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Friday, April 22, 2011

Kitniyot, Legumes on Passover, A Different Perspective

Ashkenaz, European Jews have a custom not to eat kitniyot, legumes, on Passover.  Many people treat those foods as if they're traif, like ham or lobster, or at least bread when it's Passover.  We must stop getting so hysterical.  We're one people, whether our families come from Tunisia, like my son-in-law, or Poland like my father's father.

In response to a very interesting article about the subject,   KLF Makes the News (Again).  I commented:
Kitniyot does divide.  We don't eat it, but our grandchildren are Tunisian and I allow rice at our table for them.  It's not "traif," nor is it chametz.  It's just a minhag for ashkenazim not to eat it.


Shy Guy said...

Kitniyot has actually become a takana - not just a minhag alone anymore. It was accepted by the vast majority of Ashkenazic Jewry in one variance or another.

Ask your Rabbi whether Ashkenazim should be cooking rice in their Pesach utensils for their grandkids.

Rav Melamed devoted part of his Revivim column in B'Sheva a few weeks ago to the issue of Kitniyot. I would say his overall halachic advice there was extremely sane.

Rav Melamed also mentioned that he's had cases of Sefaradim come to him, asking if it's alright to use boiled barley on Pesach, like beans. This is one of the classic reasons why the whole prohibition of Kitniyot came about in the first place. So if you thought that only Jews in the Middle Ages didn't know better, think again.

I personally would love to see the prohibition of kitniyot rescinded, though I'm eating too well on Pesach even without sushi and felafel. When Eliyahu Hanavi comes, I hope he'll have a say in that.

In the meantime, if you really want to talk about a food related matter which divides, consider discussing year round kosher hechsherim and standards. That can make you lose your appetite real quick.

Batya said...

Shy, Rav Elchanan has always said that Ashkenazim can give children kitnityot if the kids ask for it. He also says that unless there is real proof of falsehood, one must trust a Heschsher with a Rabbi's name. Otherwise you're calling the man a liar, problems of "motzei shem ra."

Shy Guy said...

Batya, I did not mean to imply that I ever spoke to Rav Bin Nun about kitniyot. I meant to suggest that you ask him whether Ashkenazim should be cooking rice in their Pesach kitchen.

As for giving kids kintiyot on Pesach, I'm guessing (without having heard or read from Rav Bin Nun) that what he meant was if they see Bamba and beg for it, give it to them. There's a big difference between that and cooking kitniyot in your kitchen.

Regarding Kashrut in general, again I was not referring to any Rav in particular. However, here, too, Rav Melamed in several Revivim columns last year called on everyone to realize that the Chief Rabbinate's standard are intentionally set low and that those of us who have a gram of Yir'at Shamayim should be concerned with what we put in our mouths.

No, I am not a Talmid of Rav Melamed. And what Rav Melamed wrote was not news nor an uncommon opinion.

Regardind Rav Bin Nun's claim that distrust of a hechsher is calling a man a liar:

1. There are too many cases of liars and fraud in the kashrut industry. This is a malady worldwide.

2. The fact of the matter is that there are numerous standards in kashrut. If one's standard is whatever says kosher on it must be OK, well... there you go...

(Humorous Blogger word verification for this post is "esses", almost like "essen")

Batya said...

I'll speak to him. Today there are many families, like mine, with a variety of eidot. This reality makes poskening different from a generation ago.
And our local makolet, owner: Shlomo Leviatan who also owns the ones in Eli and Ofra, takes thing of questionable hechsher off the shelf when instructed by Rav Elchanan.

Shy Guy said...

Yes and no. The kibbutz Galuyot didn't start with the opening of the first aliyah office. You'll find the issue of kitniyot and different neighbors throughout printed halachic discussions all over the place, especially in places like Jerusalem over 100 years ago.

Regarding the Makolet, how many of those questionable products removed from the shelves were with the approval of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel?

Batya said...

Shy, I'm no expert. I'll check what I can, but there's also the Shalom Bayit aspect.

Hadassa said...

Perhaps we should prohibit serving tuna salad because it looks like chicken salad? What about all of the kitniyot that do not resemble the five grains: sesame seeds, fresh peas and beans, corn (as in corn-on-the-cob) kernels, etc.?
The Rambam states that wheat grains may be boiled during Pesah as long as they as cooked within 18 "rega'im" My husband read the passage. I'll ask him for the exact source. I doubt anyone would try it, but the truth should be taught.
The answer is educating people as to what the "five grains" are, not piling up humrot.
In at least some, if not all, cases an Ashkenazi living in Israel may do a "hatarat nederim" and take on Sephardi customs.
Concerning kashrut in general, Rav Melamed in his articles asked all of use to be more strict in our observance of kashrut so that the standards of the Chief Rabbinate would not be so low.

Shy Guy said...

Batya, I'm all for shalom bayit and there are tons of ways to implement it regarding kitniyot and mixed guests at the Yom Tov table. I've just never heard of Ashkenazim cooking rice - not for grandkids nor for their parents.

Shy Guy said...

Hadassa, I almost agree with you. Believe me I'd like to shmeer some humus on a Teimani matzah right now for lunch.

Kitniyot is a classic case of minhag Yisrael ke'halacha. I agree that no more chumrot should be added but there is a core of globally accepted definitions of what constitutes kitniyot and what does not.

I'm as Ashkenazi as they come I suppose (though I pile on charif like I'm immune to the stuff). However, I'll enjoy a side dish of quinoa at tonight's Seudat Yom Tov.

Chag Sameach!

Hadassa said...

Shy Guy, have you read any of Rav David Bar-Hayim's articles on the subject? www.machonshilo.org
Errors made in the past can and should be corrected.
Hag sameah!

Batya said...

Shy, I don't cook the rice, but my daughter does. She is now Tunisian.

Shy Guy said...

Hadassa, I have read Rav Bar Hayim's articles on Kitniyot. I have 2 conclusions:

1. Almost no one else in the entire spectrum of Torah observant communities in Israel and abroad holds like him. Yachid Verabim (and it is extremely so in this case), halacha ka'rabim.

2. Much of what Rav Bar Hayim advocates, in many spheres of minhag and halacha, is similarly not agreed upon by just about anyone else.

Personally, I think Rav Bar Hayim is onto something. However, I am reminded of the dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and the Chachamim in Bava Metziya 59b. Even though a Bat Kol declared that the halacha is like Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua states that "Lo Bashamayim Hi" (Devarim ) and indeed we hold like the majority opinion of the Chachamim.

Stating that the essence of the essential halachot of kitniyot is an "error" is itself pure arrogance. This does nothing but cast aspersions on myriads of Torah faithful Jews.

Batya, I understood from the beginning that your daughter married a Sefaradi. I have still never heard of a case where if they come to an Ashkenasi's home, they should be catered with kitniyot, more so when we're talking about cooking it in pots (same pot you use?) and cleaning the pots together (less of a problem but still avoided where possible).

Again, I'm not talking about Bamba for the kiddies.

Batya said...

Shy, this year they weren't in our house. We were in theirs, but we'll see what happens in the future.

Shy Guy said...

Aha! You in their house - that's a horse of a different color! There's a lot of room for flexibility there.

The norm I know of is it is preferable for Ashkenasim eating by Sefaradim during Pesach not to eat food cooked in a pot used to cook kitniyot within the last 24 hours but if not possible, that's OK, too. However, Ashkenasim should definitely not eat non-kitniyot food which was cooked with kitniyot in the same utensil at the same time.

Chag Sameach.

Batya said...

I did most of the cooking in my house for the seder. And on chol hamoed in their house I cooked our food.