12 Apr PESACH QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What could be the issues with unflavored ground coffee – regular or decaf – for Pesach?
Regular caffeinated and unflavored coffee is kosher for Pesach even without special supervision. Decaffeinated coffee needs a Pesach supervision because alcohol can be used in the decaffeination process which could be a question. Flavored coffee, all year round and especially Pesach, needs to have supervision.
It would be best to buy sugar for Pesach with a special Pesach supervision. In general, I strongly recommend buying all foods with Pesach supervision. If you have sugar without Pesach supervision, you can use it, but it’s preferable to use sugar with Pesach supervision because there is an enzyme that is used in sugar that could be a problem. Even if it is used, there is such a minuscule amount that would not make the product not kosher for Pesach. But for us to label a product Kosher for Pesach, it has to be 100% without a question and that’s why we’re not labeling sugar as kosher for Pesach if it doesn’t have all the “i’s dotted and “t’s crossed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it, and it certainly doesn’t mean that if you use sugar without a kosher supervision, you should discard the food.
Eruv Tavshilin isn’t relevant to the first days; it’s relevant to the second days of Yom Tov. To give a basic overview, you can never cook on Yom Tov for after Yom Tov, nor can you cook on Yom Tov for the next day of Yom Tov. So you can’t cook on the first day for the second day. The issue here is, when you have yom tov on Friday/Shabbos and you have to put up food on Friday because you can’t cook on Shabbos. The way that becomes permissible is by putting an eruv tavshilin on erev yom tov, Thursday. The eruv should consist of one baked food and one cooked food with a bracha to be said when you set it up. You should have in mind that based on the eruv tavshilin you should be able to cook and bake on Friday afternoon for Shabbos, and you should be able to light candles on Friday afternoon for Friday evening. If you don’t put down an eruv tavshilin, if you’ve only made that mistake once, you can rely on the fact that the rabbonim, when they make their eruv tavshilin, have in mind that people may have forgotten to make it. But that’s not something you can rely on on a regular basis. You can’t say, I’m not going to pay attention. What you can do is ask someone else to do it for you, but the best thing is to put down your own eruv tavshilin and to have in mind that it’s for everyone in your family.
Particularly if you’re having guests that are coming to you on Yom Tov, they’re not home so they’re not making their own eruv tavshilin.
You should have in mind that they can rely on your eruv tavshilin.
The mechanics of the Eruv Tavshilin are as follows. If you’re not allowed to cook for after Yom Tov on Yom Tov, how does the eruv tavshilin work? The way it works is, you’re not allowed to cook on Friday for Shabbos but you’re allowed to cook on Friday for Friday.
Since guests may show up from Friday afternoon and of course you would serve them food, it’s less serious and you can rely on the eruv tavshilin.
One may not start preparing or cooking for the seder already on the first day, which this year would be on Shabbos for after Shabbos. One shouldn’t even set the table Shabbos afternoon even though it doesn’t involve any chilul Shabbos. You can’t do anything until the time Shabbos is over; the same thing goes on Yom Tov. You can only cook food on Yom Tov that you’re going to eat on Yom Tov itself.
COSMETICS ON PESACH
When we think about cosmetics, it’s not something edible, not even by a dog, and should not be seen as a problem. Even if there’s something with chametz in the product, as long as it’s not edible it shouldn’t be a problem. Whenever we speak about Pesach it’s good to be machmir, be careful, and there are those that rely on different lists which list cosmetics that are chametz free. If you can get such a cosmetic, it’s even better! But a cosmetic that is totally inedible is not an issue. This is aside from lipstick; lipstick is something you ingest so you should be more careful.
What are the potential issues for Pesach regarding raw meat or raw fish that has a regular hashgacha but is not specifically certified for Pesach? This would be both for large pieces/filets, as well as ground.
We tell people that raw meat and fish, even if they don’t carry a special Pesach supervision, is acceptable. But if you bought raw meat or fish that isn’t certified for Pesach, you should wash it. Any meat that’s processed, meaning chopped meat or cold cuts or anything that has spices added to it like pickled meat, needs special hashgacha for Pesach.
IF SOMEONE IS GOING AWAY FOR PESACH TO A HOTEL-WHAT KASHRUS QUESTIONS SHOULD THEY ASK BEFORE BOOKING? WHAT ISSUES CAN COME UP AT A HOTEL OVER PESACH?
