Shaving for Yom Ha-Atzmaut

Question: Is one obligated to shave before Yom Ha-Atzmaut (since there is a custom not to shave during the period of Sefirat Ha-Omer)?

 Answer: Yes, just as one shaves all year long to honor Shabbat, it is a mitzvah to shave in honor of Yom Ha-Atzmaut.  Obviously, if a person does not shave his beard at all, he does not do so, but if he generally does so for Shabbat, then he also shaves for Yom Ha-Atzmaut.  The same applies to getting a haircut.  Ha-Rav Yitzchak Nissim, former Chief Sefardic Rabbi of Israel, rules in Shut Yayin Ha-Tov (vol.2, Orach Chaim #11) that it is it is permissible to get a haircut and shave in order to honor the day based on various authorities who allow haircuts and shaving during Sefirat Ha-Omer for similar reasons.  For example, Ha-Rav Chaim Palagi (Sefer Moed Le-kol Chai siman 6, pg. 36) wrote that in his city of Izmir there were families who experienced miracles during Sefirat Ha-Omer and established them as days of joy and thanksgiving like Purim and cut their hair and shaved on them.  Ha-Rav Nissim therefore concludes that on a day when a miracle occurred during Sefirat Ha-Omer - like Yom Ha-Atzamaut - when the State of Israel was declared after 2000 years it is certainly permissible, and even a Mitzvah, to have a haircut and shave on that day (see also Ha-Rav Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, in Siddur Ga’al Yisrael for Yom Ha-Atzmaut p. 32, #13.  And Ha-Rav Shlomo Goren ruled that it was permitted for soldiers to have haircuts and shave on Yom Ha-Atzmaut as indicated in a Command of the General Staff of the Chief Rabbinate of Tzahal #34.0207 brought in Hilkhot Tzava of Ha-Rav Zechariah Ben Shlomo, p. 861).  The Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, Ha-Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, also gave permission to trim one's beard on this day (See Luach "Shana be-Shana" published by Heichal Shlomo, 5752, p. 145. For those who disagree, see Ha-Rav Ovadiah Hadaya in Shut Yaskil Avdi 6:10 #2 and Ha-Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in Nefesh Ha-Rav, p. 94).  I remember that some students once asked our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook, before Yom Ha-Atzmaut if it is permissible to shave for this day.  Our Rabbi did not answer.  Later he responded: "Tomorrow there will be an exam on your faces."  On Yom Ha-Atzmaut he saw that some students had been strict with themselves and had not shaved.  He said of them: "Their faces show their character" (Yeshayahu 3:9, i.e. they had not absorbed the true joy of the day). He added: When there is faith, there is joy, and when there is joy there are no halachic doubts.  How long will we speak out of both sides of our mouths (see Melachim 1 18:21)?!  Do we believe in the Revealed Redemption or not?!"

Q: When should one get a haircut or shave, since Erev Yom Ha-Atzmaut is Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Tzahal?


A: One should do so a little bit before the holiday begins.  For example, if Ma'ariv is at 7:00 PM, he should shave at 6:00 PM.

The Upright & Proper Gaon: Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Aharon Lichtenstein

