Five-Star Pesach

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75 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    It is the task of our rabbonim and roshei yeshiva to elevate our understanding of Pesach to the point that a week-long orgy of eating and fun-activities is self-understood to be a contradiction to the freedom from materialism that the Chag celebrates. But for those who have not yet reached that understanding, it’s probably a good thing that the food is glatt.

    1) some would argue (along the lines of the medrash that says achashverosh served glatt at his party) that we would be better off without the glatt alternative (e.g. iirc there was a boat that had its hashgacha pulled for mixed dancing)

    2)some would say the point of the holiday is an understanding of the priorities towards which our freedom (and material wealth) should be used


  2. mb says:

    I have two comments.

    ” There is no ruchnius amidst gashmius. To the extent that a person is living in the world of gashmius he is removed from ruchnius!”

    This seems to be antithetical to Judaism.


    “….self-understood to be a contradiction to the freedom from materialism that the Chag celebrates.”

    Pesach celebrates freedom from materialism? Since when?

  3. L Oberstein says:

    Everything you write is true, but there is more to the story. A bochur just came into my office because he heard that I was a lecturer at a hotel in Orlando and his family is going there. This boy is a baal teshuva and they tried to pick a Pesach Program that offered something for everyone in the family. If one wants, it provides a way to spend quality family time with opportunities for learning if one so desires.
    I know a Lubavitcher Doctor in Vancouver who goes away for Pesach as his one vacation of the year. If he were home, his wife would be serving a huge throng and this is her one break. I go because my wife and children are day camp counselors and I am a lecturer. My wife feels that Pesach should not be a time of endless work for the women, she looks forward to this the whole year.
    The trade off is that we miss the family sedarim of yesteryear. Our married children and grandchildren do not spend Pesach with us.
    Here is the key line that will inspire comments: If a wealthy family stayed home and did not spend $25,000 or more to go to a hotel, would they give one cent more to tzedakah in its place. I think not, as one Jew told me “it comes from a different pocket”.

  4. Ori says:

    It is the task of our rabbonim and roshei yeshiva to elevate our understanding of Pesach to the point that a week-long orgy of eating and fun-activities is self-understood to be a contradiction to the freedom from materialism that the Chag celebrates. But for those who have not yet reached that understanding, it’s probably a good thing that the food is glatt.

    This is extremely difficult. The problem is that you need to tell some people “go to a Pesach hotel, at least you’ll eat kosher”. To other people you need to say: “you shouldn’t go to a Peasch hotel, it’s too materialistic for you – you’re at a higher level, so you need to work harder than other Jews”.

  5. sima irkodesh says:

    “The issue of deluxe Pesach extravaganzas is, in truth, just one more aspect of an ongoing tension in modern Orthodox life”.

    Did Rabbi JR, mean to write ‘modern Orthodox life’ or “Modern Orthodox life”, since the hotels and resorts in IrhaKodesh and Eretz HaKodesh is also filled with large groups of Charedei Jews spending Pesach together with family and friends?
    and is this truly one of our most difficult tensions!?!

  6. CR says:

    “EVEN MY FRIEND recognizes that there are many perfectly legitimate reasons that families might go to hotels for Pesach. Not every set of grandparents can find floor sleeping space in their home for 50 or so descendants. Some older couples are simply not up to the physical exertion of Pesach cleaning, and the same may be true of young mothers just before or after childbirth. Other families may want to spend the holiday in Eretz Yisrael.”

    Perhaps the fact that it takes two full-time incomes to pay for modern Orthodox life also play a significant role. Housing in “shtatty” neighborhoods, yeshiva tuitions and all the other “requirements” of our lifestyle come with a huge price tag above and beyond that of “average” Americans. When both Mommy and Tatty put in 40+ work weeks and have limited time off the extensive preparations that a classic Pesach require become quite impractical and overly burdensome. For many frum families Pesach in a hotel is not a luxury but a de-facto necessity.

    That said, the author has a point that more modest venues should be sought rather than the 5-star accomidations described herein.

  7. cvmay says:

    *****My friend was raised in a particularly biting style of mussar, and he was just warming to his subject. He described the wailing when the dessert table runs out and the rush forward when the hapless waiter comes with refills and is almost trampled underfoot. Hotels have to put security guards around the 24-hour-tea rooms, lest some poor soul from the hotel down the road, where the dining room closes at 10:00 p.m., cannot make it to breakfast without a late snack.*********

    On a personal note, Did biting style Mussar Rav ever participate in a Pesach extravagenza? or is this the Hollywood fantasy that permeates the Los Angeles air? Knowing many who celebrate Pesach in California (not as hotel guests), enjoying DisneyLand, Legoland, Boating & Cruising on Chol Hamoed, leisurely ‘chilling out’ around the backyard pools, exercising in their home gyms or hiking along the fragrant boulvards, maintained daily by kitchen and homehelp while the babies and toddlers are daycare connected, is this more, less or the same spirituality as those who are paying big bucks at the hotel/resorts.

    Gashmius is a multi-facted term, defined within the spectrum of materialistic, frivolous, rich, wealthy, luxurious, opulence or even ‘you spend more than I do on……’. There is no one today who is exchanging their old dirt floors, I would imagine that our ancestors recognize their descendents through their hishtadlous to cling to hashems mitzvohs. (Always amazed to see that 85% of Jews in Israel have a seder and 75% keep away from chometz, compare that to the minisule number in America).

  8. Michael Mirsky says:

    Your story reminded me how years ago our Rav in Toronto used to rail against the oxymoron of “Glatt Kosher Nightclubs” in exotic locations.

  9. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Hang on then!

    First the Chareidi community multiplies chumrah upon chumrah so that keeping Pesach viably becomes almost impossible. Paper plates are assur. Quinoa is kitniyos. No, you don’t have to blow torch your hard wood floors but whoever does so, harei zeh meshubach!

    And when people who can afford to finally say: Enough! We’ll lock the house up and go somewhere for Pesach rather than lose our sanity and shalom bayis trying to keep up to all these new standards, what do we get told? That there’s something wrong with it.

    Sincere people will generally do their best under given circumstances. If more and more Jews are choosing Pesach vacations, maybe someone should ask why.

  10. Barzilai says:

    Homemakers who work outside the house are under enough stress as it is. For families in that circumstance, I guarantee that the erev pesach stress is not a pretty thing, nor is it healthy, neither physically nor emotionally. The food you eat at the seder loses its flavor when you know the toll making it exacted from the one who made it. Do we need our childrens’ new spouses seeing us red-faced and desperate to make it on time? Yes, these things can be done bit by bit, with a little more organization and discipline.
    In theory.

    And the world is full of distractions. It’s up to us how we deal with them. It is the job of the organizers to provide whatever they can. I would agree that we have an unfortunate tendency to sack tea rooms and smorgasbords. But this is a cultural problem that can only be addressed by our spiritual leaders and teachers, not by frowning on the attempts of entrepeneurs to attract customers in the real world.

