3/31/2007

Kitniyot

I find the entire kitniyot discussion to be extremely annoying. Extremely.

First of all, the word ‘kitniyot’. It doesn’t mean ‘legumes’. It means ‘little things’. That’s what the word means. There was a Pesach ban, at some point that is shrouded in mystery, for some reason that is shrouded in mystery, on little things that grow and are edible. Over time, the category has grown to include new little growing edible things that were discovered (fortunately, like grains, only little edible things that grow from the ground were included in the ban; can you imagine Pesach without chocolate or coffee?), like soy, peanuts, corn and most recently quinoa.

Generally, we don’t extend the scope of gezeirot if there’s no compelling reason to. Normal halakhic reasoning would note that any grain that was unknown in Europe at the time of the gezera (certainly before the 13th century) shouldn’t be problematic. Thus, soy, corn, peanuts, and certainly quinoa would be fine. Unless you take a stance that the ban included all little edible things that grow from the ground, even if they are as yet undiscovered. Of course, I have no idea why one would take such a position, especially since we’re dealing with a derabanan (see also Igrot Moshe OC 3:63).

I also can’t understand why oils made from plants that are not generally eaten would be considered kitniyot. Even if the derivatives of edible things (like corn oil) are included in the ban, why would things like rapeseed oil (known to us in its more popular variety, Canola Oil) be considered kitniyot? People don’t eat rapeseed, in any form! Cottonseed oil goes without saying. Only hippies eat linseed oil, and even then, as a type of organic supplement and not as a food. The rest of us use it to make clothing. And nobody eats marijuana (I’m like, doin’ biur chametz, man…).

I’m not ready to go all the way and eat things that I don’t think are kitniyot but many do consider kitniyot – yet. Corn and soy will stay of the list this year. However, my 2-year-old son lives on peanut butter, and I’m not going to deny him that this week. Last year, I found a whole bunch of old haggadah’s with Planters’ ads in them, reinforcing for me the oft-heard claim that peanuts became kitniyot in the past generation. I’d stay away from them myself as a symbolic way of saying ‘Screw you, Jimmy Carter’.

If I could get a hold of some quinoa, I’d use it for karpas – ‘le-hotzee mi-liban…’. Maybe next year I’ll use peanuts for karpas. I’d love to use tortilla chips and dip them in salsa. Karpas is hors d’oeuvre.

Regarding this recent psak of R’ David Bar Hayim, it’s apparently consistent with his general approach to halakha and Eretz Yisrael. I can’t say I’m a fan of his approach to lo titgodedu – more on that in a different post – but he’s got a worked-out position. I’m not into the idea that folks will use the individual rulings of an idiosyncratic posek to dispense with an inconvenient minhag.

Post a Comment