• Well put R. Salkin. I would add yet another reason. As I explain in my “A Growing Haggadah” We live in a period of the “ingathering of the exiles”, a “re-unification of our people” others call a Mizug Galuyot, a new period of Ashkefard or Sefardkenaz. How many of us, whose ancestors came from central or eastern Europe say: “Oleinu,” or “Yisgadal”? No, our Hebrew is Sefardi and, so are our Jewish foods: along with schmaltz herring, we assume felafel as Jewish foods. I advocate abolishing the prohibition of eating קטניות. In fact, before we became a vegetarian household I stuffed our turkey with rice and other goodies.

  • D. Fault

    If ignorance is bliss, the author of this article must be a very happy man.

    The errors in this article as well as basic knowledge for why “chumros” are practiced shows an abysmal knowledge of the Talmud.

  • George Alexander

    Hmmm, point #2 is incorrect. There is a minority opinion in the Talmud that rice is forbidden at Pesach (Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri – Pesachim 35a).

  • ScottB

    After 50+ years of eschewing kitnyot, I saw, “if it’s good enough for Rambam, it’s good enough for me.” (Also, having become a vegetarian, the thought of subsisting on an Ashkenazic vegetarian diet throughout Passover is deeply depressing.)

  • Rabbi Nicki Greninger

    Great article, thank you! I’ll add that many American Jews are creating customs for themselves and their children, not necessarily inheriting traditions from their families. I’m a fourth-generation American (my grandparents were all born in the US), and my children are therefore fifth-generation Americans. Neither my husband nor I grew up with any food-related Pesach customs; in other words, our families of origin didn’t observe the holiday by giving up any foods at all. My family had a Passover seder, and we added matzah to our diet for the week, but we still ate everything else, including chametz. So when my husband and I moved in together and were deciding which Jewish traditions to adopt, we decided we’d create our own minhag – call it “Minhag America, for Jews whose parents and grandparents didn’t observe these customs” – and we decided to remove chametz for Pesach but eat kitniyot. Although both of us are of Ashkenazi descent (4-5 generations back), it didn’t make sense to observe a custom that had not been ‘handed down’ to us – especially when it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us or add meaning to our observance of the holiday.

  • Robert M. Rich

    I cannot agree more. I find it hard to believe that the entire non-Ashkenazi population, as well as all Jews living prior to 1100, were deficient in following the Halacha of Pesach. Clearly, scripture forbids 5 grains. How was G-d so forgetful as to forget to list the other grains?
    My theory is that in the 1100s an Ashkenazi rabbi was sitting in a dark storeroom, taking shelter from a storm, and was looking at at bags of grain.In the gloomy darkness, he could not differentiate between ground wheat and ground beans. He then decided to erect a wall of custom around these two grains. Meanwhile, at the same time, the Sephardic rabbis were in the warm sun of the Mediterranean and were writing love poetry, instead of trying to inflict more hardship on the Jews.
    My genes are all Ashkenazic, I had them tested in hope of finding another minhag. As my soul is more Sephardic, I slip after day 2 of the holiday.

  • Steven

    Kitniyos – A False Attribution: A Response to Rabbi David Bar-Hayim

    Kitniyos – A False Attribution – A Response to Rabbi David Bar Hayim
    By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

    Generally speaking, it is never a good idea to attack others. It is even a worse idea to attack an Av Beit Din and Rabbi who publishes Torah thoughts. At times, however, when a kosher minhag in Klal Yisroel comes under attack, it is necessary to enter the fray. I feel particularly bad about this, because I have had enjoyable discussions with Rabbi David Bar-Hayim. Nonetheless, the attempt to besmirch the minhag of not eating Kitniyos on Pesach by attributing it to Karaite origins by Rabbi David bar Hayim (http://koleinu.com.au/qittniyoth-kitniyotkitniyos-a-qaraite-custom/) demands a response .
    Rabbi Bar Hayim writes as follows:
    Does the custom of not consuming Kitniot during Passover perhaps derive from a Karaite interpretation of Chometz? This possibility cannot be discounted – a number of customs and halakhic interpretations made their way into normative Judaism during the late Geonic period, the heyday of Karaitism, a fact attested to by no less an authority than Maimonides (Isure Biya 11:14 (or 15))……………………………………..

  • opheliart

    After reading these comments, the saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” comes to mind.

    I always thought it was a silly phrase until I looked up its proverb.

    *I think Nicki Greninger has a more contemplative view on the matter … without delving into the secret society of the devout. ” … it didn’t make sense to observe a custom that had not been ‘handed down’ to us – especially when it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us or add meaning to our observance of the holiday.”

    For us, it is SPRING.

    Thanks for the article.

  • Steven

    Ideally, instead of seeing the custom to avoid eating Kitniyot as a burden, we should see it as an opportunity to validate our commitment to Torah as a lived tradition. By reaffirming our commitment to our ancestral customs, we make a statement that Jewish law is not some nuisance that we perpetually try to overcome. Rather, both the textual as well as the mimetic traditions represent profound values and ideals that we should strive to understand and incorporate into our lives.

