Introduction

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It was taught in the academy of Eliyahu: One who reviews halakhot every day is assured a place in the Next World, as it states: “His ways are forever” (Habakkuk 3:6). Do not read this “ways” [“halikhot”], rather “laws” [“halakhot”]. (Nida 73a)

Daily study of halakha demonstrates that every facet and epoch of one’s life is connected to the godly ideals whose parameters are described by halakha. One who studies halakha daily connects his temporal, mundane activities to the world of eternal truth. Thus he will be part of the Next World. (Rav Eliezer Melamed, Preface to the Hebrew Peninei Halakha Series)

Over the course of the past two decades, Rav Eliezer Melamed’s Peninei Halakha has evolved from a radio program into a well-known and widely accepted Israeli halakhic code. Its twelve volumes (and counting) adorn the shelves of countless shuls and are the textbook of choice for teaching halakha in dozens of schools. In all, over 300,000 individual volumes of Peninei Halakha have been sold.

Peninei Halakha owes its success in large part to three guidelines that shape Rav Melamed’s composition. Firstly, he begins each topic by defining and elucidating its basic principles before moving on to the practical details. He thus distinguishes between the general and the specific, between the primary and the secondary. Secondly, he anchors his discussions in relevant contemporary issues, thus demonstrating how theoretical ideas impact the details of halakhic practice. Finally, he uses clear and accessible language to explain the theoretical and theological roots of halakha.

The result of these guidelines is a code of law that is crystal clear in its presentation, concise in its formulation, and well-organized. These qualities are attested in the approbations of many leading Torah scholars and former chief rabbis of Israel:

“It is composed in a manner that makes for easy comprehension and is made concrete through the use of examples from the contemporary reality. This is accompanied by explanations that make the material beloved by its audience and teach the love of God and man.” (Rav Shaul Yisraeli z”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav and author of Eretz Ĥemda and other works)

“I attest that Rav Eliezer Melamed invests days and nights clarifying the halakha and its rationale logically and with great erudition.” (Rav Shlomo Goren z”l, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Tel Aviv, and the State of Israel)

Rav Melamed’s book is of great value. He adroitly elucidates and illustrates the principles and reasons for the mitzvot and laws he addresses, and then he encompasses the vast details of the issue at hand, presenting both its principles and its specifics in a clear light. (Rav Avraham Shapira z”l, former Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav and Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel)

The content is written well and organized beautifully. Each word is placed on a foundation, so that the reader may read it quickly. (Rav Mordechai Eliyahu z”l, former Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz Harav and Sephardic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel)

I am impressed by his clear and readable style. He wisely chose relevant halakhic issues and problems of paramount importance to contemporary students of the Torah. He presents the foundations and basics in an organized fashion, to the point that his conclusions are virtually self-evident. (Rav Nachum Eliezer Rabinivitch, Rosh Yeshiva of Birkat Moshe – Maale Adumim)

The effort invested by Rav Melamed in assembling and reworking the material so that it is of use to those who populate the study halls as well as those who love and support Torah and wish to base lives of sanctity on a halakhic foundation – can be discerned between the lines of the work. (Rav Dov Lior, Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva of Kiryat Arba – Ĥevron)

You have blazed a singular trail in elucidating the depth and breaths of halakha by first considering the basis of each matter. By explaining the fundamental parameters and rationale of the halakha, you provide great clarity for each issue, down to the last detail. (Rav Zalman Baruch Melamed, Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva of Beit El, and father of Rav Eliezer Melamed)

Rav Melamed’s rulings relate to both Ashkenazic and Sephardic practice and chart a mainstream course rooted in practical common sense even while presenting other positions, whether lenient or stringent, and treating them with due respect.

Yeshivat Har Bracha is proud to present this translation of Rav Eliezer Melamed’s work on the laws of Pesaĥ, the first volume of the eventual translation of the entire series, to the English-speaking world. Although various portions of Rav Melamed’s halakhic writings have appeared in English in the past, online and in print, the reader will find that the present re-launch of the series will standardize style and usage and exhibit the accuracy, clarity, and concision typical of the Hebrew version of Peninei Halakha (for example, the list of kitniyot species that appears in section four of Chapter 9 is the result of hours of research, including consultation with linguists and botanists). We hope that our efforts yield a clear, readable, and thorough presentation of the laws of Pesaĥ.

Many people contributed to the preparation of this volume for publication, and we would like to express our gratitude to them. The initial impetus to translate Peninei Halakha into English came from Yonatan Behar, and Rabbi Maor Cayam was instrumental to transforming the idea into a reality and first publishing Rav Melamed’s works in English. The present volume was first translated by Yehoshua Wertheimer and Moshe Rapps. After undergoing editing, it was proofread by Nechama Unterman who, together with Dr. Yocheved Cohen, has been indispensible to the difficult and occasionally frustrating task of formulating stylistic guidelines for rendering a halakhic work into English. The editorial team at Koren/Maggid Publishers, specifically Tomi Mager and Rabbi Reuven Ziegler, gave this volume its current form and design. Their invaluable guidance ensured that the final product meets the needs and tastes of its English-speaking audience. The creation and presentation of high-quality, compelling Torah content is part and parcel of the vision of Koren and its publisher, Matthew Miller. We hope that Peninei Halakha takes its place on Koren/Maggid’s ever-expanding and increasingly comprehensive bookshelf.

 Rabbi Yogev Cohen, Director, the Peninei Halakha Project

Rabbi Elli Fischer, Editor, the English Peninei Halakha Series

Tishrei, 5774

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