Volume 23 Number 57
                       Produced: Tue Mar 26 23:21:22 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kitniyos On Pesach
         [Zal Suldan]


From: <z-suldan@...> (Zal Suldan)
Date: Sun, 24 Mar 1996 11:47:31 -0500
Subject: Kitniyos On Pesach

Kitniyos On Pesach
by Rabbi Michael Taubes

The Mishnah in Pesachim (Daf Lamed Hei) lists five types of grain with
which one can manufacture the product needed to fulfill one's obligation on
Pesach, meaning, as Rashi (Sham biDibor haMatchil "Eilu") explains, the
obligation to eat Matzoh on the first night, when it is mandatory, as
stipulated in the Torah (Shemos: Yud Bet:Yud Chet) The five grains are
wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and oats; the Gemara (Sham) notes that spelt is
actually a type of wheat, while oats and rye are types of barley. The
Gemara then states (Sham) that other species, such as rice and millet,
cannot be used to produce Matzoh, and this is based on a Posuk later in the
Torah (Dvarim Tet Zayin:Gimmel) which establishes a connection between the
prohibition to eat Chometz on Pesach and the obligation to eat Matzoh,
indicating that one can use for the Mitzvah of Matzoh only the types of
grain which could possibly become Chometz, which are the five types
mentioned above, and no others. The Mishnah in Challah (Perek Alef, Mishna
Bet) states clearly that one who eats a Kezayis of Matzoh made from any of
these five types of grain fulfills his obligation on Pesach night, while
one who eats a Kezayis of Chometz made from one of these items is punished
with Kareis, premature death, as the Torah states is the punishment for
eating Chometz (Shemos: Yud Bet:Tet Vav).

Although one authority in the Gemara in Pesachim (Sham) holds that rice is
a type of grain as well, so that one who eats Chometz made of rice is
punished with Kareis, and one who eats Matzoh made of rice fulfills his
obligation, the Rambam (Hilchot Chametz uMatzoh, Perek Vav, Halacha Dalet)
rules that one does not fulfill the obligation to eat Matzoh unless it is
made of one of the aforementioned five types of grain, because Matzoh must
be made of something that can in fact become Chometz, while rice, millet,
and "Kitniyos," meaning legumes, can not become Chometz and thus can not be
an ingredient in the Matzoh used for the Mitzvah on Pesach night. The
Rambam earlier (Sham, Perek Hei, Halacha Alef) states similarly that the
prohibition against eating Chometz on Pesach applies only to something made
of the above five types of grain, but Kitniyos, such as rice, millet,
beans, lentils and the like, are not Chometz, and, consequently, even if
one kneads flour made of rice, for example, with hot water, and bakes it
and processes it so that it rises and looks very much like regular dough,
one may still eat this product because it is nevertheless not called
Chometz. The Rosh in Pesachim (Perek Bet, Siman Yud Bet) also writes that
rice and millet and any other product which is not made from any one of the
five aforementioned grains can not become Chometz, and it is thus
permissible to cook such products for Pesach. The Korban Nesanel (Sham, Ot
Ayin) notes that there is no need to outlaw these cooked products just
because they may appear similar to other cooked products which are actually
Chometz; he proves this point by referring to a comment of the Rosh later
in Pesachim (Sham Siman Kaf Chet), where he explains the implication of a
Gemara there (Sham Daf Mem: viAyin Sham biTosfos Dibor haMatchil "Raba")
that one may use a certain type of flour, made from lentils, because it can
not become Chometz, and states that there is no need to worry that people
will confuse it with other flour which is really Chometz. The Korban
Nesanel (Sham) concludes, however, that Ashkenazic Jews have accepted a
great stringency regarding these products; he is clearly referring to the
practice of Ashkenazim to avoid eating any such Kitniyos products on
Pesach, despite the fact that they are not Chometz, and despite the
permissibility of these items documented by the above sources.

