Religion & Beliefs

No Peanuts for You!

When I was a kid, matzoh smeared with peanut butter was the standard Passover schoolroom lunch. Yum! But then a few years ago, I was informed that this old standby was in fact NOT kosher for Passover after all. Because … Read More

By / April 2, 2007

When I was a kid, matzoh smeared with peanut butter was the standard Passover schoolroom lunch.

Yum!

But then a few years ago, I was informed that this old standby was in fact NOT kosher for Passover after all. Because a peanut is a legume, and legumes are totally against the rules, along with corn…

Okay. Good to know.

So then I became more vigilant about checking labels during the holiday week, and discovered that corn and peanut oil are in EVERYTHING!

And since I generally assume I’m wrong/poorly informed in matters of Jewish observance, I never questioned my source. And I never really thought through the WHY of the issue. I never really asked anyone WHY a peanut should count as chometz. I just stopped eating peanut butter (along with everything else).

Then, tonight, on the phone with my dad, I learned THIS!

Peanuts fall under the general category of kitniyot, or legumes. Along with peanuts, it is generally not permitted to eat corn, peas, rice and beans. The reason is NOT because they are hametz or otherwise prohibited in the Torah, but rather because (1) in the Middle Ages the concern existed that these foods were stored and processed in ways that brought them into contact with grain (i.e., real hametz) and so they were proscribed for Passover use, and (2) when turned into flour, they look like hametz products and the rabbis were concerned about the "appearance" of eating hametz during Passover. Peanut oil was permitted because the peanuts are scalded and no longer have the "identity" of peanuts. Not all Orthodox authorities, however, allow peanut oil.

Interesting…. So I don’t get peanut butter because in the MIDDLE AGES, storage conditions for legumes were less than perfect…

Umm… in the middle ages, EVERYTHING was less than perfect. In the middle ages, rabbis had to wade through rat droppings to make sure the matzoh wasn’t sitting too close to a rotting piece of black bread. Right?

But we don't live in the middle ages, do we?