By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
MONTH OF NISSAN
17. During the month of Nissan, we do not fast – not even for the yahrtzeit of a parent. We do not recite the prayer of Tachanun nor do we deliver eulogies at funerals. Also, the special funeral Kaddish is not said – only the regular Kaddish. All this is because most of the month is filled with days of kedushah – holiness. It may also be because the month of Nissan is when Mashiach will come.
18. There is an obligation that begins in the month of Nissan to ensure that all other members of our community have funds so that they can purchase matzah or flour for matzah. This obligation goes back to the time of the Gemara. Whoever does not give to this is considered as if he has spilled blood. According to the Mishnah Berurah, the Rema adds that there is a minhag to give them the flour itself. This minhag is to make obtaining matzah for them even easier. If one knows that his or her relative is poor, the relative is given funds before anyone else.
19. Figuratively, since matzah increases emunah, we should look to ensure that all other members of the community have what they need to increase their emunah.
20. During the month of Nissan, the blessing on fruit trees is recited. The blessing is: “BAH EMH shelo chaser beOlamo klum u’varah vo brios tovos v’ilanos tovos lehanos bahem bnei adam.” It may be recited on Shabbos or Yom Tov. Women recite this berachah, too. Ideally, it should be said in the company of two other people because of b’rov am hadras Melech and ideally it should be said before two trees. However, neither of these requirements is absolutely necessary.
21. There is a minhag not to eat matzah from Rosh Chodesh Nissan until Pesach itself. This refers only to kosher l’Pesach matzos. Chametz matzos are permitted. Some have the minhag not to eat matzah from 30 days before Pesach until the Yom Tov. All people, however, are forbidden to eat matzah on the day of Erev Pesach itself.
22. Shabbos HaGadol is the Shabbos that comes before Pesach. It is a minhag in Klal Yisrael to attend a shiur on this Shabbos that reviews the halachos of Pesach so that the holiday will be observed properly. The main reason that it is called Shabbos HaGadol is because of the great miracle that occurred then. We had the sheep which the Mitzrim worshipped. We were going to offer the sheep as a korban, and that Shabbos the Egyptians said nothing. This was a tremendous neis.
23. The Gemara in Bava Metzia 32a discusses the passuk that if one sees a friend with a heavy load, one should surely help him. Certainly then, morally and philosophically, if you see your parents cleaning for Pesach, you should certainly help them.
WHERE TO SEARCH
24. Chazal ordained that on the 14th of Nissan a search be conducted in all the chorim usedakim — all the holes and cracks. Figuratively, since Chometz represents the Yetzer HaRah, we should also look to eliminate any presence of the Yetzer HaRah within the holes and cracks of ourselves. This means, not just the obvious places, but even deep within our neshamos.
25. The Gemorah discusses the concept of Mapoles (Psachim 8b) — a dangerous wreckage, where there is no obligation to search for Chometz. It is said in the name of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l, that there is no obligation to move a heavy item in order to search for Chometz, just like the case of Mapoles.
26. From the strict halachic point of view there is no obligation to search for perurim — crumbs of chometz. However, Yisroel Kedoshim Haim — Jews are holy — and they clean their homes of all Chometz (MB 442:28).
27. There is no obligation to clean the back or front yard of your house because there is an assumption that the birds will eat the Chometz (MB 433:27). Even though this is a debate in the Poskim, we are lenient. However, if it is already the 14th if Nissan and the Chometz is still there, it should be cleaned.
28. The laundry room and stairwell of an apartment house or shared dwelling must be searched for Chometz. The obligation is incumbent upon all the tenants. Arrangements should be made that it be done in a thorough and fair manner.