Cosmetics and Toiletries for Pesach - Part Four by Rabbi Chaim Jachter
This week we shall conclude our review of the debate regarding the permissibility of toiletries and cosmetics that contain Chametz that seems to be unfit for canine consumption. The previous three parts of this series are available at www.koltorah.org.
I recall that Rav Hershel Schachter told me (in 1991) that even if toothpaste has a pleasant taste, it is nonetheless considered Eino Ra’ui Liachilat Kelev. He reasons that since the toothpaste is still inedible and not meant to be swallowed it is considered Eino Ra’ui Liachilat Kelev, even if the toothpaste tastes pleasant while it is in one’s mouth. Rav Schachter apparently understands that the Rama (Y.D. 108:4) prohibition forbidding tasting a forbidden item applies only if the item is suitable to be eaten and one intends to eat it. On the other hand, Rav Eider (ad. loc.) writes (based on this Rama), “Flavored lipsticks may not be used on Pesach.” Rav Eider believes that one may not taste even an inedible item that one does not intend to swallow.
This debate seems to impact the question of using mouthwash for Pesach that contains inedible Chametz (many contain denatured alcohol). Rav Eider probably would forbid using mouthwash that has a “minty taste” or other pleasant taste (as opposed to a “medicine-like taste”), whereas Rav Hershel Schachter would likely permit it. Indeed, Rav Meir Bransdorfer (Teshuvot Knei Bosem 1:25) writes that mouthwash is permitted on Pesach if it has inedible Chametz only if it is not intended for eating or to enjoy the taste of it. This seems to imply that he would forbid using mouthwash unless it has a “medicine-like taste.” Rav Elazar Meyer Teitz also recommends to his Elizabeth, NJ community on Pesach not to use mouthwash that has a pleasant taste if it contains inedible Chametz. All would apparently agree (see Rav Heber ad. loc.) that products that are intentionally swallowed such as breath spray and breath freshener strips require Kashrut certification for Pesach and year round.
Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:30) was asked whether one is permitted to use dishwashing liquid that comes from a non-Kosher source. Rav Moshe rules that it is considered Nifsal Meiachilat Kelev and he cites as a precedent the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling (O.C. 442:10) permitting on Chol Hamoed Pesach the use of ink that is cooked in barley beer. There are two interesting facets of this responsum. First is that Rav Moshe rules that one is permitted to manufacture such a product and one does not violate thereby the prohibition to intentionally nullify forbidden food (“Ein Mevatlin Issur Lichatchilah”) even though he transforms a forbidden item into a permissible item. This issue is debated by earlier Acharonim (see Yad Efraim to Yoreh De’ah 99:5). Second, is that Rav Moshe does not state that such dishwashing liquid is permitted. Rather, he writes, “We cannot forbid it,” implying that it is best not to use such an item to clean dishes if an alternative is available. The reason for this might be that it is an issue of Davar Sheyeish Lo Matirin as we explained in last week’s issue regarding toothpaste.
Rav Shimon Eider (ad. loc.), though, writes that one should only use dishwashing liquid that is approved for Pesach use. He writes that the common practice is to use only dishwashing liquid with kosher ingredients, even though it is Nifsal Meiachilat Kelev. He suggests that we are concerned that perhaps this product is not entirely Nifsal Mei’achilat Kelev and that our dishes absorb the dishwashing liquid’s non-kosher ingredients when we wash our dishes with it in hot water. Indeed, Rav Moshe Tendler stated (in a Shiur at Yeshiva University in 1989) that he felt that dishwashing liquid is not Nifsal Meiachilat Kelev, as it is relatively mild, especially in comparison with the soap that is used in dishwashers. Interestingly, one of the students who attended that Shiur went home that evening and tasted some dishwashing liquid and became somewhat ill.
The Magen Avraham (467:10) writes that one may not benefit on Pesach from scented tobacco if it has been soaked in beer. The Mishnah Berurah (467:33) codifies this Magen Avraham as normative Halacha. On this basis, Rav Daniel Neustadt (The Monthly Halachah Discussion, p. 188) writes that on Pesach one should not use perfumes whose base product is Nifsal Meiachilat Kelev but the scent added to it is a Chametz derivative that is not Nifsal Meiachilat Kelev. However, he acknowledges that some Poskim are lenient on this issue. These lenient authorities include two nineteenth-century rabbinic authorities who lived in Galicia, Rav Chaim of Sanz (Teshuvot Divrei Chaim 1:Y.D. 20) and Rav Shlomo Kluger (Teshuvot Haelef Lecha Shlomo 204-205) who rule that the Magen Avraham’s ruling does not apply when the entire product is Nifsal Meiachilat Kelev. Teshuvot Chazon Nachum (46) writes specifically about perfumes on Pesach that one should not denigrate a Rav who issues a lenient ruling and permits using inedible perfume that contains Chametz. One should consult with his Rav regarding which opinion should be followed in practice.
It is our hope that these past four essays have eliminated some of the confusion surrounding this topic. We have seen that there is a basis for both the strict and lenient approaches to this topic. Thus, it is not appropriate to criticize one who adopts either the strict or the lenient approach to this issue.