By Popular Request: If one needs to carry out the search of Chametz in one’s office or workplace and as a result of the widespread closures, one cannot gain access to these places, what should one do?
Answer: This question was asked of Hagaon Harav Ovadia Yosef Toledano Shlit”a (grandson of Maran zt”l) to which he responded that if one cannot go to one’s office to carry out the search for Chametz, one should rent out the office to a non-Jew and sell him all its Chametz contents. Indeed, Maran zt”l writes in his Chazon Ovadia-Pesach (page 51) that a room where Chametz is being stored and one intends to sell this Chametz to a non-Jew on Erev Pesach does not need to be searched on the night of the Fourteenth of Nissan since one plans on having it sold the next morning. He relies on the opinion of the Eshel Avraham of Botchach (Chapter 433) that any place which one intends to sell to a non-Jew does not require searching.
Rabbis the world over must make sure that people will have an opportunity to rent out their offices to a non-Jew before Pesach and to sell him all of the Chametz.
The Seder Night- Calmly and Pleasantly
The order for the first (and second, outside of Israel) night of Pesach, as arranged by the saintly Rashi, is, as follows: Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rochtza, Motzi-Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah.
If one is not that familiar with the laws of the Seder night and is planning on leading a Seder at home, it is appropriate to purchase a clear and elucidated Pesach Haggadah, such as the “Chazon Ovadia” Pesach Haggadah, and begin to review it from now so that by the time Pesach comes around, one will be able to lead the Seder correctly and with confidence. In this way, one will be able to have a positive impact on one’s family, especially on the Seder night whose main function is to teach one’s children and all those present about the great miracles Hashem performed for us during these days more than three-thousand years ago. These memories will be etched into the minds of those seated at the Seder for their entire lives. It is therefore incumbent upon the leader of the Seder to make sure everything is presented clearly and correctly.
Preparing the House
The house should be prepared as much as possible before the Seder night, including arranging the Seder table, chairs, and anything else related to the meal in the most beautiful manner possible. The more the table is decorated and adorned, the greater the fulfillment of the Mitzvah of conducting the Seder in the manner of free men is.
Indeed, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch mentions this law explicitly: “One should set the table with the most beautiful vessels one has and one should prepare one’s seat so that one can recline in a show of freedom.” The Mekubalim add that adoring the table and chairs in a beautiful manner adds great elements of sanctity to the Seder.
If the table is set during the day of Erev Pesach, before the holiday even begins, one fulfills this Mitzvah on a higher level, as Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch writes regarding Erev Shabbat (see Chapter 262). The great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a, writes in his Sefer Yalkut Yosef (Chapter 272) that preparing the Seder table earlier on in the day on Erev Pesach is an even greater Mitzvah as this is a manner of freedom comparable to great kings and officials for whom their meals are prepared and tables set long before their meal time.
Nevertheless, one should take the following idea into consideration. In general, the preparations for the Seder usually fall squarely on the shoulders of the matron of the house. There are those men who, in pursuit of their longing to prepare the Seder in a glorified manner, who have all sorts of criticisms to share with their wives for not having prepared the Seder table up to par with their expectations. This, in turn, causes strife and anger to reign supreme on the Seder night. It is such a shame that the night for which so much effort was exerted will be marred with an aura of sadness as a result of the head of the household’s anger and grievances, as even he probably meant well ultimately.
Thus, one must prepare one’s self mentally accordingly and even if one has constructive critisicm for one’s household that may indeed be correct or if the house is not prepared exactly as one had envisioned, nevertheless, one should remain silent and merely try to help as much as one can. The most important part of the Seder night is to be completely joyous, inside and out, and to gladden one’s family while leading them in a manner of freedom. The true manifestation of freedom is in one’s heart when one feels like a son of the King of all Kings and not in materialistic matters.
(We should point out that the great Rosh Yeshiva, Hagaon Harav Elazar Menachem Mann Shach zt”l, would prepare the Seder table and anything else that was necessary for the holiday on his own on Erev Pesach.)
The Seder Plate
One should prepare the Seder plate with the customary foods used during the Seder as explained in the Pesach Haggadah. One should try to make the Seder plate as beautiful as possible.
Charoset is a food prepared in commemoration of the mortar the Jewish nation would work with while enslaved in Egypt. It should therefore be prepared in a way that it is more solid so that it resembles mortar and not liquidy. Nevertheless, the Iraqi custom is to prepare “Hilk” which is made by squeezing boiling dates and adding some crushed walnuts and almonds on top. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l would use this himself for Charoset. The custom was present during the times of the Rambam and one should not disparage it since this concoction does somewhat resemble mortar.
One who wishes to prepare such Charoset nowadays can do so easily by taking natural “Silan” (date honey) under reliable Pesach supervision and adding some crush walnuts or almonds on top of it. This can be used to fulfill the Mitzvah in the most preferable manner.