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March 12, 2013

OU Won't Certify Quinoa For Passover Because Haredi Rabbi Says It's Used Like Wheat And Therefore Isn't Kosher

OU logo“We can’t certify quinoa because it looks like a grain and people might get confused,” Genack said. “It’s a disputed food, so we can’t hold an opinion, and we don’t certify it. Those who rely on the O.U. for kashrut just won’t have quinoa on Passover.”

 

The JTA reports:

…“We can’t certify quinoa because it looks like a grain and people might get confused,” Genack said. “It’s a disputed food, so we can’t hold an opinion, and we don’t certify it. Those who rely on the O.U. for a kashrut just won’t have quinoa on Passover.”

The O.U.'s non-endorsement is the result of a debate within the organization's own ranks.

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, the head of Brooklyn's Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and a consulting rabbi for the O.U., maintains that quinoa qualifies as kitniyot because it's used in a manner similar to forbidden grains. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, one of the heads of Yeshiva University's rabbinical school and also an O.U. consultant, agrees with Rosen that the category of kitniyot should not be expanded.

Rosen said the Star-K certifies only the quinoa that has no other grains growing nearby. This year, for the first time, the company sent supervisors to South America to supervise the harvesting, sifting and packaging of the product.

“Whenever there’s a new age food, there’s always a fight between kosher factions,” Rosen said. “But we should be worrying about other things, like all the cookies, pizzas and noodles that are Passover certified but appear to be chametz. Quinoa is the least of our problems.”…

Rosen also correctly notes that quinoa is a seed, not a legume, and therefore it can't be kitniyot.

Belsky appears to be extending a halakhic principle to find a way to forbid quinoa.

Something permitted that shares a name with something forbidden can be ruled forbidden for that reason alone. In fact, that is how corn was banned for Passover use by Ashkenazi rabbis.

The actual name of corn is maize. But because it was the staple crop of the indigenous peoples Europeans encountered when settling the Americas, the Europeans called it "corn" – which was then the word associated with staple crop in several European languages. The problem, of course, is that the staple crop in Europe was usually wheat.

In order to stop any potential confusion, and because when two different items share a name halakha considers them to also share some common traits, corn was banned.

Belsky is doing something like that here, arguing that quinoa is used like wheat (think of a wheat pilaf, for example) and like rice (which is also not a grain and not hametz, but which is still forbidden on Passover by Ashkenazi and some Sefardi rabbis) and is therefore forbidden.

Belsky's case is weak – something not at all unusual for him. But because he's a rosh yeshiva, and because the OU needs a token haredi posek to make the OU somewhat palatable to haredim, the OU will follow him – even though a grade school student could probably prove Belsky wrong in less time than it takes Belsky to consume his shiur of matzoh on the first night of Passover.

A man came to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein excited because he had worked out a way to rule that rhubarb was kitniyot and therefore forbidden for Ashkenazim to eat on Passover. The man expected Rav Moshe would be impressed with his skill with manipulating halakha, and he hoped Rav Moshe, confronted with this new 'truth,' would ban the plant's consumption on Passover.

Rav Moshe responded tersely: "Wasn't corn enough for you?," he said.

The point is to try to make life easier for Jews, not harder. The only people who benefit from these new humrot and bans are the agitators who instigate them. Everyone else, at least in potential, suffers.

Corn was more than enough for Rav Moshe, but it wasn't enough for Yisroel Belsky.

And that speaks volumes for the greatness of Rav Moshe, and it does the opposite for Yisroel Belsky.

[Hat Tip: Rebbitzman.]

Comments

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At least pesach is chumra applies only for eight days or so.

I guess we've been eating kitniyot for the past 15 or so years; ever since Quinoa first hit the Pesach market, and was universally accepted by the rabbinic establishment. I happen to dislike Quinoa. I don't like the taste or the texture of the stuff. But I'm thinking of asking my wife to serve it at the Seder, just to demonstrate me disdain for silliness such as this p'sak.

i turn sephardic every pesach.
like my mom says "from way back, way back, we're all
both ashkenazy and sephardic and maybe more mixed than we know.

Kitniyot eaters unite! You have nothing to lose but a minhag shtus!

Yes, the frumma get confused really easily.

