Diet Drinks: Kitniyos that have undergone a process of change

[Disclaimer: everything I write is not להלכה and not למעשה. In this case, my knowledge of food science is also, at best, cursory. Do discuss this issue with your Rabbi and don’t be influenced in practice by my pitputim]

In Halacha, legumes which have been traditionally not used over Pesach for a number of well-known reasons, are forbidden. This is the Ashkenazi prohibition of Kitniyos. Some, like Rabbi David Bar Chaim (who I remember as David Mandel when he was in Melbourne many moons ago, and who went to study at BMT/Hakotel at around the same time that I went to KBY 🙂 asserts that it’s not a blanket Ashkenazi prohibition, but rather one that is an Ashkenazi prohibition outside of Israel. His view is that Minhag Eretz Yisrael was never to adopt the minhag not to eat Kitniyos. I would assume, that Rabbi Bar Chaim, should he find himself in Chutz La’aretz over Pesach, would adopt the Minhag of Ashkenazim in Chutz La’aretz and not partake of Kitniyos. My assumption may not be true, of course, as he would appear to have a renaissance-style agenda for reinstating what he sees as Minhag Eretz Yisrael, even prior to Mashiach coming, rejecting any imported Minhagim from those who have made Aliya over the last 3-400 years.

What is the הלכה if Kitniyos is an admixture of a food stuff? Do we assume that it is Batel B’Rov, nullified by the majority of the ingredients which are fine, and bought before Pesach? This is a disagreement amongst the Poskim, however, where there is any semblance of a medical need, given that the issue of mixtures isn’t black and white, Poskim are certainly lenient across the board.

What about the derivatives of Kitniyos? This is known as מי קטניות? Famously, Rav Kook ז’ל declared that they were completely acceptable, because Ashkenazim never had a Minhag not to consume this, and the process negated all the issues that Kitniyos came to protect in the first place. Rav Kook’s permissive ruling is halachically sound, however, Charedim rejected it and as such it has become a default “not to rely on this Hetter”. Having said that, I well recall that even in Melbourne, as the outsiders “infiltrated” our midst, certain Kitniyos or questionably Kitniyos derived oils (מי קטניות) were definitely used by almost everyone. Peanut oil is a good example. It is highly unlikely (as per R’ Moshe ז’ל) that peanuts were ever included in the ban on Kitniyos. If we couple that doubt together with the fact that we aren’t dealing with peanuts per se, but rather a product derived from peanuts, and prepared before Pesach with a Hechsher, it can cogently be argued that there should be absolutely no problem. However, we have a long-standing custom to choose something with zero doubt over Pesach: that is, we are Machmir. Being Machmir (stringent) seems to be a long-standing Minhag. In a similar way, during Aseres Yemei T’Shuva we have a custom to be Machmir on Pas Palter and perhaps Chalav Stam even though we aren’t Machmir a whole year around.

Enter the Diet Drink. Our society loves their Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, Diet Prigat etc. When you pick up a bottle of these at your local Kosher greengrocer, you will see that the Coke has at least one “Charedi” Hashgacha, such as from the Chug Chasam Sofer, or Rav Lande from B’nei Brak. Yet, the diet version has a Hashgacha from the Rabanut. What gives? Artificial sweeteners are often derived from Kitniyos. They are another level away from מי קטניות. Why? Because they have been chemically altered/processed. This is known as קטניות שנשתנו, Kitniyos that have undergone a process (chemical) change/development. Again, the Poskim are divided on this issue. Unlike Kitniyos derived oils, however, on this issue even Charedi Poskim stand on either side of the debate. One cannot just dismiss it because it emanated from the “Zionist” Rav Kook (did you know, by the way, that Rav Kook refused to join a religious zionist political party). On this issue, we have very respected Kashrus authorities who permit it: such as Rav Belski (senior Posek of the OU and a Charedi Rosh Yeshiva) and Rav Gedalya Dov Schwartz of cRc—not to be confused with the anti-zionist CRC—(who I was fortunate to meet and speak with when he came for a wedding I played at in Melbourne) and others. Rav Schwartz is well-balanced and respected by all. The model of co-operation in Chicago is an icon for the rest of the world.