A great Gaon has ascended on high.  He enlightened traditional Judaism for close to 60 years and directed those who were confused by the many evil winds which whirl around in our times.  He accomplished this in two ways.
1.    By the sheer force of his pure and courageous personality.  He was a man of truth, and everyone knew that what he said was what he thought.  He was a man who was not afraid to give his opinion and respected the opinions of others.  He was a man with a sensitive soul.  Anyone who gazed at him desired to be like him.  He was a true G-d-fearing person.  A person who learned Torah day and night.  He was in love with Torah learning.  He was humble and modest, without a drop of arrogance.  This Gaon did not want to be honored as a Torah scholar.  He dressed like everyone else and was clean-shaven like others.  It was once happened that he was on an airplane and received a pastry, but was in doubt as to its proper blessing.  The stewardess asked: Why aren't you eating?  He simply said: I do not know the blessing.  Sitting behind him was a new Baal Teshuvah with a long beard and Payot.  The stewardess said to Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Aharon Lichtenstein: Ask him, he will tell you…
He was a man who fulfilled what he thought, who left everything in order to make Aliyah because he felt that his place was here (even though his Rav and father-in-law, Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik held that it was perhaps better to remain there and teach American Jews.  See Nefesh Ha-Rav pp. 98-99.  But Ha-Rav Soloveitchik did not force his opinion on him since he never forced his opinion on anyone.  And Ha-Rav Lichtenstein followed this path and also did not force his opinion on others.  And so Rav Soloveitchik held that one should stay in America and spread Torah there but Ha-Rav Lichtenstein reached the decision that his place was here and he therefore made Aliyah).   And we can say about him that which was said about Chizkiyahu, King of Yehudah: A Sefer Torah was placed on his grave and they said: This one fulfilled that which is written in this (Baba Kama 17b).  In one word: A Tzadik.  A Tzadik in our times.  A Tzadik in our generation.
2. By adopting a philosophy with the foundation: "May the beauty of Yefet (the best of general culture) adorn the tents of Shem (Torah)" (Bereshit 9:27) (Megillah 9b) – which is close to what is called Modern Orthodox philosophy.  He totally understood the new world and its thought and strove to take from it the finest flour which could find its place within the tents of Torah.  And the meaning of "Torah" is the entire Torah, especially the method of his teacher, Ha-Rav Yosef Soloveitchik, and the refined Talmudic methodology of Reb Chaim Brisker.  And the meaning of the "finest flour" is the approach of humanism: the value of man, the thoughts of man, the feelings of man, the purity of man – as was said, in the tents of Shem.
He guided a person to be a person, and above this to be a Jew: loyal to the Land and State of Israel, and with devotion to the army - obviously within the proper proportion.
***
I – the lowly – did not merit to meet this great Gaon very often, but during the few times I sat near him during a gathering, I was struck by his gentleness, his integrity, the measured manner of his speech which flowed from his measured thought and his flight from superlatives and partisan outbursts.
I once merited receiving a phone call from him, at his initiative, and he told me that I should not be afraid to give my opinion even if others will insult and besmirch me.  I should stand firm and say what I think.  And it is proper to point out that the discussion was one in which his opinion was not exactly identical to mine.   
***
He stood on guard to protect true Judaism from the evil winds which whirl in every direction, from a lack of fear of Hashem, from empty religious fervor, from dangerous right-wing extremism and from excessive left-wing thought, etc.  He served as a stop sign and as a lighthouse.
This great man has been extinguished but his light has not, and will continue to enlighten traditional Judaism.


May his soul be bound up in the bonds of the living with all of the great Tzadikim and Geonim. 

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #293

Found Object
Q: I saw a coin on the street and went to pick it up.  My friend saw what I was doing, pushed me aside and picked it up for himself.  To whom does the coin belong?
A: To him.  Seeing an object does not acquire it.  Baba Metzia.  But he violated "Love your fellow as yourself."

Wedding Ring on Credit
Q: Is it permissible for a groom to buy the bride's wedding ring on credit?
A: Most authorities permit it, but it is proper to be strict and either put some money down or, if paying in installments, to make the first payment before the wedding.  Otzar Ha-Poskim #80.

Tzahal Uniform
Q: Based on the law that one must daven in clothing that one would wear when standing before a king, is it permissible to daven in a Tzahal uniform?
A: Certainly.  This may be the most honorable clothing we have.  And see Shut Avnei Yespeh 8:29 #5 (It is related that when Ha-Rav Shear Yashuv Cohain [current Chief Rabbi of Haifa] was serving as a Rabbi in the Army, he came to his wedding in Yerushalayim wearing his Tzahal uniform. Some people there did not look upon this positively. Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook was surprised by their reactions, "Wearing the clothing of a Russian nobleman - this is appropriate?! But wearing the uniform of Tzeva Haganah Le-Yisrael - the Israel Defense Force - this is not appropriate?!" (Tal Chermon – Moadim, p. 135).

