There are a lot of rules to keep in mind about Pesach. Rules about how to clean your house, rules about disposing your chametz (or selling your chametz), rules about what food you can eat, and how you can cook it – there’s a lot to remember. I might say that there are so many rules that, on occasion, a mistake will slip in (perhaps due to an overzealous interpretation, or reasonable but erroneous assumption). So we have Pesach myths. Let’s debunk a few now, here’s hoping you learn something new about at least one of these topics!
- GLUTEN-FREE FOOD IS KOSHER FOR PESACH. Not necessarily true! Gluten is a protein that appears in many grains, including all five grains that can be baked into chametz (barley, rye, oat, wheat, and spelt). However, just because a food product is gluten-free doesn’t mean that it’s automatically chametz-free.
- THERE IS A REQUIREMENT TO USE RED WINE FOR THE FOUR CUPS AT THE SEDERS. There may be a tradition here, but it’s not a requirement at all! I see and acknowledge the tradition that red wine can be evocative of the blood of the Egyptians as pour out a few drops during the maggid part of the seders. However, the similarity of red wine to blood is also a reason that years and years ago, the persecuted Jews of Europe used white wine specifically at their seders: so that they wouldn’t even be suspected of using blood in their wine (and matzos). Today, you should feel free to use red or white wine – and feeling free is the important part since only a free people can sit around a table and tell stories about their miraculous past while drinking wine! Drink red wine or white wine, whichever you like (some say you are required to drink the highest quality wine, since we are celebrating freedom and feasting!).
- YOU MUST EAT MATZAH EVERY DAY OF THE HOLIDAY. Again, not true! You are required to eat matzah only during the seder nights (or night, singular, if you’re living in Israel). Some authorities do rule that you also get credit for the mitzvah any time you eat a kazayit of matza on the holiday, but the requirement is only for the seders. So if you’re at a kosher Passover hotel, you don’t have to worry about making it to the tearoom every day and finding your daily piece of matzah; have enough at the seders, but after that you’re good.
- MATZAH IS BY DEFINITION CRUNCHY. Sounds weird, but maybe not? In our experience of matzah, it’s a crunchy cracker-like thing. Maybe you’d argue that it can get soft if you dip it in soup gebrochts style, or if it’s covered in sauce and cheese for a matzah pizza. However! The original idea of matzah was probably closer to today’s laffa (or tortilla, I guess), a flat bread that is soft, not crunchy. The word korech, which describes the part of the seder where we make the Hillel sandwich, means to wrap, so it probably was a bread you could wrap around the meat and bitter herbs back in Hillel’s day. Today there are even some Sephardic communities that have special soft matzahs that they eat only on Pesach.
Wherever you choose to spend Pesach, there will be rules (and now some myths!) that you will need to keep in mind. If you are planning on vacationing this holiday, contact Leisure Time Tours to plan your perfect Pesach vacation!