From the Rav’s Desk: Store-bought oil versus Schmaltz during Pesach

  1. Question: [Tuesday, 6th Nissan 5783]

According to Chabad custom, is there any issue with using store-bought oil for Pesach instead of Shemaltz. We used to use Shemaltz but it’s just too repulsive and unhealthy for my family. May we switch to regular store-bought oil that is kosher for Passover.



There is no official Chabad custom in this mater. You may choose to use a Kosher Lepesach oil for cooking instead of Shemaltz, as the Rebbe himself has instructed Anash in the past.

Explanation: From the letter of the law, there is no issue with using oil for cooking on Pesach so long as it comes from a non-Chametz and non-Kitniyus source, and so explicitly rules Admur in his Shulchan Aruch and so rule many other Poskim. Nonetheless, some Achronim rule stringently that one is to avoid olive oil during Pesach, due to that olives are Charif, and perhaps a Chametz grinder was used to make them. Furthermore, some Poskim rule that any oil, even homemade, should not be used due to that one may get mixed up with the oils and come to use Kitniyus based oils, and hence thye only use Shemaltz.

Now, regarding the Chabad custom: There is no official Chabad custom regarding the avoidance of oil, or store-bought oil, and being particular to use specifically Shemaltz. Some families have this custom and some don’t, and there is no requirement to adapt this custom, and due to health reasons, one is not encouraged to do so. The Rebbe himself recommended Chabad Chassidim in 1949 to use for Pesach a certain processed cottonseed margarine known as Nutola, that had a good Hashgacha for Pesach. [Cottonseed margarine was commonly produced in the early to mid-20th century as an alternative to butter, which was more expensive and less readily available at the time.] The entire idea of not using processed foods is a personal stringency that is not officially written in any Chabad or even non-Chabad literature, and is based on the idea that many people avoid eating out by others during Pesach, and eating foods that were processed by a company is similar to eating by other people. Each family and individual can decide for themselves to what extent they want to avoid processed foods and which foods they need to rely upon the general Passover supervision.

Sources: See regarding the allowance to consume oil on Pesach if it is not Kitniyus based: Admur 453:5 in parentheses “however oil which is not made from kitniyus is permitted to even be eaten”; M”A 453:2; Maharil; Rabbeinu Yerucham Nesiv 8:5; Chok Yosef 453:6; Chemed Moshe 453:1; Sefer Tov Ayin 18:82; Shulchan Gavoa 457:23; Kaf Hachaim 453:31-32 See regarding the custom to avoid using olive oil on Pesach: Degul Merivava 453; Machatzis Hashekel 453:2; See regarding the custom to avoid using all oil on Pesach: Beis Shearim O.C. 215; Zichron Yehuda 1:139; Yad Yitzchak 3:8; Nitei Gavriel Pesach 39:19; See regarding the Chabad custom: See Igros Kodesh Vol. 21 p. 96 where the Rebbe writes that “Anash use Natala margarine on Pesach”. This refers to a congealed cottonseed oil that was processed by a company under a local Mehadrin Hashgacha. Thus, one may purchase any Kosher for Pesach oil that contains a most reliable Hashgacha. Nevertheless, there are those who are stringent to only use melted chicken fat [Shmaltz] as their oil base product for Pesach food and cooking; See Shulchan Menachem 2:267; Nitei Gavriel Pesach 39:19

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