Reusing stamps
Q: The postal service in America crosses lines through the stamps on a letter to show that it was processed and therefore may not be reused.  But sometimes there are no lines through the stamps.  Can you reuse them?
A: It is certainly forbidden.  Ha-Rav Menashe Klein - the Ungvarer Rav - in Shut Mishneh Halachot (6:288) wrote that a stamp is how a Government charges a person for the service provided of delivering mail.  If a Government has - as does the Government of the United States - equal laws for all of its citizens, the laws of "Dina De-Malchuta Dina" (the law of the land is the law) apply.  Therefore, it is certainly forbidden to reuse a stamp, as the law states that you must pay a fee for sending a letter through the post office (Ha-Rav Klein also relates that when the Chafetz Chaim sent a letter through a messenger instead of through the mail, he would rip up a stamp.  Ha-Rav Klein says that there is no halachic or legal obligation to act this way, and the Chafetz Chaim did so in his great holiness and righteousness).

Beit Shammai in the Future
Q: I have heard that in the times of the Messiah, the Halachah will not follow Beit Hillel as it does now (Berachot 36b, Beitza 11b and Yevamot 9a), but will follow Beit Shammai.  Why?
A: This idea is written in the works of the later Kabbalists, but it does not appear in the Gemara or in the Zohar.  Nonetheless, we must understand that Beit Shammai discusses the future, in which the reality of our world will be more appropriate to the stringent positions of Beit Shammai.  Beit Hillel held positions more compatible with our current world.

Radio on Shabbat
Q: What should one do if the radio accidently turns on on Shabbat, and the neighbors can hear it?
A: Do not turn it off.  Put something over it like a blanket.  If it is not digital, turn the volume dial down in an unusual way.

Mayim Achronim
Q: Is there an obligation to wash "Mayim Achronim" (after eating)?  What about women?

A: There is an obligation if one's hands are not totally clean in order to recite the blessing after eating with clean hands.  The same applies for women (Shut She'eilat 1:111).

Standing in Silence during the Siren for Yom Ha-Shoah and Yom Ha-Zikaron

Question: Is it permissible to stand in silence during the siren on Yom Ha-Shoah and on Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers of Tzahal?
Answer: Some say that it is forbidden on account of "Chukot Ha-Goyim" (following the practices of the non-Jews). This is not "Chukot Ha-Goyim." The Tosafot (Avodah Zarah 11a) define "Chukot Ha-Goyim" as an act rooted in idol worship or devoid of meaning and the Maharik (#88) says that it has a taint of heresy. But it is permissible to do something which non-Jews do if it does not have roots in idol worship and is logical, such as doctors wearing white coats or wearing glasses. Standing in silence for the Shoah or for fallen soldiers is therefore not considered "Chukot Ha-Goyim," since it is to honor them. Furthermore, there are no other nations in which the entire nation stands in silence for a tragedy or for fallen soldiers. 
Others claim that this act is "Bitul Torah" (taking time away from learning Torah). But there is no problem to think about Torah or learn Torah by heart related to the self-sacrifice during that time.
I once saw in the name of the Kabbalist, Ha-Rav Ashlag, that the siren has an aspect of wiping out the memory of Amalek similar to making noise upon hearing Haman's name. If this is so, then there is certainly no problem. It is difficult to agree or disagree since it is not clearly exact how this wipes out the memory of Amalek.

Regardless, the entire community stands in silence for the Holocaust or for fallen soldiers and one should not separate himself from the community. There are certainly better paths in our traditions for remembering the deceased – learning Mishnayot, reciting "Kel Maleh Rachamim," etc… - but here one should not separate from the community.

It Once Happened with Rabbi…in Bnei Brak: Eulogy for Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Shmuel Ha-Levi Wozner ztz"l

[On Motza'ei Shabbat-Yom Tov, Rav Aviner heard of the passing of this great Rav, whom he greatly respected. He immediately
dictated the following eulogy.  Mordechai Tzion]

Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Shmuel Ha-Levi Wozner Ztz"l ascended on high at the onset of the holiday of Pesach.
For more than 100 years, Ha-Rav Wozner enlightened the skies of his devoted, pure and holy followers.
This Torah giant's spirit permeated three areas:
1.    Paskening Halachah. He was a great Posek in every realm of the Torah.  One could ask him any question and he would give a halachic ruling.
2.    The Zichron Meir Neighborhood in Bnei Brak, of which he was the Rav.  He was a leader, educator and one who spiritually directed and elevated others.
3.    The Yeshiva of Chachmei Lublin, where he served as Rosh Yeshiva The Yeshiva was named after the Yeshiva in Lublin where Ha-Rav Wozner merited learning in his youth under Rabbi Meir Shapiro.  He also merited seeing the Rogachover when he came to Vienna and recited the blessing of "Blessed is He who apportioned from His wisdom to those who fear Him" (Shut Shevet Ha-Levi 10:13 #3).
And this Torah scholar was not a lone sun but kindled many lights, many great lights, raised many students, who were themselves great Torah scholars, great Poskim.  And he established various Batei Din.
As mentioned, he was a giant in Paskening Halachah.  His Shut Shevet Ha-Levi, 11 volumes - 11 are the stars - deals with every area of Halachah including modern technology.  And these are not even all of his rulings – a number of them were never published.  Rav Wozner said in the name of the Da'at Sofer, in the name of the Chatam Sofer, that Halachic authorities are often required to make rulings in extenuating circumstances or after-the-fact [Diava'ad] based on a combination of halachic principles, and this is considered a sort of temporary ruling [Hora'at Sha'ah].  Such a ruling is in the realm of Oral Torah, and we must therefore be extremely careful not to turn it into Written Torah, i.e. it should not become a permanent ruling – thus it should not be published (Brought in his name in Shut Chayei Ha-Levi of Ha-Rav Yochanan Segal Wozner, Av Beit Din of Skverer Chasidim in Montreal, Introduction to Volume 6).
He was also an extreme Charedi, even more so than the Chazon Ish, who related to secular Jews as "Tinokot She-Nishbu" - Jews who did not receive a proper Jewish upbringing and education.  He greatly praised the Satmar Rebbe and his book "Va-Yoel Moshe" and some of his sons are Satmar Rabbis.  He did not participate in Israeli elections.
We must understand, however, that his harsh rebuke against secular Jews and the State of Israel was rebuke out of love, and at times had the value of protecting the Nation and State of Israel.  His strong words were in the category of "revealed rebuke and hidden love".
And this is what Maran Ha-Rav Kook said to his student Ha-Rav Dr. Moshe Zeidel, who was upset with the Charedi criticism. He responded that the Charedim, who are opposed to Zionism from the depths of the purity of their spirit, aid in removing much of its negative tendency and will thus allow it to reach its royal potential (Igrot Re'eiyah 3:156).
And in general, Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook taught us the meaning of the Mishnah in Piskei Avot (6:6): "One who carries the burden with his fellow" – that Torah scholars are required to carry the burden together, even if there are differences of opinion, since the shared burden of Torah is greater than that which separates us (classes on Kinyan Ha-Torah).
Therefore, we must understand that this Torah giant does not only belong to Bnei Brak or to a small group of Chasidim or Charedim. He spread his light to the entire Nation of Israel. 
He ascended on high but his Torah is eternal and will continue to enlighten our lives for future generations.

May his soul be bound up in the bonds of the living with all of the great Tzadikim and Geonim. 

How to do your Pesach Cleaning Cheerfully in Less than One Day

Going away for Pesach
If you are going away for Pesach and will not be at home during the entire holiday, you can be lenient and not clean for Pesach.  You should sell all of the Chametz (leaven) in the house, including all of the crumbs -- but not just the crumbs on their own, because that would have no halachic value.  It is possible, however, to sell the food in the cabinets and closets including the "Chametz dirt."  If someone is staying in your house, you need to clean the rooms which will be used.  The remaining unused rooms must be closed off with tape, and you must sell any Chametz that is in them.

There is still the question of how to fulfill the Mitzvah of Bedikat Chametz (the search for leaven).  If you arrive at your Pesach destination by the fourteenth of Nisan, perform the search there.  If you arrive on the morning of the fourteenth, you should clean well and check a small room, i.e. the entrance way and not sell the Chametz in that room.  You must also perform the search for Chametz, with a blessing, in the rooms in which you will live during Pesach - if no one else has done so.