(Not the David above March 12, 2013 at 11:17 AM but the real, regular, David. Please don't confuse me with him even though I have asked him to use a different screen name since I have beem posting here much longer than he has.)

or you can just not have Passover on the Quinoa. XD

kitniyos is bullshitniyos.

"…“We can’t certify quinoa because it looks like a grain and people might get confused,” "

So I guess we can't be trusted to be clear thinking adults. More of the same.

Luke.

"Rosen also correctly notes that quinoa is a seed, not a legume, and therefore it can't be kitniyot."

All legumes are themselves seeds though not all seeds are legumes. It is commonly accepted that not only legumes are included in the restriction of kitniyot with kasha (buckwheat) and mustard as two common examples. Rabbi Belsky's opinion is that any seed that was commonly prepared by grinding into a flour like grain is naturally included in the restriction. You can disagree but it's a not an illogical assumption.

That sneaky Rav Belsky. Why, I'll bet he'd davened in Chabad shuls too!
The whole quinoa controversy is a diversion, you know. It's to keep us from asking why peanuts, which are not a grain and which never turns into flour, became kitniyos.

dovi –

Please.

1. Quinoa is NOT a legume.

2, Just because confused, malicious or OCD rabbis ruled a seed – mustard – is kitniyot does not extend that ruling to anything else.

3. Quinoa is not commonly ground and it is not commonly used as a flour substitute. If your mouthing Belskys words, than Belsky has even less going for him than I thought.

Quinoa is actually a species of goosefoot (Chenopodioideae), like beets, spinach and tumbleweeds.

Wow, you agree with Rabbi Hershel Schachter on something.

Shmarya, it is well known that quinoa is not a legume. However as you well know, there are other seeds that are included also. When was the last time you saw an ashkenazi eating techina (sesame) on Passover? Agreed, the restriction of kitniyot is sometimes inconsistant but in all likelihood the intent of the restriction was to include any seed that is ground like flour. Please go to the local health food store and you will surely find quinoa flour. Again, you can disagree, b ut to rule based on the intent of the decree is not illogical.

dovi –

No. Again, the normal use of an item would have to be as a flour substitute to be excluded for the reason Belsky used. But quinoa isnt.

"When was the last time you saw an ashkenazi eating techina (sesame) on Passover?" - dovi

I am one of those ashkenazim who eat sesame on Passover. By the way, it's suum, not techina...techina is the paste you put in your falafel.

R' Kook says sesame is fine, and this is the custom of ashkenazim in Israel.

Couple of things which is important to know:

The entire Pesach we do chumras which have nothing to do with halacha,why? Pesach is known that most people who usually don't follow stuff all year around they saw at home as children but on Pesach they do follow,why? "becuase my parents did so". So everything we do or don't do on pesach are ONLY a chumra.

The story with Rav Moshe doesn't hold unless rhubarb was something that people started to eat at the time when the shaila was asked.But if it was eaten for years and someone came up that perhaps its kitniyot rav Moshe zt'l was correct that we shouldn't ban it,and why? becuase "we did it before and my parents did so"

Wait, Quinoa was said to be ok last year. What's changed?

Also, it seems ridiculous to me that the Ashkenazim have so much food banned, but (as it appears to me) the Sephardim can eat almost anything not *overtly* chametz.

We're all Jews. How many more millenia do we have to maintain this increasingly fictitious -- and more and more arbitrary -- division?

"a grade school student could probably prove Belsky wrong in less time than it takes Belsky to consume his shiur of matzoh on the first night of Passover."

Please, you are dealing with a recognized genius. He scored perfect 1600 when he took the SATs. What grade did you get Shmarya?

I was introduced to quinoa over four years ago when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. Actually, I had celiac since I was a baby but the doctor had told my mother after I spent time in the hospital that I had been cured. That was the state of medical knowledge over 60 years ago and it was wrong. No one is ever cured of celiac disease, but you can manage it and live a regular life by staying away from wheat, rye and barley, all of which contain gluten. Oats do not contain gluten by themselves, but are easily subject to cross contamination with nearby wheat in the fields, so it is best to avoid oats, even if they are labelled gluten free.

I found out that my celiac disease had returned when I literally passed out at a friend's birthday party a few years ago and had to be rushed to the hospital. In retrospect, there were hints in the year or two before I passed out, which I ignored: bathroom issues, excessive enamel wear on one of my teeth; cracks in my fingernails which became difficult to heal etc.

