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Rebel Ashkenazim begin to eat Kitniyot on pesach

fruity-pebblesI found this article on the Forward about rebel modern orthodox ashkenazim in Israel who have begun to shun the age old restriction on Kitniyot and I want in, I have always thought Kitniyot to be a load of hagwash especially because its split amongst the Jews.

Would I go to hell for eating rice and beans? Wouldn’t we all be happier if we could partake in fruity pebbles instead of fruity ohs?

With the economy in the shitter you would think that the so called Gedolei Yisroel would be thinking of leniencies to allow certain minhagim to be broken so that we wouldn’t have to go broke when buying really crappy dark chocolate mints and those sugar fruit slices.

I know that getting the rabbonim to allow kitniyot is like getting beating a dead horse, especially because it makes people too happy and it allows people to save money by buying loads of other products they wouldn’t normally buy. But think of the achdus, sephardim have to practically quarantined during the passover season and this breaks in the Jewish togetherness of the holiday.

Can someone give me a good reason why we still uphold minhagim that should have been repealed years ago? Did you know that the Rabbis wanted to ban potatoes at some point but decided that it was such a staple that they couldn’t do it? Well I would think that good breakfast cereal is such a staple and I don’t want to subsist on fruity ohs any longer.

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Sergeant J April 12, 2009, 5:08 PM

    Kitniyot, one of the earliest of the laws Rabbis made for the sake of making laws….

  • Pierre April 12, 2009, 5:56 PM

    Ashkis, b’klal, are nowhere near the economic level that would militate for allowing leniences on something of the caliber of kitniyot – even in Israel; Kosher l’Pesach foods are ubiquitous! If one wants to talk “leniencies” for economic reasons, it’s far more reasonable to talk about what heksherim certain of the harshly-impacted (i.e., “Torah-only”/unskilled-labor charedim and kollel people), should hold. Also matters of “family tradition” that can make things difficult like shmura, no-machine matzot, “gebrachts”, etc.

  • SF2K1 April 12, 2009, 6:18 PM

    They wanted to ban potatoes but could not because potatoes are not seed plants. You can use Quinoa if you want something Kitniyos like.

    Apparently, btw, there is a Rav going around permitting Ashkenazim to eat kitnyos on making Aliyah based on the earlier reprehension by Chazal of banning Kitnyos for the reasons we do today. Most people disagree with him, but it’s out there:


  • Phil April 12, 2009, 7:04 PM

    There have been attempts to nullify the kitnyot ban more than once, they failed each time for lack of unified support. Once a gezeira has been accepted and followed by the masses, you need something like 100 leading rabbis to repell it, even if it’s outdated.

    Ditto for the ban on multiple wives. Even the Vilna Gaon didn’t succeed in repelling it, though it should have been done long ago, especially if the same rabbis are all crying about a shidduch crisis supposedly caused by too many unmarried women.

  • Pierre April 12, 2009, 7:32 PM

    The takanah against polygamy was on Ashkenasim. Israel turned a blind eye to it among sephardim when they came since the 40s, but does not sanction it, so it seems like the takanah is universal, since no one does it. The Baba Sali went to Israel with two wives, and there are well known stories of Jews from Yemen and the Maghrib with multiple wives. In Yemen, as with child-marriages, this was often to prevent orphans from being ‘rescued’ by the islamic regime and converted to Islam. With the lapse of polygamy, many men were saved from having twice as many Sephardi mother-in-laws..

  • Phil April 12, 2009, 7:39 PM

    Yeah, I’m well aware of all the takanas that were forced onto sephardim, my dad’s from Tunisia. As my parents became BT’s through militant Lubabs, he rants about all the chumros he’s now stuck with.

    Double in laws isn’t necessarily a bad thing, think of all the extra Chanuka gelt and babysitting help. Besides, mothers in law knew their place back in the day…

  • Rentsy April 12, 2009, 7:42 PM

    Over at FailedMessiah, he has a post (http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2009/04/kitniyot-a-karaite-custom.html) about kitniyot.

    Basically, French Rabbis from Lunel adopted “an extreme stringency” that somehow became normative.

