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Parents with Bread

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Cleaning, Parents Won't, for Pesach

Anonymous from Jerusalem wrote:

I am living with my parents now and they do not keep mitzvot nor Shabbat nor the holidays. They are respectful but they just don't know and can't be bothered to learn.

Pesach is coming up. I am trying to arrange with them to go out to a kosher Hotel for the first two nights (including the Seder - hope that works out) but as far as cleaning for Pesach I don't know what to do. My parents may/may not want to clean up, and even if we try to, I'm convinced they will bring chametz [leaven] in at some point (knowingly or not).


Dear Anonymous,

The Torah prohibits owning chametz on Pesach. This is derived from the verse "Nothing leavened should be seen in your possession."

This prohibition applies only to chametz which you own. It does not apply to someone else's chametz -- even if it's in your house.

Assuming that your parents own (or rent) the house and assuming that all the chametz in the house belongs to them, then it is their responsibility to get rid of the chametz, not yours.

Of course, chametz which you personally own you have to get rid of before Pesach. Also, any of your personal belongings in which you might put chametz require a pre-Pesach search. For example, pockets and knapsacks should be checked for forgotten candy bars or half-eaten sandwiches.

But since you are a 'guest' in your parents home -- i.e., you have no ownership or legal rights over your room -- you wouldn't say the blessing when searching for chametz.

I spoke to Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlita, and he said that a child may stay at his parents home for Pesach even if they haven't removed their chametz.

The best scenario would be if you could agree with your parents to keep the house chametz-free. That way, your parents will be doing a mitzvah, and also, neither you nor your parents will accidentally eat any chametz. But this must all be done in a way that causes no friction between you and your parents and conveys no disrespect to them whatsoever.

You mentioned 'the first two nights' of Yom Tov. Since you live in Israel, you should consult a halachic authority concerning how many days of Yom Tov to observe.

Wishing you a Chag Kasher V'Somayach!

Sources:

  • Exodus 13:17, Tractate Pesachim 5b
  • Chayei Adam 119:18, Chok Yaakov Orach Chaim 436
  • After the Return, Rabbi Mordechai Becher and Rabbi Moshe Newman, p. 80

 
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