Begin the housecleaning process. Methodically inspect and rid every part of your home of any traces of chametz. Be on the lookout for crumbs of all sorts, hidden stashes of crunchy chocolate, fermented drinks (nearly all are made with grain), etc. Make a list of all the rooms in your house, and cross off each one as you complete it.
Enforce the pre-Passover house rules: No food may leave the kitchen. After eating, clothes must be brushed off and hands thoroughly washed.
Set aside a special space or spaces to stash the chametz you will be selling for the duration of Passover (see next item). This can be a closet, a cabinet in the kitchen or a room in the basement, as long as it can be locked and inaccessible to you for all of Passover.
Buy the Passover essentials: purchase your matzah and wine in advance, and store it in a place where it is absolutely safe from any contact with any chametz.
If you’re not making a Seder at home, your local Chabad-Lubavitch center has reserved a place for you! Click here to register for a Seder at the location of your choice.
A few days before Passover:
Begin work on making your kitchen “Kosher for Passover.” Put away all utensils that have been used year round, and lock or seal those cabinets. Put away all non-kosher-for-Passover food, and seal those cabinets. Once your kitchen is completely clean, do the special procedure to kosher your kitchen and appliances for Passover.
(Now that your kitchen is clean and all your non-kosher-for-Passover food put away, you will only be able to prepare and eat kosher-for-Passover foods there. If you’re not ready to start eating only kosher-for-Passover food yet, you can buy ready-prepared food and eat it outside of the house, or in a place that will be “sold” for the duration of Passover.)
Take stock of your Passover inventory. Take out any special-for-Passover dishes or silver from where they are stored. Polish the silver. Make sure you have Haggadahs for the Seder.
Make sure that your holiday clothes and shoes are ready, ironed and polished. Treat yourself to something new—an outfit, shoes, or even just a tie.
Sunday night—4/9/2017 (24 hours before Passover):
Do the ritual search for chametz. Take a candle, a spoon and a feather, and search the house for any remaining or forgotten chametz.
If you are a firstborn son, or the father of a firstborn son under the age of bar mitzvah, participate in a siyum or other mitzvah feast, in order to be absolved of the “fast of the firstborn.”
The last time for eating chametz is approximately two hours before midday (click here for local times). Past this point, no chametz is eaten until after the festival.
The final time for getting rid of chametz is approximately one hour before midday; click here for local times. (By this time, all cabinets and areas containing chametz that will be sold should be sealed.)
Burn any leftover chametz that is not being sold, including anything that was found Sunday night at the search for the chametz. Recite the “nullification statement,” renouncing all ownership of any chametz that may still remain in your possession.
The Omer count begins tonight.
Outside the Holy Land, tonight begins a second day of Yom Tov (hallowed festival day), which is basically a repeat of the first. Light the festival candles from a pre-existing flame (as it is forbidden to create a new flame on Yom Tov) after nightfall. The entire Seder is repeated tonight. (This time, however, there’s no midnight end time; you can go on until morning.) The next day is the second festival day; go to the synagogue for the special Passover prayers and Torah reading. (For details, see P through S above.)
We’ve now entered the four “intermediate days” of Passover. Perform the havdalah ritual (sans incense and candle), marking the close of the first days of the holiday. Celebrate the intermediate days with matzah, kosher-for-Passover cooking, family trips (in the newly cleaned car), and more retelling of the Exodus story. It’s still Passover, so we don’t eat, own or derive enjoyment from chametz, but most activities prohibited the first and last two days are permitted. We also add special passages to our prayers: Hallel, Yaaleh Veyavo and Musaf.
Yizkor, the memorial prayer for departed parents, is recited following the reading of the Torah during the morning prayer service.
As the day wanes, spend the final hours of Passover with “Moshiach’s Meal”—a special feast in honor of the Redemption. We’ve spent eight days celebrating the exodus from Egypt. Now, as we leave Passover, we pray for the exodus from our present exile and a brighter tomorrow.
At nightfall, the Passover holiday comes to an end. Make havdalah over your last cup of kosher-for-Passover wine. Put away the Passover dishes, Haggadahs, and all other Passover items, locking them away until next year. Then . . .
you can once again enjoy chametz food and drinks, and feast on pizza, bread, beer—anything kosher. (Just make sure it’s not chametz that was in the possession of a Jew during Passover.) But as you do, don’t forget the eight days of freedom you’ve just experienced, and remember that throughout the year—as you enjoy all your leavened food—you still carry a bit of the matzah spirit with you!