Friday, March 14, 2008

Is Pesach In A Hotel Wrong?

Heck, it's not even Purim yet and we're already discussing Pesach. :)

Dayan Shalom Friedman, a rav in England, says that going away to a hotel on Pesach is bad because it takes people away from the task of cleaning their homes. As reported in The Jewish Chronicle:

The holiness of Pesach “rises with the many preparations that you perform before the festival,” he says in a letter circulated to the Charedi community.

Another quote from the article:

Dayan Friedman, the son-in-law of the former head of the Union, the late Rabbi Chanoch Padwa, said that a local hotel might be an option for people not well enough to make Pesach.

But “chas vashalom [Heaven forbid]”, he wrote, that people “should be tempted by the adverts to celebrate the holy festival in a far-away country on a beach with all the conveniences and royal service”.

Personally, I think it's a case of "different strokes..." Eeees and I are not the "hotel for Pesach" types. Even if we had the money to spend (which we don't), we wouldn't go for it. We feel that Pesach is best spent at home with family and/or friends and not in a hotel with a thousand other people. But that's just us. I have close relatives who *do* go away for Pesach to hotels. For them, it's okay. Who's to say that my way is the only way?

If Dayan Friedman is against hotels because of the environment, or the expense, or whatever, then he should just say so. Casting it in light of "... it bad because you won't clean your house" is, IMHO, fallacious. Ask yourself this question: if my parents lived in Chicago, and Eeees and I chose to go to their house for Pesach, would he *really* object and say "no, you should stay home and clean?" My guess would be no - he probably would not have any objections.

In addition, there's also the issue that arises from the fact that he clearly has many, many rabbanim who disagree with him. Who are these rabbanim, you ask? Well, they're quite easy to find... just open up the Jewish Press and look at the advertisements for Pesach getaways. Just about all of them feature who their scholars-in-residence are... and for some of these places, those scholars are "big name" scholars. By casting his remarks as he is, he is also casting aspersions on those rabbanim as well.

The bottom line is this: it's up to each family to decide how they want to spend Pesach. Provided that they aren't actually violating any issurim, just let them be. You may think (as I do) that it's not the ideal way to celebrate Pesach... but don't project your preferences upon everyone else.

The Wolf

Hat tip: VIN


G said...

but don't project your preferences upon everyone else.

I'm sorry, how rude of me...apparently you have not been introduced.

I'm sure you guys will hit it off in no time.

G said...

Almost forgot.

I'm not sayin'...I'm just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

Just one more rabbi puffed up on his self importance.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when each family baked its own Matzah. Perhaps we should return to that.

All kidding aside, there is some value, it seems to me, in putting effort into preparation for the holiday. Of course, this can be taken too far. In that context I am thinking of an acquaintance of my mothers whose (now ex-)husband insisted she scrub the driveway on hand and knee before Pesach even though she was 8 months pregnant at the time. (He couldn't do it because that would be bittul Torah)

ProfK said...

Where someone spends Pesach should be a matter of personal preference. We stay home and love it. Others go away and love it too. Different strokes for different folks.

But perhaps the Dayan should check the Hagaddah. It says "avodim ho'yinu." Today we are free men, free to decide where and how to celebrate yom tov. Check the Shulchan Oruch. For Pesach a man is supposed to buy for his wife the finest of clothing and jewelry he can afford. We are supposed to set the table "like rich men." When he says " with all the conveniences and royal service” and says this is ossur does he really mean to say that he knows better then the Shulchan Oruch? Apparently so.

Would it be rude to inquire if he personally does "the many preparations that you perform before the festival"? Does he actually do the planning, shopping, shlepping, cleaning, preparing, cooking and serving for yom tov?

Anonymous said...

We don't go away. When I was younger I dreamt of either going away or someone inviting us for a change. It's hard to do pesach at home with toddlers. But we are the only ones frum in the family (both his and my side) so we just grid out teeth and suffer through all the preps.

Now years later, we get invites and suggestions to go away, but we decline them all. Yes, it would be nice, but then who will provide that slimmer light of Judaism to the rest of the family?

We learned to love our pesach including all the negatives in it.

But not everyone is unfortunate enough to have no frum family members. So, they are free to pick up and go and enjoy the holiday with their children. Nothing wrong in it.

G said...

Perhaps slaves to a pharoah we no longer are, but servants to God we surely remain.

The question becomes what sits at the center, the hotel/vacation or the Yom Tov.

Yes we are free people, but free from what and free to be what?

Lion of Zion said...

1) i have no problem in theory with people going away. i just don't understand spending so much $ when you can sometimes spend the same amount (or less) to go to israel for the holiday

2) i highly doubt that it is possible to keep a hotel kosher for pesach

shababt shalom

-suitepotato- said...

