April 20, 2015 – On Passover the youngest Jewish child gets the honor of asking four questions.
The four questions are:
- Why is it on all other nights we eat bread or matzo and on this night we only eat matzo?
- Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on this night we eat bitter herbs?
- Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip even once, and on this night we dip twice?
- Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining and on this night we eat reclining?
But now we have a fifth question. Is cannabis kosher for Passover? This was a question recently asked of Rabbi Ben Greenberg, a New York rabbi who was the head of a synagogue in Denver, Colorado.
The answer lies partly in the response to the first question. Because the Jewish people could not wait for bread that was baking to rise when they were fleeing from slavery in Egypt, no leaven (grains) are eaten during Passover. This basic prohibition is then taken to another level when one considers the Ashkenazi custom which forbids consumption of anything that might look like grain (as cannabis does) according to Rabbi Greenberg. So is the answer clear? Not really.
So does cannabis fall into this category? Greenberg states that “[t]he overwhelming majority of rabbis are clear it does not”. However, the concern becomes the form of the cannabis and that as an edible item it “might be processed in a way that includes leavening or it might come in contact with foods that are not kosher for Passover.”
In short, the answer to the fifth question does not provide a clear mandate either for or against the proposition that cannabis is kosher for Passover. It depends on the circumstances.