    I would love to see accomodations that are modest and economical which would still allow people to leave home, and enjoy a spiritual but festive yom tov. I haven’t seen any. I would say this is another example of “in theory, there is no difference between theory and reality. In reality, there is.”

  11. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    We are actually commanded to enjoy ourselves physically on Yom Tov. Blowing $15,000 on a hotel and then gorging ourselves to “get our money’s worth” is something else, and not really enjoyable. Perhaps some of the extremes that we go to clean the house beyond what is strictly required by halacha need to be cut back, so families are not pushed to give up and spend 8 days and 10% of the income at a hotel.

    “Jews who can really feel the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash are much rarer today.” What about Jews who actually feel the joy of Yom Tov. Only if we can feel the joy of Yom Tov, can we have an idea of what we lost with the destruction of the temple.

    The message from the Torah portions we read is that of controlled material enjoyment in the service of G-d. Near complete denial of material enjoyment is only on Yom Kippur.

  12. Max says:

    Jonathan Rosenblum writes”

    “That boy, my friend lamented, cannot possibly connect to the idea that Pesach cleaning parallels an inner process of removing the se’or she’b’isa – the physicality and inner materialism that holds us back in our performance of Hashem’s commandments. His experience of Pesach has nothing to do with destroying the chametz either within or without.

    Who says? The “Pesach cleaning” which many people do nowadays is in some cases excessive and in others simply reflective of modern lifestyles: large homes, lots of possessions and food (thank God). It has very little to do with an ideal kiyum of “tashbisu”.

  13. Daniel Shain says:

    “house turned completely upside down for Pesach cleaning.”
    “the freshly scrubbed homes over which we have labored so diligently”

    One of the possible reasons people are turning to lavish hotels is because of the overly strict ideas of how to clean for pesach. Really, the house does not have to be “scrubbed” or “turned upside down” for Pesach. The shulchan aruch does not require you to clean your house at all (please correct me if I am wrong). What is required is that the house is put in order so that it can be searched and all real chometz (not dirt and dust) can be removed. The idea that we are cleaning the se’or she’b’isa is a nice vort, but it can be taken too far.

    I think if people had a more reasonable and more halachic approach to Pesach preparations, then they would be less likely to try to escape it all and go to a hotel.

  14. dr. william gewirtz says:

    The tone resembles asceticism overdone. Certainly a POV within our heritage but hardly the dominant one.

    Undoubtedly there are excesses, but talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I almost always enjoy Pesach with my children or relatives; but my most meaningful seder was at David’s Citadel six years ago. We were one of seven American families. Very spiritual, but as my wife and I remarked – also the best meal we ever had. Many go to be with extended family, some in place of (yet) more secular vacations, for some families where both spouses work it borders on necessity.

    please stop this excess, next thing we may be reading of a ban!

  15. Noclue says:

    What does it mean when the Gemora speaks of the feast of Shlomo (Hamelech) in his time?

  16. Mark says:


    “First the Chareidi community multiplies chumrah upon chumrah so that keeping Pesach viably becomes almost impossible. Paper plates are assur. Quinoa is kitniyos. No, you don’t have to blow torch your hard wood floors but whoever does so, harei zeh meshubach! And when people who can afford to finally say: Enough!”

    Hold on a minute – by this logic it would stand to reason that Chareidim would be the ones to flock to the hotels for Pesach. Yet, strangely that appears not to be the case. The majority of the attendees are MO’s who certainly don’t follow all those ridiculous Chareidi chumrahs. What gives?

  17. benji says:

    I’m a little confused is the issue over indulgence and physical pleasures? Or is the issue that this all occurs during the Peasach festival? Is there a problem with swimming, exercising, and jeep riding, are these inappropriate recreational pleasures. While I concur that the hotel experience can be overly extravagant, particularly the orgy of eating that is indicative of many Passover packages, however, I disagree that going away in of itself is as terrible as the author suggests. I think it is nice that people, especially those living in a Gentile society, use Pesach as a time for vacation. While our festival revolve around spirituality, if leisure is appropriate using Pesach, and not the Christmas vacation, or having a “yontef” meal on Thanksgiving seems like a splendid way to celebrate the chag, granted that is does not degenerate into pure hedonism.

  18. Dr. E says:

    Let’s not forget the most popular “Pesach hotel”. That is cases where the children (in “learning”) and grandchildren move in for a month from ___________. While Zadie is at work and Bubbie is cooking and shopping like a dog, the eniklach trash the place. The guy goes off to the Beis Medrish for some learning and catching up with the chevra. The girl spends her days reuniting with her school friends, talking about sheitels and baby clothes at the pizza shop and taking her kids to the pediatrician for the ear infections that she should have taken care of two months ago.

    I’ve never been to a Pesach hotel. I’m not about to spring for the $ and no one has ever offered. So, we do it the old fashioned way. But, I don’t fault those who go to hotels, as long as they are meeting all of their financial obligations (tuition, shul dues, community institutions) the other 51 weeks of the year. The stress and pressure of preparing for Pesach at home are enormous and draining–and I’m not from the machmirim. Some people get energized by the mesiras nefesh thing. I personally don’t.

    Bottom line is that there are plenty of good reasons for people to go to hotels. Let’s be honest. Much of the “talent” (including Rabbanim and others) that attend Pesach hotels with their families gratis are the beneficiaries of this market. To see this as one of the a crises of Yiddishkeit or microcosm thereof is a bit too melodramatic for my tastes. Recent events have shown that there are far more significant things to be concerned with. After all, we have a Pesach margarine crisis out there.

  19. Max says:

    “by this logic it would stand to reason that Chareidim would be the ones to flock to the hotels for Pesach. Yet, strangely that appears not to be the case. The majority of the attendees are MO’s who certainly don’t follow all those ridiculous Chareidi chumrahs.”

    Is that why all the hotels advertise their stringent non-gebrokts level of kashrus and gender-segregated activities?

    It’s more likely that the majority of attendees are from the baalebatish black hat crowd.

  20. LA community member says:

    I think that you have been to fantasy land one too many times if you think that everyone in Los Angeles lives the life of Reilly. Being a community that is marbitz torah, has one of the first Lakewood Community Kollelim and has produced not only talmidei chachamim but also world renown poskim, I think you have your facts completely wrong. Be very careful with how you classify communities, especially when you clearly know nothing about them.

  21. Dov says:

    I am not buying these excuses. How is it that people can afford to spend thousands of dollars for these packages and yet won’t spend the money to hire a cleaning crew to come in for 2 – 3 days?

  22. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Mark, the first Pesach-in-a-hotel I ever went to, I was the only man in the room not wearing either a black hat or a shtreiml. I think I was also the only one who didn’t speak Yiddish.

