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The Blessing over Trees, And Kashering the Kitchen for Pesach

According to formal law, it would have been possible to recite the blessing over tress at the time of their blooming after winter, but the Kabbalists emphasized the importance of the blessing in the month of Nissan specifically * The kashering of a gas stove should be done by light libun of the stovetop grates, or wrapping them in foil; on an induction cooktop, it is sufficient to pour boiling water over them, and heat a pot on it * Kashering an oven: clean the leftover food, and heat it to the highest setting for half an hour

Our Sages said “One who goes out during the days of Nissan and sees trees in bloom says, ‘Blessed is He Who did not omit anything from His universe and created in it good creatures and good trees, to benefit mankind with them’” (Berachot 43b).

The purpose of the blessing is to thank Hashem for His kindness, for reviving and flowering the trees that stood dry in winter, and now, bloom and grow flowers that eventually will develop into good fruits that humans may enjoy (Peninei Halakha: Brachot 15:8).

Time of the Blessing

The time of blessing depends on the flowering of the trees after the winter, whether before or after the month of Nisan. Regarding our Sages statement that the time of reciting the blessing is during the days of Nisan, this is because in the Land of Israel, trees usually bloom in Nisan. In the northern countries, where flowering is delayed until the month of Iyar, the blessing is recited le-chatchila (ideally) in the month of Iyar. A person located in the southern hemisphere, where the flowering of the trees occurs in the month of Tishrei, should recite the blessing over trees in the month of Tishrei (Har Tzvi, O.C 1: 118). However, the Kabbalists emphasized the virtue of this blessing, through which great tikkunim (rectifications) are made to the neshamot (souls) who have been re-incarnated in trees, and these tikkunim are made precisely in the month of Nisan. Consequently, some Achronim wrote that one should be careful to say the blessing precisely in the month of Nisan. Those quick to fulfill mitzvot recite the blessing on Rosh Chodesh Nisan.

The Laws of Kashering Stoves – Types of Stoves

In order to explain the halachot of stoves, their use for meat and dairy, and koshering them for Pesach, we must first state that there are four types of stoves:

1) Gas stoves – they are the common stoves, in which the heat source is from a fire lit on gas, and the pots are placed on the bars above the heat source.

2) Electric ranges – where the source of heat comes from electric heating elements instead of a gas fire.

3) Ceramic burners – in which the source of heat is the flat surface on which the pots are placed. The surface is made of impervious glass, and is heated by electricity.

4) Induction cooktops – also in which there is a surface on which the pots are placed, which is impervious glass, but unlike ceramic burners, in which the heat source is within the ceramic surface, in induction cooktops the heat source is in the pot, which heats up by means of a magnetic field. From the pot, the heat spreads to the food cooking within it, and to the surface on which it is standing.

Use of Dairy and Meat Stoves

In gas stoves or electric stoves, it is permissible to use the same stovetop grates for meat and milk, because even if a little meat or dairy sauce spills on to them, the fire incinerates and befouls it.

The same is the case with ceramic burners, where it is permissible to place a meat pot, and other times a milk pot on the same surface, since the heat of the burners burns what occasionally spills from it.

However, one should be stringent not to eat foods that have fallen on the metal surface under the bars, because sometimes there are remnants of meat and dairy foods there. If a thick piece of food fell there, one may cut and throw away a thickness of about two centimeters from the side of the food that touched the surface, and eat the rest.

If one is sure that the surface has been cleaned well, and it is still clean, it is permissible to eat what has fallen on it, since all the concern is of actual residue or oiliness on it, but there is no need for concern that the surface has absorbed flavor that will later be released.

Likewise, if dairy food has fallen there, and it is known that since the last cleaning no meat food has been cooked there, the dairy food that fell there is kosher (Peninei Halakha: Kashrut 25: 13).

Induction Cooktops

Since in induction cooktops the source of heat is not in the surface, but rather the heat spreads from the sides of the pot to the food and to the surface on which it stands, these cooktops do not have the full power to burn anything that spills from the pots. Therefore, those who are not careful to always clean what has spilled from the pots, should always make sure to heat the meat foods on one side, and the dairy foods on the other, so that it does not happen that a milk pot is placed on top of food that has overflowed from a meat pot, or vice versa.

However, those who make sure to clean every time a dairy or meat dish has overflowed, may use the entire surface for either a meat pot or a dairy pot. This is because the glass of these cooktops is non-absorbing, so as long as the overflowed food that got on them is cleaned, there is no concern. On top of that, even if the glass was absorbent, as long as the pot remains dry, there is no prohibition in the pot touching the surface (Peninei Halakha: Kashrut 25: 13).

Separation between Milk and Meat Pots

When cooking a pot of meat and a pot of milk on the stove at the same time, one should make sure that there is a space between them, so that one dish does not overflow on to the side of the other pot. And if the two pots touched each other during cooking, as long as there was no moisture that connected between them at the point of contact, the pots and the dishes are kosher, as the flavors do not pass through dry dishes (Rema YD 92: 8). But if there was moisture that connected them, such as one dish spilled over – the food in them are kosher, but the pots require hagala (Peninei Halakha: Kashrut 25: 11).