When you have celiac disease, your body is not absorbing nutrients properly. It can compensate for many years but eventually, you crash. In my case, I needed two units of blood at the hospital, as my iron level was low and I was suffering from iron deficiency anemia. I was also low on calcium.

According to University of Chicago data, 97% of the people who have celiac disease don't know it. Only about 1 in 133 people in the country has it, but many more who test negative for the disease (via a blood test and an endoscopy), report that they
feel better when they stop eating gluten.

If you tend to get an upset stomach or just don't feel good whenever you eat bread or matzoh, get tested for the disease. You may have it. Even if you test negative, if your symptoms continue, try cutting gluten out of your diet for a few weeks and see if you feel better. You may be one of the 35% or so of the population that does not have the disease but is still gluten sensit5ive.

Back to the quinoa. I eat it several times a week because it is gluten free, usually as a breakfast cereal, and nothing will change because of Passover. Quinoa has a complete protein and is undoubtedly healthier than the boxed cereals from Kellogg's or General Mills. It is organic and is much less expensive if you buy it in the 4 pound packages at Costco. If you are allergic to gluten and you cheat, you will hurt no one but yourself.

If you don't feel well a lot of the time and your doctor only prescribes pills which don't seem to help, read the book "Celiac Disease" by Peter Gordon MD and see if you have some of the symptoms he describes. If you do have the disease and you ignore it, you may end up suffering from all sorts of illnesses, even the Big C (cancer).

I wonder if the Haredi rabbis know anything about celiac disease. I am surprised they know so much about quinoa, which after all is grown in Bolivia.

Torah warns us not ot add or subtract from it. Haredim routinely break the "not to subtract" part.
They base their behavior on the following logic: I'm not breaking the Torah prohibition by not doing something permitted as long as I don't say that I don't do it because it is prohibited by Torah.
This is a systematic failure of Halacha which allows to expand prohibitions indefinitely as long as we don't say that the prohibitions are from Torah. The very same logic does not allow for expansion fo permissions.

Until this fundamental deficiency is fixed and we institute some punishments for prohibiting permitted, the Haredi shtus will have a free run.

("Dites-moi" from "South Pacific")

Quinoa, pourquoi
You’re not for Pesach
Quinoa, pourquoi
You are chametz
Quinoa, pourquoi
Please tell me rabbi
Is it ‘cause
Maybe ‘cause
You hate it?

Quinoa, pourquoi
I cannot eat it
Is it ‘cause
Maybe ‘cause
There’s no profit

And the frumma scum wonder why people stray from orthodoxy.

Pharaoh Belsky.... Let my People Go!!!

"When was the last time you saw an ashkenazi eating techina (sesame) on Passover?" - dovi

Well - the last time I saw one eating quinoa - was last year.

This is just another silly case of "Ist is mir machmir!" run amok.

@Serek

Quinoa, pourquoi? Just awful - terrible - the WORST!

Please keep it coming.

Rocky, I've actually been wondering about that lately--what are you supposed to do on Passover when you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? Is there such a thing as gluten-free matzah?

This kitniyot thing is out of hand though. A ban on mustard seems like a huge stretch, and quinoa even more so. Rather than trying to make it fit into different categories, isn't it possible that the ancient rebbes, despite their INFINITE wisdom, simply didn't know about this South American crop?

A psak from the godol hador, Shmarya. All Rabbonim as like a "skin of an onion" compare to this gaon.

…“We can’t certify quinoa because it looks like a grain and people might get confused,”

So, I guess Kosher L'Pesach baked goods (cookies and cakes) are out because they look like grain products and might confuse people.

And potato starch must be way banned, since it looks so much like flour, right?

Elisheva-
yes there is gluten free matzoh. Several companies make it. BUT it may not be kosher enough:

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/95982/this-matzo-isnt-a-mitzvah

Posted by: CLR | March 12, 2013 at 03:54 PM

Let's not forget vanilla BEAN, cocoa BEAN and coffee BEAN.

Hey folks I have been told that the OU now has a special designation for foods kosher pessach for those eating kitnyot.

A friend saw a whole section in her non Jewish local supermarket in Brooklyn.

So for those of you askenazim who eat kitnyot keep your eyes open.

Orthodox Jews were eating peanuts on Passover up until 1956. That is when some "smart guys" got the idea to ask Rabbi Moshe Feinstein about it.

