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Friday, April 4, 2008

Oy Gevalt, Kitniyot

It's rather ironic that even though the various Eidot Mizrach/Sfardi communities have a great variety of customs concerning Kitniyot, they don't obsess about it like Ashkenaz Jews. Simply stated, kitniyot are legumes, frequently grown and stored near grains. That's the historic rationale behind their being forbidden on Pesach by Ashkenaz Jews.

Many of us Ashkenazim have been taught that we should relate to kitniyot like "traif." Traif is actually less severe than chametz, since there's no battel b'shishim (doesn't count if under 1/60) when it comes to chametz. Actually, the kitniyot business is not as serious as gebracht, which supposes that there may be some uncooked flour in the matzah, so you can't get your matzah or matzah meal wet. I don't think there are any Sfardim which go for that psak. It's against their nature to obsess so hysterically about halachah; though in another generation we may see more of it. That's because of all the "intermarriage" between the various Jewish communities and Sfardim who study in Ashkenaz and Chassidishe yeshivot.

Many Ashkenaz women who marry Sfard men are disappointed to discover that they can't eat "everything." There are a surprising amount of differences from community to community. Some do eat "everything" in terms of kitniyot, but many don't eat any of the dry kitniyot, only the fresh green beans and the oils.

That's one of the reasons I wouldn't feel comfortable about having our Ashkenaz custom cancelled. There is no halachik-minhag unity among the Sfardim either.

In our home, our now Tunisian daughter cooks rice on Pesach for her family, and neighbors, who are halachikly Sfardim cook without kitniyot, because the vast majority of their guests are strict Ashkenazim.

Here are some links from Machon Shilo (no relation to my home town) about the issue:

The Minhag of Qitniyoth: Anatomy of an Error
Qitniyoth Rebellion Revisited


Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov

12 comments:

Leora said...

It's against their nature to obsess so hysterically about halachah; though in another generation we may see more of it. That's because of all the "intermarriage" between the various Jewish communities and Sfardim who study in Ashkenaz and Chassidishe yeshivot. Educated Sephardim here in America are sad about this, too. The Ashkenaization of the Sephardim. The young ones adopt the stringencies and the dress of their Ashkenazi yeshivot. I don't think all this homogenization is so good.

Batya said...

Personally, I'm against the "chareidization" of Torah Judaism. I don't consider their ways as more genuine, more the opposite.

Baila said...

I'm in complete agreement. I always tell my kids that we weren't meant to suffer in our practise of the Torah, and I don't believe that we were meant to constantly add more and more stringencies. I don't think we get brownie points for adding all those stringencies.

Batya said...

I used to be much stricter, more American, but recently I stopped freaking out about bath soaps when I discovered that Ashkenaz rabbis here don't insist that shampoo needs a hechshar.
but the historical perspective, which you shouldn't forget, is that when I first became religious I had very little control over my food, but full control over my toiletries and soaps.

We don't look for chumrot, but we do things, all the covered surfaces, like my husband grew up with and I learned in NY.

tzori said...

You should be aware that the rabbis of Machon Shilo, if living in the US, would be considered Conservative not Orthodox in their beliefs.

Batya said...

Are you sure about that? There is a Conservative, called Traditional, here.
One thing for sure, the Sfardi rabbis here are more respected here. That's in the sense that in the states they're a small minority, while in Israel there are communities where Sfardim and their rabbis are the majority.

Uri DeYoung said...

Tzori, I can't imagine anyone confusing a rabbi from Machon Shilo with a conservative "rabbi". Can you imagine a rabbi from Machon Shilo allowing a Jew to drive to a synagogue on Shabbat or eat at a vegetarian restaurant that didn't have kosher supervision? The Conservative movement chips away at the Torah whereas Machon Shilo separates misunderstandings from Jewish law.
When I first came to Israel and heard from Ashkenazi friends that they started to eat kitniyot during Pesach in Israel I thought that they were being lazy or cheap. I later learned the truth. Over the past ten years I've been learning more and more about where to be strict in kashrut and it's been a real eye-opener.
Now that we're finally back in the Land after 2000 years of exile, it's time for the halachic authorities to determine what the true "Law of the Land" is.
Have a happy and kosher Pesach!
Hadassa

Batya said...

Hadassa, you're right.
When I think of the emphasis on things like bleach and deodorant I learned in America...

Anonymous said...

Machon Shilo is the farthest thing from Conservative. The rulings of Machon Shilo are based on historical rulings of the greats like Rambam, the Gra, Rav Amram Gaon, Rav Sa’adya Gaon, The Rif, and the Rosh. These rabbis far exceed the knowledge and talents of the rabbis of the last two to five centuries who introduced countless layers of cumrot and unnecessary additions to our prayers. Macho Shilo does not permit the sale of Chametz which is a liberal invention of the "modern haredi orthodox" rabbis, not does it recognize the invention of community erev on Shabbat. Machon Shilo is shedding modern inventions of our Rabbis and returning to the real, and simpler Torah of our greatest historical Rabbis.
http://www.machonshilo.org

Batya said...

good points
It may look "Conservative" according to Ashkenaz, but it's pure Torah in the big picture.

Anonymous said...

tzori said "You should be aware that the rabbis of Machon Shilo, if living in the US, would be considered Conservative not Orthodox in their beliefs."

I am always amazed at the slander that Rav Bar Hayim and Machon Shilo are subjected to.

How can you slander a Rav when you clearly have never heard a single shiur of his?

Why do you feel that you have the right to slander Torah Scholars?

If you think Machon Shilo is incorrect in their Halakhic views, prove them wrong, Don't slander them.

Batya said...

Yes, good points. Thanks for commenting.