Thursday, March 27, 2014

PESAH, medicine and non-edible products

Sephardim are allowed to keep or use during Pesah any product which is non-edible, i.e., unfit for human or animal consumption, even if they might contain Hamets  For example: Cosmetics, glues, paint, shampoo, deodorants, perfumes, soaps, detergents or any other cleaning products, etc. In all these cases there is neither a need to check for the absence of Hamets, nor for any kind of Kosher for Pesah certification. 

The consumption of medicines in the form of capsules or non-chewable pills is also allowed. Why? Because when a medicine comes in the form of a hard non-chewable pill it is considered "non-eatable Hamets" (eno ra-ui leakhilat keleb) therefore, even if it would contain a Hamets by product (which is highly unlikely, as I will explain), one can take that medicine during Pesah. However,  chewable pills, syrups, powder-drinks, supplements drinks and/or any other flavored and/or chewable medicines or vitamins, should be certified Kosher for Pesah, or one should make sure that they do not contain any Hamets ingredient in their composition.    
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed explains that this Halakhic criteria is also followed by many Ashkenazi rabbis in Israel. He also clarifies that today, virtually all medical pills are made with potato or corn-starch and almost none with wheat-starch (among other reasons because wheat-protein, gluten, is harmful for celiac patients).  

It is advisable then, when possible, to ask the physician to prescribe for Pesah medication in the form of non-chewable pills. 
Needless to say that in case of a serious medical condition, any necessary medicine should be taken. 

Food that is suitable for animal consumption is forbidden to keep during Pesah. If one has a pet, therefore, one should get pet-food that does not contain any Hamets product.   Click here to see the Star K list of pet products Kasher for Pesah.
Dedicated to the memory of Ya'aqob Ben Yehuda, z"l