Ask the RabbiKeen on seder with quinoa

Dear Rabbi,

I read in the American kosher cookbook Kosher by Design by Susie Fishbein (published by Artscroll) that quinoa is kosher for Passover. Quinoa is actually a fruit that grows on a plant, not a grain as I had thought.

My question is: is it kosher for Passover in the UK? If so, would it be permissible to use an unopened packet bought in a health food store?

HildaASK THE RABBI 2

Dear Hilda,

Hey, for some, Artscroll is as sacred as the Bible! If Artscroll says it’s kosher, you know it must be, in the UK or anywhere else. After doing my own research,

I have established it is not related to the five types of grain products, nor to millet or rice. It is a member of the “goose foot” family, which includes sugar beets and beetroot.

Having undergone tests, it was determined that it decays – it does not rise. Furthermore, quinoa does not grow in the vicinity of chometz, nor does its growth resemble kitniyos (see Igros Moshe O.C. Vol. 3, 63).

Therefore, quinoa is 100 per cent kosher for Passover.

However, whether you are Ashkenazic or Sephardic, any quinoa would require kosher-for-Passover certification to ensure that it was kept carefully from contact with barley or any other grains and it may be advisable to check the quinoa before Passover for any foreign matter (such as barley) before use, by placing the quinoa on a plate and looking through the grains.

Ease my bake expectations

Dear Rabbi,

I work at an in-store bakery at a big local supermarket and will be working during Pesach. I’m not worried about bringing leavened matter back into my kosher home because I wear a full uniform at work with a hat.

My problem is I work for a supermarket which is a partnership.

This means that, until sold, I technically own the loaves I bake. Can you advise? Also, what should I do if a Jewish customer asks for a croissant during the festival?

Orit

Dear Orit,

As far as the supermarket is concerned, you are not allowed to own leavened matter over Pesach or derive any benefit from it. I don’t know the technicality of your partnership, but if you do own the leavened matter then you would need to sell your share for the duration of the eight days of Pesach, such that you don’t benefit at all from it.

If you should happen to identify a Jew buying one of your bagels on Pesach, look him square in the eyes and say: “Morris, eat the hole and leave out the bread around it!” Or simply tell him, “I am not making any money off your bagel so come back next week when at least I can share in the profits of whatever you eat!”

Or try simply, “Morris! Gevalt! It’s Pesach! Go to aisle four. We have the Rakusens there!” That should shock him into reality.

Why aren’t i free to dip?

Dear Rabbi,

At a friend’s seder last year I was surprised he didn’t let guests dip their matzah in soup. What weird custom is this? He’s invited me back again this year. Should I go?

Simon

Dear Simon,

Many communities have the custom to refrain from eating gebrokts on the first seven days of Passover. “Gebrokts” is a Yiddish word that refers to matzah that’s come in contact with water.

They do so for fear that during the baking process there may have been a minute amount of flour that did not get kneaded properly into the dough. Upon contact with water, that flour would become chametz.

This custom gained prominence around the end of the 18th century. At that time, people began to bake matzahs much faster than halachically mandated, in order to be absolutely sure that the dough had no chance to rise before being baked.

The flip side of this stringency is that the matzah we eat today is not as well kneaded as matzah used to be, and it is very possible that it contains pockets of flour.

The stringency of not eating gebrokts applies to matzah and water only – not to matzah and pure fruit juices or other liquids, which don’t cause flour to become chametz.

Those who are careful with gebrokts don’t eat matzah balls, matzah brei or matzah anything. In short, they do not cook with matzah at all.

Also, when there is matzah on the table, they are very careful to keep it covered and away from any food that may have water in it.

Go on the last day, because on the eighth day of Passover, which exists only outside the land of Israel, the gebrokts stringency does not apply. In fact, many have the custom to try to eat their matzah with as many liquids and wet foods as possible.

One reason for this is that the last day of Passover is connected with the future redemption a time when no evil will befall us. We reflect this reality by going out of our way to eat gebrokts on this day, without fear that the matzah may become chametz.