The following true story is NOT for the faint of heart. But, as I said, it is true, and it teaches a really good lesson–one that unfortunately I had to learn the hard way. You, on the other hand, can learn from my mistake, and always ASK before you take matters into your own hands.
It was Erev Pesach. I and two of my siblings, who shall remain unnamed for obvious reasons, were working in the kitchen and schmoozing.
“You know,” I mused aloud, “anything that touches food has to be kashered before Pesach…but what about our retainers? Food touches them all the time; why don’t we have to kasher them?”
[Author’s note: All three of us wore orthodontic retainers, after having worn braces for several years. All three of us.]
“Maybe we do have to kasher them!” said my sister.
“How?” asked my brother.
The three of us, all in our early teens, discussed it, until we came up with the obvious solution: we needed to immerse the retainers in boiling water.
And so, without stopping to ask a sheilah, without even asking our parents, we set up a pot of boiling water and proceeded to kasher those retainers.
Except that when they finally emerged from their scalding bath, they didn’t really look like retainers anymore. The plastic part had become misshapen and deformed, and suffice it to say, they did not fit in our mouths anymore.
Oh, and did I mention that each set of retainers, being custom-made, cost nearly $1,000? And all three of us wore them.
I don’t think I need to tell you how very displeased our parents were with us on that day…
But we had such good intentions! I remember thinking to myself in consternation. We were only trying to do what’s right; to follow the halachah like good Torah Jews. How could we have flopped so badly?
The answer, of course, is that it’s not enough to have good intentions and to want to follow the halachah; you need to ask and find out what the correct halachah is, in each and every case! (In this case, by the way, we were told that it would be enough to simply clean the retainers very well for Pesach, although each person should ask his rav for his own psak.)
And that is why I so strongly endorse investing in a clear and easy-to-understand sefer on hilchos Pesach, such as Kitzur Halachos Pesach, by Rabbi Zev Hofstedter, before attempting to go through this holiday on your own. Like this, you never have to guess about a halachah–everything is clearly explained, so that you know exactly what halachah requires you to do, each step of the way.
As I said, I learned the hard way about the importance of asking sheilos and checking up halachos in a sefer. But you can take the easier route. With the purchase of Kitzur Halachos Pesach, you can be sure that you won’t be making the kind of mistakes I did…
Click here to purchase online.