Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Of Cotton and Kitniyyot

This post by Renegade Rebbetzin, referencing her idyll on Cottonseed Oil reminded me of a story that happened to me about ten years ago in the late, unlamented, Paysach Tzarkhaniyya in the Vizhnitz section of Jerusalem.

I was shopping for oil in self-same store (looking for oil is all we ever do in the Middle East). Considering the amounts we use on Pesah, I was also looking for the best buy I could find (which is why I was in Vizhnitz in the first place. Supersol's NIS40.00 per bottle was too steep). Anyway, there were three types of oil: Olive (tres cher), Walnut (importe d'Amerique) and Cottonseed (a critical ingredient for for creating a myocardial infarction). The prices were NIS 45, NIS29 and NIS 9 (respectively). I was stunned by the difference between the latter two, so I asked the owner who was walking (well, squeezing) by.

'Is the Cottonseed Oil not Kosher for Pesah?,' I asked. 'Oh, No!,' he replied. 'It's got this, this, this, this and this famous hekhsher.' 'So why is it so much less money?' 'Oh,' he replied,' that's easy. A lot of people won't buy it, because it sounds like kitniyyot.'

Then the bulb went off. Cottonseed Oil, in Hebrew, is Shemen Kutna (שמן כותנא). If you pronounce a 'u' as an 'i' in Hebrew (as many of the more Hassidishe types do, the product is called 'Shemen Kitna,' which sounds suspiciously like kittniyyot oil.

'Wait a minute,' I asked. 'Does that mean that it's kosher for Litvaks and Yekkes, but assur for Poilishe, Galitzianer, Rushisher, Ukrainisher and Hungarisher Yidden?' 'You've got it,' the owner answered (all this with a straight face), and he walked away.

Well, there you have it. As the Rov ז"ל used to say: Some things are assur because they're stupid, and it's assur to be stupid.

[We, btw, use canola oil. It's healthy and it bears the label: לאוכלי קיטניות לפי המנהג. I have not a clue what that means. Canola oil is ABSOLUTELY NOT KITNIYYOT. Next thing we:ll have to go back to not eating bananas on Pesah. But that's another אגדה שהייתה באמת.]


Out of Step in Kfar Saba said...

Walnut oil is 30 shekel in kfar saba - but is canola really not kitniyot? great.

Tzemach Atlas said...

"myocardial infarction", nu nu

Jeffrey said...

I have absolutely no doubt that Canola Oil is NOT, absolutely not, Kiyniyyot.Other people want to be...well, so they won't eat my Pesah rolls.

mivami said...

Next thing we:ll have to go back to not eating bananas on Pesah. But that's another אגדה שהייתה באמת
wait...could you elaborate for those who have not a clue what you mean?