MYTHS & FACTS
Most Jews will tell you that their favorite holiday is Pesach. Most Jews will also tell you that the holiday they most dislike having to prepare is Pesach. While it is true that the work involved in preparing for Pesach is tremendous, the rewards for doing it well track straight to the Seder table. For almost every Jew of every “stripe,” the Pesach table is indeed a wonderful offering of love, tradition, Jewish law and family unity. We may joke about the so called Fifth Question (When do we eat?), but nonetheless, the familiar parts of the hagadah trigger tremendous emotional responses in us.
So just how do we celebrate this holiday that attaches itself so strongly to our hearts?
Probably no other holiday has as much misinformation and disinformation surrounding it as does Pesach. Let’s take a look.
MYTH: Vegetarians can not observe Pesach
FACT: In truth, Pesach is a hard holiday for Vegetarians, especially those who do not consume dairy products or fish. The fact is, almost all proteins that the rest of us eat in dairy and/or meat products can not be replicated in the Pesach Vegetarian diet.
OK, we get it. As we can not eat Garbanzo beans (chummus in Hebrew, also called chichi, nahit and chick peas) for protein, we realize that for the week of Pesach, the hard core vegetarian diet will be missing out on proteins. Most doctors think that this should pose little or no problem for healthy people.
What about the Seder plate, however? Good question! Many vegetarians use an avocado seed instead of an egg, and a beet instead of a bone.
Finally, over the years, we have found many good vegetarian, and other, recipes at www.kosher4passover.com/recipes.htm
MATZAH AND LIQUIDS
MYTH: It is forbidden to eat matzah/liquid combinations on Pesach.
FACT: Matzah/liquid combinations are known in Yiddish as GEBROKTS. A famous example, by the way, would be a kneidel (ie, a matzah ball). Some people have a CUSTOM to not eat gebrokts during Pesach due to a fear that by adding water to matzah, some leavening could still take place, thus rendering the matzah chametz. Not all Jews accept this minhag (custom). Of those who do, some refrain from eating gebrokts all of Pesach, while others will eat it on the last day of the holiday. The important thing to remember is that gebrokts is not forbidden at all. Many of us eat it all Pesach long!
MYTH: I can sell my animal with the chametz and, thus, be able to feed it chametz during Pesach.
FACT: Totally wrong! While our pets do not have to eat certified kosher for Pesach food, we may not feed them chametz- we can’t even own chametz during Pesach, so we certainly can’t use it to feed our animals.
On the other hand, even though we may not feed our pets chametz during Pesach, we can feed them trefe! Yes, you read that correctly- we can feed them trefe. We are forbidden to eat trefe, but we can own it. So, you can feed your cat shrimp during Pesach.
Here is the issue: Most animal foods contain chametz. We can’t, therefore, use them. In addition, we are forbidden (all the time) to feed our animals mixtures of beef and milk, also! On a year around basis, we need to be certain that the food we give our pets does not abrogate any halacha (Jewish law).
Kitniyot are not a problem for animal foods on Pesach. As a result, you can feed your pets kitniyot.
HELPFUL TIPS: Feed your guinea pig sunflower seeds, oranges, apple, carrot, alfalfa, lettuce, cabbage and pears. Feed other small pets along similar lines. There are many dogs, by the way, who love chicken soup. And if you eat matzah balls, give some to the dog, too!
When all else fails, ask a Gentile friend to take your pet to his/her home for the duration of the holiday and s/he can feed the animal all the chametz it can eat!
CLEANING AND CLEANING SUPPLIES:
MYTH: Cleaning supplies used for Pesach must be KP.
FACT: Not true. Cleaning supplies are not edible and are not foods. Should you swallow some by accident and live to tell the tale, it still would not be food and thus not subject to Pesach certification.
A few years ago, a company proudly announced that they were selling Kosher for Passover window cleaner. We still haven’t figured that one out!!
MYTH: You can not make a microwave KP.
