By: William Jackson
The week of unleavened bread (Chag HaMatzot) starts at the ending of Passover. During this seven days, those people that are following God’s laws will not partake of anything with Hametz/Chametz (Exodus 12:15, 19, 20, 13:3, 7, Deuteronomy 16:3). The consequences of eating Hametz during this week is to be cut off from Israel (Exodus 12:15, 19). Now begs the question, “What is Hametz?”. It starts off as anyone of five grains which can ferment and become hametz. These are:
- Spelt (also known as farro)
Interestingly, these are also the only grains that can be made into matzah. So why is matzah not only allowed but encouraged by Scripture during the week of unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8, 15, 17, 18, 20, 39, 13:6, 7, 23:15, Deuteronomy 16:3,8)? It is because these five grains in and of themselves are not Hametz. You see Hametz is a stage in the transformation process. It is often translated as “leaven”. Basically, Hametz is when wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye have become wet for a set period of time (at least 18 minutes). This begins the leavening process 1. Matzah is not cooked beyond 18 minutes, thus making it safe for consumption during the week following Passover. So in theory we can have these five grains for this week, but they cant have started the leavening process.
Complicating the Process:
When we use the actual Hebrew to understand Torah the mandate for this week is both simple and realistic. However, about 700 years ago the Ashkenazic Jews have convoluted this observance. They added to it by expanding the list with rice, millet, and legumes. These are collectively known as kitniyot, from the Hebrew word katan (little) 2. Aside from burdening an otherwise simple task, it is adding to God’s Word which is in violation of Deuteronomy 4:2, 13:1.
So what can I eat during this week 3 ? As Hametz is removed from this list, so isn’t the Ashkenazic Jewish observances. These items are good for consumption during the week of unleavened bread:
– All fruit
– All vegetable
– Meat in accordance with Leviticus 11:3-8 and Deuteronomy 14:3-8
– Eggs and egg whites
– Nuts, nut flours, and pure nut butters (avoid additives)
– Dairy products
– Broth from biblically pure meats and vegetable based.
- Wine (Yeast which is the product of grapes, or its sugars, is not considered hametz 4 ).
Please enjoy this holiday week which reminds us of the Exodus each and every day.
- Hillel Ben, David, Rabbi. “What Is Chametz?” Chametz. Accessed March 31, 2018. http://www.betemunah.org/chametz.html.
- Spitzer, Jeffrey. “Kitniyot: Not Quite Hametz.” My Jewish Learning. Accessed March 31, 2018. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/kitniyot-not-quite-hametz/.
- Avey, Tori. “What Foods Are Kosher for Passover?” Tori Avey. Accessed March 31, 2018. https://toriavey.com/what-foods-are-kosher-for-passover/.
- Zaklikowski, Dovid. “Why Is It Permitted to Drink Wine on Passover When It Is Fermented with Yeast?” Passover. Accessed March 31, 2018. https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/508672/jewish/Why-is-it-permitted-to-drink-wine-on-Passover-when-it-is-fermented-with-yeast.htm.