    The second one I went to was officially a Modern Orthodox program but I would guess at least half the people there were either not observant or minimally so but had family that was and was there with them.

    From what I’ve seen, the MO Pesach programs advertise quite heavily, giving people the impression they’re the bigger ones, while the Chareidi ones quietly go about their business with their larger crowds.


    I don’t think gorging is relevant to the hotel experience. I’ve gorged myself plenty at home too!

  23. maks says:

    The people that can afford to go away to these hotels can certainly hire cleaning help to make their homes ready for Pesach. I don’t believe they are running away from the stress of cleaning for Pesach, even with all the chumras.

  24. Shlomo says:

    “The majority of the attendees are MO’s who certainly don’t follow all those ridiculous Chareidi chumrahs.”

    Judging from the multitude of ads for Pesach hotels in such chareidi publications as HaModia, Yated Ne’eman and Mishpacha magazine, I believe this statement is patently false. Every year, thousands of Chareidim from Israel, Europe and North America flock to Pesach hotels. To say that the majority of the attendees are “MO” (whatever that means) is entirely untrue.

  25. Mark says:


    Even assuming you’re right that Chareidim also attend, what’s the excuse for the MO’s who aren’t shackled by all the Chareidi chumros you so vehemently decry as the root of the problem?

    For that matter, what were you doing there since I assume, you don’t practice those chumros either?


    I don’t know of a a single member of my Chareidi family [which number over 500 bli ayin harrah] that’s going to a Pesach hotel. Not a single member of my close knit community is going there. I do know of more than a few MO’s who are, and I don’t hold it against them in the least either. My point was to illustrate how silly Garnel’s obsession with blaming Chareidim for everything is.

  26. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    “Here is the key line that will inspire comments: If a wealthy family stayed home and did not spend $25,000 or more to go to a hotel, would they give one cent more to tzedakah in its place. I think not, as one Jew told me “it comes from a different pocket”.”
    It is called the Sholom Bayis (peace at home) pocket. With the stress Pesach cleaning can cause, for some couples it may be money well spent. $25,000 can pay for 25 hours of a divorce lawyer for each of the couple ($500/hour). Also when a divorce occurs the tzedakah pocket gets sewn shut.

  27. Steve Brizel says:

    I once heard from R E Buchwald that the $ spent on Pesach could go a long way on reducing yeshiva tuitions and giving Mchanchim a living wage. However, given that the Pesach away from home is a huge business, I would suggest that anyone going consider the following pieces of advice, FWIW-(1) go where you think that the rabbinic faculty will be giving shiurim that have some halachic and hashkafic content; ( 2) try to have your own Seder, as opposed to being part of one seder in a dining room and ( 3) don’t participate in actions with the hotel staff that would constitute a Chillul Shem Shamayim. More importantly-try to learn even a little while each day so that Zman Cheruseinu doesn’t become Zman Batul Toraseinu.

  28. cvmay says:

    Dear #18
    The entire article written by RJR and energized by the LA Rav has been written in generalizations. Hotels are…… while Pesach at home is………
    Does the LA Mussar Rav believe that the spiritual demise is caused by the hotel surroundings of opulence, 24/7 eating, wonderous planned activities, entertainment & leisure sports, while Pesach at home is divinely sanctioned by its simplicity, generic meals, family cleanup, table games and schmoozing with pure spiritual gains and growth.
    You know and I know differently….
    Oppulence, Comfort, Maid-Service, 24/7 buffets, Outdoor activities are available not only in resorts but at home also. These daily comforts can combine with and include a kollel, poskim, rabbanim, chesed programs, daf-yomi shiurim, world class lecturers, tzedakah organizations, kiruv and bikur cholim centers and BARUCH HASHEM that they do!!!
    (& of course not for everyone)

  29. Chaim Wolfson says:

    I haven’t the slightest idea if the majority of hotel-goers are Chareidi or Modern Orthodox, and frankly, I couldn’t care less either way; this issue is entirely non-sectarian. But I do think Mark makes a good point: the people who are spending thousands of dollars on these hotels are hardly the ones who engage in “chumra upon chumra”.

  30. Jewish Observer says:

    Trust me: The families that spend Pesach in five star holels also spend Sukkos in five star hotels, have second homes in Israel or elsewhere, have monster homes with all kinds of help, drive expensive luxury cars, jewellry,clothes,etc. etc.and travel extensively for any little occasion at the drop of a hat. In other words they are wealthy ostentatious show-offs. The younger families who have children of marriageable age, use these occasions as opportunities to find “suitable” i.e. rich shidduchim for their children. Their behavior is dictated more by a lavish “life-style” considersations than religious ones. I am sure some use these opportunities to unload some schvartz gelt as well. The Rabbis and Roshei Yeshivos who participate in these orgies deserve to be especially condemned. Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked…

  31. Max says:

    “the people who are spending thousands of dollars on these hotels are hardly the ones who engage in “chumra upon chumra”.”

    Again, if that is the case, why do the hotels advertise that their kashrus follows “chumra upon chumra”?

  32. Yaakov Menken says:

    Max, it’s a salve for their conscience. That’s why. They want to know they are having a perfectly “kosher” Pesach experience even as they miss much of the Pesach experience.

    Personally, I think Mark’s response is as misguided as Garnel’s comment.

    It is undeniable that there is a rampant materialistic current running through some communities, regardless of the color of yarmulke or standard dress code. The Agudah is forced to make ‘limitations’ on simchos in the New York area that we out-of-towners simply never think of. A sit-down, catered Vort? Or are we to pretend “the majority of the attendees are MO’s” applies to catered Vorts, too? It goes across the board. I’ve seen obscene amounts of money spent on Bat Mitzvahs, too.

    And that’s why people are choosing Pesach vacations… not because of Garnel’s completely misplaced concern about “chumra upon chumra.” I just found in the family (read: women’s) section of Mishpacha magazine the recollections of women of their Pesach cleaning, from communities around the world. In one, they painted the house every year before Pesach. In another, they took apart every mattress, washed the wool inside, and stitched them back up. In a third, they stacked all the cleaned furniture until they spent the week before Pesach sitting on the floor. And in yet another, they ate all chometz outside the house from the moment they started Pesach cleaning. So anyone thinking that piling on the chumras is a modern invention has no knowledge or understanding of Jewish history.

    And, of course, all those happened in a time when you couldn’t hire a maid service to scour the house for you, much less find a supermarket filled with kosher-for-Passover-l’mehadrin-min-hamehadrin products. So… give me a break. Chumras have less than nothing to do with why people head off to Pesach hotels.

    As Rabbi Oberstein pointed out, there are real and good reasons to go to a Pesach hotel. I can’t judge any individual family that goes to one. But the phenomenon is troubling, at best.