  • Arnold Weintraub, LCSW

    I totally agree intellectually with Rabbi Salkin but will refrain from kitniyot as this is something I have always done. We do eat quinoa on Pesach which is a nice substitute for rice. We also eat string beans even though we’re not sure if this is considered kitniyot or not. We have no problem, moreover, with those who choose to eat kitniyot. “Let all who are hungry come and eat” however you interpret Pesach. Chag S’Mayach.
    Arnold Weintraub, LCSW

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  • well, I guess it boils down to this: If you find meaning in it, by all means embrace it and do it. If it does not however, there are enough legitimate reasons to opt out of this minhag. It is about the thoughtful decision making based on our learned understanding of how Judaism speaks to us.
    Well done Rabbi Salkin for showing us another way.

  • point #4 is incorrect. Maimonides never said that kitnyot is a “stupid custom”. It was Rabbenu Yerucham (1290-1350):

    אותם שנהגו שלא לאכול אורז ומיני קטניות מבושל בפסח – מנהג שטות הוא, זולתי אם הם עושין להחמיר על עצמן, ולא ידעתי למה

  • Zvi

    The fault is not with Elohim but in inadequate translations and interpretations. As a matter of fact, when properly translated from the biblical Hebrew original, the term “Ḥameṣ” means “that which is leavened” and words of synonymous meaning. This includes all grains and any other fermented foods, like wine, yogurt, cheese, chocolate.

  • Zvi

    Sorry.. I meant to write “fermented” instead of “leavened”. Please pardon.

  • Zvi

    The rabbi who authored this piece is quite confused as borne out by his statement that “By reaffirming our commitment to our ancestral customs, we make a statement that Jewish law is not some nuisance…”. This is because the Ashkenazic custom is neither a reasonable interpretation of a Miṣwah according to Peshat, nor part of Rabbinic Jewish law.
    Besides, why is it so important to such people to perpetuate a very late custom based in error that is not even shared by a large percentage of Jews?

  • Zvi

    A couple of points.

    1. The good rabbi, like many other Jews, fell prey to a faulty translation that renders as “leaven” all three categories of food forbidden on this Feast, “Se’or”, “Ḥameṣ”, and “Maḥmeṣet”. Only “Se’or” (sourdough starter or anything else that causes a food to leaven or ferment) is actually “leaven”. “Ḥameṣ” is fermented foods and Maḥmeṣet is foods that contain that Ḥameṣ.
    The best translation of Torah and which comes close to doing this distinction justice is The Five Books of Moses (Schocken Edition) by Everett Fox.

    2. While this approach is not for all Jews, customs predicated on themes in the Tanakh alone can be embraced in lieu of purely Rabbinic ones. These include a Seder with a biblical Hagada, which is especially beneficial if one has no children and grandchildren to retell the Exodus. Change in Judaism was inevitable since the Biblical era, but it should’ve been kept as closest to the original as possible, which the rabbis have…

  • Zvi

    By contrast, the Qaraite Jews did a far better job at keeping undesired changes at check.
    Growth and evolution need not come at the expense of observing the “written” Torah. To use two of the examples cited by the author, Shabbat candles are almost as late as “Kitniyot”, and Hanukkah candles were only introduced after 200 AD; the blessings for both are violations of the Torah not to add to the commandments and not to carry God’s name falsely.

    I am aware that the editors may not like these comments as the mention of any deep running issues in Rabbinic Judaism is bound to irk its adherents, so I certainly understand.

  • Robert M. Rich

    There is a common law rule of construction which, paraphrased, is that if you list specifics then you exclude that which is not enumerated. I the case of Torah, there are 5 grains enumerated, There are no other enumerated prohibitions. The pre-1100 world was pious and observant, but had no care as to kitneyot. The Sephardic world is also observant, but did not observe this new prohibition.
    To prohibit all fermented products would deprive us of our four cups of wine. Quare, could we still serve wine to Elijah? But no chocolate, no wine or apple vinegar and no cheese or yogurt-unthinkable.
    This issue is now important because of world migration and Israel. We are no longer in isolated communities with little communication between populations. We live together. We e-mail. We have Israel, the ultimate Jewish melting pot.
    Lets have Chag SAMEACH together.

  • Zvi

    🙂 Unthinkable? Granted, the Torah does not prohibit Qiṭniyot (which do not ferment when cooked in any form), but drinking wine at the Seder was introduced, at the earliest, only in the 1st century AD and prohibiting anything fermented (“Ḥameṣ) was probably the pre-Pharisaic interpretation since that’s the correct meaning of the word which this rabbi got wrong; this has been practiced by the non-Rabbinic Jews unto this day. The Torah does NOT enumerate in the Ḥameṣ category only 5 grains and this notion solely depends on Rabbinic writings.