Kosher Spices

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Dear Rabbi Simon
Can I buy Za’atar & Sumac spices from any shop or do they need proof of rabbinical supervision (ie, hechsher)?

Dear Herby
While it is always ideal to buy with a hechsher, as a rule, pure dried herbs and spices (whole or ground) are OK. Blends of pure spices (including with pure vegetable oil) are also acceptable. Spice and herbs salts and seasonings may contain non-kosher stearic acid and should be avoided (unless with a hechsher).
Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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