Chametz smaller than a "Kezayit" (the volume of an olive)
Chametz which is less than a "Kezayit" may obviously not be eaten, but it is not included in the Torah prohibition of "Bal Yeira'eh" and "Bal Yimatzeh" (Chametz may not be seen or found on Pesach – Shemot 12:19, 13:7) (Responsa Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:145).  Regarding the Mishnah Berurah's statement (Sha'ar Ha-Tziun 451:6) that Chametz which can be seen is included in the prohibition of "Chametz She-Avar Alav Ha-Pesach" (using Chametz that has spent Pesach in a Jew's possession) -- the fact is that if it was included in the sale of Chametz, there is no problem (see Mishnah Berurah 142:33 and Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim 117:15).  A "Kezayit" is 27 cubic centimeters - 3 centimeter square or a little over a square inch.  Usually, only rooms in which children are allowed to bring sandwiches or cookies are likely to contain such big pieces of Chametz.  A room in which people do not walk around with food does not need to be cleaned at all.  Incidentally, you must take care not to hide pieces of Chametz which are larger than a "Kezayit" before "Bedikat Chametz," in case one of the pieces should get lost.  That way, you do not find them, you will not need to bother much to hunt for them, and you can rely on the "Bittul Chametz" (declaring Chametz ownerless) that you do after the search (Responsa Yechaveh Da’at 5:149).

Bedikat Chametz
Start "Bedikat Chametz" in a place where Chametz was used, so the blessing will apply to it.  Only search for Chametz in places in which there is a reasonable chance of finding it.  It is nearly impossible for Chametz which is a square inch to be hidden inside a book!  If there is a chance that the book has Chametz in it, then it must be thoroughly checked. Most books, however, do not need to be cleaned or checked. Cleaning and checking a sample is sufficient. It is customary not to place books that have not been checked for Chametz on the table during Pesach.  Everybody knows their kids' habits. Peek, and open here and there.  Regarding crumbs in the corners of the house: 1. They are not a "Kezayit."  2. They are inedible to a dog.  If there is bread behind a cabinet in an unreachable place, nobody will get to it on Pesach and it is as if it is buried -- just as you do not have to search under stones or under the house's foundations, since nobody will take Chametz from there.  

Educating Children
If you want to do a spring cleaning, this is certainly possible, but not before Pesach – this is not the appropriate time.  Pesach vacation is for taking trips, playing with the kids, being happy, dancing and preparing stories for the Seder.  A woman works hard all year long: "They enslaved the Jewish women with back-breaking work" (play on Shemot 1:13).  If the husband is on vacation too, this may be a good time to leave him with the kids, and give the wife a vacation!  That is what vacation is for – not for working like a donkey and scraping floors.  You can take trips, enjoy yourself, and arrive at the Seder rested in order to make a beautiful Seder and inspire the children.  If a woman wants to work like a donkey, and be a kind of slave, she is permitted to do so, but it is not good educationally.  She should be free in order to play with the kids.  We left the slavery of Egypt, and it was not to enter into our own slavery!  We do not have anything against house cleaning, but you should spread it out over the course of the year – each few months clean another room.  This is not the time for projects of cleaning and arranging.  In any event, when the Seder arrives there will still be disorder and cleaning that has not been completed.

If a woman is happy with suffering, she is allowed and it subtracts from the suffering of "Gehinom": Any suffering in this world is deducted from the suffering of "Gehinom."  If someone desires, this it is legitimate, but not before Pesach.  The month of Nissan is a happy month.

Husband's Help
Question: Does a husband have to help his wife?
Answer: A husband does not have to help his wife nor does a wife have to help her husband.  Rather, the two of them have to clean together since this is a shared home, and theirs is a shared life as well.

Children's Clothes
There may be cookies in your kids' pockets. Even the crumbs must be removed, since a child may put his hand into his pocket and then into his mouth.  You only have to check the clothes you will be wearing that season.  It is unnecessary to check any clothes that are put away and will not be worn now, such as winter clothes.

Question: Is it possible to simply wash them in a washing machine?
Answer: Running the clothes through a washing machine will not necessarily get rid of all of the crumbs.  The clothes must be checked.

