Friday, March 5, 2010

PESACH, non edible Chametz Part 1

19th of Adar, 5770

We have already defined that Chametz is any food derived or containing any derivative from the five cereal grains: wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats.

What happens if something which is not a food contains Chametz? Is it forbidden to use/keep during Pesach?

The answer is no. The Halakha establishes that any non food product, even if theoretically will contain a Chametz ingredient could be used on Pesach, and of course, could be kept during Pesach. For example: Cosmetics, glues, paint, perfumes, soaps, detergents and any other cleaning products, disposable utensils, etc. In all these cases there is neither a need to check for the absence of Chametz, nor for any kind of Kosher for Pesach certification

According to Jewish law, a food or an edible element is not restricted to human consumption. Animal food, for example, if it contains Chametz, cannot be used or even kept during Pesach. Therefore, for dog food, cat food, birds food or even fish food, one has to be certain that they do not contain Chametz (keep in mind that most animal food DO contain Chametz!!! Check: and their Pet’s Passover Feeding Guide)

There are other products which are borderline between edible and non edible and their authorization for Pesach depends basically on different opinions and traditions.

So, hold your questions because next week B’H we are going to talk about using and keeping during Pesach: medicines, mouth hygiene products, dietary supplements, etc.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

PESACH, what is Chametz? Part 2

18th of Adar, 5770

As we explained yesterday there are only five grains which could become Chametz: wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt.

Rice then, is not Chametz. Still, the Ashkenazi and the Moroccan custom is to refrain from rice during Pesach. Why?

The reason for their abstention of rice has to do with the fact that many years ago it was very common to find grains of wheat in the bags of rice, since the fields where rice was grown were usually nearby or within the same fields where wheat was grown. Even today, there are many places in the world (India, Pakistan, Iran) where they rotate wheat and rice crops yearly (To understand this system called: "rice-wheat cropping system" see and Therefore, it would not be unthinkable to find a grain of wheat mixed with rice.

To avoid the possibility of accidental presence of wheat in rice, the Persian and Syrian custom is to check the rice very carefully, three times before using it for Pesach.

We also refrain from buying enriched rice, which sometimes could be enriched with wheat starch.

Brown rice could also be used, provided there are no other additives .

The following brands of rice are recommended by Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Haim as being 100% pure, not enriched, and with no additives or preservatives. LALQUILA, SHAZADEH, PARI, SHIVA GOLD, SHIVA CLASSIC, ROYAL, ZEBRA, KAARI and DEER BRAND

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

PESACH, what is Chametz, Part 1

17th of Adar, 5770

In order to fully understand and observe the laws and customs of Pesach we need to know first what Chametz is.

To be very precise: Chametz is any fermented substance coming exclusively from one of the following five cereal grains: wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt . These five grains consist of three species of wheat (rye and spelt) and two species of barley (oats).

Chimutz (this type of fermentation) only takes place when one of these elements gets in contact with water and after passing eighteen minutes.

Some common examples of Chametz are: Bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, candies, noodles, some baby foods, dietary supplements (usually drinks) containing fibers, soup powders, whiskey and beer.

It should be known that there are many other alcoholic beverages that contain grain alcohol. One of them is “Vodka” that many years ago was made only from potato, but lately, most brands of Vodka use grain alcohol, which of course renders them absolutely forbidden for Pesach. (See Later on B'H we will post a “Kosher lePesach food list” where one can check more specifically for authorized Pesach products.

Rice, corn, their derivatives and other seeds which are not one of the five mentioned grains are not considered Chametz, even if they are fermented.

B’H tomorrow I will explain the issue of rice and why some traditions –Ashkenazi and Moroccan- consider it forbidden for Pesach.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


16th of Adar, 5770

Pesach is almost a month away. The first night will be celebrated BH Monday March 29th 2010. Pesach’s laws and customs are so many and so diverse that our Rabbis indicated that thirty days before Pesach we should start reviewing the laws of Pesach.

Let’s begin then by mentioning what the Mitzvoth of Pesach are.

In its introduction to Hilkhot Pesach, Maimonides describes very briefly each Mitzvah and its timing, enumerating a total of eight Mitzvot (excluding Korban Pesach): 3 positive commandments and 5 prohibitions.

1. To eat Matza during the first night of Pesach (in the Diaspora, it becomes automatically the first “two” nights)
2. To tell the story of Pesach to our children during the night of Pesach (idem)
3. To dispose/disown of our Chametz Pesach eve, the 14th of Nissan.

4. The prohibition to eat Chametz during Pesach.
5. The prohibition to eat anything that contains Chametz, during Pesach.
6. The prohibition to own Chametz during Pesach (bal Yera-e)
7. The prohibition to own Chametz during Pesach (bal Ymatse). Mitzvot 6 and 7 are indeed identical: an exceptional case in the Torah!
8. The prohibition to eat Chametz Pesach eve, from noon.

In the following days BH we will have the opportunity to define and review all these Mitzvot.

Monday, March 1, 2010


15th of Adar, 5770

In Jerusalem today is still Purim. Better said, in Jerusalem today ISPurim. It’s called Shushan Purim..... Let’s start form the beginning…. In the times of Esther and Mordechai, the Jews of Shushan asked the King for an additional day to fight their enemies. So they waged war on the 14th of Adar instead of the 13th of Adar, and they celebrated their deliverance on the 15th of Adar, instead of the 14th.

Megillat Esther distinguishes between Shushan and all other places: "that’s is why all the Jews in the unwalled cities (be’are haperazot…) celebrate ... the 14th ….
Why does the Megillah mention unwalled cities? Because Shushan was a strongly fortified city, surrounded by a wall, a fact that gives certain preeminence to a city. Wishing however, to accord honor to the Land of Israel the Rabbis determined that any city which walls, from the days of Yehoshua bin Nun under whose leadership, the Jewish People first entered and conquered the Land of Israel, will have the same status as Shushan – although they might presently lack surrounding walls and might be in a state of ruin - and in those cities Purim will be celebrated the 15th of Adar.

In our times, the only city in which Purim is observed on the 15th of Adar is Jerusalem, "Yerushalayim.". According to some opinions the city of Tiberias, in the north of Israel, is also considered a walled city, one of the “walls” being the Kineret lake.

Happy Shushan Purim!