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What is Chametz?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Holidays » Passover » Chametz | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Chametz is any product that contains wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye that has leavened (risen). Our Rabbis have determined that flour from any of these five grains that comes in contact with water or moisture will leaven unless completely baked within eighteen minutes.1

The Torah commands us to abstain from eating, using and possessing any Chametz for the duration of Passover. All other (Kosher) products are Kosher for Passover.

[The medieval Ashkenazi sages placed a ban on eating legumes and certain other grain-like foods (Kitniyot) on Passover. See What are "Kitniyot"?]

To be certain that a product is Kosher for Passover it must have Rabbinical certification. Otherwise it is possible that it contains chametz ingredients, or traces of chametz if it was processed on the same equipment as chametz products. Fresh fruits and vegetables do not need Kosher for Passover certification (but some have the custom of peeling all fruits and vegetables which are served on Passover).

Footnotes

  • 1. For flour that comes in contact with liquid other than water see http://www.askmoses.com/article/168,2068731/Is-Egg-Matzah-okay-for-Passover-use.html

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Chametz
Any leavened product which is produced from wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats. This includes bread, cake, cereals, crackers, biscuits, yeast, pasta and whisky. It is forbidden for a Jew to possess or consume Chametz throughout Passover.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Ashkenazi
(pl. Ashkenazim). A Jew of Northern or Eastern European ancestry.
Kitniyot
Various legumes and grain-like substances. The medieval sages banned eating kitniyot during the holiday of Passover because it resembles Chametz (leavened grain products) which is Biblically forbidden during this holiday.