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Kosher for Passover smoke?

A group of Israel Haredi rabbis for the first time have placed cigarettes on the list of Passover goodies that need a special “kosher” certification, while the Chief Rabbinate blew smoke on the idea, declaring that poison is never kosher.

Every Jew, and many non-Jews, know that Jews may not eat anything on Passover that might have ingredients of grains that could ferment and be considered leavened. Ashkenazi Jews have an added restriction on consuming anything that contains “kitniyot” vegetables such as peas and corn.


Every year, many Jews come up with all sorts of a “humras” – a stringency. One authority forbids using balloons on Passover because they might have been coated with a material that is considered kitniyot.

Some Haredi Jews several years banned drinking water on Passover that comes from the Kinneret because someone may have dropped a piece of bread in the lake, or God forbid, a fisherman used bread as bait that fell apart in the water before a fish could grab it.

Two weeks, we reported that there is an argument between Rabbinic groups in the United States over quinoa, which is not a grain. One group of rabbis claims that winds in some South Americana field, where quinoa is grown, might blow a barley seed into a field of quinoa, and that single seed might not be sighted in packaging, leaving the quinoa not kosher.

And then there is the case of Jerusalem Haredim who rent out laundered “shrteimel” hats during Pesach because, who knows, maybe a crumb was stuck in somebody’s fur hat.

But cigarettes?

Leave it to the group of Beit Yosef rabbis to add it to their list of certified products, for which, of course, there is a fee for the label for three local cigarette brands.

A spokesman for Israel’s chief rabbinate responded, “Poison is not kosher. For all days of the year, not just Passover.”

Beit Yosef justified the kosher for a Passover label, using the old “when in doubt, be stringent,” argument.

Its chief supervisor Rabbi Yigal Ben Ezra explained that the kosher for Passover label is for a number of Israeli Haredim who won’t buy any products that are not labeled “Kosher for Passover.”

He said the British rabbis inspected the Dubek cigarette factory and determined that no leavened bread came in contact with the cigarettes, which must go down as one of the great non-discoveries of the year.


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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


  1. Very good and an important article, Tzvi. Poison is not kosher for all days of the year and should be investigated further. Fecal matter, urine, spoiled food, cigarette nicotine/smoke and many other poisons are in our everyday life and should be avoided. If one can smell any of these materials then parts of these poisons had just been consumed in one’s body otherwise one would not be able to smell them. According to the Koren Talmud Bavli, Berakhot, Perek III, Daf 25, Amud b, page 163, “It is prohibited to recite Shema opposite someone with fecal matter stuck to his sandal. This dilemma was not resolved in the Gemara and the halakha is in accordance with the stringent opinion” (Rambam Sefer Ahava, Hilkhot Keriat Shema 3:11; Shulhan Aruka, Orah Hayyim 76:2). IMO, the smell of cigarette smoke/nicotine should be in this Gemara ruling as should be also urine and perspiration (sweat) for it has the same properties as urine and it is poisonous to consume perspiration. After going to the Kotel every day, Shabbats and Holidays for many years, I’ve noticed that the Kotel bathroom is full of sewage from those who refuse to flush the toilets during the week days and especially on Shabbats and Holidays. The poisonous smell attaches to ones clothes, body, towels, toothbrushes as well as to the shoes which are soaking in sewage which also slashes on the pant legs. Walking to the Kotel from the bathroom does not rid one of these poisons; so, unknowingly many who use the Kotel bathroom in effect nullify their prayers and the prayers of others who stand next to them. How does one get rid of poisonous bathroom smells while using it? Before use, spray foam cleaner like Sano Javel several times into the toilet water before use and this locks in the odor.

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