Toys
Toys must also be checked.  However, you may put some or all of the toys away, and buy new toys as a present for the holiday!  This serves a double purpose of saving work and making the children happy.

Bathroom Cabinets
These may contain Chametz, such as wheat germ oil and alcohol derived from wheat.  What a waste to clean it.  Close and tape the cabinets and include it in the sale of Chametz.

Couches
You have to check between the pillows.  It is an interesting experience to find lost objects.

Books
There is no need to clean them, just do not put them on the table on which you eat.  The custom is not to check books for the crumbs that remain in them, but to rely of the nullification (Haggadah Chazon Ovadiah of Ha-Rav Ovadiah Yosef, p. 21).  Clean the books which you will want to read at the table on Pesach, or clean a few books for Pesach.

Dining Room
You do not have to clean everything, just the place where people eat, i.e. the chairs and the table.
Chairs: If the chairs are clean, there is no need to clean them.  If the kids throw cereal or other things on them and they do not look clean, clean them with a wet rag.
Table: There are two options: 1. Kashering with boiling water.  2. Covering with several layers of plastic and cloth tablecloths.

High Chair
If it is plastic, it may be immersed in a tub with boiling water and cleaning agents. Clean the cracks with a stiff brush. It is unnecessary to take the chair apart, because whatever is in the cracks and holes is inedible to a dog.

Kitchen
This room must be thoroughly cleaned and not one crumb of Chametz left. A crumb is not nullified even in a thousand times its volume. 

Dishwasher
It is preferable not to Kasher a dishwasher. You can do the dishes by hand as in previous generations.  It is also possible to use disposable dishes.  

Question: Is it at all possible to clean a dishwasher?
Answer: It is possible, but it is a lot of work; there are a lot of rubber parts and connections.

Oven
If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, it is best not to Kasher it. Seal the oven and buy baked goods or buy a "wonder-pot" which allows you to bake on a stove.

Stove
Grates: Clean and cover the grates with as much aluminum foil as possible.  Use aluminum foil that is thick enough not to tear, but thin enough to bend and shape.  What a waste of time and effort!  The best thing is to use special Pesach burners.
Burners: There is no need to clean them; they get burned up in the course of use. Bottom Pan (where everything falls): In general, if some food falls into it, we do not pick it up, and it is considered "treif;" nevertheless, put aluminum foil on it. 
Knobs: Wipe them clean.

Refrigerator
Clean it, but it does not have to be a lot of work. Of course, defrost the freezer (if you have an older model which does not defrost automatically) and clean it. It is best to eat up all Chametz before Pesach, but if expensive Chametz food products are left over, i.e. frozen foods, they may be wrapped up well, labeled "Chametz," stored in the back of the freezer/refrigerator and included in the list of Chametz sold before Pesach.  

If you have an old refrigerator with cracks or crevices in the door which is difficult to clean, do not use its inner shelves, but cover them with plastic. Similarly, you must clean the door's rubber part well. If it is old, sometimes it is easier to replace it.

Food Pantry
Do not clean.  It is a waste of time.  Seal, put sign or sticker not to use and include it in sale of Chametz.

Cabinets of dishes, utensils, pots and pans
Dishes, shelves, and drawers that will not be used on Pesach may be sealed, and need not be cleaned.  There are those who are strict to clean even the things which are used for Chametz, but one can be lenient on account of three reasons, each of which would be enough:
1. We sell all the crumbs together with the sale of Chametz.
2. The dishes are clean -- nobody puts a dirty dish away in the cabinet.
3. Even if there is "Chametz dirt," it is definitely less than a "Kezayit."
By the way, sometimes it is easier to paint than to clean. You can paint the corner of the kitchen where food flies using a water-based paint and the gas grates using aluminum paint. 

Microwave
It can be Kashered by not using it for twenty-four hours, cleaning it for five minutes and boiling water in it for half an hour. All food cooked or baked in it on Pesach should be placed in a covered utensil.

Counters  
It is possible to cover them with thick aluminum foil, and then there is no need to Kasher them at all; just wipe them with a rag. Sometimes it is complicated to cover, and then one can Kasher it. Where there are holes, pour floor bleach in them and then pour water from an electric kettle which is still boiling.  It is good for two people to do this: One to pour and the other to unplug.