  33. Mike S. says:

    I recall one Pesach in my youth where the Rabbi of the shul spoke about Pesach not reqiring (for him) the extensive preparation of the other yomim tovim–building a sukkah, preparing sermons …. I must admit that I forgot what point he was trying to make, but my mother described sitting next his wife who was turning bright red with anger.

    I would find the mussar more moving if it came from a woman who was doing the physical preparation personally, instead of by proxy. And one who was also working to help pay tuition at that.

  34. Mike S. says:

    I should add for perspective–in my house we make Pesach at home, share the cleaning and I do the cooking for seder.

  35. Ben-David says:

    uhhhhhhhhhh… if the Bet Hamikdash were still standing, we would ALL be “going away for Pesach” – except the lucky few who lived in Jerusalem all year round.

    Wouldn’t we?

    Wouldn’t the markets be full to overflowing with the best of everything for the olei regel? Wouldn’t the visitors be catered to, rather than eating mama’s favorites – since she left her kitchen miles/kilometers away?

    Wouldn’t most of us have much larger, less personal Pesach seders – as extended clans joined together in a korban?

    So: the definition of an authentic old-timey Pesach depends on how far back you want to go….

  36. tzippi says:

    Dr. E., I won’t deny that many grandparents (and put-upon young aunts and uncles) leave Pesach feeling totally wasted but really doesn’t have to be that way. One article I recently read suggested having a jobs list circulate among the married children, with everyone signing up for several jobs. I’d like to think that we can paint that scenario with a thinner brush.

    As far as margarine, I usually don’t substitute with oil during the year as I don’t want’t to compromise on taste. but compromising on taste is what Pesach cooking’s all about, so I will. One half cup oil per stick margarine. You can also freeze oil till it congeals and use as margarine.

    Margarine crisis solved!

  37. Yisroel Moshe says:

    Reb Jonathan,

    Although I overwhelmingly agree with most of your writings, I must respectfully disagree with almost everything you wrote in this article.

    I would go over the entire article and point out our differences, but I simply don’t have the time.

    However I will make three points.

    1. Quote – “There is no ruchnius amidst gashmius. To the extent that a person is living in the world of gashmius he is removed from ruchnius!”.

    – I disagree. Gashmius is not the opposite of ruchnius. In fact, every gashmius activity a person participates in can be, when properly approached, elevated to a level of ruchnius. Earning a living using honest business practices, with the perspective of earning money to support a Torah-rich household, in order to “L’avdoh U’lishomra” Hashem’s world is an example of infusing gashmius with ruchnius. Playing basketball to improve your health, that is the elevation of gashmius into ruchius.

    This derech is born out in the philosophy of the Ramban, and is the most basic of the teachings of the Ba’al Shem Tov.

    IMHO, this belief represents a fundamental difference between the Yeshivish world approach and the non- Yeshivish world approach (this is a gross social simplification of Jewish sociology, and I apologize).

    The practical applications are enormous. I believe the philosophy you quote is the basis for institutionalized Kollel. The thought being, if all gashmius activities are bittul Torah, then logically, there is only one permissible career path…Kollel. Naturally, the non-Yeshivish world rejects such a philosophy, based on my explanation above.

    2. Regarding Pesach hotels, I would like to point out an irony. The following is a true story.

    In 2005, I spent Pesach in San Diego and had a fabulous time, both from a gashmius/ruchnius perspective and a purely ruchnius perspective. I also met a wonderful man by the name of Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein. He told me about his blog called Hence my first introduction to this blog. Ironically that very same blog makes the case for Pesach hotels being a top 10 danger to the Jewish world.

    3. Pesach getaways at its worst, do not come close to a top ten danger to Klal Yisroel in our day. Any Jewish issue which does not include the words “Government of the State of Israel” is not a top ten (top 20?) danger.

  38. Dr. E says:

    —-Dr. E., I won’t deny that many grandparents (and put-upon young aunts and uncles) leave Pesach feeling totally wasted but really doesn’t have to be that way. One article I recently read suggested having a jobs list circulate among the married children, with everyone signing up for several jobs. I’d like to think that we can paint that scenario with a thinner brush.


    The fact that you read an article suggesting the delegation of Pesach chores proves exactly my point–that many married (and unmarried) children feel that they are indeed checking into a hotel. It ain’t the Ritz Carlton, but then again they aren’t exactly paying for room and board either. Many children who feel entitled and are enabled the other 11 months of the year, are not going to exactly do a 180, when it comes to Chodesh Nissan. My point is that many of those who choose to “stay home” don’t always have the proper perspective either. Thanks for the tip on the margarine by the way.

    To show that hotel goers are definitely nonsectarian, I did see a great ad for one property that marketed itself as the “only non-Gebrokhts program near _____________” (a certain Central-Florida attraction, although not [yet] banned is not exactly endorsed by the Moetzes). Obviously, some want to have their cake and eat it to–so to speak. My grandparents and great-grandparents, although they did not have a room overlooking a 360-degree rollercoaster, enjoyed their matzo balls and stuffing. I have no hesitations proudly perpetuating that mesorah.

  39. Garnel Ironheart says:

    I shared the contents of this post and the comments with a Rav from the Gush yesterday. His answer was what I’d been searching for:

    The biggest threat to the Jewish world today are people who think the biggest threat to the Jewish world is Pesach in hotels.

  40. Jacob says:

    Indeed Pesach at hotels is a vulgar display of gashmiyis. However, I don’t see how it’s any more offensive than the typical “Shloimy Dachs” chasuna and motzsh’k chinese auction. Pesach at hotels is a product of our glorification of all things uber-materialistic. From the McMansions of Lakewood to the Kiddush wars in Flatbush, we are inundated with extereme materialisim. Note how so many of these fabulously wealthy members of our kehilla are honored by our yeshivis. While almost every mispallel in Landua’s is with beard and payis, it would seem that every wife waiting outside in the double-parked Lexus tries to look like a size zero, Hollywood starlet (or worse)with an ultra-gashme multi thousand dollar wig. While I agree that the money spent on Pesach is outrageous, let’s not forget the hundreds of thousands that these programs raise for “moisdis” like Chai Lifeline (remember singles auctions?)and other various sweet rackets.

  41. JosephW says:

    To all those decrying a rabbi who could possibly think that Pesach hotels are the worst threat to genuine jewish life (haha)…….I’ll let you in on a little secret. The rabbi wasn’t refering davka to hotels. He was rather refering to the rampant materialism a large portion of the frum community in Americai is ensconsed within…. and the resulting fact that a time of year which is supposed to be one of the spiritual highs has been replaced by many to be a physical, self gratification filled high. Pesach hotels are the most obvious examples, but of course, it exists in many areas of life.
    And, concerning Yisroel Moshe’s point: Of course we understand that Judaism doesn’t believe in gashmius being “bad” per se. We do live in a physical world, and our job is not to escape from it, but rather to use it properly. However, we definitely do believe that the focal point of a Jew’s existence is his ruchnius – the gashmius being the backdrop for the ruchnius. Many people today seem to think that the ruchnius should be the backdrop for the gashmius – Pesach hotels being an excellent example of this. THAT is what this article was about.

