Early winner of Pesach sillyness award

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I had the privilege of travelling around Israel with my daughter last week. We stopped at a museum shop which sells, among other things, Dead Sea creams and lotions. As we entered, I noticed that there was a kashrut certificate for these products displayed in the window. Apart from assuring me that the various lotions are kosher (in case i planned to eat them), the notice stated that they are fit בפסח למהדרין ללא חשש קטניות – suitable for Pesach to the highest standards, without any concern of kitnios (legumes and rice, which are avoided by Ashkenazim on Pesach). I am so pleased.

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27 Responses

  1. ja says:

    I agree with RDBeckerman on this one. I know a lot of people who are makpid on sicha on Pesach to include kitniyos. That’s why there are hechsherim on such products. (This chumra is more prevalent on Pesach, but some are even makpid during the year on this, obviously for kashrus and not chametz/kitnityos).
    With respect, what does it add to the price to buy comsetics that are free of chametz/kinityos vs ones that aren’t? While I don’t know the specifics here, and am not trying to reduce museum gift shop sales, generally speaking, museum gift shops are not the place to go to for great prices on cheap comsetic products, and I’m doubting that the hashgacha is making or breaking anyone’s ability to purchase (if it even adds to the price, has anyone here checked if the prices go up pesach time at this museum store??)
    Chumras like gebrochts spread through marriage. Woman who eats gebrochts marries man who doesn’t, and takes on husband’s minhagim to include gerochts. Man who eats gebrochts marries woman whose family doesn’t and the family takes on gebrochts so that the in-laws will come for Pesach. That’s pretty much the whole story for gebrochts, except that at some point there are so many people only eating non-gebrochts that companies start catering to them, because a product that is gebrochts doesn’t sell as well as ones that aren’t gebrochts. I really don’t think gebrochts is the type of minhag that people take on because they hear about it.
    The culture of chumra may be a new thing, but the culture of chumra on pesach is very old, and we’re not discussing chumras invented yesterday, so what’s the fuss about? a chag kasher vesameach to all

  2. Dr. E says:

    Doron

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    I’ll go with education. As you can see above, I did cite a primary source as it relates to nonedible chametz. [S.A. O.C. 442:2]

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    If you want to see a real caricature, perhaps I can record some video at the store that I am headed to. There are always people who are in the section of the cleaning solutions who cross-checking the variations on Lysol against the list in their book to confirm that these poisonous cleaning agents mast some level of muster. I once saw a frum young woman standing in the cleaning products section with her bare-headed father who appeared to not share her newly found observance. She had one of the “lists” and was apparently distraught that the oven cleaner that she wanted was not on it. The father had that rolling-his-eyes look of “my daughter is off her rocker—if we would have only kept her in therapy for just a couple more months”. I was tempted to just go up to him, show him my FFB membership card (or the aforementioned citation, to use as your educational “teaching moment”) and the variety of Easy Off that was on sale that week which I had picked up, and say “see, no list required”.

  3. Doron Beckerman says:

    Oh, please,

    if you’ve sat in homes where children (of all ages) struggled with ehrlich and knowledgable parents, or siblings against one another over these issues, ranging from showing disrespect to talmide chachomim grandparents to attempting to impose financial and other burdens on others, you would not requires statistical analysis. People do not need to prove what they see and know is true.

    I’ve sat in too many homes where this is emphatically not the case to accept that this is as widespread as some make it out to be. There are alot of things that people see and know is true for which they then unfairly cast a wide net of aspersion on an entire community, or nation, or ethnic group, including your own, whatever it may be.

    It is the sincere cry of people who are watching the carpet pulled out beneath them,

    I’m sure it is a sincere cry. Ridiculing it on the internet is absolutely the wrong method and venue for such a cry, even if it were as widespread as all that.

    and then lectured by people like you to 1) prove it and 2) shut up about it. No.

    I want you to prove the extent of it before using it as a cudgel to bash an entire Tzibbur, and to deal with it by education not ridicule. If you prefer to vent by ridiculing on the internet, then, indeed, שתיקה יפה.