With this in mind, I’d like to quibble with the wording that was sent out by our own Kosher Australia recently. Yankel Wajsbort, who does a fantastic job, and is partly responsible for bringing our lists to the modern world of communication wrote:

A reminder that all the Diet drinks (Coke, Pepsi, Prigat) available in Australia use kitniyos sweeteners (a check of the label will show that the regular Kosher certification does not cover Pesach).

I have three problems with this statement, especially in the context of the later comments about Hommous and Techina products being Kitniyos for Ashkenazim.

  1. This is not, in the main, Kitniyos. Rather it is Kitniyos that has undergone a process change, as above.
  2. It is not true that the label will show that the “regular” certification doesn’t cover Pesach. There is a different certifying body that approves of Diet drinks, as above. At least, that is true for Prigat. I haven’t looked at Coke.
  3. Kosher Australia has three ways of issuing a pronouncement on the issue of Kitniyos that has undergone change: It either takes its own stand on the issue, which I assume would be accompanied by a formal Tshuva, or it decides to follow one group of opinions on the matter (the strict one) given that it is a body that needs to certify for a range of groups across Melbourne, or it lists the two sides of the coin and suggests that people check with their local orthodox Rabbi (LOR).

My preference, similar to what I wrote about Quinoa, is that Kosher Australia briefly list the major Kashrus organisations on both sides of this halachic divide, and then suggest that one should consult with their LOR. The approach taken in the communication above is just too black and white for my tastes (sic).

Kosher Australia acknowledged that the wording could have been better, and their consistent policy is to follow R’ Lande on these matters. They prefer, apparently,  not to get into the intricacies, as above, as this may confuse. Fair enough.

Disclaimer: I don’t use Diet drinks on Pesach, only because I’m somewhat of a Machmir over Pesach, and if I ever want to be lenient, my wife steps in and puts a halt to it 🙂

PS. I discovered that Georgio Armani products seems also not to have Chametzdik alcohol in their liquid perfumes/after shaves. I saw this on one of the major hechsher websites. Anyone checked on it? Seems that the American one is fine. Not sure if Armani produce it anywhere else and/or differently.

PPS. Does anyone know why Chabadniks who avoid all processed food on Pesach, seem to rely on Hechsherim for wine these days (but not, for example, Vodka)

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia although my views have naught​ to do with my employer. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

25 thoughts on “Diet Drinks: Kitniyos that have undergone a process of change”

  1. Your reference to Rav Kook adopting a lenient approach to kitniyos derivatives is not entirely correct. His views have been distorted over time by those who advocate permitting such products (similar perhaps to those who have overlooked Rav Kook’s limited heter mechira bshaas hadechak to continue to allow this practice today).

    Rav Kook gave permission for the production of sesame oil ON CONDITION that the oil does not come into any contact with any water. No kitniyos oils nowadays fulfil this condition. See http://vbm-torah.org/archive/halak69/24halak.htm

    As for the diet drinks issue, Rav Moshe Gutnick of the NSW Kashrut Authority has advised the KA Facebook group that these drinks may be consumed, and he referred to the position of the OU – see http://www.thehalacha.com/attach/Volume4/Issue10.pdf

    I question however whether one can rely – in general – on the rabbanut (non mehadrin) hecsher on these products, not because of the kitniyot derivatives, but the level of supervision given for Pesach. As the NSW KA and the VIC KA are – for all intents and purposes – mehadrin hechsherim in line with the standards of the OU, OK, etc., it would be a departure from the norm to permit products supervised overseas with non-recognised hechsherim.

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    1. I think you over-dramatise the difficulty inherent in the Rabbanut approving diet coke. It ain’t rocket science and while I take your point in general I’d be loathe to conclude they couldn’t deal with a special run most competently

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  2. In regards to the chabadniks who drink wine which is processed, I believe the reason is that since it is a chiyuv to have wine they are mekil in this prat (same thing with salt and matza). Although I know there are chabad families who make there own wine, while others will stick to the special kesser perach wine which is literally just wine.