I have to side with the rabbi on this. I'd rather stay home with the non-kosher and seriously messed up house with my family, doing the best we can, and continuing to ask G-d for help to improve than run off somewhere and think, "hey, not my residence, so not my responsibility to clean it".

My wife agreed when I brought this up last year.

loz, I would agree with keeping a hotel kosher for pesach being impossible. Can you imagine hallways filled to beyond fire safety levels with people hunting chametz down?

There's an Adam Sandler skit in it that would just go wrong and result in something like that Cincinnati Who concert.

ProfK said...

i highly doubt that it is possible to keep a hotel kosher for pesach

Why would that be any different in Israel? As long as non jews and non frum jews are working in the hotel, the problem would be the same whether here or there. Either you trust the mashgiach or you don't. The kitchen is the least of the problems. It's what individual guests might have in their rooms and bring into public parts of the hotel that would seem to be more problematic.

Miriam said...

two wonderings:

(1) In the 'olden days' didn't people not have the means to afford the korban and so had to come in groups to eat and share?
(2) This may be a case of cat and mouse chase.

First some rabbis insist you must scrap and scrounge for every last piece of chometz. The extreme becomes the norm. Some don't want to be bothered so they go to a hotel (hopefully with their house basically cleaned and free of chometz) and sell their house.

Now rabbis are going after the hotelers?

Lion of Zion said...


i'm not sure if you are joking around or not. but in case you aren't, i was referring to keeping the kitchen kosher.


"Why would that be any different in Israel?"

i didn't say it would be any different in israel. although at least in israel the hotels are kosher all year round. this means that the staff is generally familiar with working in a kosher environment and what this entails.

"Either you trust the mashgiach or you don't."

it has nothing to do with trusting the mashgiach (though i don't). my impression is that it is too big of an operation for one mashgiach to oversee, even if he has the best of intentions.

"It's what individual guests might have in their rooms and bring into public . . ."

why is this problematic? (of course as long as the don't use hotel dishes/cutlery for their hametz)

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Having done the hotel thing for a couple of years, I have to disagree with the esteemed Rav.

First of all, as noted above, the last few years have seen the rise of so many obsessive compulsive stringencies that it becomes almost impossible to clean a house for Pesach.

Then, we decide "To hell with it" and we'll go away to avoid the problem. Oh, now that's a problem too.

In other words, we'll make Pesach impossible and when you try to escape, we'll guilt you back into prison.

This is normal?

Orthonomics said...

Do all of the Rabbi's congregants clean their own homes?

Sometimes I am under the impression that I am one of the few Jewish women without a cleaning lady.

Lion of Zion said...


maybe you could start a cleaning lady gemach

Commenter Abbi said...

Unless one employs a daily housekeeper, which I'm sure many pple do, most women with once a week help have to do most of the cleaning themselves.

Also, what's wrong with getting cleaning help, anyway? Is there a mitzvah to be a martyr or drive yourself insane?

Here in Israel, many yeshiva bochurim advertise as cleaning help. I've had limited success with some, but it sure beats pushing the furniture around myself.

This year, since I'm due right after Pesach, I'm giving myself a heter to close up and camp out at Chez Mother-in Law's (Chez Schver?) I hope the Dayan will forgive me my sins.

Orthonomics said...

Abbi-No one need be a martyr. I'm just not willing to spend money on cleaning help that really won't eliminate the main work for me. Most the cleaning I do takes place an unplanned times. Probably a subject to write about.

I was only commenting on the Rav's idea that one should clean themselves.

As for helping clean up for Pesach, I find the main work is in kashering. My kids can help run a vacuum and they can use a broom. We don't get overly hyper about where chometz could be hiding.

Commenter Abbi said...


It's a whole different ball game with small children. My older one at almost 5 can probably help a bit, but not enough to make a real difference. And, because small children find the darndest places to hide chametz (cheerios in the linen closet, dried pasta behind the couches) it's not being hyper to have to look in all these places.

Growing up my brother and I did most of the Pesach cleaning and covering but that wasn't until we were at least 9 or 10.

In any case, to me it's worth it to skimp on other things to keep my sanity and have help, definitely until my kids are old enough to really pitch in.

Orthonomics said...

A lot has to do with the layout of one's house. All I can say is that we are very blessed. Our layout allows me to exercise more control and I am fairly strict about where the kids eat and they seem to follow along. But I think that too may have more to do with the home's layout than me. Location of the pantry and a door separating bedrooms from the dining and living room area really helps.

Anonymous said...