The kashrus questions you should ask are, what hashgacha does the hotel have? Is it a reliable hashgacha? Unfortunately, too many people are calling me with questions about hotels where they have already booked the reservations and didn’t think to ask under which Kosher supervision is this program. I can tell you that we at the OU, the largest hashgacha in the world, don’t give hashgachas to any hotels for Pesach. It’s very complicated to certify hotels for Pesach. If a hotel isn’t fully kosher, there’s a section they take and the rest of the hotel isn’t kosher, I would strongly recommend not to go there on Pesach. Therefore, I would recommend that you make sure the company giving the hashgacha is reliable and up to standards you are comfortable with. It’s not something you should take for granted that just because the hotel advertised in Jewish media, there’s no question you can go there.
MAY ONE EAT PEANUTS ON PESACH?
There are different customs on whether peanuts are considered kitnios. Someone who considers them kitnios should definitely not eat them. those who don’t consider peanuts kitnios, can eat them on Pesach. I remember when I first joined the OU, we had a company that made a run every year of peanut oil because there are people that consider peanut oil not to be an issue because they don’t consider peanuts to be kitnios. That company stopped manufacturing peanut oil because less and less people are eating peanuts on Pesach.
DOES HONEY NEED A KOSHER FOR PESACH CERTIFICATION?
Pure, unadulterated honey is fine. Again, there is plenty of kosher for Pesach honey that I would recommend but pure, unadulterated honey is fine.
GOING TO A MOTEL ON CHOL HAMOED- KASHERING A MICROWAVE & REFRIGERATOR
In terms of going to a hotel on pesach, you’re allowed to go into the room, but the Halacha is that you have to do bedikas chametz. Check the room, you don’t necessarily have to use a candle and obviously you can’t use 10 pieces of bread, but you should check the room and check the refrigerator. If you want to put food into the fridge you need to clean it first. In terms of the microwave, the halacha is that you can’t kasher it on Pesach. Any kashering you do, has to be erev Pesach before the zman. So, without getting into the question of how to kasher a microwave, you can’t kasher it on Pesach. So, if you’re going to want to use the microwave, which is not something I recommend, but if you really need to use it, clean it well and then triple wrap everything.
THE MINHAG OF NOT MISHING (EATING OUT) DURING PESACH
based on everybody being very careful of what we eat and don’t eat on Pesach. Everyone has their own standards and they want to make sure everything is done properly and the way we do that is eating at home. It’s hard to have a conversation about going to a hotel on Pesach and then talking about not mishing; those are two extremes. There’s always the issue of shalom bayis and if your parents and in-laws are inviting you and they want to see you and your children, I’m not sure that it takes precedence over shalom bayis, especially if the standards that are being used where you’re invited are standards you are comfortable with. Being a religious Jew means being a thinking religious Jew, and being a thinking religious Jew means thinking of the consequences of what he does. So there could be a minhag of not mishing, and it could be a very worthwhile minhag, but it should not be at the price of shalom bayis or other such considerations.
SHEMITTAH & PESACH THIS YEAR
Shmittah is not as much of an issue that it used to be because Israel is not the same agricultural country it used to be. Israel is much more into High-Tech now than produce. Pesach isn’t any more of an issue than the rest of the year. It actually might be more of an issue next year. The most common product people use on Pesach that come from Israel is wine. But the wine that is in the store this year is not from the shemittah grapes; the shemittah grapes are going to be picked this fall. We’re going to have to look out next year and the year after to make sure it’s not from this year’s wine. Shemittah wine has certainly not been produced yet and is not in the market. But certainly, anything from Israel has to have a good supervision and if it has a good supervision they are certainly following all the rules regarding shemittah.
HOW DOES ONE KASHER GLASSWARE?
Ashkenazic minhag is that we don’t kasher glass for Pesach.
DO ALCOHOL-BASED SANITIZERS REQUIRE PESACH CERTIFICATION?
You can use them.
CAN ONE KASHER A HEATING DRAWER FOR PESACH?
We recommend not kashering them for Pesach.
HOW CAN ONE SELL LIQUOR AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES TO A NONJEW AS PART OF MECHIRAS CHAMETZ, IF THE NEW YORK LAW IS THAT THE SALE OF THOSE ITEMS REQUIRES A SPECIAL LICENSE?
It’s a good question but what’s been determined over the years is that the government does not oppose something sold for religious reasons and so, even though you didn’t go through all the government steps, they don’t care.
HOW DO I KASHER MY DENTURES & BRACES FOR PESACH?
The best thing I can recommend is to clean them as best as possible. Not in a way that will ruin them but wash them with warm water and don’t eat hot chametz for 24 hours before Pesach.