Monday, March 24, 2014

PESAH, what is and what is not Hamets?

Our father, Rabbi Yosef Bitton is in mourning for his father, Ya'aqob Ben Yehuda, sitting shib'a in Buenos Aires with his family, asked us to send the HOTD for this week based in what he wrote last year.

 During Pesah we are not allowed to eat, benefit from or even posses anything hamets But, what exactly is Hamets? Hamets (or Chametz) is any fermented substance -solid or liquid- that comes from one of the following five grains: wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats.

The Hamets fermentation takes place only after eighteen minutes have passed, from the moment one of these grains or one of its by-products comes in contact with water. 

Some common examples of Hamets products are: Bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, fiber-drinks, cereals, baby foods, whiskey and beer.

The following three factors need to be present simultaneously for a food to be considered Hamets.

(i) Flour or any other product derived from one of the above mentioned five grains.  A fermented food product which is not or that does not contain any element coming from one of the five grains, like rice or corn, is not Hamets. (tomorrow, BH, we will explain this subject better).

(ii) Water: when flour coming from one of the five grains is mixed exclusively with pure fruit juice, without water, the dough is not considered Hamets but Matsa Ashira.  

(iii) Time.  The Matsa  has two of the three elements that makes a product Hamets: flour and water.  But it is entirely baked before eighteen minutes have passed from the moment water and flour came in contact.  Time, therefore, is the main difference between Hamets and Matsa. 

The prohibition of Hamets includes another element, a food additive which the Tora calls se-or (שאור). Se-or (grain yeast) is a catalyzer of the fermentation process. In other words, once you have a dough, flour and water, mixed together the fermentation process could take place in 18 minutes, or you can add se-or / yeast and the fermentation process will be faster.  All the prohibitions of Hamets apply to se-or as well.   

Today's HOTD is dedicated to the memory of Ya'aqob Ben Yehuda, z"l who passed away eve of Shabbat 19 of Adar II 5774. תנצב"ה