This week, Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet tackles Pesach prices, quinoa and the dilemmas of working as a pizza delivery boy.

Read Rabbi Schochet’s blog at shul.co.uk/rabbi or follow him on Twitter @RabbiYYS.[divider]

  • Rabbi Schochet

    Rabbi Schochet

    Can i deliver my pizzas?

Dear Rabbi

I’m studying accountancy, with a part-time job delivering pizza. Must I take off the entire festival of Pesach or can I work during the middle days?

Harvey

Dear Harvey

The prohibition on Pesach is not restricted to just eating chametz but includes owning it (hence we sell it) or deriving any personal benefit from it. Based on the latter point, you do have a particular problem because by earning money from your pizza delivery, you are benefitting directly from the chametz.

This raises a different concern: I can safely assume that sometimes you are delivering one of Pizza Hut’s pepperoni pizza specials (that’s also only an assumption).

The problem again is that, like chametz, a milk and meat mixture is the other unique prohibition (reiterated three times in the Torah) from which one is forbidden not just to eat, but also to derive any personal pleasure.

I think you might want to consult with your local rabbi on the matter or simply look for another job. Better still; hurry up with the accountancy degree – that’s a job for a nice Jewish boy!

  • Why are Pesach prices higher?

Dear Rabbi

Why are Pesach prices so much more expensive than kosher food the rest of the year?

Linda

Dear Linda

Let’s see: there is the cost of the supervisor who goes into the plant to make sure it’s all kosher. No, wait! He does that anyway throughought the year; maybe a few extra hours before Pesach but not much difference.

Well, the added labels and ink that say “kosher for Passover,” costs extra – but if you consider that the word kosher is already on there, that should allow for a discount of some percent.

I did some research and found the answer in Wikipedia. I looked up highway robbery and came up with this: “A mugging that takes place outside and in a public place such as a sidewalk, street, or parking lot…or Passover kosher shop.”

A few years ago, a large group of rabbis signed a price gouging ban in New York. To quote: “Now before Passover, especially when the economy is so bad, we are reminding people of the Jewish law concerning monopolies.”

Those same rabbis caution store owners to have mercy on the consumer all year around, but particularly at Passover when there is so much need. I would argue this isn’t something that should apply to only when the economy is tough. There are many people who find things difficult at other times.

This is an excellent opportunity to do a big shout out to Kosher Outlet in Brent Terrace, NW2. They keep their prices to a bare minimum, sometimes even cheaper than the main supermarkets and they are open to the public regardless of financial stature.

  • Is it quinoa or is it qui-yesa?

Dear Rabbi

Simple question. Quinoa on Pesach – yes or no?

Rachel

Dear Rachel

Yes and no. Chametz on Pesach is defined by any food product made of wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt, or their derivatives, which has leavened or fermented.

Our sages have determined that flour from any of these five grains which comes into contact with water or moisture will leaven unless fully baked within 18 minutes. Quinoa is not one of these grains, nor is it related to any of these grains, and is therefore not chametz.

Nevertheless, there are two factors that must be taken into consideration with regards to consuming quinoa on Pesach: 1) Kitniyot (lit. legumes) is forbidden to Ashkenazim because they can become easily confused with forbidden grains. This includes, but is not limited to, rice, corn, soybeans, stringbeans, peas, lentils, peanuts, mustard, sesame and poppy seeds.

While some would include quinoa in this ban, many leading authorities insist it is not related to the grain products, nor to millet or rice. Quinoa is a member of the goose foot family, which includes sugar beets and beetroot. Some authorities tested quinoa to see if it would rise and the end result was that it decayed rather than rose.

2) That said – there’s always a “but” – quinoa is often grown close to grains such as barley and is also often processed in the same factories. The machines may not be adequately cleaned in between; both these factors would be of greater concern.

Furthermore, some prominent kashrut agencies discovered some farmers cover their quinoa with barley and/or oats to stop the birds eating it while it dries, creating a concern there may be grain kernels within the packaged quinoa.

Finally, the sacks used to transport quinoa may have been used to hold barley or oats, which raises the same concern. However, these concerns can be mitigated through proper supervision. Experts in kosher supervision have travelled to quinoa plants and farms in Bolivia to determine where these concerns apply.

I therefore suggest, if you want to be especially stringent you would leave it out. However, I maintain this is an added stringency and not halachic.

Should you wish to use it, in light of the other concerns, you’d have to ascertain that any quinoa has the required kosher for Pesach certification to ensure it was carefully kept from contact with barley or other grains.