  42. JacobZ says:

    Daniel Shain- In your response you state that “The shulchan aruch does not require you to clean your house at all (please correct me if I am wrong)”. Sorry but i believe that you are wrong. Look at shulchan aruch orech chaim siman 442:6, and at shulchan aruch harav orech chaim siman 442:30. I will qoute here the words of the Alter Rebbe, “All these dinim are according to the letter of the law (i.e. the descriptions of the chiuv of getting rid of chometz), but ‘Yisrael Kedoshim Heim’ and they are accustomed to be machmir on themselves and to clean out all the chometz, even a minute amount, that is found in the HOUSE etc.” In addition the Mechaber comments on this that “They have on who to be relient.” The Meforshim on the Shulchan Aruch over there explain that the mechaber got this from the Talmud Yirushalmi in the second perek of pesachim (look at the Be’er Hagolah, Biur Ha’Gra). I dont think that anybody has the right to call this just a “symbolism” of “TASHBISU SE’OR MEBU’TACHEM”, nor do they have the right to call this “chumrah upon chumrah (look at Garnel comment #16)” that the chareidi community has so “wrongfully” levied on us. In summation, there is a very good reason why the house is “turned upside down” before pesach, as it has been for centuries. I would also like to dicuss two more issues about going to hotels for pesach. I am a yeshiva bachur in a new york area bais medrash and i heard from friends of mine that there is a social scene at the hotels between teenage boys and girls. I am referring to orthodox places, not Modern Orthodox ones. After the parents go up to the room, the lobby becomes the hangout area, even by people who wouldn’t be seen in that type of situation back in their communities at home. I believe that this is quite a big problem. Another problem is that besides for the expensive prices of the pesach programs, there is no way that somebody can be seen wearing the same thing twice over yom tov. As a result, a lot of money is spent on buying new clothing. Wishing all of Klall Yisrael A chag Kosher Vi’sameach

  43. Baruch says:

    I am glad to see that despite people being very busy with cleaning for Pesach then did not let this post go with without strong comments. I agree with Garnel Ironheart’s comment #39. I would like to add that the timing of this post was not very appropiate those who made reservations were not going to cancel them. The main problem that Judaism faces is the same problem that destroyed the Bais Hamikesh over 2000 years and that is the problem of Sinas Chinam. If we solve this issue all the other issues will be solved as well.

  44. sima ir kodesh says:

    ‘The rabbi wasn’t refering davka to hotels. He was rather refering to the rampant materialism a large portion of the frum community in Americai is ensconsed within…’
    You are probably accurate in your assesment that the rabbi was not davka refering to hotels but rather the rampantness of Gashmius AND that is the ikar problem. Can we have Religious Leaders say what they davka mean? Especially here in Land of Kodesh, statements and words are SAID, and then the ramifications thought about after the turmoil & consequences. Why not say what you mean, and mean what you say?

  45. Bob Miller says:

    The exercise a Jew should do is to examine his own spending priorities and make the needed corrections. Complaining about the other guys is cathartic, and maybe even has some grain of truth, but what good does it do?

  46. Yosef Blau says:

    In reading both the article and the many comments, I have been looking for a reference to the Rambam (Hilchos Yom Tov 6;17,18). Having lavish meals on yom tov is a kiyum of simchas yom tov but only if one includes the poor and the less fortunate in the meals. The only poor attending hotels on Pesach are working as waiters.
    The dimension of proper concern for others is too often ignored.
    Yosef Blau

  47. saul king says:

    Wrong on that count, Joseph.
    The hotel I attend, the proprietor invites gratis single parents, bochurim that do not have a frum hotel enviornment, and other special situations. Grandparents that are hosting their large, extended families include those who have difficulty making Pesach at home $$$. BTW some meals are lavish, and some can’t compare with my wife’s shabbos and yomtov at home.
    No one mentioned the almost nonstop shiurim, ladies classes, and certain hotels that provide a beis medresh that is always full. It works for some, and others not, it is expensive, it is the solution for both parent earners who are employed until erev yom tov at noon.
    JacobZ, the socializing bt the sexes starts as soon as the yeshivos are off for Pesach recess, in Flatbush, Baltimore, Chicago, and LA. Streets are full with the returnees from Israel, outoftown Yeshivo guys, and the hanging out is everywhere.

  48. Tal Benschar says:

    Rabbi Blau has a good point about the poor — although I don’t think the Rambam requires that the poor actually be in attendance.

    How about the following takkanah: spend as much as you want on Pesach. Just give the same amount to tsedakkah.

  49. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Boy, did I strike a nerve! And while I’m at it, I’ll whack it again.

    A few years ago the son of one of our locals who learns in kollel came home for Pesach and announced that his Rosh Kollel had discovered that full freezers use less electricity than half empty ones. Therefore, by storing one’s chometz in the freezer and then selling the appliance, one was still benefiting from a lower electricity bill! In truth, the difference would be so marginal that it wouldn’t even be noticed on the bill but the decree had come down: you can’t store chometz in your freezers and then sell them on Pesach anymore.

    The next year I was shouted by someone at as I munched on a matzah a few days after Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Now, correct me if I’m wrong but the Shulchan Aruch says that matzah is only forbidden on Nissan 14 although some have a custom to withhold from Rosh Chodesh. That is “some”, not “all”. Yet I was assured that this guy’s Rosh Yeshivah had told him that the custom of the “some” was the real custom.

    Finally I recall someone talking about doing hagala on utensils that had accidentally been in contact with cold kitniyos. Care to find a source for that one?

  50. Yossi Ginzberg says:

    It’s all the fault of the wooden spoon.

    I have tried for decades now to find someone to explain precisely why we need a spoon for bedikas chametz, but unsuccessfully.

    Yet every year, the Orthodox market buys- and burns- thousands of them, perpetuating the meme that it is something one MUST do to be properly Orthodox.

    I suspect that this is why Pesach has gone from being a beloved family holiday to a manic orgy of antiseptic scouring, when we hire Eastern- European anti-Semites to break and steal our things, all in the name of religion, and this is also why those who can afford it go to great lengths (and expense) to go to hotels.

    Want to restore Pesach at home, relaxed and joyous?

    Start by discarding the wooden spoon. Later, we can lose the other overdone chumras.

  51. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by Garnel Ironheart — April 14, 2008 @ 7:48 pm :

    Garnel, if your our Rav does not support the chumros or decisions you objected to, why are you so concerned about other people’s choices in the matter?

