The very Hebrew name for the holiday, Pesach, refers to a conversant mouth. The matzah rabbinically referred to as lechem oni, poor man’s bread, is seen not simply as a food consumed when hastily leaving Egypt, but as a medium for discussion and elaboration on countless Passover themes. The Bible instructs that we verbally communicate to our children on Passover night and tell them about the most consequential event in the annals of Jewish history. An actual and active dialogue must be at the core of the Passover experience, with the children as the focus of that life experience. The Haggadah text was specifically created as the vehicle through which all can be told and explained. There is no genuine Passover experience without adequate and meaningful conversation, discussion, analysis and talking. On Passover night silence is not a virtue; as a matter of fact, the more prolonged the discussion and conversation is on this night, the greater the reward. In short, on Passover, we talk it up.
Thus, we devote this entire issue to more fully communicate the many detailed and stringent aspects of the Orthodox Union’s Passover kosher supervision and certification. What becomes apparent as this rich Passover issue’s pages will be studied, is that the prohibition of chometz on Passover is ever so much more stringent than any of the other food related laws with which many of you have become familiarized through your company’s OU certification and education. For example, if a tiny bit of non-kosher fat is accidentally mixed within a large quantity of kosher food, so that the proportion of kosher to non-kosher is greater than 60:1, the mixture may be eaten. With chometz, this is not so. If a tiny crumb of chometz were to fall into a large vat of matzah dough, and the proportion of matzah to chometz were a million to one, the entire dough could not be used for Passover. What is different about chometz on Passover that renders it more detrimental than other forbidden (non-kosher) foods? Matzah dough that is allowed to remain unbaked will spontaneously ferment and become chometz. It remains matzah only if from the very first contact of the flour with the water it is kneaded, rolled, and promptly baked. Jewish law requires continuous contact, that is, working with the mixture of flour and water up to the very moment of baking. Matzah cannot happen by itself. It requires the constant and consistent human touch. No change occurs in the matzah except what is brought about by the hands of the kneader. This is not the case with chometz, which ferments and rises when left to itself. Chometz undergoes spontaneous changes. It is the unrelenting perseverance and commitment required to assure the absolute Passover kosher status of the matzah that is symbolic of what it takes to make it OUP. Clean ups, sterilizations, kosherizations, on-site supervision, and a host of other kosher stringencies (including a full review of all ingredients used) are in place as OUP productions get underway. Products will only attain Passover status if from the very first human contact, through and including packaging, it can be attested that no non- Passover ingredients or equipment “interfered” with the Passover process.
As Behind the Union Symbol presents its Passover issue for your continued OU Kosher enlightenment, we salute three Passover giants: Kedem, Manischewitz and Rokeach, who assure that all that Passover homes need and then some, is abundantly available with consistency, variety, taste, and innovation. We happily welcome Israel’s Tnuva and Strauss Elite Companies and their many and varied OU certified products to the American marketplace. I applaud the expertise of my colleagues who shared Passover insights and experience throughout the issue, and particularly thank Rabbi Abraham Juravel for his valuable assistance with many facets of this issue. The Orthodox Union administration joins in collective thanks and appreciation to Rabbi Shmuel Singer for carefully, conscientiously and skillfully overseeing all aspects of our OUP certification program for the past fifteen years. His sense of responsibility and attention to detail big and small reinforces all that is matzah.
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