Keeping Kosher on Passover
We will discuss the question of machine-made versus hand-made matzot and how the halacha is decided in this regard. Time permitting, we will also cover the topic of Kitniyot (Legumes).
Keeping Kosher on Passover: Lesson 1
Hello everyone. Today we discussed the subject of kitniyot. We saw that there are two approaches to the prohibition of kitniyot. One approach sees kitniyot as a “category.” In other words when we are asked about a new type of food which was not known in 13th century Central Europe we compare this new item to the kitniyot which were forbidden at that time. If the new item is sufficiently similar we will forbid it since this new item fits into the “category” of kitniyot. The second approach views kitniyot as a “list.” In other words there is a list of forbidden foods and if a new food item is brought to our attention we will not forbid it. There is simply no need to broaden the scope of a prohibition which is based on an ancient minhag. It is the disagreement between these two approaches that leads to divergent opinions about the quinoa seed (since it was not known about to the 13th century Jews) or the oil produced from kitniyot (since it is made by a process not yet invented in the 13th century and arguably the 13century Rabbis would not have forbidden that process).
Keeping Kosher on Passover: Lesson 2
Dear Everyone,Today we spoke about “shmurah matzah.” We saw that the matzot that we eat at the Seder need to be not just “kosher” (= non-chametz) but to possess a quality called “lishmah”- which means they have an aspect of having been made for the purpose of being eaten for the mitzvah of eating matzah on Pesach. There are two questions that need to be answered: (1)Does the matzah need to be made (from harvesting through baking)by mentally competent Jews, or is it sufficient that the process be supervised by mentally competent Jews? (2)If matzah needs to be made “lishmah” is a matzah made by a machine considered to possess “lishmah?” Besides these halchic/technical issues, we saw that there were Poskim in Poland who opposed machine matzot because they were opposed to any changes in how we perform mitzvot.
Keeping Kosher on Passover: Lesson 3
Today we discussed the question of using tap water on Pesach. The question is an old one. The prohibition of tap water is based on the rule that chametz that is mixed into food on Pesach is “assur bemashehu”- in the most miniscule quantity. This being the case, and with the reality that chametz is being tossed into the Kinneret on Pesach, there are people who store water before Pesach to use on Pesach (the chametz that is mixed into the tap water before Pesach is nullified 1 part in 60). We saw that in the Middle Ages opinions were divided over the question of what to do if bread was found in the town well on Pesach. Some authorities forbade the use of the water, some permitted its use. The reasons to be lenient (as listed by Rav Ovadiah Yosef ) include (a) cold water does not absorb the taste of chametz (b) the taste of chametz in drinking water is deleterious (c)Chazal never decreed that large , flowing bodies of water could be prohibited by a miniscule piece of chametz (indeed we saw that the Aruch Hashulchan says that such an idea would be absurd). Rav Ovadiah Yosef adds that there is a real possibility that the fish in the Kinneret might eat the chametz before the 24 period needed to create the prohibition would pass. Thank-you for participating in these shiurim and I hope to see you again in the next z’man. Chag kasher vesameiach, Stuart Fischman
Rabbi Dr. Stuart Fischman graduated from Yeshiva University in 1980 and the dental school of Columbia University in 1985. In 1989 he began studying and teaching at Yeshivat Hamivtar and now studies and teaches at Yeshivat Machanaim in Efrat. He has rabbinic ordination from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg.