From the Desk - Eilat
Shalom Friends! I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to you from a Rabbinic Conference in New Jersey where I have been for the last couple of days, benefiting from hours of excellent sessions on sermons, life-cycle events and pastoral training. I am grateful to Beth Ora for supporting my professional development and I look forward to putting much of what I have learnt into practice in my work in our community. We are looking forward to our forthcoming Shabbaton and will be letting you know details very soon! Before that happens, we do of course have something small called Passover! In the spirit of the tradition that we should learn about the festival in the weeks beforehand, I’d like to add a few lines about a question that arises for those who are going away on Passover. You can find this below, just before our regular ‘What’s the Deal with’ section. In the meantime, we wish you a good Passover preparation and we look forward to seeing ever increasing numbers of people back at synagogue as the temperature rises (sort of!) and people return from Florida! Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
I am going on vacation for Passover. Do I need to clear out or sell the chametz that I leave in my home? Everybody knows that we are not allowed to eat chametz on Passover. Not quite as many people know that there is another chametz-related prohibition – we are not allowed to own chametz on Passover. A person going on vacation may think that there is nothing wrong with leaving chametz in their home in Montreal – there is no way he will eat it or even see it. But that’s wrong. Because the person still owns the chametz. The same thing applies if you are staying in Montreal for Passover but also own a home in, say, Sainte-Agathe or Florida. Any chametz in your second home is also in your possession. So, what should you do? Obviously, one thing you can do is to destroy any chametz that you own. In many cases, this is more easily said than done and it’s not such an attractive option if you have a particularly nice bottle of Johnny Walker that you don’t fancy pouring down the drain! So what you should do is sell the chametz. The sale has to be done in a halachically acceptable way and this is, of course, a service that we offer in the synagogue. There are two more things you should bear in mind.
If you are going on vacation for Passover to a different time zone, make sure you inform the rabbi so that he can arrange the sale prior to the time at which the prohibition begins in the place where you will be.
If you are leaving your home within thirty days prior to Passover, you should do a final chametz search with a candle the night before you leave. Please note that, unless you are doing this on the night before Passover, you do not say a blessing before doing this search.
What’s the Deal with… Eilat? I was chatting with a couple of members at the Kiddush last Shabbat and I mentioned that many understand that, from a halachic perspective, Eilat is not part of the Land of Israel. This elicited some surprise and the people I was talking to wanted to know more about this issue. The boundaries of the Land of Israel are described in the Torah but there are differences of opinion regarding the geographical location of various landmarks mentioned there. Nevertheless, according to almost all opinions, Eilat falls outside of these boundaries. Therefore, according to these authorities, there is no need to tithe fruit that is grown in Eilat. Similarly, one may plant, grow and harvest produce in Eilat during a Sabbatical year.