    This could be seen as a warning against the chumra-zation of Judaism, but hey, we’re already against that, right?

    More disturbingly, it’s source might be non-Jewish, aka based in Karaite customs.

    I’m wondering if gebrokts makes any sense.

    I’m actually going to argue against polygamy, as in this day and age it is less likely to be lishma than ever before. Hard enough finding two people willing to love each other for more than just their physical bodies…

  • A. Nuran April 12, 2009, 8:07 PM

    Rentsy, “Karaite” doesn’t mean “non-Jewish”. The Karaites weren’t/aren’t Rabbinic Jews. Rabbinic Judaism is just one of many historical evolutions of the legal and spiritual practices of the Jewish people. It wasn’t handed down by the Almighty. It isn’t any more legitimate than, say, the customs of the Ethiopian Jews.

    After a few thousand years of hearing “This is real Judaism and has always been the only real Judaism” it’s what people are used to. Neither is dressing like a thirteenth century Pole complete with hat made out of a skinned treif animal.

  • Left Brooklyn April 12, 2009, 8:35 PM

    We’ve been eating kitniyot for years and to the best of our knowledge we know of no sephardim in my husbands family (peopkle who daven s’fard yes, but from Spain? no.)

  • SF2K1 April 12, 2009, 10:52 PM

    A. Nuran – Karaites are an 8th century sect that is very limited in number now. Their foundations are rooted in their rebellion against the Gaonim originally because their leader was not chosen to become the Reish Galusa.

    Rabbinic Judaism’s roots were based in an oral tradition that is clear to have existed, although it was possibly more fluid before the Mishnah on, that does not disconnect the Rabbis from Moshe and the revelations at Sinai where founding your movement on a rejection of existing ancient traditions would accomplish that much more.

    It doesn’t mean non-Jewish. However, the Ethiopians are hardly comparable as the DNA tests show they’re not really from the tribe of Dan (or significant Jewish lineage) but rather converts who didn’t entirely maintain Jewish law successfully.

    Effectively, there has always been a real (not only) Judaism, the one that survives as the “sacred remnant”, while the remainder wither and die off at some point (or return). Most often, the Sacred Remnant is the one observing the Torah principles and following the Judges of Israel, while the others rebel against it (Northern Israel/Samaritans, Sadducees, Hellenists, etc).

  • Leeba April 12, 2009, 10:56 PM

    I am sephardi. I eat rice WITH a few lentils and some cardamom, a whole clove bud, and chopped hot chili pepper cooked with it. Delicious.

    I did not eat lamb this year but every year since I was a baby, we had lamb, rice with lentils and many other dishes that are customary for an Iraqi/Turkish family of Jews.

    I now go to Chabad people’s homes as that is pretty much all I know around here. I am good about not wearing any clothing or shoes that have been in view of rice or beans. I am very careful not to offend.

    But, as I type, I am eating a bit of handmade matzoh with homemade hummous b’ tahini – has garbanzo beans, tahini paste, olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt, curly parsley (washed 3x and checked) and very finely chopped red chili pepper in it…then blended in my cuisinart.

    Yep, I reckon I will have to use a separate toothbrush before I go back to my friend’s on Tuesday.

    Wait! Where am I going and what am I doing in this handbasket????


  • Rentsy April 12, 2009, 11:08 PM

    A. Nuran: I knowingly choose to consider karaites non-Jewish.

    • Ephraim March 16, 2014, 4:12 PM

      Rentsy: the Karaites are more Jewish than you!

  • CA April 13, 2009, 1:07 AM

    You would think the first thing Ashkenazim would break would be ban on polygamy which would be a nice solution to the shidduch crisis.

    Or start davening normally like Chassidim or at least like Sephardim. Say tachnun and vidui like menchen already (after Nissan, of course).

    Thats what I call progress.

    Going to hell for kitniyot? You have only 12 months to stay in hell. With so many other aveiros, little things like kitniyot wont even matter. Its like someone who committed double-murder and then also didnt pay his parking ticket. Nu, nu

  • CA April 13, 2009, 1:09 AM

    Phil and you say you disagree with me on most things. (I hadnt even read your comment 🙂

  • chevramaidel April 13, 2009, 1:46 AM

    Would you really like to be stuck in a roomful of people who have been eating matzah AND beans??