But I'm sure it's ok to go to the Ukraine for Rosh HaShana

Nice Jewish Guy said...

You know, Pesach cleaning isn't supposed to be a rafters-to-floorboards "spring cleaning". You clean the areas that usually encounter chametz, and you do the best you can with a 'normal' cleaning. You don't have to make your home surgically clean. Clean your kitchen thoroughly, and the rest of the house you can clean, dust, vacuum as you normally would be anyway. That's it.

I think this is just another example of "the Rabbis" having a problem with people enjoying too much comfort and convenience. A hundred years ago, even fifty years ago, life was much harder. Now, we can go away for Pesach, but some have got it in their heads that for some reason we shouldn't. Just more proof that some rabbis can't stomach people being happy.

Commenter Abbi said...

njg: Not sure you're talking directly to me, but I'll respond: I really don't autoclave my home for pesach. But my kids, 2 and 4, are really good at getting chometz in all sorts of unconventional places, because I'm not strict about keeping food in the kitchen or at the table (Israeli children have this peculiar need to eat all food in baggies.) So, a decent cleaning requires me to go through everything, because chometz could very likely be in the back of the toy chest, behind bookcases, etc.

Lion of Zion said...

so i guess no one liked my idea about a cleaning lady gemach?

queeniesmom said...

Mom decided to treat us to Pesach away. This is a 1st for all of us. She decided that she wanted to experience being catered to and she wanted her family with her. Usually we make Pesach together at my house. I'm sure we'll miss somethings but will enjoy others. Ultimately, it makes her happy to do this and is something she has always dreamed of being able to do, so who am I or some other ..... to tell her it's assur. How absurd. Bottom line, it's her money that she has worked hard for. So away we will go.

Anonymous said...

I bet he's just bitter because he didn't get invited to be scholar-in-residence anywhere over Pesach.

Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

When ‘dayanim’, ‘rabbis’ and false ‘mekubalim’ use the Torah for their own power and commercial profit, this behaviour is abhorrent.

No other ‘rabbi’ will ever act against another ‘rabbi’ - even when he knows his colleague is clearly desecrating the Torah. Each rabbi is only worried about losing his own position.

Therefore, the ‘rabbi’, ‘dayyan’ or false ‘mekubal’ (‘kabbalist’) will never effect justice. And he will never truly stand for the Torah or the Honour of Hashem. His pocket will always prevail.

The Torah must never be used for commercial gain and profit. Amm israel can only be lead by those who have the necessary love and respect of Hashem and the Torah.

Eliyahoo William Dwek said...

Any man who chooses to be a ‘rabbi’ (‘true teacher’ of Torah) or a ‘dayan’ (‘judge’), or a ‘mekubal’ (‘kabbalist’) should be doing so Voluntarily. Out of his pure love for Hashem and the Torah. And his Ahavat Yisrael.

If he refuses to do community work voluntarily, and wants and accepts payment for everything he does, such a man should not be leading a community. He should get a job and earn a living. He can collect milk bottles or clean the windows. That is what is called ‘earning a living’.

Torah is learned, studied and taught: out of Love. Voluntarily. But the ‘rabbis’ have turned the Torah into their ‘Profession’, from which they earn money.

We are commanded in the Shema to:

‘LOVE Hashem, your G-d, WITH ALL YOUR HEART, and with all your soul and with all your might.’

‘VE’AHAVTA et Hashem Elokecha BECHOL LEVAVECHA uvechol nafshecha uvechol meodecha.’ (Devarim, Vaethanan, 6:4-5)

Is the ordinary man or woman PAID to pray to Hashem, or to say some words of Torah? No. Has veshalom! But the rabbis are. These men can give ‘lovely’ shiurim that they have rehearsed. But they would not give a shiur without being paid for it.

The true hachamim and rabbis of old, all actually worked at proper jobs and professions.

Wake up! Even a little child could have worked this out. These salaried men can never truly stand for the Torah, because in a case of conflict between a correct course of action according to the Torah, and the rabbi or rav’s pocket – his pocket and position will always prevail.

Pirkei Avot: (2:2)
“Raban Gamliel beno shel Rabi Yehuda HaNassi omer: yafeh talmud Torah im derech eretz, sheyegiat shenaihem mashkachat avon. Vechol Torah she’ein imah melacha sofa betailah ve’goreret avon. Vechol haoskim im hatzibbur yiheyu imahem leShem Shamayim……”

“Rabban Gamliel, the son of Rabi Yehuda HaNassi, said: It is good to combine Torah study with a worldly occupation, for working at them both drives sin from the mind. All Torah without an occupation will in the end fail and lead to sin. And let all who work for the community do so for the sake of Heaven………”