On the Kashrus of Bénédictine Liqueur

It is well-known that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, זכותו יגן עלינו, liked this drink and had it on his table for the tish. It is also well-known that it (once) had some Xtian cross emblazoned and supposedly someone mentioned that there might be a wine (סתם יינם) issue with the drink. I am told the drink suddenly disappeared from the Tish where the Lubavitcher Rebbe used to farbreng. The reason it disappeared was explained later by the Rebbe himself “due to those מרה שחורה’ניקעס (party poopers) who have cast aspersions on it”. I am not going to pretend that I understand why that bothered the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and I won’t second guess him.

Now, like Coca-Cola, the actual recipe of Bénédictine is a secret. The most reputable Kashrus Agencies in the world, however, advised consumers that it was not to be quaffed. In Melbourne, the Rabbi who is the Chief Posek for Kosher Australia is Mordechai Gutnick and he is a Lubavitcher. However, he pronounced that it was not recommended. I spoke to the head chemist of Kosher Australia, Kasriel Oliver, also a Lubavitcher, he told me in no uncertain terms that it was not to be consumed irrespective of what the Lubavitcher Rebbe had done in days gone by.

The Chicago Rabbinic Council do lots of investigating of spirits and liqueurs as does the London Beth Din. If Chicago pronounces that something is not recommended, other respectable agencies follow their finding. (I don’t include the private little (not to be trusted) Kashrus agencies where the person giving the hechsher is also paying himself a tidy wage). Proper authorities, like Kosher Australia, cRc, OU and a host of other respectable agencies still do not recommend Bénédictine.

On the right is what the cRc Kosher app said today on my iPhone.

Now, I read an essay from the cRc about Bénédictine here and apart from Rabbi Moshe Gutnick’s view (which was not based on visiting the premises) it seemed they were having it a “bit both ways”. Moshe is one of Mordechai’s younger brothers and oversees a large Kashrus organisation in Sydney for many years.

I am not a lover of liqueurs in particular, but I thought that something just wasn’t right. Were the Dominican Monks not allowing any agency in? That seems incorrect. If so, why hadn’t any of the European agencies gone in and investigated it properly. Why hadn’t the Lubavitchers investigated? Were they afraid it might be forbidden? I sent an email to the cRc and copied it to Rabbi Gutnick where I wrote

I read the article on this
and do not understand why R Msika doesn’t drink non B&B.
Is this because of the cRc comments or is it because he only drinks Mehadrin with a Mashgiach at least Yotze VeNichnas, is it political, or a personal Chumra.
Does the Beth Din of America accept it?
In Melbourne it is not recommended
I have never had it
I am not a Lubavitcher
My Posek is Rav Schachter
They didn’t answer my email or it is still flying in the ether or ended up in their spam. I decided to be “clever” and emailed the head of kashrus of the cRc in Europe. Let’s just say that his last email to me was a tad bizarre and didn’t shed any light on the issue even though the responsibility fell on his shoulders.
In the meanwhile, I couldn’t understand Lubavitchers who drank it with wanton abandon. I wondered how they could be confident the recipe hadn’t changed even if it was Kosher once. I had also been in touch with the Israel Rabbinate’s expert on spirits and he emailed me that some was kosher according to Rav Lande of Bnei Brak and others were not.
I’d had enough of the mirky issue, so on a whim, I emailed one of the heads of Rav Lande of Bnei Brak’s Kashrus division. I knew him from Melbourne where he resided once and went to the same school as me. He is Rabbi Motty HaSofer. Motty was nice enough to respond immediately. He had investigated it personally several times and explained that the product was 100% Kosher. 
Which product?
Well, in the picture below you will see
from right to left, their cask liqueur. It is Kosher. The one in the middle which has B&B on it is 100% NOT Kosher. They add Brandy hence the B&B. Then there is the common one on the far left with the word DOM which is their regular liqueur. It is 100% Kosher. So you are wondering what about the bottling and the Brandy (wine) from the “B&B” version as it is all made in one factory? Rabbi Hasofer informed me that
All are bottled in the same bottling machine, but there is a full
cleaning cycle between each product bottled.
He also told me that Rav Lande himself served the product at his own Simchos! Now, every one trusts Rav Lande’s Hechsher as far as I know, in the same way that they trusted his father’s hechsher.
In summary, the major Kashrus agencies have it WRONG. You can drink two of three Benedictines, as above; not because the Lubavitcher Rebbe drank it decades ago, but because it is known now to be checked like anything else and is Kosher. End of Story.
I suggest that Kosher Australia inform the cRc to change their determination. I will send the email I received. What I can’t understand is why could I do it, and they couldn’t/didn’t?