This anti-peanut faction had similar arguments that the anti-quinoa faction is bringing today. Rabbi Feinstein brought many reasons, from many sources, showing why peanuts are not a problem on Passover. Nevertheless, here we are today, not eating peanuts on Passover.

Here we go again. If we don't pay attention, quinoa on Passover is going to go the way of peanuts, IMHO.

Elisheva: I no longer eat matzoh. Period. Next time I am at Whole Foods, I will look for the matzoh crackers mentioned by Sarek, which do not contain the offending ingredients. Real matzoh has to contain wheat, rye, barley, spelt or oats. The first four contain gluten (spelt is a form of wheat) and the last is often contaminated with wheat. So the crackers don't qualify as real matzoh if you are very observant; however, don't put your health at risk.

For many years, I have been suspicious of the whole kosher for Passover business. Did the children of Israel have access to kosher for Passover chocolate bars, sponge cake, macaroons etc?

Let's get a little perspective here. Global warming is causing temperatures and seas to rise threatening a large percentage of the world's population. And what do the Orthodox gedolim spend their time thinking about--whether a staple crop grown in Bolivia which turns out is not a grain but a seed is kosher for Pesach. And in their wisdom they come up with two different ways to usser it. How do you spell irrelevant? O-r-t-h-o-d-o-x-y

The 5 grains that can transform to Chametz and have an archeobotanical record in biblical Judea / Israel are:

Einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum & Triticum boeoticum)

Emmer wheat popularly known as Farro (Triticum dicoccum & Triticum dicoccoides)

Durum wheat (Triticum durum & Triticum turgidum durum)

Two row Barley (Hordeum spontaneum & Hordeum distichum)

Six row Barley (Hordeum vulgare / hexastichum & Hordeum agriocrithon)

Genetic research and archaeological finds by the respected experts, Professor Zohary in Israel and Dr Nesbitt in the UK show that Rabbis past and present are wrong about Rye, Spelt and Oats.

Common Oats (Avena Sativa) is a domesticated form found in Europe and Eastern Turkey. Contrary to amateur Internet sources, wild Oats have been found in various places in Israel, Gilgal is one such example. The wild forms found include Avena Sterilis and Fatua. Archaeological evidence indicates that the wild Oats were peripheral weeds consumed as fodder. In the Mishnah & Talmud there are discussions about the appearance of Shibbolet Shual, described as having rows. There is also the law of Kilayim. The ability to cross breed, is something that Barley (Hordeum Vulgare & other sub-species) cannot do with Oats. Furthermore, Oats look nothing like Barley. Oats has another problem, even the domestic Sativa variety has very low to near zero gluten content and subsequently it is extremely difficult to get it to leaven according to the Halachic definition. Pure Oat bread does not rise or form a leavened crumb.

Rye (Secale Cereale) and various wild sub species were not grown in Israel as it favours a cooler climate. Even in northeastern Turkey where it is possibly thought to originate, there are very few archaeological finds. Rye is predominantly found in Europe.

Spelt (Triticum Spelta) is currently thought to have two separate origins, Europe and Asia. Genetic investigations show that the two forms of Spelt have evolved differently and probably independently. Asian Spelt is thought to originate in what is now Iran, it moved slowly northwest and northeast. The archaeobotanical record shows no traces in Israel or immediate adjacent areas.

Why did the Rabbis get it wrong? Rabbis are not trained in Biology, their advisers were not Botanists and the level of scientific knowledge today is rigidly maintained and far greater than in the past.

lol OKay Shmarka, I think I officially just got dumber for having read your psak. Gotta go grab a daf to recover from this. But thanks for raising the issues, they are important, even for the minim.

I'd never even heard of Quinoa before a couple years ago. What is so special about it exactly? I think it should be Pesadig just because it tastes like cardboard.

In the reductio ad absurdum of K for P, if quinoa is related to beets, then we had better give up our beet borscht for Pesach.

And if quinoa is suspicious because it is a New World crop unknown until the Acharonim, we better give up potatoes (and especially potato starch) as well as tomatoes and tapioca (which is a starch that sure looks like flour or corn starch).

