Wearing craziness on the outside (part 2)
April 1, 2012 10 Comments
Sarah has an extremely limited diet. She’s gluten and sugar free, among a whole bunch of other stuff,not the least of which is keeping strictly kosher, and therefore any additional restriction is a real challenge. She normally eats a cereal which is largely flax and sorghum daily.
Pesaḥ is coming, and we wanted to see whether she could have that cereal, and while I was waiting to talk to RDBF, my pal M mentioned to me that the OU had said that sorghum was a problem as an ingredient in medicine.
Now, those things which are ḥametz are barley, rye, oats, spelt, and wheat. Wheat, rye, and barley and spelt are subfamily pooideae (tribe triticeae), and oats are genus avena, while sorghum is subfamily panicoideae, genus sorghum. The closest relative to sorghum which is even listed as kitniyot is maize (subfamily panicoideae, genus zea).
The order of taxonomical classifications is (in old-school terms): kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. There have been a few more additions – subfamily and tribe between family and genus, but the important thing is that genus is above species. Humans are closer to chimpanzees (both subtribe hominina, chimpanzees are genus pan, while we’re genus homo) than sorghum is to the nearest (slightly) problematic maize – those aren’t even in the same subtribe.
So the OU is nuts for Pesaḥ this year – but should we be surprised? As is said in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 1:9, ואין כל חדש תחת השמש (there is nothing new under the sun) – or in a more timely way of putting it, מה נשתנה, הלילה הזה מכל הלילות (What makes this night different from other nights?).
And for those following along about the actual question, RDBF’s answer was “yep, this is fine.” This is something I love about Kesher Israel – sane p’sak. I don’t think the value of that can be overstated, and I feel sorry for other communities which don’t have leadership which allows orthodox judaism to be practiced with common sense.