Hand matzah or machine matzah: Is there a virtue in using “hand matzah?”
Rav Aviner: For the purposes of “matzot mitzvah” (the matzot used to fulfill the mitzvah from the Torah of eating matzah on the Seder night(s)—TS), there is a virtue of using matzah that was baked lishma (with the intention that the matzot being baked were for Pesach), and matzot made directly by people fulfill this as there is no machine in the middle. There are those who explain that machine matzah is preferable, since it’s baked in a nicer shape and there is less of a concern of chametz; this is the Lithuanian and Yerushalmi tradition, even ideally. For these matters, each sect goes according to its tradition. (Shu”t She’elat Shlomo 4:111)
Hot plate on Pesach: How does one kasher a plata (electric hot plate) for Pesach?
Rav Aviner: Cover it in aluminum foil: not soft enough that it’ll tear under strain, but not thick enough that it’ll prevent the food from being properly heated; rather somewhere in the middle.
Bedikat chametz by women for Pesach—In the Sefer Chaye Adam, it’s written not to rely on women’s bedikat chametz for Pesach (119:17). Why?
Rav Aviner: Because they were so overly occupied with other preparations for Pesach that they may not have been able to give it their full attention. However, in our times, one may certainly rely on a woman’s bedikat chametz, even more than a man’s.
The Four Cups and diabetes: I have diabetes; how may I fulfill the commandment to drink four cups of wine on the Seder night?
Rav Aviner: You should take dry wine, mix it evenly with water, and drink 43 cubic cm (approximately 1.46 fluid ounces) of the mix—only if your doctor allows.
A seat for Jonathan Pollard at the Seder: In the year 5763, you suggested to set a seat at the Pesach Seder for Jonathan Pollard as a way to express our longing and hope for his release and return to Israel very soon, and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, zt”l, endorsed this tradition. Is it still worthwhile to continue this tradition?
Rav Aviner: It’s very worthwhile, though, even though I suggested it, we don’t personally do this in our home (since we don’t even have enough space for ourselves).
Fragrances on Pesach: Must bosem (Hebrew word for fragrance, both perfume and cologne) be kosher for Pesach in order to be used on Pesach?
Rav Aviner: Yes, because it contains alcohol, which may many times be created from wheat products, and bosem is not necessarily inedible for a dog because it may be tasty like alcohol. (Shu’t She’elat Shlomo 4:111)
[Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon adds that first off, many types of perfume and cologne do not contain alcohol; if the bosem is alcohol-free, there is certainly no issue applying it on Pesach. Furthermore, many times, the alcohol used for bosem is a grade that is not fitting for consumption, designated as “sd.” Perfume and cologne based on “sd” alcohol will usually have this included on their ingredient list and, if this is the case, it is also usable on Pesach. If the fragrance’s ingredient list doesn’t specify if it’s based off of sd alcohol or not, it’s best not to use it on Pesach, but it does not need to be disposed of beforehand, though it would be best to sell it with one’s chametz if possible. This is because even though in liquid form the alcohol in the bosem is not edible, if frozen the alcohol may separate from the rest of the solution and may be more consumable, which would be problematic—TS]
Kimcha D’Pischa: May one give from his ma’aser money to kimcha d’Pischa (money collected for less affluent individuals in anticipation of the higher expenses of Pesach—TS)?
Rav Aviner: Yes, it has the status of normal tzedaka.
By Translated by Tzvi Silver/JLNJ Israel
Edited by Rav Mordechai Zion, reprinted and translated with permission.
Rav Shlomo Chaim Aviner is the French-born head of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim in the Old City of Jerusalem. Shu”t SMS questions can be sent to Rav Aviner at +972 52-3653028.