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    1. It’s also a Chiyuv to be happy and since they normally drink vodka or whisky depriving them of both means they are morose while their livers are liberated 😂

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      1. I believe they can get ways to get happy on yomtov without the vodka. In general at the Farbrengens of the Rebbe they only served wine.

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  3. 1. Not eating manufactured goods is not uniquely a Chabad custom – it is an extension of the custom not to eat at other people’s homes on Pesach – see nitei Gavriel . With wine matzah sugar etc there is no choice …
    2. There is a kabolo from the tzemach tzedek not to drink alcoholic drinks other than Wine – even if you make it at home. It is said that Rebbi Akiva Eiger forbad all alcohol for Pesach with a “taam komus” a secret reason. The tzemach Tzedek is reported to have said that had R Akiva Eiger said the reason openly he would have opshlogged it – but since he kept it secret he has nothing to opshlog and therefore Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s prohibition remains – hence no Vodka for chabadniks on Pesach even home made from Potatoe … Apparently the chafetz chaim had the same minhag …. For more references see nitei Gavriel chapter 39 :18
    3. As to diet drinks and BA ‘s insightful comment about recommending mehadrin hechsherim … As I wrote on the facebook page , We still recommend Rav Landa’s Hechsher, however we believe that as most consumers follow psokim of the OU , and the OU considers kitniyois shenishtane not to be kitniyois , kitniyois should not be given as a reason not to drink the diet coke. IMHO saying something is definitely kitniyois , full stop, means that no Ashkenazi can drink it and the rabbanut hechsher is either only for sefardim , and if it is meant for ashkenazim – it is fraudulent and they are misleading the comsumer chas vsholoim. Instead we prefer to publicize what we believe to be the facts – that the issue is kitniyois shenishtane that OU poskim permit — and whether or not you want to rely on Rabbanut for the totality of the product is your choice, but very seperate from calling it kitniyois … we don’t say it is definitely kitniyois, the same as we don’t say a rabbanut hechsher is no good chas v’sholom. We can choose to be machmir and use a Chareidi hechsher – but that’s very different than saying a rabbanut hechsher is no good – full stop. Furthermore often the reason we won’t use a rabbanut hechsher is because the rabbanut themselves tells us they are using a particular leniency … That’s very different than saying that it is assur full stop. Saying something is definitely kitniyois is like saying it is assur full stop for Ashkenazim.

    My colleagues at Kosher Australia obviously look at things differently and that , with respect, is their perogative ….

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    1. “With wine matzah sugar etc there is no choice”

      I think we both know that for Wine and Matzah there was always a choice, and Chabad produced their own at home especially in the old days. In fact, many non Chabad families produced their own Wine and Borsht for Pesach at home.

      Sugar is boiled, I believe, but I’m not sure why Sugar is a necessary staple?

      Perhaps Vodka wasn’t allowed because they were Choshesh for Kitniyos Shenishtaneh/Shenishtabeach according to the Chayyei Adam for whom Potato is Kitniyos (attempted levity here)

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    2. R’ Gutnick, without wishing to derogate Kosher Australia in any way, I must say that I very much appreciate the explanations you often give for your position.

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    1. Rabbi Gutnick

      In your last joint statement with the rcv regarding the laffa matzot you wrote:

      the KA statement referred to first hand information it received during its visit to the plant at which the soft Matzot were produced in 2010 and to its discussions with the manufacturer at that plant, and noted that the soft Matzot in question were certainly forbidden to be consumed and were all likely chametz because

      (i) ordinary flour that was not kosher for Pesach was used in its production;
      (ii) the conveyor belt was sprinkled with maize starch; and
      (iii) the process heat was not sufficient for the baking of Matza.

      I had firsthand experience with Kashruth organizations, and therefore I am not a great believer in stories about information received, are there any documents to support claims (i) and (ii)?

      In claim (iii) you wrote: the process heat was not sufficient for the baking of Matza.
      To the best of my knowledge there isn’t in Hhalacha any definition to what heat is sufficient for the baking of Matza, is this Isur similar to the Isur on paper products that don’t pass the iodine test of years ago?

