14 Mar PESACH QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: WITH RABBI MOSHE ELEFANT FROM THE OU
Must I use wine for the four cups, or may I use grape juice instead?
There are two schools of thought among the Poskim. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Hagaddah Kol Dodi 3:4) maintains that since Chazal insti-tuted the drinking of four cups of wine to feel a sense of freedom, grape juice should not be drunk. Although it has the halachic status of wine, it is not an alcoholic beverage, and one only feels a sense of freedom when drinking an alcoholic bever-age. (If there is the possibility that the person will be endangered by drinking the wine, grape juice may be used.) This was also the opinion of R’ Eliyashiv (Shvus Yitzchak, Peasch 10:2) and R’ Ben Tzion Abba Shaul (Ohr Letzion III, 15:4). However, the Chazon Ish (Hilchos Chag B’Chag, Chapter 19: fn. 24), the Brisker Rav and the Tchebiner Rav (Teshuvos VeHanhagos II, 243) held that it is unnec-essary to drink wine, and grape juice is acceptable. Indeed, these great Sages actually drank grape juice at the seder (ibid.). Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik as well drank grape juice for the last three cups. However, he insisted on drinking wine for the first cup (Kiddush) to satisfy the opinion of Rambam that one may not use cooked wine for Kiddush. Since grape juice is always cooked, he would only use non-mevushal wine for Kiddush. R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Pesach 9:11) explained that since grape juice has the halachic status of wine, one experiences freedom when drink-ing grape juice even though it is non-alcoholic. If one is ill and unable to eat any matzah at the Seder, is there any reason for them to buy matzah? Yes. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l writes that even if one cannot eat matzah, they must still place matzah in front of them when they recite the Haggadah. Matzah is referred to as “Lechem Oni” (literally poor man’s bread). Chazal explain the term “Oni” to refer to speech—it is bread in front of which we speak many words and ideas on the night of the Seder. Therefore, matzah should be placed on the Ke’ara (Seder plate) and uncovered for the recitation of Maggid. Additionally, Rav Auerbach writes that one who is unable to eat matzah at the Seder should study the halachos of matzah at the Seder. This is similar to what is discussed in the Gemara (Menachos 110a) regarding one who is obligated to bring a sacrifice but cannot do so. The way to compensate is by studying the halachos of that korban, and poskim apply this concept to other mitzvos as well (see Elya Rabba OC 300:1)
Can one kasher plastic bowls and utensils for Pesach?
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim II: 92) was asked whether it is permissible to kasher synthetic materials for Pesach. He writes that the Torah sets forth guidelines for kashering metal, wood and clay, but does not discuss new materials that were recently developed. Since we do not have any clear guidelines from the Torah or early poskim as to what they might have held regarding these new materials, we should not permit kashering them. However, many other poskim including Minchas Yitzchak (3:67), Chelkas Yaakov (Yoreh Deah 45), Tzitz Eliezer (4:6) and Rav Ovadya Yosef zt”l (Chazon Ovadya, Hilchos Pesach) were lenient, provided that the plastic will not melt or get ruined from the kashering process. However, if the plastic has scratches or cracks, it cannot be kashered. Many in America have the minhag to follow Igros Moshe and not to kasher plastic. However, if one does not know if that is their minhag, it is the position of the OU poskim that one may be lenient if there is a need.
The minhag of not mishing (eating out) during Pesach
based on everybody being very careful of what we eat and don’t eat on Pesach. Every-one has their own standards and they want to make sure everything is done properly and the way we do that is eating at home. It’s hard to have a conversation about going to a hotel on Pesach and then talking about not mishing; those are two extremes. There’s always the issue of shalom bayis and if your parents and in-laws are inviting you and they want to see you and your children, I’m not sure that it takes precedence over shalom bayis, especially if the standards that are being used where you’re invited are standards you are comfortable with. Being a religious Jew means being a thinking religious Jew, and being a thinking religious Jew means thinking of the consequences of what he does. So there could be a minhag of not mishing, and it could be a very worthwhile minhag, but it should not be at the price of shalom bayis or other such considerations
How do I kasher my granite countertops for Pesach?
Granite countertops are typically a solid slab of stone. Stone can be kashered as indicated in Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 451:8). Granite counters can be kashered even though a sealant is applied to the surface. The sealant is absorbed into the stone, and is not a chatzitza (barrier) to kasher-ing. How is kashering done? There is a general rule that kbol’o kach polto (in the same manner that the material absorbed, it must be kashered). Since it is possible that hot chametz was spilled on the counter, the kashering must be with iruy (pouring) of boiling water over the entire counter. The water can-not be poured on one area and allowed to flow to other parts of the surface; rather the water must be poured directly on each area of the counter. Mish-nah Berurah (451:114) adds that if hot bread was placed on the counter, iruy alone is insufficient. In such instances, a hot stone must be placed on the sur-face to raise the water temperature. The stone must be reheated several times, so that it continuously remains hotter than the boiling water.When using a hot stone, there is an interesting side benefit: as long as the heated stone follows after the water, the boiling water need not hit each spot directly. On a practical level, Rav Belsky, zt”l recommended that countertops should be covered and not kashered, as it is difficult to kasher counters cor-rectly and safely. In addition, if done properly with sufficient water to hit each area of the counter, the kitchen floor will probably be flooded.