why do you hide it all over the house and why on earth would you torch it if you find it? I find the Jewish traditions to be quite fascinating, but I’ll be damned if I can remember it all. There’s just so many of them!
Chometz is the Hebrew word meaning “leavened bread,” and generally any food or utensil that is not cleaned for Passover. Contrast with matzah, which means “unleavened bread,” or a cracker-type food with the taste and texture of cardboard.
Preparations for Passover include removing every last crumb of leaven from the house, and then a candlelight search to make sure we got all of it. Since it’s very bad form to say a blessing without purpose, and the search starts with a blessing for removing leaven, it is an ancient tradition to place some bread about the house to be “found.”
Family traditions covering the details of the search will vary. In my family, the bread has to be directly visible, must be reachable by the searchers, must not cause a fire hazard, and cannot be mixed in with the Passover stuff.
The blowtorch joke comes from the point that some materials are easy to clean of leaven, and take just a good scouring; some are hard to work with, and have to be purged (ie. metal has to be heated until it glows, or until water boils over it); and some are too porous to properly clean for Passover (such as anything made of wood – purging such items would result in the item being destroyed).
After you remove it and do the religious traditions, can you bring it back in? Like, can you just put it in the garage until the holiday is over?
How would you deal with the toaster?
I’m not Jewish, so I may not have the proper take on the yeast thing, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
As I understand the traditions, part of Passover is a ritual housecleaning to rid the place of yeast, both raw/wild, and any baked goods. Part of this is hiding bread or bead crumbs so you have something to clean up (in my apartment, the couch would be the only place you need to look).
My wife’s old boss is Jewish, and the family would take a blowtorch to the kitchen cabinets to cauterize them for yeast. I have no clue regarding their origin. I can see the logic, but at the same time, Pine-sol would kill the yeast just as well, and wouldn’t burn down the house.
scott evil said the same thing. Seriously, what is the attraction?
Not according to Orthodox tradition. Any chametz in your posession, including your car, office, garage, whatever, must be removed before the start of Passover. For less observant Jews, what they do can vary greatly.
Hmmm… good question. You’d have to clean it very thoroughly regardless of whether you were planning to use it during Passover. Most matzah won’t fit in a toaster anyway, but a toaster oven you could re-kasher for Passover, or just cover the cooking surfaces.
Not in the Conservative tradition either. We may not eat leavened foods or own any leavened foods or utensils from mid-morning before Passover until the conclusion of Passover, a period of about 8 1/3 days. (There is, however, a loophole: Anything that could not be disposed of is sold off, along with the cabinet, room, or floor space where it resides, until the conclusion of the festival.)
In my family, we always treated a toaster as incapable of being cleaned for Passover, largely due to its function. Av8rmike is also correct, a toaster (or toaster oven) can be cleaned and purged just like an oven or stove.
Vunderbob, thanks for the report about someone actually using a blowtorch. Cauterizing a wood cabinet is needlessly strict IMHO ™; my upbringing is to wipe down the cabinets and change the shelf liners. (My personal practice is a bit lax in this regard, as I’ve never used my own cabinets for Passover until this year.)
Also, vunderbob, your understanding is pretty good. A major element of the Passover preparations is a thorough spring cleaning, followed by a ritual search to ensure that all leftovers from the previous year have been found and removed. The reason to hide some bread for the search is so that the ritual search is guaranteed to find bread, allowing the search to conclude the following morning by burning whatever was found. (Fire, good.)
I had a friend in college who sold me all of her leavened stuff for passover (it basically got stored in my dorm room, and I did eat her chocolate), and then I sold it back to her when passover was over. Except for the chocolate.