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      1. I remember typing an answer but can’t remember if I submitted it – here it is again:

        The manufacturer has absolutely no reason to lie – aderaba – he showed me the flour that was used and was adamant no special flour was used … He was also adamant that rice flour was used and not tapioca…

        As to the temperature … I saw the baking and in my experienced opinion the temperature of the oven was insufficient to properly bake the flat bread – it came out of the oven with large portions of the surface area not נקרמו פניה

        I have no idea what you are referring to about the iodine and starch.

        With respect , You have two choices – you can accept that we would 1. not make the unprecedented statement we made in the press unless we thought we had to and 2. Not risk being sued by kosher v’yosher unless we were absolutely certain about our facts that include him misrepresenting Rav Elyashiv, Rav Shechter and the LBD

        Or you can remain cynical , eat the flat bread on Pesach , encourage others to do so by your cynicism and risk a chiyuv kores as well as lifnei iveir …

        The choice is really yours and if I were you I would think very carefully …

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        1. Rabbi,

          I wouldn’t bother dignifying this chap with a response. He has made nasty comments on the Galus Australis website and is seemingly only interesting in stirring the pot and – despite his protestations – casting the agency that accords the soft matza a hechsher in a saintly light.

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  4. Dovid,

    What, pray tell, does your question asked of Rabbi Gutnick have to do with diet drinks and kitniyos on Pesach?

    Surely the KA website or Facebook page would be a more appropriate forum to air your question?

    The whole “laffa matzah” controversy is a minefield and it seems that you are using every and any opportunity to stir the pot!

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  5. [This comment was edited]

    Only by עדות אשה can you believe him, if he is מסיח לפי תומו and has no reason to lie, in all other cases you need at least מרתת or לא מרע, and if he uses your Hechsher, you can’t believe him, even if he will give evidence in writing to support your claim, as there is no way to prove that he is not telling the truth, especially when he has a very good reason to support you.

    If we see that נקרמו פניה may we assume that אין חוטין נמשכין ממנה but not that we need נקרמו פניה did anyone check if חוטין נמשכין ממנה?

    In regards to the iodine:
    A few years ago, didn’t you issue a warning that paper plates should not be used on Pesach unless they have a hechser l’pesach, because when you tested them with iodine, the iodine reacted and turned blue, which indicates that the paper contains starch? Does anyone use the iodine test L’Halacha? Is it accepted as normative halacha?

    Regarding Harav Elyashiv. It was most unwise of M. Rabi even to claim that Harav Elyashiv supported him, when it is claimed by many that Harav Elyashiv’s information especially in the last few years comes from Askonim who twist the information according to their own agendas. For example: see his rulings on the sheitels from India and the shabbat lifts. Some also feel that many of “his” answers are of actually of his mashbakim, and that is why that you may get two opposing answers both in his name.

    I’d rather not comment about rabbi ya from the LBD, v’dal. Is it possible he changed his mind, after a little “convincing”?

    I didn’t eat the flat bread, and I don’t encourage others to do so, as I wasn’t brought up to eat it, but I can’t just sit on the side and observe what I interpret to be an agenda to destroy his operation.

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    1. Dear Reb Dovid

      There is indeed an agenda to encourage people not to use his hechsher because it can not be relied upon.

      Your interpretation of the neemonus of the goy is in my view not accurate for many reasons :
      1. His receiving my hechsher was not dependant on the information provided – whatever he would have said about the flat bread made would have been acceptable to me in his view.He was not trying to “please” me.
      2. There was definitely a mirtas and a lo mara umnoso – that KV”Y would call him a liar or that he would be sued.
      3. I am not sure at all where you get the idea that “masiach lefi tumo” is not enough to “asser” or even to be mattir for an issur derabonnon and for some shittois even a d’oriso….. I do not have seforim with me now but i will submit maarei mekomois soon

      If you remember when he first announced his laffa bread he said he was relying on the heter that SA gives for stam kemach min hashook that is kosher for Pesach …only when challenged that stam kemach in Australia is no good did the story change — which fits in with what the goy told me …

      The flat breads I saw would be called by anyone not fully baked … as you no doubt know chut nimshach is very difficult to establish , but I would not risk saying these were ok and I have been involved in matzah baking for 20 years …. these definitely were not good.