FACT: Not true. Clean the interior of the microwave. Place a clean bowl of water in the unit. Nuke the water until the entire interior of the microwave is covered with moisture. Move the bowl of water to a different spot and nuke for just a bit more. And that, dear reader will make your microwave KP.
MYTH: You can’t kosherize your oven for Pesach.
FACT: Plain and simple, take the oven apart as much as possible. Remove any part that is removable, and scrub, scrub, and scrub some more. Basically, clean it until it won’t come any cleaner! Use a lot of oven cleaner, but if you have a “continuous-clean” oven, check your owner’s manual before applying an oven
cleaner. Some oven cleaners will destroy the finish on continuous-clean ovens. After a complete cleaning, put it all back together and turn on the oven full blast for one full hour. When cool, cover your racks with aluminum rack covers, found inexpensively at the supermarket, or use new racks for Pesah. Your broiler
pan cannot be kashered for Pesah unless you use a blowtorch! It must be brought to a higher temperature than it is normally used for, hence the blowtorch.
MYTH: There is nothing to eat on Passover.
FACT: There is a lot to eat on Passover if you eat simply and eat fresh. In addition, today’s consumer is faced with an array of Pesach goodies the likes of which have never before been seen. One company is selling KP “white bread” even. Frankly, we do not want to even taste it!
Here are some questions that come up every year:
Can I use an unopened container of pure maple syrup? Yes. However, you do have to open it first.
Is Quinoa kosher for Pesach? Yes.
Is there a KP corn starch? No. Of course, Ashkenazim would not be allowed to eat it anyway.
Does apple cider vinegar need P certification? Yes.
What about whiskey? There is not much out there, but you might find KP vodka, tequila, bourbons and liqueurs. Make sure the bottle states KP.
What is the status of guar gum, carob bean gum and carragenum? Each of them needs P certification.
What about canola oil? The Chief Rabbis of Israel have ruled that it is kitniyot. We do not agree. UPDATE: The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has reversed their former stance and now allow canola oil.
Why do my friends eat peanuts on Pesach? Because they can. In his Iggrot Moshe, the late, Rabbi M. Feinstein wrote that peanuts are ok to eat on Pesach.
Matzah does a number on my lower track- help! Metamucil powder (unflavored) is ok to use. Also the capsules of same are good, too. Oh, and good luck!
I don’t get it- what is the true story with green beans? The Rem’a (Rabbi Moses Isserles) ruled in his gloss to the Shulchan Aruch that string beans are fine for Pesach. The UTJ holds by that ruling.
So what’s the story with sweet potatoes? Enjoy them! Fresh ones are fine. Canned ones need P certification according to some.
MYTH: Peanut oil can not be kosher for Pesach?
FACT: Totally not true. Peanut oil may most certainly be used on Pesach- just try finding some that is certified! Even for those who think that peanuts are kitniyot (like corn), “mei kitniyot (liquid pressed from kitniyot)” is totally acceptable on Pesach. For some reason, none of the large kashruth agencies will allow these kinds of oils. A rep from one of the very largest agencies told us that people won’t use the stuff and that, therefore, companies will not go to the expense of making it.
MYTH: I have to “gift wrap” my entire kitchen for it to be truly kosher for Pesach.
FACT: Totally, completely, one hundred percent WRONG. Although most Ashkenazim cover the counters for Pesach, there is NO halachic necessity to do so. The Mishna Brura is abundantly clear that we need not cover the counters. Sefardim certainly don’t cover them. Clean your counters. Purge them with boiling water. Mop the floor. Voila- your counters are KP.
MYTH: Pesach is no fun!
FACT Pesach is a great holiday- one of the very best. Enjoy it, celebrate it, and savor it!
MYTH: There is no Pesach place to get up to date Pesach info.
You can email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org
Chag kasher v’Sameach!
Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport
Editor in Chief of the Kosher Nexus Newsletter and daily blog
Director of the Operation Pesach Information Service