MG Rabi’s Kashrus Business

It’s triangle K in the States all over except Ralbag is far more respected, yet also not accepted, by Rov Minyan and Binyan of frum kosher consumers and authorities.



Come clean on meat kashrus, melbourne

Last night, I enjoyed a Simcha. It’s common for me to attend a Simcha, except that I usually eat with my band, and prefer to for professional and menchlich reasons, even when I am often also a guest. Last night, though, I was a regular guest sans any musical involvement. I was just a Moshe Kapoyer.

As we sat down to the main course, I noticed two fine members of Adass who appeared to be vegetarians. The catererer was a fine Adass caterer, however, there was a sign advising that the meat was from (Chabad supervised) Solomon’s Butchers. Clearly Chabad prefer their meat at their functions. Some Chabadniks will eat Adass meat, others will not.

There is nothing new about the fact that there are different approaches to Shechita. There is Beis Yosef, Chassidish, Litvish, and variations. These can vary because of whether there is freezing of the meat with the blood intact before latter processing, the expectation of the morality of the Shochetim (do they have an iPhone for example) and their supervisors, the Bodkim, and more.

Now, everyone is free to have a preference for their own home. You can have two people who are Mehader in meat preparation, and one prefers shop A, and the other shop B. In my mother and father’s house, meat always came from Chedva Butchers, and later from the (Tzaddik) Yankel Unfanger’s Melbourne Kosher Butchers. That was their preference. Later, they included Solomon’s as well.

But, and this is a big but, there is a far cry between choosing what you use in your own home and what you may find yourself presented with at a Simcha. I can relate many stories involving Rabonim bigger than anything we have in Melbourne, including R’ Moshe and R’ Shlomo Zalman, who wouldn’t dream of not participating in a Simcha if there was a reliable hechsher, even though their wives might buy meat or other produce elsewhere in their own homes.

[There is a famous case of a line of Rabonim sitting together all deciding to eat Fish instead of meat. Rav Moshe Tendler was in that line of seats, and went up to each Rav, and asked them how many potential Issurei D’Orayso were involved with Fish versus Meat. There are more with fish!, so he suggested they were actually being Meikel with their Fish and should have chosen the meat. There is no accounting for truth, of course though in our Olam HaSheker].

Returning to our story, I simply didn’t get it. Was a Chabad Shechted Chicken not Kosher enough to the extent that the fine men from Adass became instant vegetarians? Is it correct to implicitly cast aspersions on the Kashrus of others at the same table from an empirical level? What of the B’alei Simcha? Maybe they should have purchased latkes at a take away for them instead?

Now, it works both ways. We never bought from Continental Butchers. I understand it has come a long way in leaps and bounds from the days of yore, and is probably more closely supervised than the disgrace in Monsey (below) where people were eating Mamash Treyf as supplied by “Heilige Butchers” who learned Daf HaYomi each day.

What do I do, though, if I am invited out, and I notice, for example, I am served Wurst from Continental, or something similar? Can I honestly conclude that it is mamash Assur with Timtum Halev and all the shvartze klollos that go with it, or do I conclude, that it’s not my first choice at home, but I’d never embarrass a baaleh booste et al by even remotely making them think that their home was “not kosher enough”.

I was advised that Rabbi Beck had issued instructions that Chabad Meat was never to be eaten. Why? Is it Meshichism? Was he worried that Meshichisten=elohisten? Frozen? Split Chicken? What are the reason(s)? Can Rabbi Beck discuss any issues he or his son-in-law may have with Rabbi’s Telsner and Groner? Is it impossible to fix anything that may appear “wrong”. In the beginning, Misnagdim wouldn’t touch a Chassidic Chalaf Knife. Now, they are all happy with them because they are better. What changed?

While we are at it, Melbourne Kosher describes mehadrin and non mehadrin products. What is the status of Continental? Are they mehadrin? Are the fertile rumours circulating that things aren’t quite as strict as they might be under Melbourne Kosher’s control as far as Meat production is concerned true or scuttlebutt? If so, what are these issues. Can they be fixed? Why the silence.

[Let me state: I am not interested in the slightest in the maverick views of those like Meir Rabi and his ilk].

