Feb 26, 2017

Interesting Psak: Maror that isn't a "ha'adama" bracha

While this is an interesting discussion and psak, the more interesting part of this is actually post-psak.

A secular lettuce farmer had decided to grow his crop for Pesach, potentially a significant portion of his yearly parnassa, using some form of hydroponics - growing the lettuce in water instead of in soil. His thought process was that this would allow him to produce lettuce without bugs and without the need to use pesticides that could ruin the quality of the lettuce.

The problem they discovered, after the investment, was that such produce has rabbinic disputes surrounding them as to whether they are to be treated as produce from the ground that could be used as maror on Pesach or if they are blessed with the shehakol blessing because they are not considered vegetables from the ground. It seems that some poskim, including Rabbis ELyashiv and Wosner, determined the bracha to be ha'adama, while others, such as Rav Ovadia Yosef, determined it to be shehakol. The relevant farmers seemed to be heading into a potential disaster, not knowing if anyone would use this produce for maror on Pesach.

Rav Shlomo Ben Ezra, the rav of the Gezer Region Religious Council, decided to figure it all out for this farmer and spent weeks researching the issue and discussing it with rabbonim. Rav Ben Ezra's conclusion is that even according to the opinion that lettuce grown in water is not lie a normal ground-grown vegetable, it is still considered usable for maror, regardless of the psak adhered to regarding the bracha. This decision was signed on to by the Chief Rabbi Rav Yitzchak Yosef.

Rav Yosef added a requirement in his decision that the packaging of this lettuce include a statement that the lettuce was grown in water "so those who want to be machmir will know".

The farmers were very impressed with Rav Ben Ezra's dedication to the project and his assistance throughout the process. They said not being religious they never really had anything before to do with rabbis, but Rav Ben Ezra's involvement changed their attitude towards the rabbis, who are normally not painted well in the media.
source: Srugim

1. a helpful and accommodating approach, rather than a curt response or a brush off, can go a long way toward changing attitudes.

2. Regardless of Rav Ben Ezra's psak, and Rav Yosef's agreement, many people would still say it isn't enough. That's life. But at least he has a serious name behind him.

3. This is Pesach,.. and the mizva of maror. Putting a statement out like that on the packaging - grown in water, for the knowledge of those who want to be machmir - can be the death knell in the religious community for this lettuce. Who, especially on pesach, doesn't want to be machmir? Will people buy it knowing that they are expressly stating by doing so that they are not being machmir regarding the mitzva of maror?

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  1. Between those for whom rav Elyashiv and Rav wosner are big enough and those for whom the Rav harashi is big enough, the grower will do fine.

  2. Besides, you end up eating lots of salad on Pesach besides the seder. Even if I was worried about the seder, I might want to buy the bug-free, pesticide free lettuce for eating the rest of the time. And year round.

  3. There's also the question of whether certain things (like horseradish) are really marror.

  4. Rav Yitzhak Yosef went against his father's psak?

    1. not clear. I understood his conclusion to be that even if you say shehakol, as his father paskens, it is still kosher for maror. I dont think he argued.

  5. If people were willing to check lettuce, the question wouldn't arise. Oh well.

    Dandelion anyone?


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