    חג כשר ושמח לכל בית ישראל

  4. Daniel Rubin says:

    I believe Dr. E.’s is exposing a point supported by Avraham ben HaRambam in the Sefer HaMaspik LeOvdei Hashem. ( I am uncertain if this sefer and its author has been banned due to its association with the Slifkin affair :-)) To summarize, I believe that in the first section R’Avraham points out the corruption of assuming a halachic chumrah when one has not reached the apropriate personal level. Doing so, can be compared bribing G-d rather thanserving him. It seems unfortunate that there are some community leaders out there who seem to advocate chumros as a means to accelerate spiritual growth under all conditions.

  5. Oh, please says:

    Doron Beckerman, if you’ve sat in homes where children (of all ages) struggled with ehrlich and knowledgable parents, or siblings against one another over these issues, ranging from showing disrespect to talmide chachomim grandparents to attempting to impose financial and other burdens on others, you would not requires statistical analysis. People do not need to prove what they see and know is true. The negative stereotypical caricature may be negative and it may be stereotypical, but it is not unfair. It is the sincere cry of people who are watching the carpet pulled out beneath them, and then lectured by people like you to 1) prove it and 2) shut up about it. No.

  6. Reuvein says:

    I agree with Dr. E. There is a significant subtext here, and a none too subtle one at that. But Rabbi Beckerman is the only one who seems to have picked up on it.

  7. Doron Beckerman says:

    Dr. E,

    RSZA’s personal chumrah is cited in Halichos Shlomo. The rest of your comment unfairly perpetuates negative stereotypical caricatures without clarifying the extent of these phenomena.

  8. Dr. E says:

    Doron

    There are many stories of Gedolim taking on personal stringencies, sometimes for personal Halachic concerns and sometimes for reasons somwhat incidental. There is one famous one in which one was caught in a situation where his hosts were of less than scrupulous observance and used the chumra as a polite way of declining hospitality. As to not appear hypocritical, they reconciled to take on that Chumra for the rest of their lives. There is also that famous (probably apocryphal) story of Rav Moshe(?) who picked up and put down a milk carton in public, only to take one with a different hechsher–and when questioned responded that the first carton was empty. So, maybe Rav Shlomo Zalman was asked by Askanim to give his blessing on requiring a KFP Hechsher and was using the samples that the guys brought. Either way, I find these stories hardly compelling primary Halachic sources for those far from that level Gadlus to pick their chumros in a cafeteria-style way. My points above (and still remain) were addressed at those who are being machmir just because it is popular and those who are being machmir and/or hardly can afford the added financial cost of doing so. As far as I know, one is only required to beg or borrow for Daled Kosos, but not in order to cover shortfalls associated with these chumros, especially those newly adopted ones. Not to mention that these things blur what were previously the clear intellectually honest lines between Halacha and chumra, leading to some to hold steadfast to their obvious Halachic am-aratzus, while looking down at those who didn’t drink the same Kool-Aid.

  9. Doron Beckerman says:

    Stan,

    As I said, one need not be Machmir on it. Yet, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, while paskening as much, used only Kosher L’Pessach bar soap. Ridiculing this is inappropriate, and when it is used as a cudgel against the ציבור המחמירים by some commentors, it is egregiously so.

    The Minhag of scraping the chairs and walls that were in contact with Chometz (Shulchan Aruch 442 6) is based on aמ unwarranted expansion of a Yerushalmi, yet it is wrong to ridicule that too (see Mishnah Berurah there and Shaar Hatziyun there – ישראל קדושים הם ונהגו להחמיר אפילו במשהו. on which there is no Issur D’Oraysa, not even a Safek Issur D’rabanan, nor any Chashash Issur of getting from the wall into your food, no nothing. אין ללעוג!

  10. Stan says:

    Doron,
    1.The Gra states it’s only an asmachta (ולפיכך במקום צערא התירו)
    Rabeinu Tam doesn’t even hold it is assur at all.

    2. “It is permitted, therefore, to store and use all types of ointments, hand lotions, nail polish and medicated drops (for the ear or nose), etc., even if they contain an active chametz ingredient. These items are not fit for consumption and as the Rambam writes, “nifsedah tzuras ha-chametz,” they have lost their chametz “form.”[ O.C. 442:1; Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav 24; Igros Moshe, O.C. 3:62.] Similarly, certain cosmetics (eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, blush and rouge) and foot and face powders may be stored and used during Pesach[Sefer Hilchos Pesach, pg. 26]” [ from Rabbi Doniel Neustadt ]

    So we have a safek issur d’rabbonan applied to a minhag when the substance is itself totally botel?

