Even Matzah is used to profiteer
Your Pesach issue [appearing, significantly, the day after April Fools’ Day] contained the fascinating juxtaposition of an ode to the ridiculous prices of kosher for Pesach items and a fascinating discourse by Rabbi Schochet in Ask the Rabbi on why one is not permitted to put broken matzah into soup during Pesach.
Each time a General Election was due, a friend of mine used to say, ‘Don’t vote – it only encourages them’. The same could be said of those who, in a frenzy to avoid ingesting even a scintilla of chametz, pay exorbitant prices for food that contains no leavening agents to start with. According to your report (‘Why is this price different?’) the mark-up on tea at the Jewish retailer was 69 percent, on honey 92 percent, on quinoa 159 percent and on Nutella an earth-shattering 267 percent. No wonder the shoppers surveyed there thought the service was friendly – if I were the proprietor I’d be positively ecstatic!
Thankfully, prices for kosher food have now reverted to their normal inflated levels, but the supermarkets have clearly missed a trick here. They could make a fortune all the year round if they displayed a new premium brand for their food products to be displayed alongside the existing ones, charged at three times the price and clearly labelled ‘guaranteed free of rats’ droppings’.
Even the matzah itself has fallen prey to the profiteers. Some years ago, very shortly before Pesach, a certain Beth Din declared that a very well-known brand of matzah was not kosher – but by a stroke of good fortune, in the last moment, they had managed to get a supply of matzot from Israel that they had adjudged to be kosher for Pesach, which was available at (you’ve guessed it) a grossly inflated price. It seems that a certain Yehoshua ben Yosef was spot-on when he inveighed against traders in the temple!
Rabbi Schochet tells us that matzah made since the 18th century has not been sufficiently kneaded and might therefore still contain minuscule amounts of flour that would become leavened if they came into contact with soup. However, he fails to touch upon what would happen if we were to eat that same sheet instead. The flour within it would come into contact with our saliva and in a flash we would have a mouthful of chametz and suffer instant excommunication.
On the other hand, I recall from my chemistry lessons (at Hasmonean Grammar School, no less) that when chemicals react with each other, they do so immediately they are mixed together. This would mean that the leavening process for the dough used to make matzah would have already started by the time it was baked. If so, then all our matzah is chametz, we are all transgressors and there’s no point whatsoever in buying anything that was kosher for Pesach!
Brendan’s views are on the money
Once again, your columnist Brendan O’Neill writes forcefully and understandably regarding the continued demonisation of Israel by many commentators. Unfortunately, as he rightfully points out in his column ‘Yarmouk exposes callous double standards of ugly Israel bashers’ (Jewish News, 9 April) the ‘so-called’ (my definition) plight of the Palestinians is nothing more today than open political, social and economic political warfare against Israel.
He mentioned the fact that in 1970, the self-named Palestinians (this term was used only in 1964 by Arafat as a further means to politically undermine Israel) were being dealt with by the then Hashemite King Hussein. He dealt forcefully with them as they were determined to turn Jordan into another Lebanon, which had been raped by Arafat and his fellow terrorists. A civil war had already began.
I was in Israel in 1970 and well remember that many Palestinians were throwing themselves at the Israeli border to escape the murderous intentions of the Jordanian army. Many were allowed in.
What a sad fact of life that our Jewish ‘leaders’ appear to show so much enthusiasm towards a three-state solution, than to remember history, understand real facts and to fight back as forcefully as Mr O’Neill, to whom I say, todah.
Regrets of rejecting Palestine partition
Regarding Brendan O’Neill’s column on Yarkmouk, I spent six months there as a volunteer nurse. The Arab Palestinians didn’t get it, either. I tried to explain that Euro-American culture has an ingrained hatred of Jews from nearly two millennia of being taught to blame them for deicide, and then scapegoating them for anything. And that there are those who have no qualms about using Arab Palestinians in their game of Jew-hatred.
My family was from Hebron, but the Mufti’s men killed most of us in 1929. He was known as the “Nazi Mufti” for good reason. Whether Arab nationalist, Nazi, Marxist-Leninist, or just purely corrupt, the Arab Palestinian leadership, be it PLO, Fatah or Hamas have got very, very wealthy from people’s hardship and pain.
The one thing I did hear, again and again, is that many of the folks I met and cared for would gladly exchange places with dissatisfied Arabs in the disputed territories, and can only regret that their grandparents and great-grandparents ever left, and refused UN Resolution 181 [the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states].