  52. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Hi Bob, I’ll tell you why. I certainly agree one should do one’s best in the service of Heaven. This means honestly approaching the mitzvos and performing them with sincerity and love. However, one must also keep in mind that when mitzvos are performed, the rest of the world, including our brethren who aren’t as observant, are watching. Many of them may not understand the reason for being “medakdek” and the love of God and Torah that is its source. It is quite easy for one to be fulfilling a mitzvah with all its intended kavannos and to look quite foolish to outsiders at the same time.
    Now, David HaMelech said that he would speak of God’s statutes before kings and not be ashamed (Tehillim 119) so I’m certainly not suggesting the abandonment of personal chumros, minhagim or what-not. A person must always be “tamim” in his “avodas Hashem”. However, many of the official codes (including the Mishnah Berurah and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch) note that it is possible to be observant and look like a fool and that being laughed at for being a “good Jew” isn’t always a desirable thing.
    Imagine, if you will, someone without a traditional background talking to someone about the third example I brought. Would it be hard to believe that he could have this reaction: “What a bunch of fanaticism. I don’t want any part of that!” And do you think that doesn’t happen? I have spoken with people in the past whose limited interest in Torah was dampened by an overly-enthusiastic talmid.
    Secondly, and more importantly, today’s chumros have a nasty habit of becoming tomorrow’s standards. When the whole burka controversy broke in Ramat Beit Shemesh (odd how this has barely been mentioned in this forum) one of the women interviewed for the paper made a scary observation: 30 years ago, no one cared what colour stockings a woman wore. Today, it has to be coloured and, just in case you think the woman’s legs are naturally a deep shade of blue, you have to have a visible line down the back.
    Sixty years ago no one cared what kippah you wore. Covering your head properly was what defined an observant Jew. Now it’s the type of kippah and, if you wear a hat, the type of hat that determine’s your place in the world and your “madreigah”.
    So I always get worried when these new stringencies appear on the scene. For every one person who enthusiastically adopts them as a way of enhancing his Avodas HaShem, how many more throw up their hands in frustration and say “It’s just not worth it!”?

  53. JacobZ says:

    To Garnel- You keep on repeating that these are chumros that have currently been made up. Look at my comment by #42 and there i brought down the marei mekomos. Please look them up and then decide for yourself.

  54. dr. william gewirtz says:

    there is nothing wrong with being machmir as long you do not assume that it necessarily makes you more religious or traditional. as to the possible down-side, ask adam and eve.

  55. Jewish Observer says:

    Garnel Ironheart: Why worry so much about something which is beyond your control? The reality today is that the Orthodox world has been transformed in the past 30 or so years from a mimetic tradition i.e. one whose minhagim and traditions were passed down from one generation to the next by imitating the practices of our parents and grandparents to a seforim-based tradition. Today, for better or worse, we are bursting at the seams with all kinds of halachic seforim. Anyone who is so inclined can go to any seforim store and be overwhelmed by the number of texts that are available. And thanks(?) to the likes of Rabbi Artscroll etc., you don’t even require a knowledge of Loshen HaKodesh to become fairly competent in halachic matters. So today, we have the option of learning halacha from a teacher, or from a sefer, or from our parents and grandparents. This is the reality of today- – is it good?… is it not good? Your opinion is as good as mine. This,I think, is a major cause of todays so-called “shift to the right”. But I don’t see this as a major cause to worry about.You shouldn’t live your life worrying what others may think of your Yiddishkeit. A gutte Pesach to all.

  56. Dr. E says:

    I gotta proudly stand with Garnel here. I never heard the freezer one before; that would certainly be fodder for my uncle’s collection of “perverse Judaica”. My favorite recent one is where the guy asks the Rabbi that if he is makpid on Gebrokhts, can he feed his pet Gebrokhts. I kid you not.

    [What’s up with Gebrokhts anyway? Sefardim have no such Mesorah; neither do Litvaks or Yekkes. Who’s left? I didn’t realize that we had so many Chasidim.]

    Much of what I have seen in the form of Pesach behaviors is predicated on a total lack of understanding of Halacha, especially the fundamental principles in Yoreh Deah. This is most evident if you have ever stood in line at a place that does “kashering” before Pesach. Items like candlesticks and the like which were never used with any hot food, not only are unnecessary, but of course back up the line for guys like me who have things we really need to kasher. I heard a reputable Posek say that even Kiddush cups really don’t have to be kashered for the aforementioned reason. I agree totally. But, for Shalom Bayis, I take the Kiddush cups.

    Not to mention those who have no hestiation to be lax in other less popular areas of observance who see no contradiction with staring for 10 minutes in the supermarket to seek out a certain brand of poison floor cleaner that is printed in their Pesach “digest”. Halivai, those same people would peek into a Haggadah before the Seder for half of the amount of time of this deliberation. Maybe these are the people who should be going to a hotel. (Then again, they’d probably still seek out the same approved floor cleaner so it would not be chametz she’avar alav HaPesach.)

  57. Daniel Shain says:

    Re: comments by JacobZ (#42)

    Thank you for responding to my earlier post (#13), but I don’t think your reference is shulchan aruch is a proof that you have to clean your house (rather than simply looking for and removing chometz). True, the mechaber says that some have that custom to scrape/clean the walls, and they have a source in the yershalmi to rely on, but the implication is that we don’t have to do it. In fact, the Mishna Brura says that while we should not make fun of this custom, the support from the yerushalmi is questionable, since the case there is talking about someone who used dough to plaster the wall (see the shaar hatzion). The shaar hatzion says that the custom to scrape the walls is clearly a chumra since we don’t use dough plaster, even though we might have touched the walls with chometz.

    However, in siman 434:11 the Rema says that everyone should sweep the house (l’chabed chadarav) before the search for chometz, and the mishna brura explains this is so the search will be feasible as it is difficult to search for chometz if the place is a mess. He says to do this the day before the bedikah. So, as I suggested, the obligation is really to set things in order so that one can check for chometz properly at the time of the bedika. There does not appear to be a proof to start cleaning after Purim or after TuB’shvat, as I have heard some people do. If a person wants to shine the floor, wash the windows, scrape/scrub the walls, etc, that is a chumra and the halacha is that I should not make fun of such a person, but I don’t have to do that myself. Of course, preparing and kashering the kitchen is a lot of work, but the rest of the house doesn’t have to be.

  58. joel rich says:

    Dr. G.,
    I would state there is nothing wrong with being machmir as long you do not assume that it necessarily makes someone else who isn’t as machmir less religious instead of there is nothing wrong with being machmir as long you do not assume that it necessarily makes you more religious

    Reason being assumedly one takes on chumrot in recognition of character traits that require chumrot to perfect the individual in question.


  59. dr. william gewirtz says:


    by your argument, I would have to be one of world’s great machmirim.