      I have more to say on all this but have to get on a plane , will continue in a few hours …

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      1. Just one more thing – what neemonus does he have if he is both the distributor and the Rov HaMachshir … where is the independent hashgocho

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  6. Continuing on …

    I would like to thank Reb Dovid for causing me to review the mekorois – see SA YD 98:1 and the nosai keilim and one will find the many circumstances other than eidus isha that masiach lefi toomo is neemon and the distinction between d,oriso and derabbonon etc etc .. In short the goy in our case to asser is neemon for all the reasons mentioned including a new one that occurred to me after looking in SA and that is that this is a case of milsa davidi ligluye … All KV” Y needed to do was say where he got the flour that was shomur mishas techina , and he would have been vindicated and the goy would have been proven wrong. He has refused always to do so.

    There is something called a preponderance of evidence …. You can perhaps dismiss Rav Elyashiv if he was the only one, ( though you have to be very brave to do so ) , you can perhaps dismiss the LBD – but to say both have got it wrong? – And what about Rav Shachter – is he also in on the get KV”Y conspiracy …. The fact is KV”y website is full of misrepresentation including his most recent misrepresentation of my brother.

    There were other things I saw there at the bakery with my own eyes that KV”y had the balobos put in – that were simply either amhoratsos or kalus , actually it was laughable … But I will keep them to myself ועוד חזון למועד

    Bottom line is I am not going to comment more on this issue – There is enough information in all my postings on this for a person with a modicum of intelligence to decide for themselves …

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    1. Thank you for your contributions to the discussion. I must admit to a fair amount of distaste when Meir posted comments on another blog and used, as the icon for his face, a picture of him sitting with R’ Belsky. It’s childish, misleading and outright ridiculous for anyone, let alone a Rav HaMachshir to buy himself recognition through such a methodology.

      In another forum, the following was asked:

      Can anyone assist understanding the ShaArei Teshuva 460, who says that even
      those who will not soak a whole Matza during Pesach will nevertheless use
      Matza meal since only a blob of flour can become Chamets. When pulverised
      throughout the meal the same flour particles cannot become Chamets.

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      1. The shaarei teshuva makes a distinction between a visible tangible “grain” or particle of flour and a tiny intangible particle the size of dust. Much the same as in allergy terminology they say “may contain a trace of peanuts” and they are referring to even airborne dust , or smaller than dust sized particles that are not even visible to the naked eye.

        He says in a whole matzah, there may be a visible particle of flour left – and when mixed with water it may become chometz.. However once the matzah has gone through a mill and is made into fine flour , ( not our coarse matso meal ) that original particle itself has now been pulverised and spread everywhere , so all you have is a tiny particle that when coming in contact with water will simply dissappear or dissolve rather than ferment and become chometz …. put differently ; that which we say chometz is ossur bemashehu means if i have a tiny bit of already chometz it is never bottul even in a thousand. But if I start with a trace of flour , perhaps barely visible , and add water to it , there is nothing halachically there to ferment and upon which there will be a chalois of chometz.

        So with that he makes a distinction between making foods from matzoh flour in contrast to using whole matzah say in soup.

        BTW IMHO it appears to me from that shaarei teshuva that the thick matsois of old were indeed hard and crispy and not soft – he says they used a “rib eisen” to grate them … now a rib eisen is used for grating hard things not soft things.

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  7. [lightly edited]
    Harav Gutnick wrote on April 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm:

    if that was your intent then I think that you lost “the battle and the war”.

    You picked the wrong person to fight with. You picked the wrong people to support you, and you picked the wrong audience.

    You picked the wrong person to fight with because he is not going to give in that easily, and by now you can see that he held his ground quite well.

