Rabbi Shlomo Pearl, Shlita, renowned Maggid Shiur in Halacha, and Rosh Kollel of the Bostoner Halacha Kollel, recently provided the following valuable information relating to our Pesach observance:
(reprinted with permission from Hakhel)
1. After some research, he knows of only three (3) New York area Shmura Matzoh bakeries which utilized only Shomer Shabbos workers. This is not to say that other bakeries utilize non-Jews, or that his research was fully exhaustive; however, he asked one bakery (with many employees from the former Soviet Union) if they utilized only Jews in Shmura Matzoh preparation. They answered in the affirmative. He asked them how they knew their employees were Jewish--they responded, 'Before we hire them we ask them: 'Are you Jewish?'
In response to all this, one can say that 'I rely on the Hashgacha' (if, in fact, there is a Hashgacha listed on the box). However, we ask--before purchasing a $100,000 diamond, would you not make some independent investigation as to its authenticity? For further reference as to the acceptability of non-Jews baking Shmura Matzohs to be used at the Seder, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 460:1 and the Mishne Berurah and Kaf HaChaim there.
The three New York metropolitan area bakeries with Shomer Shabbos employees he noted are Bais Rochel, Pupa and Lakewood.
2. In Ponevez Yeshiva, Bnei Brak, tradition has it that there is always supposed to be someone learning in the stately, beautiful Beis Medrash. At about 3:30 a.m. on the Leil HaSeder, a gentleman walked into the Beis Medrash to see if he could find someone learning even then. Indeed, he found a father and his sons learning about Yetzias Mitzraim. Asked why he was in the Beis Medrash with his sons at this hour, the man responded, 'You would not ask me this question on Leil Shavuos or even Leil Hoshana Rabbah. Yet, Chazal themselves actually teach us here, as recorded in the Haggadah, that the more one speaks about Yetzias Mitzraim on this night, the more praiseworthy it (he) is.' See the Tosefta in Pesachim 10:8 for further elaboration. Rabbi Pearl Shlita, therefore suggested that, given this is such a rare yearly opportunity, one should use extra special effort at Chad Gadia not to fall asleep at the table or 'make it into bed' just as you conclude the Seder. Instead, one should weigh the supernally precious moments and spend an extra little while, let us say one-half hour, just talking more about what you could not get through or look up at the Seder--even if you are only talking to no one other than yourself.
3. The Mishna (Pesachim 116B) teaches that everyone should view himself as if he individually left Egypt. The Rambam (Hilchos Chometz U'Matzoh 3:6 and 3:7) writes that in order to personally feel the redemption, a man must lean/recline b'heseiba to the left on this night, which is 'derech cheirus.' In fact, the Rema (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 472:7) and the Mishne Berurah (ibid., seif katan 23) rule that lechatchila not only do eating the Matzoh and drinking the four Kossos require heseiba--but the Seudah--the festive meal--should also be eaten b'heseiba. We note, however, that the actual recitation of the Haggadah should not be bheseiba, but 'b'eima uv'yirah'--with a special awe (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 473, Mishne Berurah, seif katan 71).
4. It is said that the Steipler Gaon, ZT'L, had a breakfront with chometz dishes in it. He did not make anyone cover up the dishes, or even cover the glass on the breakfront. Instead, he simply tied a cord around the handles as a method of reminding and restricting people from getting into the cabinet. This is what one may simply do with respect to the cabinets which are labeled 'Sold to the Non-Jew', just put some 'heker'--something to remind and somewhat restrict you from entering the area. However, we note that putting things 'in the attic' or 'in the laundry room' without somehow otherwise restricting access to them is not enough, as even though you do not plan to go into these rooms on Pesach, somehow the chometz-related items have a way of finding themselves back into the dining room.