A Little Clarity – Halachic Questions via Text Message

Due to the space limitations of a text message, please note that it is particularly important to read carefully, pay close attention to the context of the question, and use the answers as a springboard for further study.

If you would like my phone number to submit questions, please leave a comment and I will send it to you.

Q:  The OU Passover Guide has a list of Almond milk with OU non-Passover certification that they say can be used on Pesach for infants and those that are ill.  Why can’t healthy adults use them?

A: On page 100 of the 2016 OU Passover Guide it says that the products may contain kitniyot.  Almonds are not kitniyot and if the Almond milks had even a 49% kitniyot content, the kitniyot would be considered to be nullified and the product could be used on Pesach by anyone.  It also says that some of the products may contain minor ingredients that are possibly, though unlikely, produced from chametz-based raw materials.  This is a more serious concern.  However, due to the following factors, it is difficult to understand why the Almond milk would only be permitted to infants and those that are ill (at the very least, if purchased before Passover).  If it is unlikely that these minor ingredients are produced from chametz-based raw materials, it would seem that one could rely on the majority and assume that they are permitted in the first place.  Even if they are actually chametz-based, chametz is nullified before Passover with a ratio of 1:60, and although Ashkenazim are strict to say that nullification is reversed once Pesach begins (“chozer v’neior) it would not apply in this case since the components are indistinguishable from one another (Rama 447:4).  Perhaps the OU’s position is based on policy rather than letter-of-the-law halacha (they may only give a full Pesach endorsement to products that they have determined with 100% certainty to be free of any chametz/kosher concerns even if the product is halachically permitted, but they are nevertheless willing to give a limited endorsement in certain situations).

Q: Why do dried dates need a special Kosher for Passover certification?

A: They are often sprayed with dextrose, a type of sugar – which requires Passover supervision (Shulchan Halevi p 107).

Q: Do vitamins have to be kosher for Passover?

A: Although the strict opinions on this issue are prevalent, the basic halacha is that if you can’t get a kosher/kosher for Passover version of a particular vitamin, as long as they are swallow-able they are OK.

Q: My family gets really hungry at the Seder.  What is the earliest time I can start?

A: In normal circumstances, one may not make kiddush on the first two nights of Pesach until nightfall (i.e. the same time Shabbat is over) since Kiddush has to be made during the time that one may fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah, and that mitzvah doesn’t commence until nightfall (like its partner mitzvah of the Pesach offering).  Additionally, all of the four cups (one of which is the Kiddush cup) must be consumed at night (Shulchan Aruch 472 with MB).

Q: Since Sefirah is coming, I want to get my haircut before Passover at the latest possible time.  When is that?

A: Due to halachic noon (midpoint of the day between sunrise and sunset) on Erev Pesach being the earliest time to bring the Pesach offering in the time of the Beit Hamikdash, that time and later is treated with a quasi  Chol Hamoed status.  Therefore a Jew may not cut hair after halachic noon but one may still get a haircut from a Non-Jew as long as Yom tov has not yet begun (Shulchan Aruch 468 and MB).  The same would apply to trimming one’s beard or shaving with an electric razor (but it’s possible that shaving would be permitted even after halachic noon according to those that permit it on Chol Hamoed).

Q: I washed and cut the tops off of strawberries using a chametz knife (all cold and clean). I have extras and want to freeze them. What is the status of the strawberries? Are they considered chametz or can I use them on Pesach?

A: A chametz knife can only transfer its status to food in three ways.  1. There is chametz adhered to it which transfers to the food; even if it is clean 2. if it is hot it will transfer chametz flavor which is absorbed into the knife; 3. even if it is cool and clean nevertheless if it is used to slice a sharp food like raw onions.  In this case, 2 and 3 do not apply, the only possibility would be 1.  Ideally, since we are generally strict about questions of chametz on Pesach and especially in this case when there’s no financial loss involved since you can save the strawberries for after Pesach, you should buy new strawberries for Pesach.  If you know that the knife and cutting board were spotlessly clean, then it would technically be permitted but as a precaution the strawberries should be thoroughly washed.



Source: Rabbi Isaacs Blog

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