Friday, April 11, 2008

What does my dog have to do with the laws of Passover? (And who's inspecting the toilet paper?)

What does my dog have to do with the Laws of Passover?

Believe it or not, lots! It is axiomatic in the laws of Passover that food that is for human consumption needs to be Kosher for Pesach. But the laws of this holiday go even farther than normal Kosher laws. We also can’t gain benefit from “hametz.” Even things that are inedible for us can still be unusable on this holiday. Things like dish soap for instance, which can’t be eaten but may contain hametz products – are they OK? One standard used is that if something is Nifsal mayachilat kelev,” it can be used on Pesach. “Nifsal” means “inappropriate” or “unusable” or “unfit.” “Mayachilat kelev” means “for a dog to eat.” So the phrase could mean, “Something you wouldn’t even feed to your dog.”

So things that are unfit even for a dog to eat do not require special Passover kashrut certification. That includes dish soap, in many opinions, cosmetics, pure alcohol, as well as burnt bread. That’s why we burn the hametz – to render it so disgusting that even Fido would turn his nose at it.

Passover observance can really bring us to absurdities. Check out this blog from Israel:

Upon exiting the W.C., one of our guests this Shabbat said “You guys are so frum - even your toilet paper is kosher!”

I went in to check, and indeed, marked on every package of our Shabbat toiler paper/tissues was a stamp that said “Kosher for Pesach leMehadrin, Badatz”. Basically, our toilet paper is under the strictest rabbinical supervision.

Now, since it did not say Dairy or Meat, I think that I can safely assume that our toilet paper can be considered Pareve, and can be used with both dairy and meat meals. And with Pesach fast approaching, we will not have to sell our surplus toilet paper to the local non-Jew.

However, being that the toilet paper is Kosher for Passover, this raises some other very important questions:

Is the toilet paper only for people who eat Kitniyot? Or can Ashkenazim like us use it as well?
Does the toilet paper contain Gebruchts?

If? we have an open package of toilet paper before Pesach, are we allowed to use it on Pesach? If not, how do we kasher it? Is boiling it good enough? Or will we have to use a blow torch?
Any assistance in answering these questions will be much appreciated.

To which these replies were received:

Yaakov Says: March 12th, 2006 at 9:01
Well, since this isn’t shmurah toilet paper, we didn’t plan on using it on the Seder night anyway, so I didn’t think that the month thing would apply. However, it is also worthy of investigation.

Ron Katz Says:
March 29th, 2006 at 23:23
When people found out that ‘gniza’ (paper from sifrei Torah, tfillin etc) was part of the old paper used in some Israeli recycling plants to make toilet paper, they called for supervision. So kosher toilet paper does make sense (kosher in the sense: fit for use by a religious jew). Kosher for pesach is a standard thing that badatz puts on all products that have no problem being used on Pesach.

cheski Says:
March 30th, 2006 at 9:37
Why is there a problem with toilet paper? Especially after it is used, it is not ‘raui l’achilat kelev’ anymore?

Yaakov Says: March 30th, 2006 at 14:46
I don’t know…I have seen some dogs do some pretty disgusting things…

You’ll be happy to know that I have personally inspected every roll of toilet paper used at TBE! (Before…not after!)

If you are really interested in the concept of “what is so disgusting a dog won’t eat it,” a detailed (and I mean detailed) explanation can be found at In one instance, he gets into the interesting question of toothpaste. Would your dog eat toothpaste? See

The toothpaste that we use today has a pleasant taste (but is inedible), but it commonly contains glycerin (which might be manufactured from a forbidden animal) and might have Chametz ingredients. Common practice in the observant community is to be lenient and use “regular” toothpaste, though some are strict and use only toothpaste with entirely Kosher ingredients. In fact, I recall that in December 1992 when visiting the home of Rav Moshe Stern (the Debritziner Rav and the author of Teshuvot Be’er Moshe) to observe a Get, that the toothpaste in his home was one with a Kosher certification.

A charming anecdote that occurred in Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s Shiur (lesson) at Yeshiva University in the 1970’s (reported by Rav Yosef Adler and many others) is often cited in support of the common practice to be lenient. The Rav stated in Shiur that toothpaste is not Ra’ui Liachilat Kelev (unfit for canine consumption) and thus one is permitted to consume it on Pesach even if it contains Chametz. The next day in Shiur a student raised his hand and explained that he conducted an “experiment” the night before. He related that he placed toothpaste in his dog’s feeding bowl to see if his dog would eat it – and indeed, the dog ate the toothpaste!! Rav Soloveitchik simply responded, “Your dog is crazy.” This story illustrates the ruling that we cited last week from Rav Soloveitchik that the standards of edibility are not determined by aberrant behavior.

Well, I know that one of my dogs IS crazy and would probably eat toothpaste – though it is noteworthy that we have dog toothpaste for the canines – they prefer poultry flavor.

Which brings us to the issue of actual pet food. In rabbinic times, the Pre Purina age, there was no such thing – table scraps and garbage were all the rage. Now, there are kosher for Passover, certified pet foods (I wonder which rabbi does the taste test!) Keep in mind a couple of things. First of all, table scraps are OK, of course. Secondly, anything all-meat needs no certification (dogs don’t have to keep Kosher in the usual sense). And finally, pets are automatically considered Sephardi – in other words, they can consume the kitniyot (legumes, rice, corn, soybeans, etc.) that Ashkenazi Jews don’t traditionally eat on Passover (though I’ve indicated at other times that such a practice is not necessary). So my dogs, for instance, eat a food that has rice in it, along with meat, their food does not need Passover certification. To which I say, thank God!

Take care to buy pet products before Passover begins, when the restrictions on hametz are also more lenient (see my Guide for the Perplexed for more on that)

The Aish website has a nice explanation of all this at

But if you are still wondering, head on over to - you can switch over to an entire line of kosher pet foods! Soon you dog will be waiting three hours before Milkbones!

Happy Pesach to all our four legged friends. Now excuse me. I’ve got to go finish inspecting the toilet paper!

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