    While your reason might justify some (over-the-top) pious behavior, limiting speaking or fasting, for example, another reason is that gedolim honestly could not reconcile tradition with their understanding of a particular sugya and followed their logic, as a chumra. They did not necessarily seek out chumrot to be “yotzei lechol hadeyot.” That is yet a third basis for chumrot, which is more problematic and, as some have demonstrated, more prevalent of late than at almost anytime in our history. While I fully appreciate either of the first two reasons, particularly yours, the third, as i have been told by many who are so inclined, comes from a deeply held set of beliefs that I do not share.

    CKVS to you as well. and btw I am not going to a HOTEL!

  60. Barzilai says:

    Re: the comment by Ben David that in the time of the Temple we all went away from home, and no doubt the markets were full of delicacies for the tourists– I’m sorry, that is very superficial. Aliyah LaRegel was not a picnic. Jerusalem was packed solid; everyone had to bring three korbanos, besides the Korban Pesach on Pesach. Eating the korbanos required meticulous attention to taharah. Attending and observing the Avodah in the Temple, and the kohanim who lived all year in Jerusalem, was a spiritual epiphany. The people leaving will have been exhausted, exhilarated, and elevated. Rav Schwab once said that the passuk “Mah yafu pe’amayich beni’alim”, referring to the olei regel, obviously refers to those returning home after the holiday, since an earmark of attending temple service was the prohobition against wearing shoes. The greatest effect of the holiday was the spiritual grandeur exhibited by those returning home afterwards.

    And, for general information: Gebrokts/non-gebrokts is just a demure way of advertising that you are looking for MO or BlackO.

  61. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    Though the original article has long since disappeared from this thread — mercifully, I have written a follow-up to appear in Mishpacha the week after Pesach. (Mishpacha would not be happy for me to post it already.) I’m sure it will satisfy neither side completely.

    I trust I will not be giving away too much, however, if I say that obviously no one in their right mind thinks that Pesach hotels are the greatest threat facing American Jewry, and neither do I. I note this now so that Garnel and his rabbi friend will be able to enjoy their respective Sederim without worry on this score. What I assume the rabbi I quoted meant is that the ready resort to Pesach hotels is a symptom of a larger malaise.

    I’m puzzled to know why one correspondent wondered whether I intended modern Orthodox or Modern Orthodox rather than assuming that I wrote what I meant — modern Orthodox — or why so many chose to follow her down this unhelpful line of inquiry.

    A number of correspondents have somehow assumed that Pesach cleaning is exclusively the province of women, and that it was not my place to have any thoughts on the issue. No doubt my wife is the hardest working member of our family in the run-up to Pesach, despite working full-time, but for both of us one of the greatest joys of the Chag is the way our six boys still at home dive into the really heavy tasks that neither of their aging parents are still inclined to do, and that our biggest question is, “How did we do this before the kids grew up?”

  62. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    While certain stringencies may have been taked upon in previous generations with regards to cleaning for Peasach, they need to be revisited if they are causing significant stress in our generation. Excessive stress leads to anger, and anger leads to violation of Biblical commandments.
    For some who opt to go to hotels to avoid the stress of cleaning, the financial stress of the cost (not in all cases see my note 26 above) will also lead to serious pitfalls.
    In this world we have to set priorities.

  63. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Joel Rich seems to have hit it on the head. Taking up a chumrah should be because of a desire for self-improvement in one’s Avodas Hashem. Too often, however, it’s about keeping up with the guy down the street who did it for that reason but one doeesn’t want to be seen as “less religious”.

    As for Gebrocht/non-Gebrocht, Barzilai I assure you I know some very frum people who eat it. I hope you weren’t suggesting that’s the divide between MO and AgudahO.

    Finally, as I head off to the hotel, I wish you all a Chag Kasher v’sameach full of health, happiness and meaning. Don’t forget to get some dietary fibre too!

  64. sima ir kodesh says:

    “What I assume the rabbi I quoted meant is that the ready resort to Pesach hotels is a symptom of a larger malaise”.
    ONCE AGAIN, can we have our rabbis “Say what they mean, and Mean what they say?”, so that hamon ha’am does not have to ASSUME.
    Chag kosher vesameach

  65. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “… What I assume the rabbi I quoted meant is that the ready resort to Pesach hotels is a symptom of a larger malaise.”

    I also understood the rabbi’s comment as not being literal. I wonder as well if even the materialism and superficiality, besides illnesses in of themselves, are also symptoms, or at least not the sole area where the focus needs to be.

    If people feel alienated from their leaders, or there are other social ills which aren’t easily solved, they may not be receptive to hearing about excessive gashmiyus. I agree that the materialism is a problem in of itself, and I look forward to reading the follow-up to this article in Mishpacha.

    Chag kasher v’someach to everyone.

  66. Barzilai says:

    Garnel: Did I say that only MO eat bebrokt? Why do you assume that by MO I meant not-as-frum? I know, from personal observation, that the Feinsteins, Ruddermans, and Reb Chaim Steins of the world eat gebrokt. Did I think they are MO? Or not as frum as could be? These are rhetorical questions. The answers are No, For no good reason, No, and No.

    The fact is, at least according to my nephew who is in the trade, that whether you advertise non-gbrkt, or you advertise that you serve gebrkt, will usually determine whether you will have women walking through the lobby in beach-wear. This is an observed sociological phenomenon. That it doesn’t make sense just means it’s more interesting.

  67. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “ONCE AGAIN, can we have our rabbis “Say what they mean, and Mean what they say?”, so that hamon ha’am does not have to ASSUME.” (comment by sima ir kodesh — April 16, 2008 @ 5:42 pm)

    You are right that when speaking to a general audience, one has to take particular care to explain exactly what he means. But the Rabbi in question was not speaking to the “hamon am”; he was speaking to Jonathan Rosenblum, who understood quite well what he meant. And I have no doubt that Rabbi Wachsman, who WAS speaking to (and for) a general audience made clear what he meant as well. I doubt that he stood at the podium at the Agudah convention, declared that, “There is no ruchnius amidst gashmius” and then sat down.

  68. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “Secondly, and more importantly, today’s chumros have a nasty habit of becoming tomorrow’s standards.” (Comment by Garnel Ironheart — April 15, 2008 @ 1:29 pm).

    I entirely agree with this sentiment. [I would tell Garnel so himself, but he’s probably already in transit to his hotel.] “Chumros” are fine, but for the sake of the integrity of halachah it is very important to differentiate between “chumra” and “ikkar ha’din”. [Interesting that Dr. Gewirtz mentions Adam and Eve. Avos d’Rabbi Nassan (1:5) cites Adam’s “chumra” as the prototype for Rabbinical safeguards to Torah law (making a “fence” around the Torah). Evidently, the problem was that Adam did not make it sufficiently clear what the Torah required and what he added in order to protect Torah law.] But it is just as important (some would say even MORE important) to know what is “ikkar ha’din” and what is a “kula”. Just as not every stringency is “ikkar ha’din”, so not every leniency is. The halachic system recognizes that there is a time and a place for “chumros”, and a time and a place for “kulos”. In all cases, it is important to recognize what is a “kula”, what is “ikkar ha’din”, and what is a “chumra”.