  • Talmudist April 13, 2009, 10:48 AM

    Fruity O’s rock man.

  • Chaim April 13, 2009, 11:51 AM

    One of the many things in Judaism that is a little absurd.
    I think the psak that marijuana was kitniut tipped the scales in favor of many people scrapping the whole kitniut thing.

  • s(b.) April 13, 2009, 11:52 AM

    Chinese food all pesach long. ashkesfard, here – though swinging both ways is less of a creative challenge than rockin’ ‘naz.

  • Lady-Light April 13, 2009, 12:00 PM

    I have been reading about kitniyot and the origins of the issur. You should go to the wonderful Machon Shilo website, where Rav Bar-Haim is attempting to re-institute minhagei Eretz Yisrael. There was never an issur against kitniyot in Eretz Yisrael.

    Here is the link: http://machonshilo.org/en/eng/list-articles/47-hagim/286-2009-04-05-12-06-44

    The original issur on kitniyot was based on an error. It is pashut, a mistake, which was reinforced by Rabbanim over the years.

    So now, after hundreds of years of following this, it is time the Rabbanim got up some gumption and nullified it.

    This is why we need a Sanhedrin.

  • Lady-Light April 13, 2009, 12:00 PM

    Oh, and I forgot to add: Fruity O’s are disgusting.

  • Shira April 13, 2009, 12:01 PM

    Yep. It`s good to be a sefardi. 😀

  • shevers April 13, 2009, 12:11 PM

    Yeah but Sefardim have to check each grain of rice by hand three times… is it really worth it?

  • shevers April 13, 2009, 12:12 PM


  • Yochanan April 13, 2009, 12:54 PM


    I’ve heard that others check it 7 times and others that don’t check it at all.

  • shevers April 13, 2009, 1:17 PM

    Either way: too much work.

  • Frum But Fun April 13, 2009, 6:17 PM

    While you’re at it, we may as well reinstate corn and soy.Or lets just repel the potato starch crap and eat normal food addition to matzah.

  • Chavi April 14, 2009, 12:17 AM

    I want in, too. I’d rock Sephardic traditions being a convert and all, but since the dude I’m with (what a champ he is) is Ashkenazic and that means I follow his traditions anyway.

    I think the stickler for those who are anti-kitniyot ban is that you’re not supposed to “turn away from the traditions of your fathers,” and that’s the big crux of the whole thing. It’s been done so long, as tradition — whether halakic or not — and the rabbis are sticklers for tradition.


  • MO and proud of it April 15, 2009, 4:22 PM

    There is a halacha that when you move to a new community, you take on the minhagim of that community. If the ashkenazim who first came from Europe to Eretz Yisrael had done that, we wouldn’t have this problem. (The Ashkenazim who are rebelling, as far as I am aware, are doing so on this basis — that we are now Eretz Yisrael Jews and that in Eretz Yisrael the prevailing minhag is to eat kitniyot.) The issue is that now, Eretz Yisrael really is a place with two competing sets of minhagim. But it never should have happened.

    The people who are doing this, though, are also rebelling against the increasing stringencies (and idiocies, IMHO) regarding the whole practice of avoiding kitniyot. It is a gezerah and so by its terms we are not supposed to add to it – once again, that’s halacha. A generation ago, everyone ate peanuts on Pesach. Now, it is accepted that they are kitniyot. Cottonseed oil has just joined the list. Quinoa is in dispute. How can quinoa be kitniyot? Nobody ate it until 15 years ago, how can we have a tradition not to eat it? Also, it’s a fruit, not a grain. But it looks kinda like kitniyot, and it tastes kinda like kitniyot, and so TPTB have decided that it is. And even if you don’t agree, good luck finding KFP quinoa now. One rabbi this year called on people not to eat tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplants because they have seeds.