With regard to peanuts, when I was young, peanut oil was the most common oil used during Passover. We always used Planters peanut oil because it was clearly certified as "kosher lepesach". Is there anyone crazy enough to confuse peanut oil with any kind of flour? Yet there is kosher lepesach pizza, which, I assume, could easily be confused with khometsdik leavened pizza. Technically, my brother cannot attend his wife's Seder, since he is Ashkenazi and my sister-in-law is Sephardi and prepares rice as the first course. So much for our being an "am echad."

"Technically, my brother cannot attend his wife's Seder, since he is Ashkenazi and my sister-in-law is Sephardi and prepares rice as the first course."

People who follow the custom to not eat qitniyot during Pesach have no obligation to avoid meals which include such ingredients. There are clear rules about what to avoid and what is nullified - check into them and be free from such concerns. There are no issues with cooking vessels, tools, etc. Our family has mixed traditions/positions on this issue and we also regularly host people for seder and other Pesach meals that avoid qitniyot without issue.

Rocky: are you sure Peter Gordon wrote a book called Celiac Disease? I cannot find it on amazon.

Custard: My mistake. The author is Peter Green, MD. On Amazon, type in celiac disease books, and it should be the first entry.

Under Duress: I never heard of quinoa before my diagnosis either. But for people who have celiac or are gluten sensitive, it is a healthy alternative to some wheat products. Many of the relatives on my father's side did not live long and healthy lives in spite of the fact that they were traditionally Orthodox for much or all of their lives. A lot of traditional Jewish food from Eastern Europe is simply not healthy. It has too much salt, fat and/or sugar.

If you consume antacid tablets on a regular basis, be aware that the tablets, like many drugs, are merely covering up symptoms not dealing with your underlying issues. You need to make changes in your diet with the help of a dietician.

I will be eating quinoa on Passover.

People might get confused if they certified things like quinoa and think that the kashrut agencies are actually more concerned for actual kashrut than ludicrous politics and economy of kashrut...
That would be awful!

Rebitzman-
thank you.....I think....

I was with you until you stopped being a real journalist and used this opportunity to insult rabbi belsky.

>>"I was with you until you stopped being a real journalist and used this opportunity to insult rabbi belsky.

Posted by: Michael | March 13, 2013 at 08:41 PM "<<

Please.

You're a pedantic, obnoxious, arrogant little child who is barely out of diapers.

Unlike you, I've actually spoken with Rabbi Belsky at great length.

Unlike you, I actually have some real world experience.

Now process: Quinoa is not normally used as flour.

It's resemblance is primarily to rice and corn, not to wheat.

We have a clal from Rav Moshe not to add to the kitniyot humra, and Rav Moshe was certainly a much more significant rabbi than Belsky is or will ever be.

We have a clal in halakha not to make life difficult for Jews or to add to their burden unless it is absolutely necessary.

Belsky needs to be able to defend his ruling against all that and against the actual scientific proof that quinoa is not hametz and can never become hametz.

You can't defend Belsky because the facts don't defend Belsky.

That should trouble you, but it doesn't because little Mikey W. is more concerned with Rabbi Belsky's honor than he is with Rabbi Belsky's narishkeit and its impact on Jews.

Your priorities are backward.

As for showing particular respect for Belsky, perhaps a post on his witness tampering and obstruction of justice would be in order. How many kids do you think were raped because Belsky's BS protected pedophiles?

Any thoughts about that, Mikey?

Rabbi Belsky is naive. He does not purposefully protect pedophiles. When a child makes an accusation, the defense from the pedophile is "the kid is using pretext".

Rabbi Belsky cannot comprehend how it is possible for a rabbi of 20+ years could do such a thing. To Rabbi Belsky it is unbelievable. So Rabbi Belsky doesn't believe the kid.

R'Blumenkrantz a"h was solidly behind R. Moshe Feinsteins' psak about quinoa. RB was also a machmir and kana'i that sharply disapproved some of the kulas undertaken by the OU in the past. The organization if anything- is inconsistent.

I would not dare to take any side in an argument is which gedolei haposkim are involved but I wonder why no one has taken into consedration the Rambam in Hil. Kilaim Hal. 8:
Edible plants are divided into three categories: The first is called grain; it includes wheat, wild wheat, barley, oats, and spelt. The second is called kitniot; it includes all the types of seeds eaten by men other than grain, e.g., beans, peas, lentils, millet, and rice, sesame seeds, poppy seed, white peas,etc. Obviously quinoa is in this category.

Because the humra of kitniyot doesnt include all seeds and never has.

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