I’m writing about the respected big three butcher shops. What’s the story? Can we either spill the beans or fix up operations?

PS. I have seen enough in 30 years as far as Kashrus is concerned; I’d not want to write it down though. Ironically, some of the best practices are from Yidden who aren’t the biggest Frumaks, but I trust them any day of the week, at any time, based on what I see.

PPS. Please Adassniks who want to respond, stop the silly games where you continue to fake your identity and expect me to post your comments. Be man enough to put your name to your opinion. Rabbi’s Gutnick, Sprung et al, can you tell us if you LECHATCHILA buy from Contintental in your own homes and if not why not. What is all the scuttle butt about certain chumros and practices. Are they untrue. Is it Mehadrin? If they are untrue put out a bulletin and knock it on the head!

Slurpees and the intrepid one man hashgacha

[Hat tip BA]

A reader formally asked 7/11 in Melbourne about their slurpees. In Melbourne we have a reliable and respected kashrut authority where the finances are overseen by a lay body and a team of supervising Rabbis and applied chemists have no involvement or inducement via financial gain in regards what they approve or otherwise.

This was not the case in the days of yore when various communal Rabonim provided their own hechsher and benefitted financially from the activities. I remember, for example, that strictly kosher people did not eat from the then Melbourne Beth Din or Rabbis Rudzki or Lubofsky et al. Many times I would buy a shawarma before a gig because I did not have confidence in the hashgacha. Nowadays, it’s almost never the case.

Things have improved greatly. Kosher Australia is trusted locally and internationally. It is not a one Rabbi entrepreneurial organisation but has a board and includes a cross section of the community. Finances are audited etc

Here is the readers response from the 7/11 people. I will leave my readers to draw their own conclusions.

Unfortunately not all of the Slurpee flavours that we have are certified as Kosher, however we did receive an unprompted email out of the blue last week notifying us that kosher certification was awarded by “It’s kosher authority” for the following flavours this December.

1. Lemon Lime Bitters
2. Classic Lime
3. Zilched Fruit Salad

Diet Coke on Pesach (segue)

In a previous article, I was critical of the wording and approach to this issue by Kosher Australia. In particular, they announced that people should not buy these diet drinks as they were Kitniyos. I argued that they were likely Kitniyos Shenishtane and therefore a matter of disagreement among Poskim and Kashrus Agencies and that people should ask their local orthodox rabbi (who would presumably liaise with Kashrus Authorities and advise their congregant as to the Halacha). I did not feel that Kosher Australia should make a certain pronouncement on the matter.

It is true that the Diet products have a Hechsher of the Rabbanut. It is equally true that some will rely on such a Hechsher and some will not. Some may rely on it during the year, but not on Pesach. Others may never rely on it. Some will only rely on a specific Rabbanut Hechsher: e.g. Yerushalayim.

I have also learned that R’ Lande has issues with one variety of Diet Coke preparation even during the year (let alone Pesach). It seems then that those who follow R’ Lande’s hashgacha need to investigate this fully with his office, depending on where in the world they find themselves wishing to drink Diet Coke and the like.

I asked the OU about the Israeli Diet Coke which doesn’t have a Mehadrin Hechsher, and only bears a Rabbanut Hechsher. The reply I received from the OU stated:

“Diet Coke from Israel is certified by OU. However, the OU symbol is not used on Coke products in Israel. One of the issues involved is kitniyos shenishtane”

In other words, like other Mehadrin standards, the OU does have some issues with this production which prevented them placing their Mehadrin OU stamp, however, the product is certified for use (clearly for those who do not necessarily seek Mehadrin).

Unsurprisingly, my attempts at eliciting further details failed. The OU are not about to provide me with details of changes that ought to take place before they put an OU on the product. I understand that  the OU have instigated some changes in USA production and therefore are able to place their imprimatur on that production line. Whether they rely on Bitul for Kitniyos Shenishtane when they have their OU imprimatur, I do not know.

So, in summary, if I was a Kosher Supplier of groceries in Melbourne, I’d either

  • approach the OU to see if they are able to instigate a process whereby the Israeli product gets the OU stamp, or
  • import the diet drinks from the USA with the OU stamp

Clearly the former is better, as we support Israel and Israeli goods.

