When I said I was going to post about Pesach this isn’t what I had in mind.
The Bergen County Jewish Times (no link to the original, couldn’t find one – hope this isn’t a hoax… or maybe I hope it is a hoax, I’ll let you decide) is reporting that a local gas station owner will be selling Kosher-For-Pesach gas!
Yaniv Ban-Zaken, a local gas station owner, will be selling Kosher for Passover gasoline during the holiday this year. The move, Ben-Zaken says,has become necessary due to the increased ethanol content in gasoline required by the government. The ethanol is typically derived from corn, which is a forbidden food for Jews on Passover. And, according to Ben-Zaken, underJewish law, it is also forbidden to derive any benefit from corn.
Interested? It’ll cost you. A gallon of chametz- (or rather, kitniyot-) free gas will set you back a staggering $9.69 per gallon. Still, compared to a pound of hand-made shmura matzah, a gallon of chametz-free gas is pretty cheap – a pound of shmura will go for about $18, and all you get is some hastily-baked flour and water! I wonder what’s more expensive, feeding matzah to your family of eight, or driving them all to Great Adventure on Chol HaMoed in your Suburban, Navigator, or Odyssey.
But why take psak from a non-observant yored? Rabbi Mordechai Silver of Yeshivas Torah Ohr in Englewood says:
[W]hile it might technically be acceptable to use mass-produced gasoline, those who can afford to purchase the new alternative should. “In Jewish law, we have a principle of lifnim mshuras hadin–going above and beyond the basic requirements of the law,” he explained in an email. “Thank G-d, many people in the area can afford to do so in this case.”
A cynic might argue that there’s no chiyuv to line the pockets of your local gas-station owner on Pesach, but Mr. Ban Zaken claims that he won’t turn a profit on this venture at all, and that he’s just providing a community service.
In fairness, not everyone thinks this is such a great idea:
Rabbi Shalom Silver, of Congregation Ohel Emeth in Teaneck , has recommended to his congregants that they not buy the gasoline. “Although Jews of Ashkenazi descent are not permitted to eat corn on Pesach, they are permitted to derive benefit from corn byproducts, such as gasoline with ethanol additives,” he said.
And to think, if I was only born a Sephardi I could have been sitting on the sidelines and laughing about all this!
Hat tip to Torn