- Question: [Thursday, 5th Nissan, 5781]
In our family we are accustomed eat matza with avocado during Pesach. In school my daughter was taught by her teacher that it is forbidden to do so, and it is against the Chabad custom, and it caused a very big ruckus in the classroom with many students arguing with the teacher and others defending her. Years ago, we were in fact told by a very prestige Chabad Rav that there is no issue with doing so. Can you please clarify this for us as to the final stance on the subject.
Unlike the custom of other Hasidic groups, there is no impediment according to authentic Chabad custom that is binding on the general public of Anash, against eating matzoh with 100% avocado if one makes sure that the avocado does not contain any water, such as the shell was dried if it was previously washed with its shell and is now having its shell removed, and does not contain condensation from being left in the fridge, and was cut with a dry knife. The same applies for all non-water liquids and food products that are 100% fruit or vegetable and do not contain any water whatsoever even the tiniest drop, that they may be eaten together with matzoh. So is the ruling of the Alter Rebbe that even for those who are stringent to not eat Gebrochts there is no issue whatsoever in eating matzoh with 100% fruit juice on Pesach [and on the contrary it is even implied from his wording that one is not supposed to be stringent against doing so as it compromises on Simchas Yom Tov!], and so was the custom of the Rebbe Rashab who would dip his matzoh in 100% wine and 100% milk that was supervised to not contain any water whatsoever. This custom was recorded in Sefer Haminhagim which is the sole authentic book with the Rebbe’s detailed approval of the customs of Chabad Lubavitch, and was published to serve as a book of directives for the public as to what is really Chabad custom as practiced or preached by the Chabad Rabbeim, versus hearsay or customs of communities and families which are not binding upon the general public of Anash. Hence, for one to state that it is not allowed according to Chabad custom [as is ruled in other Hasidic groups] is grossly inaccurate and misleading. Despite the above, many families [seemingly the vast majority] of Chabad Chassidim are accustomed not to eat Matzah with any food, even 100% fruit juice, seemingly due to worry that perhaps it was mixed with water. Nonetheless, there are families of Chabad Chassidim who are just as righteous who are accustomed to follow the letter of the law custom according to Chabad to allow eating Matzah with 100% fruit juice, and each family should follow their custom and not try to impose their personal stringencies upon others.
Let the above be a general example of Pesach stringencies that are relevant to families as opposed to the general public, and that people need to do the proper research before preaching a Pesach stringency as a Chabad custom that is binding on the general public, as there are plenty of stringencies that are left for each family to decide on their own whether to adapt or ignore without being in fear of transgression of a Chabad custom. Spiritually, Pesach is about getting rid of the spiritual Chametz known as Yeishus or ego, and hence just as the levels of Yeishus and the level of their cleansing vary amongst people, so too the level of stringency against physical Chametz vary amongst them, and other than those things that are clear Halacha and Chabad custom, each family is given discretion to decide on their own what more to keep. It is both strange and ironic that at times we see a personal stringency against Chametz that one keeps during Pesach being used in a way that harbors and nurtures the ego and causes discord with others, hence causing the stringency to make one fail in the spiritual mission of clearing oneself of the definite spiritual Chametz that is contained within the heart.
As a side note, teachers must be extremely careful whenever they choose to recite a halachic ruling of their own [outside of what is written in the regular school curriculum Sefarim material], to make sure that they are being accurate, have done the proper research to verify their statements and are stating a view accepted by Rabbanim and Morei Hora’s. Otherwise, they risk falling under the Talmudic and Halachic category of “Mi Shelo Higia Lehorah Umoreh Harei Zu Mimavlei Olam-that one who is not qualified to give halachic rulings and nonetheless does so is considered to be destroying the world [due to their spreading of inaccurate, or one sided, Halachic information which then causes the masses to stumble, or causes unnecessary Machlokes to spread] and thus it is not the position of teachers to become the Paskening Rav of their students and they should stick to the curriculum material. Unless they do the proper verification and research on a given Halachic question, they should learn to tell their students that they are unsure of the answer and should bring all of their Halachic questions to a Paskening Rav. In one case scenario a teacher decided to preach to his class that it is forbidden for even men to do Melacha starting from candle lighting time even though there is plenty of time until sunset. The teacher told the students, in response to their very vocal protest, that their parents, who included prestige Rabbanim and Morei Hora’s, are all mistaken in this and that he personally did research and that is the real Halacha. This teacher was far from having the qualifications of being a Paskening Rav and it is understood the great damage that a teacher does when he quotes inaccurate Halachic information, for both himself and the students [as the parents then have to explain to their children that their teacher is wrong], and hence it would be wise for them to follow the advice of the sages that one who is not qualified to rule in Halacha may not give out halachic rulings.
Explanation: The final accepted ruling in Halacha is that 100% fruit juice cannot turn flour into Chametz, and hence the stringency of Gebrochts which suspects for leftover flour mixing with water and turning into Chametz, is completely irrelevant when one eats the Matzah with 100% fruit juice. However, if fruit juice is mixed with water, then it is even more severe of a problem than plain water regarding its ability to ferment, as while plain water takes at least 18 minutes to ferment, water mixed with fruit juice can ferment instantly.
Sources: Regarding the ruling of Admur see: Shut of Admur 6 “Regarding dipping Matzah in fruit juice, it is obvious that one is not to be stringent against doing so throughout the entire Pesach.”; Regarding the custom of the Rebbe Rashab see: Sefer Haminhagim p. 80; Sefer Hasichos 5703; Regarding the status of 100% fruit juice versus fruit juice that is mixed with water see: Admur 462:1, 3 and 466:3; Michaber 462:1-2; Rambam 5:2; Rif 10; Pesachim 35a; Regarding the practical custom of Chabad families, the following Rabbonim replied as follows: Harav Leibel Groner “I never saw the Rebbe do it. I also did not see chassidim do it.”; Harav Eliyahu Landau “certainly it is permitted to do so although we were not accustomed to do so unless one is sick perhaps due to worry of a drop of water falling in, although this I’m writing just from my own logic [and have not received any tradition in this matter]”; Harav Yaakov Shwei z”l “We don’t do so”; Rav Asher Lemel HaCohen rules leniently in this to all those who ask, and so is the custom of Anash of Yerushalayim to eat Matzah brie which is made by frying Matzah in oil; Rav Osdaba likewise ruled leniently that it may be eaten together with avocado.