  11. Doron Beckerman says:

    Ah, am I to understand that this wasn’t meant to ridicule a particular Chumra, it was meant to bash the ציבור המחמירים in general? I think that C-C is above that sort of thing. As careful as RSZA was in imposing Chumros on others…

    ספר חכו ממתקים על הגרש”ז אויערבאך ח”א עמ’ קסב הערה מו

    היטב חרה לרבינו כאשר שמע זלזול כלשהו בציבור המחמירים

    You’ll have to excuse me, but היטב חרה לי עד מות over this. I think the post should be taken down.

    They should be and can be easily addressed appropriately by competent local Orthodox Rabbis and not over the Internet based on some radical opinion that everyone has to jump on board to follow.

    So you think the appropriate response is ridicule, or education?

    As significant of a holiday as Pesach is from a Halachic perspective and room for SOME level of stringency, there has been a fundamental blurring of what is Halacha and what is chumra. While most Rabbis (who are intellectually honest) know this, this does not trickle down to the rank and file.

    So do you think the appropriate response if ridicule, or education?

    Somehow, the Orthodox condition has evolved into one where normative Halacha is now boring, passé, and therefore unacceptable to many.

    Please provide the source for the statistical study of such an observation.

    Family traditions and practices, as grounded as they are in Halacha, have given rise to what is popular and commercialized (Gebrokhts being a prime example).

    Ditto.

    In the end, the rush is short-lived either after Pesach or when the internal inconsistencies and contradictions are exposed relative to the rest of one’s Mitzvah observance both Bein Adam L’Makom and Bein Adam L’chaveiro.

    Or not.

    So, at the end of the day, are these contrived or adopted chumros really worth it?

    That is a question to be asked of one’s competent Orthodox Rabbi, not over the internet where the rabid anti-black-hatted-Chumrah-society hatred is a bandwagon everyone seems happy to fall all over themselves to jump on.

  12. Dr. E says:

    I think that many misunderstood the significant subtext here. It is not about the lotions, changing bedding under where cows sleep, or kosher for Pesach paper towels. Of course, there are issues which surface as they relate to innovation, technology, and greater awareness. They should be and can be easily addressed appropriately by competent local Orthodox Rabbis and not over the Internet based on some radical opinion that everyone has to jump on board to follow. [Not to purst anyone’s bubble, but a careful reading of Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 442:2 is perhaps the most informative primary source that puts any discussion of nonedible Chametz into Halachic perspective.]

    To me, there are a few take-away points:

    As significant of a holiday as Pesach is from a Halachic perspective and room for SOME level of stringency, there has been a fundamental blurring of what is Halacha and what is chumra. While most Rabbis (who are intellectually honest) know this, this does not trickle down to the rank and file. This is the case not only for Baalei Teshuva, but for those who are FFB and have no such family Mesorah for these stringent customs.

    There seems to be a “rush” associated with chumra, which Pesach certainly puts on steroids. Somehow, the Orthodox condition has evolved into one where normative Halacha is now boring, passé, and therefore unacceptable to many. Family traditions and practices, as grounded as they are in Halacha, have given rise to what is popular and commercialized (Gebrokhts being a prime example). In the end, the rush is short-lived either after Pesach or when the internal inconsistencies and contradictions are exposed relative to the rest of one’s Mitzvah observance both Bein Adam L’Makom and Bein Adam L’chaveiro.

    While it is a free country (here in and in Israel), these chumros are accepted by many who can least afford it. They cannot afford it based on their financial hardship and/or their Shalom Bayis challenges (both within one’s immediate family and with regard to one’s extended family) that they face. The family conflicts are exacerbated when there is obviously no family tradition or prior Halachic weaknesses to justify the added expense. So, at the end of the day, are these contrived or adopted chumros really worth it?

  13. Melanie says:

    ….people prefer handcream without kitniyot. Cream on the hands is liable to get into the food you’re preparing.

    Oy then I won’t tell you the BIG Rav who answered a shaila for me once late Erev Pesach, when my MIL gave me a gift of cosmetics waaaaaay after the time to burn, sell, whatever, and the ingredients on the lipstick included wheat!!!

    Not only was I ok owning it, the Rav said, but I could even USE it on Pesach!