Sink
Regarding the kitchen sink, there are a few solutions:
1. Do not put anything into the sink on Pesach, and wash the dishes in the air.  This, however, is unrealistic.
2. Put a plastic bin inside. Just make sure there is still a direct flow down the drain.
3. Thoroughly clean and Kasher the sink like the counters.

Toaster
It is impossible to clean a toaster, but there is no need. Put it in the cabinet of sold Chametz. 

Mixer
You have to do "Hagalah" (Kashering by dropping into boiling water) for the bowl and blades. As for the body of the mixer, wrap it in plastic -- making sure not to block the air holes. The best thing is to buy a cheap hand-mixer for Pesach.

Kashering dishes
This is a tremendous amount of work. It is preferable to buy new dishes.  True, it is expensive, so buy a few things each year. As for pots, it is possible to buy cheap aluminum ones which are okay for just seven days. There are cheap plastic plates as well as cheap cutlery.

Car
You have to clean it. Take out the mats and gather the "Chametz dirt" – there is no need for a vacuum cleaner -- and clean the compartments and containers. There is no need to pour water or dismantle the seats. In general, there is no need to dismantle anything with screws. Any way you look at it -- if the Chametz is accessible, you can take it out without a screwdriver, and if it is not accessible, it will not come out on Pesach either.

Chumrot - Being Strict
If you know that you are being stricter than Halachah requires, and you choose to be strict, you deserve a blessing.  And if you accepted a stricture on yourself and now you want to stop, the way to do that is to do "Hatarah" (getting the vow annulled). But if you thought that a particular act was the actual Halachah, and now you realize it is a stricture, you do not need a "Hatarah."  If you have a strong desire to clean a lot, you deserve a blessing, especially for Pesach, "whoever is strict deserves a blessing."  You should not, however, force a stricture on yourself, but accept it with love.  

Summary
In light of what is written above, it should take about an hour for the dining room, two-three hours to Kasher the kitchen, and another hour to clean the rest of the house. In short, about one day!

All the rest of the cleaning jobs are either strictures or just made up.  When we work hard, we use up our energy and get mad at the kids. You have to educate the kids -- but not to educate them to be aggravated: "I told you not to go into this room anymore! Why did you go in?! Eat on the porch! Eat standing up! Don't touch!" The whole kitchen looks like it was overturned by vandals; the husband and kids are trembling in fear in some corner and eating; the mother looks at them like a drill sergeant; there's anger between husband and wife. This is preparation for Pesach?! This is educating the kids?  This is definitely not setting a positive example!  Our memories of Pesach should not be of a reign of terror.

If you clean together with the kids, that is great, but it must be a happy adventure.  First of all, you have to clean what you must – taking half a day – and after that if you want to do other things, you can clean with happiness and joy.  Clean, sing, pour water and "you will clean with joy from the wellsprings of salvation" (based on Yeshayahu 12:3).

The Rama rules in the Shulchan Aruch: "Every person should sweep his room before Bedikat Chametz, and check his pockets for Chametz, and the pockets or cuffs where you sometimes put Chametz also need to be checked" (Orach Chaim 433:11) The Mishnah Berurah (#46) adds: "It is the custom to sweep the whole house on thirteenth of Nisan, so that it will be ready to check immediately after nightfall on the fourteenth."  This custom is enough. Beyond that, "whoever is strict deserves a blessing" -- as far as Pesach goes, but not as far as the kids go.

It is understood that I am not forcing my opinion on anyone.  I am simply stating my humble opinion with explanations.  Whoever accepts the explanations will listen and whoever does not accept them will not.  I heard most of the practical suggestions about how to shorten the cleaning from women themselves.  It is possible that a woman has a strong desire not to shorten this work, and just the opposite, she finds joy in it.  That is okay.  Even she will benefit from all of the above, because she will not feel pressured that she might violate the Halachah, but rather she will clean with satisfaction and tranquility.