Kashering Stovetops that became Treif

Gas stove: Le’chatchila (ideally), one should clean the stove and do light libun on the grates. If it is difficult to do light libun on the grates, it is enough to clean the grates and do hagala in boiling water, and if the grate is longer than the depth of the pot, one side should be inserted first, and then the other side. For the areas of the grates that do not come into contact with the pots, the enamel cook top beneath the grates, and the burner caps it is sufficient to clean them well, and do not require libun of hagala. Le’chatchila, it is good to turn on all the flames and let them burn for about fifteen minutes.

Electric ranges and ceramic burners: Clean thoroughly and run on the highest setting for about 15 minutes, based on the principle of ke-bole’o kakh polto.

Induction cooktop: clean the surface and pour boiling water on it, and heat the pots on it for about fifteen minutes, so that they heat the surface under them according to the way they are used (Peninei Halakha: Kashrut 33: 9).

Kashering Stoves for Pesach

Gas stoves: the law of kashering them for Pesach is the same as the law of kashering them from treif. Admittedly, from ikar ha’din (letter of the law), their ruling is less stringent, since chametz is permitted all year round, and therefore some poskim are of the opinion that it is enough to clean the stove for Pesach without light libun or hagala. However, due to the severity of chametz, it is customary to kasher the grates for Pesach with light libun, as the law of kashering them from a treif (Rema 451: 4, MB as loc. 34).

Instead of this, one can cover the grates on which the pots stand with aluminum foil, in order to create a buffer between the grate on which the chametz foods are placed in Pesach pots. And it is also customary to let all the flames burn for about fifteen minutes.

For the areas of the grates that do not come into contact with the pots, the enamel cook top beneath the grates, and the burner caps it is sufficient to clean them well.

Electric and Ceramic Stovetops: clean thoroughly, and heat on the highest setting for about fifteen minutes.

Induction cooktops: they are kashered as one does for treif – clean the surface and pour boiling water over it, and in order to kasher them from the food that overflowed and got stuck to the bottom of the pot is based on the principle of ke-bole’o kakh polto: wet the bottom of the pot when they are empty, and heat them up on the cooktop for about 15 minutes.  from the residue that was stuck under the pots, the bottom of the pots should be moistened with water when they are empty, and heated on the surface for about fifteen minutes, and as such they were emitted (Peninei Halakha: Pesach 11:2) .

Microwave for Meat and Dairy

One is permitted to use the same microwave for dairy foods and meat foods while creating a separation between them. When separating, one should pay attention to two things: one, not to put dairy or meat foods directly on the same plate. Second, that a lot of vapor does not enter the microwave cavity into the food being heated.

Therefore, care must be taken not to place foods directly on the fixed plate of the microwave, rather, dairy foods on a dairy plate, and meat foods on a meat plate, and these plates should be placed on the microwave plate. Also, a special lid for dairy foods and a special lid for meat foods should be set aside. And even though steam comes out through the small holes in the lids designed for microwaves, the vapor coming out of them does not have the power to accumulate on the walls and ceiling of the microwave and to give them flavor, and even more so, they do not have the power to emit a flavor that may have been absorbed by the walls of the microwave, and put it into the food that is being heated.

It is also possible to determine that the regular state of the microwave is dairy, and if one wants to heat a meat dish in it, one should place another plate, or other surface, on the fixed plate of the microwave, and cover the meat foods with a lid or a box, or wrap them in a bag. This is also what one should do when he heats a parve food to eat it with meat foods.

Kashering a Microwave from Treif and for Pesach

There are three steps to kasheringmicrowave oven: 1) cleaning it thoroughly of any residual food resulting from spillage or steaming; 2) perform hagala with boiling water for the rotating plate; 3) heating a bowl of water for about ten minutes at the highest setting – thus, kashering it from cḥametz steam and vapor that stuck to, or got absorbed in it, when used with treif, or chametz.

Kashering a Baking Oven from Treif and for Pesach

The oven itself and the racks on which trays are placed are kashered by cleaning them and running the oven on its hottest setting for half an hour.

Baking trays are not kashered because they absorbed through fire, and kashering them requires libun at a temperature of 400oC, which will likely cause them serious damage. One should therefore buy special baking trays for Pesacḥ, while the cḥametz trays should be cleaned and put away like all other ḥametz utensils. Instead of special Pesacḥ trays, one may use disposable trays (Peninei Halakha: Pesach 11:3).

However, when one kashers an oven from treif, and there is no way to obtain new baking trays, or they cost a lot, they can be kashered by thoroughly cleaning them, and then heating them in the oven on its highest temperature for about half an hour (Peninei Halakha: Kashrut 33:7, footnote 8).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

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