    You picked the wrong people to support you. At first you got the support of MKA, not thinking that the peoples reaction will be: “MKA is fighting him because he is a competitor. I noticed that this year they didn’t co-sign on this year announcement, realising that error of judgement. You got in the past and this year the support of the RCV, that their standing in the Jewish community of Melbourne.

    You picked the picked the wrong audience. There was no chance that the Adass and Chabbad communities some of whom don’t eat fish, or the skin of tomatoes on pesach were considering to eat these Laffa Matzas. Some irreligious people who even eat chometz on seder night, and also eat matzo, Zecher L’matzo Sheochlu Avoiseihem b’Pesach, couldn’t care less. I don’t think that the Mizrachi comunity, really cares about the RCV.

    iy”h I will be back later to comment on your interpretation of the neemonus of the goy.

    Harry Joachim
    The whole “laffa matzah” controversy is not just a minefield, it is a quick sand pit.

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    1. Dovid,

      Mizrachi most certainly do care. Their Rabbi has publicly proclaimed that Kosher V’Yosher should never be relied upon: Laffa Matzos and more.

      Whether the RCV is or is not considered an important group by some, the fact remains that if a body of Rabbis believes that a certain kashrus authority should never be relied upon, then they need to make a statement, especially on Pesach.

      I’m not overly concerned about the politics behind the scenes, but I am riled by the debating tactics which over-focus on the issue of soft versus hard, charedi vs religiously emancipated, costly versus cheap, quoting out of context and general deflection. These are the rather unbecoming marketing tactics employed by a so called kosher business.

      Yes, all is not right in Melbourne, but you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, and if the Rabonim in Melbourne consider Rabi’s Laffa to be Chametz, they can say so.

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      1. Reb Dovid

        You are ,making a mistake …I didn’t make the statement for the Melbourne community, that was the RCV – I made it for the Sydney community and B”H, as far as I am aware , no one in Sydney agreed to sell his product – ie 100% success.

        There is no point you debating neemonus of a goy, there are many many shitois – the point is that I as a Rov responsible for kashrus am satisfied with the preponderence of evidence, some of which I have seen with my own eyes, that KV”Y can not be relied upon and therefore I am mechuyav al pi halocho to warn my kehilla, which I did . I am not permitted to remain silent. On what halachic basis and on the basis of what evidence are you permitted to argue? As I said you do as you see fit – we will all one day have to give a din v’cheshbon.

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  8. pitputim

    I am not sure whether you are pulling my leg, or that you really think so.

    read my posting again, and you will see that I was talking about the community and not about their rabbi, do you thing there was a chance of one in a million that he will say that KVY is ok, when MKA that “belongs” to mizrachi is saying that it isn’t? (see here:

    http://mizrachi.mykehila.com/ims/homepage.html

    “Mizrachi Organisation is an Orthodox Zionist kehilah in Melbourne Australia and is one of the most active Mizrachi kehilot in the world. It runs minyanim on two campuses with up to 6 minyanim on Shabbat on its Balaclava Road campus. It runs Kosher Australia, the largest Kosher certification agency in the Asia-Pacific region”.

    here is my question to you: why is it than when I asked a rabi how did he sign that the oven that kvy isn’t hot enough to bake mazot for pesach, when you didn’t see the oven and there isn’t any halacha that that is talking about the temperature required to bake matzot, I got the answer: I am a member but I am not active, so motzaei yom tov rabbi glasman and asked him the same question, but he didn’t reply-ehther he didn’t know the answer, or he didn’t understand the question, and you want me to think that if a body of Rabbis (kri RCV) believes that a certain kashrus authority should never be relied upon, then they need to make a statement.

    before pushing the line “if the Rabonim in Melbourne consider Rabi’s Laffa to be Chametz, they can say so”, if you want to convince me that that they signed on their psak, here is a way to prove it: bring to this forum a rabbi from the rcv to explain the baking of laffa matzos and the required to bake a laffa kosher l’pesach.
    _________________

    harav Gutnick

    Do I ? see my answer to itzcok.

    I think that the Sydney community is also aware that the meat from the butchers of Melbourne, whether they are supervised by Addas, Yeshivah or MKA are not kosher.

    Like

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