    So people are fed up. I predict that within a generation, MOs in Israel will be eating kitniyot. The haredim won’t do it, of course. And chutz la’aretz is another issue, because the Israelis won’t call it rebellion against the rabbis, we’ll call it joining in the prevailing minhag of our new home (which it is). But it wouldn’t have happened if the (haredi) rabbinate hadn’t gone crazy to the point that Pesach is more about avoiding kitniyot than it is about avoiding hametz. Will the rabbis learn from this? Interesting question.

  • Phil April 16, 2009, 10:01 PM

    I went through these issues and related chumros with a very knowladgeable Rabbi over Yom tov.

    Though most of the restrictions are based on facts that are non existent today, once they became common minhagim, getting rid of them is virtually impossible.

    Strangely enough, potatoes weren’t allowed in Vilna during the times preceding the Vilna Gaon, apparently they found a heter one year due to a hunger.

    Also interesting to note, is that both kitniyot and gebroks both came from the same German rabbi, namely the “smak” that lived about 700 years ago. Other Ashkenazic authorities later concurred.

    Another interesting thing about minhag hamakom, is that America’s first Jews were sefardim escaping the inquisition. The first known American shul was in Rhode Island, apparently built with an escape tunnel under the shtender. Looks like the Ashkenazis “hijacked” the continent in halachic terms. Accordingly, we should really be eating rice and lamb for the seder. Hopefully next year in Jerusalem.

  • Puzzled April 18, 2009, 10:04 PM

    So, we say that once a custom is accepted by the nation, we can’t eliminate it, even if all the reasons are gone. Isn’t this a more sophisticated version of blaming the victim?

  • Double M April 19, 2009, 1:44 AM

    If you want I think that chacham Ovidah said there is a way for those who do not eat kitniyot to shed themselves of that custom. Consult your local orthodox rabbi that follows chcahm Ovidah for the details.

  • Phil April 19, 2009, 9:29 PM

    Were not blaming any victim, were just stuck with what’s been built upon. We see that Rashi forbids eating grasshoppers because we aren’t sure any more, even though the Torah clearly allows locusts, crickets and grasshoppers. Same goes for most birds. The Torah only forbids about 25 species, but only eat about 10 species. What happened to all the tasty species in between such as flamingos, parrots and penguins?

    Double M,
    Only way I heard of is for people that once ate it and then stopped. They have the option of being matir neder and revert. So if a sefardi became a lubab, he can revert to sephardi customs and get rid of the chumras. Would like to know more about the Cacham Ovadiah ruling.

  • MemoryMine April 21, 2009, 8:01 AM

    In the 60’s and 70’s it was common, during Pesach, for ashkenazi dati people in Israel to eat “derivatives of kitniyot”…those items from the stores, like, if I remember correctly, margarine, that weren’t the bean or corn itself, but had ingredients made from the kitniyot.

  • Sam March 22, 2010, 9:13 AM

    I don’t think there’s any halacha to segregate. I’ve asked rabbis about that and they’ve said I can eat at a sephardi home during Pesach as long as I don’t eat the kitnios.

  • Lady-Light March 23, 2010, 12:41 PM

    Very interesting subject. I researched it last year (still have some of what I printed out) and came to the conclusion that the original kitniyot chumra was decreed through a mistaken premise, that those foods could ferment, which is incorrect. As they say, minhag yisrael k’din hu, and now we’re stuck with it. However, it was never a minhag in Eretz Yisrael, so it needn’t be followed.
    (Truth be told, Pesach wouldn’t be the same if we had beans, etc.; but I sooooo do miss humus!!)

  • Phil March 23, 2010, 12:59 PM

    Lady light,

    Israeli Ashkenazim have stricter kitniyot laws than Americans, cottonseed oil is a good example. You can check what the OU’s site has to say about it.

  • rebel March 29, 2010, 2:09 AM

    minhag yisroel din only applies to things that are universally accepted like purim, nidah. Kitniyot is just an ashkenaz thing that has no bases. the way to actually get kitniyot anulled is proving the manipulation that these hasgachah companies are profiting because of the kitniyot list extension. additionally, did you see the KFP pizza, and pasta at your local supermarket? So isn’t this minhag more about money than anything else?

  • Sasha Cusick February 17, 2012, 6:28 PM

    Great, thanks for sharing this blog post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

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