Thursday, April 06, 2006

Where'd You Put The Shampoo

When I was newly married and a recent arrival to Brooklyn, someone in my synagogue asked what I do on Passover about a certain product. I quietly confided in him that my rabbe'im followed lenient views and I do not observe all of the stringencies mention in R. Avraham Blumenkrantz's The Laws of Pesach: A Digest. The gentleman laughed and said that everyone is more lenient thant the book. Yet, I often find certain items missing in my home during the holiday. By now, I know not to ask. My wife, evidently, thinks I'm crazy when I tell her that we do not have to sell our shampoo to a Gentile for Pesach. The only book she can check is Rabbi Blumenkrantz's and he clearly states that one must sell such items.

I'm too tired right now to explain the sugya of achsheveih and what my rebbe explained in that long shi'ur he gave when we learned Pesachim, and how he copied for us the responsum of the Or Samei'ach and -- this is so uncharacteristic that it is shocking -- disagreed with the Or Samei'ach's conclusion (in short: it's only achsheveih if you eat it).

Rabbi Blumenkrantz, in the 1997 edition of his book it is at the beginning of chapter 10, rules based on an extraordinary stringency of R. Moshe Feinstein that all cosmetics and toiletries that contain chametz must be sold or otherwise disposed of before Pesach.

This year, I bought the Star-K's Passover Directory and I have so far found it to be excellent. It is graphically pleasing to the eye, lacking of the miscellany that make Rabbi Blumenkrantz's guide hard to follow (a discussion of sha'atnez in a Passover guide?), and seems to follow mainstream halakhah. The articles seem to be on the Star-K website but nothing beats having a book in your hands, especially when you are trying to convince your wife about something. This is what the guide says about cosmetics:

L’halacha, all non-food items not fit for canine consumption (nifsal mayachilas kelev) may be used on Pesach. This includes all cosmetics, soaps, ointments, and creams. Nonetheless, people have acted stringently with regard to these items.

There are several reasons why people are strict...

The list provides accurate information for those who wish to continue to follow the stricter opinion and prevailing custom when using such products.
Similarly, the Chicago Rabbinical Council has on their website (link):
  • All varieties of body soaps, shampoos and stick deodorants are permitted for use on Pesach regardless of its ingredients.

  • All types of ointments, creams, nail polish, hand lotions, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, blush, foot and face powders, ink or paint may be used regardless of its ingredients.

  • Colognes, perfumes, hairspray, shaving lotions and deodorants that have denatured alcohol (listed as SD, SDA, [or with a number or letter i.e. SD29C or SD40], SD Alcohol, Alcohol, Denatured Alcohol or Ethyl Alcohol) cannot be used on Pesach unless they appear on a reliable list. This only applies to products in a pure liquid state.

  • Lipstick, toothpaste and mouthwash that contain chometz should not be used.
So the people in this article have different opinions on which to rely.


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