The other contentious issue is that of Quinoa. As I mentioned, there was a finding by a respected Kashrus Agency that some Quinoa was proximate to Chametz during production. This is a concern. I notice that Eden has a Quinoa that is certified year-round by the OK. If I was a Jewish greengrocer, I’d be approaching the OK to see if they can ensure that Eden Quinoa is certified as OK Kosher for Pesach as well and stamp it as such. That way, those who use Quinoa because it is not Kitniyos, will be confident and free to do so.

Disclaimer: I must stress again, that all my comments on Halachic topics should be deemed pitputim b’almo. In other words, they are not L’Halacha, and not L’Maaseh. Discuss the matter with your local orthodox Rabbi.

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)

When is not approved not kosher?

The word kosher, alone, doesn’t mean too much. It needs to be qualified. It is not an absolute unless each and every authority agrees. That is rare. Even with something as mundane as water, we know that because of micro-organisms (copepods) in various countries, some authorities recommend filtration. If your Posek recommends that you filter, then it may also be that your Rabbi considers unfiltered water not kosher. On the other hand, your Posek may consider it Kosher B’Shaas HaDchak or B’Dieved. It depends on the issue at hand and its halachic severity in the eyes of your Posek.

There are a myriad of so-called Kosher Certifications. Does that make them all Kosher? That’s a loaded question; it’s in the eyes of the particular consumer and their Posek. For one Posek a particular certification is not recommended, and how you translate not recommended in general, may mean it’s simply not Kosher any time under any circumstance. Triangle K and Rav Abadi’s Kashrus rulings are but one example of certification that is not relied upon by other agencies and communities. It is relied upon by others. They aren’t on the Kosher Australia list, and are not on many lists around the world. If your Posek says that you may not rely on it, then for you, it is not Kosher. It is not fit. Kosher means fit for halachic consumption; your halachic consumption. If you rely on an agency, such as Kosher Australia, then it’s the same deal. If they do not recommend it, it is not fit for your kosher consumption. However, saying that someone else whose Posek or Kashrus Agency does allow, Triangle K for example, is eating non kosher, is none of your business.

If I don’t use the Melbourne Eruv because my Posek advises me not to, I am not going to say that Jews who do rely on it, based on their Posek or Agency, are carrying on Shabbos!

In context then, there was a harmless post on the Kosher Australia Facebook page where a subscriber to Kosher Australia, who follows Kosher Australia asked on the Kosher Australia Facebook page whether the “It’s Kosher” supervision is Kosher. In context, that clearly is asking whether food under the auspices of “It’s Kosher” is permitted to be eaten. The answer is of course No! The reason, as provided by Yankel Wajsbort of Kosher Australia is that it is not recommended. There are no surprises here, and I was flabbergasted to learn that one of those heavily associated with “It’s Kosher” took great umbrage at the question. It is perfectly valid to ask if something is Kosher to a Kosher Agency. That’s how questions are asked. Nobody asked “if I am served something from “It’s Kosher” at someone’s house, am I permitted to eat it, or should I find a reason to make a quick exit. That’s a different question. Kosher is Lechatchila; in the first instance. In the first instance, if you are served, for example, Soft Matza from “It’s Kosher” can you eat it according to Kosher Australia. The answer is no. The folks from “It’s Kosher” are a bit too sensitive from what I can detect. You can’t stymie valid questions and answers and most importantly, attempting to stymie such discussion is definitely not going to ingratiate “It’s Kosher” in the eyes of the Kosher consumer.

“It’s Kosher” and its network of consumers ought just follow their Rabbi (Meir Rabi), and leave others to follow Kosher Australia and/or their own Posek. Threats are silly in the context.

Kashrus Agendas

One of my earlier posts was mentioned in my old classmate’s now ubiquitous posts on kashrus. There is a constant refrain to these posts and unless I am not accurately reading between the lines, the theme is:

  • the Rabbis in Melbourne make oodles of money from Kashrus
  • the organisations in Melbourne make oodles of money from Kashrus
  • the standards of Kashrus in Melbourne are too extreme and designed to support a monopoly and those standards cost us money and are unnecessary anyway
  • some kosher good suppliers are making a fortune from profiteering on kashrus.

Enter the proverbial iconoclast, clad in fire-proof armour:

  • I will assume standards of kashrus which are different
  • I will market my standards incessantly across the internet and elsewhere
  • My motive is to bring the price of Kosher food down because I believe (anecdotally) that there are people who eat Treyf because they can’t afford the price of Kosher goods (meat?) that have assumed an OU-like standard
  • My finances and business dealings with partners on these matters are none of anyone’s business
  • My financial books are closed
  • I am answerable to nobody but Hashem
  • London bridge is falling down.