The essential point is the distinction between Chametz, which there is an obligation to clean with all the severity of the Halachah, and dirt – which should obviously be removed, but not necessarily before Pesach.  You can spread out the work of removing dirt over the whole year, so that we and our families do not suffer before Pesach.  I am not advocating poor housekeeping.  We should stand before Chametz with awe and fear, but not all dirt is Chametz.  Do not treat Chametz cavalierly, G-d forbid, but at the same time, not everything that is accepted as Pesach cleaning is directed at Chametz.

Have a kosher and happy Pesach.  We should ensure that we have a HAPPY Pesach and a KOSHER Purim (!).  We should arrive at the Seder night neither tired nor aching but happy, so that this night will be a powerful experience for the kids, and a great source of faith in Hashem, the Redeemer of Israel.


"Dirt is not Chametz and children are not the Pesach sacrifice!"

Short & Sweet - Text Message Q&A #292

Eliyahu Ha-Navi
Q: Does Eliyahu Ha-Navi appear in our times in the form of a regular person?
A: No.  Eliyahu Ha-Navi only reveals himself to the holiest of individuals (see the book Chayei Olam, chap. 30, where Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski records many places in the Gemara, Yerushalmi, Midrash, holy books and among great Rabbis where Eliyahu revealed himself).

King Shlomo and Chess
Q: Is it true that King Shlomo invented Chess?
A: This is only a story.  See the book "Otzar Yisrael" of Rav Eizenstein, entry on chess.

Prayer for Captured and Missing Soldiers
Q: Should we add Jonathan Pollard's name into the prayer for captured and missing soldiers?
A: Certainly.  He is a great hero who displayed self-sacrifice for the sake of the Nation of Israel.

Younger Child
Q: Why does the younger child favored a preference in the Tanach?  For example, Kayin and Hevel, Yishmael and Yitzchak, Esav and Yaakov, Leah and Rachel, Menashe and Ephraim, David and his brothers, etc.
A: One gains favor through his efforts, not through his relative age.

Mermaid
Q: How do we relate to the Gemara in Bechorot (8) which discusses a fish that is half human?
A: It does not say that such a creature exists, but only what would in theory be the law if it did (see Netivot Olam, Netiv Ha-Torah, Netiv 14.  And the book “Be’er Ha-Golah”).

Learning the Satmar Rebbe's Books
Q: Does one receive the reward for learning Torah when learning the Satmar Rebbe's books?
A: Certainly.

Picture without Permission
Q: Is it permissible to take someone's picture without his permission?
A: Certainly not.  You must be sure that he agrees (Shut Mishneh Halachot 4:114.  See, however, Shut Be-Tzel Ha-Chochmah 4:85.  There is a famous picture of Maran Ha-Rav Kook sitting in an arm chair, which was taken when he was in London during the First World War without his knowledge. At the moment it was taken he was waiting for a Brit Milah to take place.  The photographer later came to Maran Ha-Rav, brought him the picture and said: Although I brazenly took his Honor's picture without his permission, I now request a favor from Ha-Rav: please allow me to publish this picture as a source of livelihood.  Maran Ha-Rav responded with a smile on his face: Isn't it an explicit verse in the Torah [Shemot 21:16]: "One who steals a man and sells him"!  Maran Ha-Rav Kook ztz"l of Ha-Rav Z.A. Rabiner, pp. 110-111).

Merits and Demerits
Q: It is written that if a man speaks Lashon Ha-Ra his merits are transferred to the person he spoke Lashon Ha-Ra about and that person's demerits are transferred to him.  Is this correct?
A: Yes.  It is in the book "Chovot Ha-Levavot", brought in the Chafetz Chaim's "Shemirat Ha-Lashon," and is also found in the Zohar.

Pre-Natal Testing
Q: Should one have pre-natal testing or is it preferable to trust in Hashem?

A: Trusting in Hashem is only where Hashem explicitly informed you that He will take care of you without you having to exert any effort.  He did not say such a thing in this area, and He commanded that one should follow the instructions of doctors (see Rabbi Avraham ben Ha-Rambam, Ha-Maspik Le-Ovdei Hashem, Sha'ar Ha-Bitachon.  Kovetz Teshuvot of Ha-Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv vol. 1).