    (But ask your own shaila please don’t rely on a stranger’s post on a blog….)

  14. Yahu Skaist says:

    Correction: My memory failed me. The Terumas Hadeshen said that there were those in his time who would even not get any benefit from kitniyos, but he disagreed because the custom of the prohibition was only on eating it since eating chametz is so serious that it incurs the kareis penalty but just deriving benefit from chametz does not, so there would be no customary prohibition on benefit from kitnoyos.

  15. Yahu Skaist says:

    According to the Terumas Hadeshen, the minhag issur of kitniyos might even be on Hana’ah. The Rema does not pasken this way. He says explicitly that it may be used for lighting but it could be like Doron said, that there are those Ashkenazim who are stringent since smearing is considered like drinking regarding terumah and other issurim. Based on the reasons behind the minhag issur kitniyos as brought in the poskim this does seem a bit extreme, but regarding this holiday of zerizus, it is inappropriate to ridicule any expression of its flipside, zehirus, especially if there might be some reasoning behind it. Of course those who need these creams may be considered cholim regarding the use of such kitniyos and in that case, according to all opinions the minhag issur kitniyos will not apply to them.

  16. Aaron says:

    When I spent a year learning in Israel I had the pleasure of purchasing a toilet bowl cleaner that was certified by the Eidah for Pesach. The certification appeared right next to the skull and cross-bones warning me not to drink it. Exactly what chumrah are we concerned about in this case?

  17. dr. bill says:

    i agree this is not in and of itself entirely ridiculous. were such hechsharim at ZEROI cost – why not? the problem is one of priorities; despite what is written in the “protocols”, jewish wealth is finite. being machmir to a fault in one area means that something else perhaps more deserving, receives less support. it annoys me when i see people who cannot feed their families or pay so that our teachers / rabbeim earn a decent salary, overspend for hidurim of every sort. it is the relative importance that must be kept in balance.

  18. Sarah Elias says:

    I should clarify that the prohibition on eating kitniyot was not instituted by the rabbis of the Talmud; rather, it was instituted much later and only by Ashkenazic rabbis. Hence, many Sefardim do eat kitniyot of one sort or another.

  19. Toronto Yid says:

    A dog isn’t going to try to eat Dead Sea cream, so technically it isn’t a problem. But as Observer observed, on Pesach people seem to desire to take on extra chumros. However, recall the issues of aftershave with ethyl alchol (chametz). IIRC when the Rabbis realized that skid row drunks would drink it, then perfumes and colognes became verboten on Pesach(even though a dog wouldn’t touch it!!)

    Ori: Kitniot isn’t chametz. So R. Belovski’s sarcasm especially relevant with respect to that point.

  20. David Zalkin says:

    Ori:
    Yes, there is absolutely no problem with having kitniyot in your house (or even your kitchen) on Pesach – they are only forbidden (for Ashkenazim) to be eaten.

  21. Sarah Elias says:

    Ori, kitniyot are not chametz and the (rabbinical in origin, not Torah) prohibition is only on eating kitniyot. You can own them and use them – just not with food, which is probably why people prefer handcream without kitniyot. Cream on the hands is liable to get into the food you’re preparing.

  22. Doron Beckerman says:

    Will all due respect, this is not ridiculous. There is basis in the Rishonim and the Vilna Gaon for סיכה כשתיה in other איסורים besides יום כיפור. See Beiur Halachah 326 10 ד”ה בשאר חלב. One need not be stringent about it, but ridiculing it, especially in regards to Chumros of Chometz on Pesach, is very inappropriate. See Shulchan Aruch 442 6 and Mishnah Berurah 28 there.

  23. Observer says:

    Some people won’t use creams that have any chashash of chomets (it touches your hands which touch food…) Considering what you pay for those items, I guess it’s a small price to pay for that marginal market.

  24. Ori says:

    So the rule that you’re not allowed to own any chametz over passover does not apply to kitniyot?

  25. What’s sillier, the label or that somebody will actuall think that it makes a difference and look down on those who don’t?

  26. Moe says:

    Aren’t there those who have the custom to have Kosher for Passover items even if they’re not edible? Why is this silly? Are customs silly?

  27. Edward Black says:

    Clearly they take a very literal view of their customers being “CONSUMERS”