    I will sign off before Yom Tov with a story about someone who did understand the difference between a “chumra” and “ikkar ha’din” (this is one of those stories that is true even if it never happened).

    When the Chasam Sofer became the Rabbi of Pressburg several years after the death of the previous Rabbi, Rav Meshullem Igra, he asked Rav Meshullem’s “gabbai” if he could tell him any anecdotes about R’ Meshullem. The “gabbai” told him the following story:

    Every year before Pesach, Rav Meshullem Igra would invest tremendous effort in baking matzos that met the highest possible standards. From personally supervising the cutting of the wheat, grinding it into flour, scrubbing the entire baking area to remove even the slightest possible trace of “chometz”, etc., he spared neither time nor money to ensure that his matzos were “mehadrin min hamehadrin”. The sum product of all his efforts was six matzos, three for each seder night. He did not eat matzah the rest of Pesach.

    One year, after he baked his six matzos, he stored them on top of his bookcase. On erev Pesach, the household maid was cooking “kneidlach” and needed matzah meal. She searched the house for matzah, and discovered Rav Meshulem’s six matzos. Before anyone realized what was going on, the maid had her “kneidlach”, and Rav Meshulem did not have his matzos. When the maid’s mistake was discovered, the house was in an uproar; everyone, that is, besides Rav Meshulem Igra. He said that it was an honest mistake and there was no reason to get upset at the maid. “But how will you get matzos for the seder,” worried his wife. “That’s no problem,” answered Rav Meshulem, “our neighbor Yankel the “shochet” bakes matzos for sale, and I’m sure he has some we can buy.”. “But how can you eat Yankel’s matzos?” his wife asked, “they don’t meet your standards.” Rav Meshulem answered, “There is nothing wrong with Yankel’s matzos. We eat the meat he “shechts”; we can eat the matzah he bakes as well.” “But he didn’t bake them with your ‘chumros’,” pointed out his wife. To which Rav Meshulem responded. “I did my part; I tried my best to have the most `mehudar’ matzos possible. If G-d willed that I don’t have such matzos this year, who am I to complain to Him.”

    After the “gabbai” finished talking, the Chasam Sofer was quiet for a few moments. Then he told the Gabbai: “I don’t know how I would have reacted had such a mistake happened to me. But one thing I do know. Rav Meshulem Igra’s intent in instituting his matzah-baking `chumros’ must have been 100% for the sake of Heaven, to please G-d Who commanded us to eat matzah on Pesach night. Had he had even the slightest bit of self-interest, even RIGHTEOUS self-interest, he never could have reacted the way he did.”

    On that note, I wish all the commenters and readers a “chag kasher v’sameach” and an enjoyable and meaningful Yom Tov wherever you may be. And if anyone decided to cancel their hotel reservations and needs a place to spend the Yom Tov, they are cordially invited to my house.

  69. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Chaim, we interpret Avos d’Rabbi Nassan (1:5) a bit differently. What you surmised as the problem I was alluding to, not differentiating the fence (the seyag) from the vineyard (the Torah), I see as explicit in the text (or at least in the old Schechter/JTS edition I was using.) Adam and Eve are treated ambivalently, not as the ideal prototype for future Rabbinic Gezairot.

    In any case let me leave you with a “vort” i said (cannot remember if or where it was taken from or inspired by) on that mishna a few year back. The analogy of Avos d’Rabbi Nassan (1:5) perhaps hints at / teaches another point: Treat the halacha as precious. One puts a fence around something that is highly valued, worthy of being protected.

    have a chag kosher ve’sameach

  70. yankeer says:

    First, I just chanced upon this blog and I love it! Jews arguing and debating without personal attacks and smears.

    I live in LA and a prominent rav told me some of the shailos that hotels in Palm Springs call him with on Motzei the first days of Pesach. He proudly tells everyone that if you no cleaning in your house at all, and just run a self-clean on your oven, pour hot water over your sink and cover your counters, your house will be more mehudar and kosher than any hotel out there. Unfortunately, we have confused pesach cleaning with spring cleaning as some people alluded to before.

    Using the stressed-out wife excuse to spend $20,000 in a hotel is IMHO a red-herring. For $5,000, you can hire 2 cleaning crews, have 2 full-time maids attending your house and hire a professional chef to make your seudas. I once spent Pesach with a relative who actually did this and it was a beautiful, heimish family Pesach in their home with extended family and without the 24 hour tea room. This relative hired a chinese chef who cooked in their home for one week before pesach and the food was magnificent. They also keep many chumros and minhagim, such as using only salt (no spices at all), peeling all vegetables, no lettuce, no milchigs, etc. etc.

    In closing, everyone should have a Chag Kosher V’sameach wherever they are spending it, wheather it is with mickey mouse and the seven dwarfs or the shvigger who takes after the evil witch.

  71. Dr. E says:


    “no milchigs”? Perhaps I have living under a rock. Please enlighhten me on the nature of that chumra.

  72. yankeer says:

    Dr. E,
    A gutten Moiad!
    Like many other pesach chumros, not having dairy items was passed down from Eastern Europe where they were concerned about how the milk was kept, and what the cow ate during the milking process. Another reason is the general chumroh of avoiding processed products that are manufactured outside the home as much as possible.
    It is definitely a chumrah bloi tam but like many other pesach chumros, it comes down thru the generations and we just follow along.
    BTW, a sizeable crowd does not eat fish on Pesach, and this is due to an issur from Rabbonim in Europe to stop the price-gouging fishermen before pesach. Again, it obviously does not apply today, but a mesorah remains a mesorah.

  73. Orthonomics says:

    Perhaps the mesorah for protesting price gouching should be the mesorah to remain?

  74. Dr. E says:


    Mi k’amcha Yisroel! People who steadfastly hold onto their own “mesoras” that have no basis in mitzius and others who are insecure with their own (lack of) mesoras and feel compelled to pick up those of others.

  75. concerned in canada says:

    i just finished reading j. rosenblums pesach hotels “a second look”. i had to take a second look at his first article to see how much of an about face he took. i read through most of the 73 comments to that letter and i think a main point is missing. lets leave the mussar to our rabbanim and roshei hayeshiva ! why cant the writer write about the myriad of good that goes on around peasach time? is it because its not that interesting to read? not an explosive subject to gain public output? i spent pesach at home this year with all the tons of preperations, meals for our family and guests, innovative chol hamoed trips ect. and loved it. last year we spent it at a hotel as a rabbi in residence and also loved it. both have their place at the right times for the right people. “a rav whose wisdom always impresses me” did not impress me. in short you have two choices in life. either to be a “half cup full” person or “half empty” person. rabbi rosenblum, with your writing talent why not bring out the best in a pesach yom tov or a city like lakewood, not the negative. thank you for all your articles

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