Assuming the motives are earnest and with honourable intent, the line of argument used is rather straw man like. Yes, we would like to see all Kashrus under a central body. Yes, we like to see a collegiate Rabbinate and not isolated breakaways running their own kashrus supervisions/business. Yes, we would like to see the financial aspects of Kashrus provision (where relevant) under the financial supervision of a communal lay body. Yes, we would like to see Rabbis and Chemists and Mashgichim paid properly for their professional hard work. Yes, we would like to see shysters purporting to offer a kashrus service outed.

I assume my erstwhile colleague is serious about his concerns about the price of chickens and more, so I suggest that he invite Rabbis and owners to an independent Dayan. I’d recommend R’ Hershel Schachter.

Vacillating on the internet is okay for musicians like me, but I’d suggest it isn’t a productive path for a Rabbi attempting to convince his colleagues through earnest debate. Some would say it’s a populist agenda like the socialists who put up “Viva La Revolution posters” near my office and all around RMIT. I don’t think they achieve much thereby.

Quinoa revisited

Commendably, Kosher Australia has revised its earlier information and now tells us:

Subsequent to the printing of the 2011 KAPG, we noted that both the OU and the Star-K have altered their respective positions regarding the acceptability of quinoa. The OU now recommend consulting with one’s Rav and the Star-K now require formal Pesach supervision due to the concern of likely contamination from chometz. However, the London Beth Din and the Eidah Charedis, among others, maintain that quinoa is kitniyos. Based on information from the OK, those people who use quinoa on Pesach may purchase Eden brand quinoa which we have confirmed is free of cross-contamination with Chometz.

This is good. The Eidah Charedis’ stance isn’t surprising. For them, חדש אסור מן התורה and so there is no need to even find out what Quinoa is.

I still take issue with Kosher Australia’s wording in respect of the Star K position. The Star K did not state that Quinoa is likely to be contaminated by Chametz! What they did say, was that it was possible that Quinoa came into contact with Chametz. That’s true. Guess what, though, that applies to just about everything we buy because of the nature of food lines and cross contamination. In particular, we also get Potato flour with a Hechsher! The salient point is that the Star K do NOT consider Quinoa to be Chametz. Here is what they do say:

Tired of potatoes, potatoes, potatoes for Pesach? Try quinoa (“Keen-Wa”), a sesame-seed-sized kernel first brought to the United States from Chile nineteen years ago, according to Rebecca Theurer Wood. Quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years, growing three to six feet tall despite high altitudes, intense heat, freezing temperatures, and as little as four inches of annual rainfall. Peru and Bolivia maintain seed banks with 1,800 types of quinoa.

Quinoa was determined to be Kosher L’Pesach. It is not related to the chameishes minei dagan-five types of grain products, nor to millet or rice. Quinoa is a member of the “goose foot” family, which includes sugar beets and beet root. The Star-K tested quinoa to see if it would rise. The result was as Chazal termed, sirchon; the quinoa decayed – it did not rise. However, recent investigations have found that there is a possibility that Quinoa grows in proximity to certain grains and processed in facilities that compromise Quinoa kosher for Passover status. Therefore, Quinoa should only be accepted with reliable Kosher for Passover supervision

The Psak from the Star K mirrors the Psak from my wife 🙂 Although, I had noted, as per the advice from OK, that Eden Quinoa has no Chashash of Chametz because it is an organic company that has nothing to do with wheat as per the OK checking including the milling.

The bottom line is that it’s best to either have a Hechsher on any ground Quinoa. Then again, some of you also boil your sugar 🙂

For Chabad I’d say no Rebbe ever found grains in their Quinoa, but since none except for perhaps the last Rebbe  z’l, was exposed to Quinoa you’d better not use it 🙂 I wonder what Chabad would say about someone who washed Quinoa before Pesach and checked there was no inadvertent grain therein?

R’ Moshe Feinstein ז’ל unlike the Edah Charedis, held that we do not create new types of Kitniyos.

I hasten to add that in my opinion, which is not להלכה nor למעשה (ask your Rabbi), it is desirable to use (certified or at least Eden) Quinoa for babies and little children who have a hard time eating on Pesach, let alone the unfortunate ones who are gluten intolerant and elderly people who have issues with their digestion and stomach.

Regards from Kuala Lumpur where I haven’t seen any Quinoa as yet 🙂

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