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Thought for the Day: Precision in Halacha, Especially for Pesach

One of the distressing aspects of parenting is seeing your own less than sterling traits reflected in your children.  Somehow when it comes to grandchildren, though, one of the great pleasures is seeing traits that you've actually worked to improve appearing in later generations.  My four year old granddaughter likes to sing and chant, but she feels no compunction to change lyrics when it makes sense.  She was chanting, "eenie meenie mini mo, catch a tiger by the toe, if he hollers... he is probably going to eat you."  Not only did she change the words to make more sense, she was also careful to note "probably"; after all, he might just be annoyed and not so hungry.

I have been asked why I over analyze things.  What things?  Oh, pretty much and and all things.  After much thought and careful analysis I have finally come up with an answer that seems to satisfy their curiosity.  I simply reply, "What do you mean over?"  They usually just walk away shaking their head; sometimes preceded by a brief (and hopeless) look of exasperation.

It was therefore only slightly tongue-in-cheek when I expressed concern about starting hilchos Pesach more than 30 days before Pesach.  Maybe, after all, it really does mean 30 days before Pesach and not before.  Before your eyeballs roll right out of their sockets, please have a look at the first Bi'ur Halacha on 429, d.h. sho'alin.  Among the top 10 longest discussions in a Bi'ur Halacha (I made that stat up, but it's probably correct).  The whole discussion is what is meant by that directive... what to learn, when to begin, how it applies to other holidays, etc.

How about b'dikas chameitz?  Needs to be done by candle light.  That's a wax candle, not a torch, not a tallow candle, not an oil candle; a wax candle (433:2).  A torch means more than one wick, even two candles held together.  A torch is no good because you can't get it into those cracks and crevices because of fear for catching your clothes on fire.  A tallow candle is not good because you don't want tallow dripping onto your clothes, so, again, you won't do a good b'dika.  An oil candle is not good because you'll be afraid the oil will pour out while your getting into those cracks and crevices; so, again, you won't do a good b'dika.  Are those recommendations or p'sak halacha?  After the fact, b'dika with tallow candle is fine (sk 9), with torch is no good and must be repeated (sk 8), with an oil candle is a matter of dispute (sk 10).  If you don't have a wax candle available at all, they are all acceptable (sk 11).  Flashlight?  Pretty much ok... (Dirshu)

All this analysis, and this is before Pesach to determine the kind of candle you can use to do a final check for chameitz in a house has been cleaned by any Jewish woman since Sara Imeinu!  Because you are dealing with the health of the neshama.  The long term health (or the opposite) of the eternal neshama is being established by a few short years of activity in this world.  The cancer I (and my family) suffered through was, according the the analysis of the medical community, due to a single errant cell that was predisposed to be cancerous since birth.

One tiny cell -- but a cell in the beginning stages of my development while still in the womb, could have killed me.  So we are careful, very careful, in halacha; especially for Pesach which represents our birth as a nation.


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