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Muntz’s Fallacy and Why You Can’t Eat Anything on Passover

March 21, 2014

Lisa: I just don’t understand Francine’s motivation.Why does she only go after the smart ones?
Nelson: That’s like asking the square root of a million. No one will ever know.

I would like to dub this Muntz’s fallacy after its user, because I can not think of the proper Latin way to put it.

Believe it or not, our codes are full of concerns based on the same fallacy. Thus, one can not:

1. Eat matza ashira (matzo made with pure oil, juices, or eggs instead of water) on Passover because even though the sages ruled that such combinations never become leaven, and as a fact they never do, some in the Middle Ages noticed that eggs cause recipes to become puffy, and no one knows if such a thing is not leaven.

2. Use glass utensils on Passover if they have been previously used for leavened foods, because no one knows if they have or have not absorbed some tastes from the leavened food.

There are many other examples. I find it incredibly frustrating when matters of halacha boil down to determining physical realities, and because some scholars only know the Talmud and codes, they can not understand that sometimes it takes some outside knowledge of God’s world to make a successful determination. Next time you hear a halacha decided with the consideration of “nowadays we don’t know” or something to that effect, go ask someone else who does know.

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