There is a halacha that one should begin learning the laws concerning Pesach thirty days before the holiday actually begins. Since the laws are numerous, penalties for messing up are harsh (and since you can’t exactly start planning for Pesach the day before it starts), one must actually start thinking about the laws right after Purim.
Well, I missed a couple of days. There are now 29 days to go until the first day of the Festival of Matzah (counting today). But I would like to still do my part. So (bli neder) from today until the beginning of the holiday, I will mention one or two laws per day (with sources, and check with your local posek for any questions, yada yada. I will try to stick to the non-controversial stuff anyway).
Some abbreviations for citations
- MB = Mishna Berura
- SK = Se’if Katan
- EID = Halachos of Pesach, Rabbi Shimon Eider
- Any uncited numbers refer to a siman in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim.
So, without further ado:
(I’ll start off with two halachot for day 1)
1) One should inquire about the halachot of Pesach thirty days before the holiday starts (429:1). The source of this is that it was on the Pesach (15 Nissan) that Moshe taught about Pesach Sheini (14 Iyyar) (MB 429:1). Some say that this applies to all other holidays (Rashi, Tosafot, Magen Avraham), while others say that this only applies to Pesach (Beit Yosef).
2) There is a very old custom to buy wheat to give out to poor people (429:2 Rema) to help them bake matzah. This form of chairty is called Ma’ot Chittim. Nowadays, we generally give an amount of flour equivalent to the amount that a poor person will need for all of Pesach (MB 429:4) or with the funds necessary for a poor person to buy what they need for the holiday (EID 4). One is obligated join in this charity for the poor of one’s city if one has lived there for 12 months, or if one has decided to make his residence there (Rema).
(And now two for today)
3) On the night of the fourteenth of Nissan (which this year falls out on the evening of Tuesday, April 11, for those of you who use the Gregorian calender system) we check for Chametz, by the light of a candle, searching in holes and cracks or in any place where we might have brought Chametz (431:1). This includes places where you might not normally bring Chametz, but you still bring it there occassionally (MB 431:4).
4) One should not begin any activity or eat anything before checking for Chametz. This includes learning Torah (and even if it is a set time for learning) (431:2). If you were already learning when the time for time for checking came, some say that you do not have to stop (Shulchan Aruch) adn some say that you do have to stop (Rema).
Remember to see a competant Halachic Authority if you have any questions about what I wrote (and let me know if I messed up).