Sane ways to shop for Passover

Passover foods
Image from The JC, April 2016, Pesach food mark-ups price out thousands

As an Ashkenazi Jew, I was brought up to believe that Jews must suffer all sorts of  practical and economic pains to keep kosher for Pesach (Passover.)  It was understood that pretty much all foods had to have a certification of Kosher L’Pesach from a “recognized” rabbinical authority, and that without such a certification we could be guilty of violating a major Torah mitzvah – even inadvertently consuming chametz/ḥameṣ (חמץ )  during Pesach is a sin.

See this article, Pesach food mark-ups price out thousands, for an example of how these stringincies have hurt the Jewish community.

Yet it turns out that most of the common Ashkenazi shopping/eating practices are recent stringencies, developed when one person’s personal practice was later foisted upon the rest of the population as if it was a binding law. (And to be clear, despite the fact that this often happens, this kind of thing is actually against halakhah. Being Orthodox isn’t a guarantee of being correct.)

This brings us to the solution. Australian Sephardic Rabbi Raḥmiel Ezra Travitz wrote the most amazingly eye-opening rebuttal to Ashkenazi Orthodox Passover eating practices imaginable. Here is his essay

“Here’s a list of things I stop eating on Pesa’h: ḥameṣ”

What? How is this possible? Aren’t most items in the supermarket not kosher for Passover? Answer. Not really. Today, more and more religious Jews are abandoning the recent pseudo-stringincies, and following the actual halakhah, which is considerably more flexible on what we may buy. Rabbi Yitzchak Abadi of Lakewood NJ each year presents an extensive list of food already kosher for passover, that one may buy in the regular sections of a regular supermarket.

Also, Rabbi Jon Spira-Savett (Conservative, United States) offers a rabbinic guide for how to navigate when a Kosher for Passover label is and isn’t required, and how to shop for kitniyot (rice/legumes/etc) if you choose to eat them. You might be surprised as to when a Kosher for Passover certification is actually not required, and you can save some money in the process.

Elie Avitan writes about Rabbi Abadi: He was born in Venezuela and as a child emigrated to Israel with his family. At 19, he was sent by the Chazon Ish to study under Rav Aharon Kotler in Lakewood. After Rabbi Kotler’s passing, R Abadi emerged as the leading Posek of Lakewood and went on to found a Kollel Halakha in Har Noff and to publish a two part Halakhic responsa titled “Ohr Yitzchak”. He currently leads a Kollel in Lakewood.


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