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HaHodesh Hazzeh Lakhem Rosh Hodashem – this month shall be unto you, the first of the months (Shemoth/Exodus ch.12, v.2). Hodesh HaAbib, the month of Nisan is the first month of the year in the counting of the months. No Widdui (confession) is recited during the entire month and there is no fasting. One who has an anniversary of the passing of his father or mother, R”l, should consult a Hakham as to whether the fast should be held in Nisan or not.

Birkath Ha-ilanoth, the blessing of the trees should be recited during this month. It is preferable to say it with a minyan (quorum of ten males) so that a Qaddish may be recited. In Qabbalistic terms, the souls that returned to this world in Someyah (trees and the like), have the opportunity to make the transition to Adam (humans) with the help of our prayers, without having to suffer a difficult intermediate step. From this we see that the recitation Birkath Ha-ilanoth and the Qaddish are very important indeed.

On the fifteenth day of the month of Abib (Nisan), falls the first day of the Festival of Pesah (Passover). This is the Holiday during which we remember and recount – in the Haggadah ? the wonders that the Holy One, Blessed Be He performed for us in Egypt and how He sanctified His Holy Name in the eyes of all the nations.

It is also a festival in which there are a plethora of Minhaghim (customs) and Halakhoth (laws) which add to the excitement of an already important occasion. However, the very fact that there is a multitude of customs makes it impossible to treat them here in detail. Please contact us if you require additional information.

On the eve of the fourteenth day, the head of the household makes the Bediqath Hames (Search for Leaven) by the light of a candle with only one wick. He takes with him a knife (with which he thoroughly checks all cracks and crevices where Hames may have been put) and a bowl in which a piece of bread is placed. A little salt should also be added ? one reason for this being that salt is known to be a deterrent to Satan who is jealous of this Minhagh. The Minhagh among Ashkenazim is to use a feather and a wooden spoon during the Bediqah.

It is the custom to hide ten pieces of bread (wrapped in Paper) for him to find and burn the next morning with all the remaining Hames. No more may be eaten from four hours “Zemanioth” (i.e. one third of the day) after daybreak.

No Massah (unleavened bread) may be eaten either, from the eve of the fourteenth until the Seder at night (Massah Shemura is not eaten from Rosh Hodesh). It is worth noting that most Sephardim recite the Berakha of Hammosi, on Massah which is Kasher LePesah, only on Pesah itself. The rest of the year, since this Massah is considered to be Lehem ‘Oni (Bread of Af fliction) the Berakha of Mezonoth should be recited over it. Ideally, however, when eating Kasher LePesah Massah during the rest of the year, the Berakha of Hammosi should be recited on bread and then the Massa should be eaten after it with no additional blessing. This way all opinions are satisfied. Massah which is not Kasher LePesah, however, is deemed to be Hammes and Hammosi is recited.

Click Here for more of the Laws and Customs of Pesah.

(Taken from the writings of Hakham Ya'aqob Menashe.)