The earliest authority who records the practice not to eat Kitniyos on
Pesach seems to be the Semak (Sefer Amudei Golah, Siman Resh Kaf Bet,
He'arah biOt Yud Bet), who states, writing in the 1200's, that people have
refrained from eating such food on Pesach since the days of the early
Chachomim and Rabbonim. He then adds that the prohibition is not based on
the fact that these products can become Chometz, because it is known that
they can not, as explained above, since only something made of the five
species of grain can become Chometz; rather, the reason for the prohibition
is based on a Gezeirah, a preventative decree from the Rabbanan, instituted
because people can too easily confuse a product cooked with Kitniyos, such
as cereal, with a similar product cooked with one of the five grains, and
if the Kitniyos product is allowed, one may come to allow a grain product,
which is really Chometz, as well. Moreover, he adds, Kitniyos are similar
to the five grains in other ways too, including the fact that some people
make bread out of Kitniyos as they do from the five grains, and people who
are not knowledgeable may end up making a mistake and eat real Chometz; he
points out that Kitniyos are thus not like other vegetables which are
allowed on Pesach because they will never get confused with the forbidden
grains. He thus concludes that it is a proper custom to avoid eating
Kitniyos, including, as he adds, mustard, and he notes that although the
Gemara cited above (Sham Daf Lamed Hei) clearly allows eating rice on
Pesach, that was only in those days when people knew all the Halachos
properly, but today, one must not eat Kitniyos on Pesach. This position is
cited in the Mordechai in Pesachim (biDapei haRif, Daf Lamed Alef--Lamed
Bet, Siman Taf Kuf Pei Chet) as well. Rabbeinu Manoach, in his commentary
on the aforementioned Rambam (Muvah biMahadorat haMishnah, Perek Hei Sham,
Torah sheNidpas Al Yidei R' Shabtai Frankel), quotes that some say that the
custom is not to eat certain products with seeds on Pesach because they can
become Chometz, but he rejects this because Kitniyos simply can not become
Chometz; he suggests instead that the Torah's requirement to rejoice on Yom
Tov (Ayin Devarim Sham, Pasuk Yud Dalet) precludes eating food cooked out
of Kitniyos (apparently because such food is of inferior quality) and it is
from this idea that the custom developed. He then adds that there really
can be no true prohibition at all on Pesach for one to eat Kitniyos if one
wants to, but he concludes that he found an authority who explains that
there are certain wheat crops which, when they don't grow properly due to
certain agricultural factors, come out looking like Kitniyos crops, even
though they are indeed from the wheat species, and the Rabbanan thus
prohibited all Kitniyos crops in order to avoid confusion, and he believes
that this is a solid basis for the custom to avoid eating Kitniyos on

The Tur (Orach Chayim Siman Taf Nun Gimmel) writes that rice and all types
of Kitniyos can be cooked on Pesach because they can not become Chometz,
but he adds that some forbid these products because sometimes certain types
of wheat get mixed in with these items and it is presumably difficult to
differentiate between the wheat and the Kitniyos; he concludes, though,
that this is an excessive stringency and it is not customarily followed.
The Beis Yosef (Sham biDibor haMatchil "viYesh") quotes others who question
this custom as well, but then cites some of the above sources that prohibit
eating Kitniyos on Pesach, presenting the aforementioned reasons for the
prohibition; he concludes that only the Ashkenazim are concerned with this
prohibition, and the Ramo, in his Darkei Moshe (Sham Ot Bet), asserts that
the Ashkenazim are indeed stringent about this. The Bach (Sham biDibor
haMatchil "UMah Shekatav") suggests that the true reason for this custom is
that since it is possible to make dough out of Kitniyos products, there is
concern that confusion will arise among uneducated people concerning dough
made of grain which is truly Chometz. The Shulchan Aruch (Sham Si'if Alef)
rules that rice and other types of Kitniyos can not become Chometz, and one
may thus cook these items on Pesach, but the Ramo (Sham) states that some
forbid these items, and the Ashkenazic custom is to be stringent and should
not be changed. The Mishnah Berurah (Sham Si'if Katan Vav), basing himself
on the above cited sources, explains that this stringency is designed to
prevent confusion between flour and bread made from Kitniyos products and
flour and bread made from the five grains which are real Chometz; he also
writes that the Chometz grains are sometimes mixed together with different
types of Kitniyos, and if such a mixture is baked or cooked, it can indeed
become real Chometz. He concludes (Sham), citing the Chayei Adam (Klal Kuf
Kaf Zayin, Si'if Alef), that to cook even whole pieces of rice or Kitniyos
(as opposed to pieces that have been made into flour or dough) is also
prohibited in order to maintain consistency within this custom; in the Biur
Halacha (Sham biDibor haMatchil "ViYesh"), he quotes and explains the above
cited opinion of Rabbeinu Manoach (Sham) to further justify this custom.
The Aruch HaShulchan (Sham Si'if Hei) also presents a source which he
believes is a basis for this custom.

Rav Yaakov Emden, an Ashkenazic authority, objects strongly to this custom,
though (Sefer Mor uKitzi'ah al Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, Sham),
complaining that because people don't eat Kitniyos, they have to bake that
much more Matzoh, and people simply are not sufficiently careful when
baking so much Matzoh; he notes that the Tur cited above (Sham) does not
accept this practice although he is an Ashkenazic authority. He then adds
that his own father, the Chacham Tzvi, also objected strongly to this
custom, saying that he would abolish it if he would be able to, because it
is a bad custom and a stringency which leads to unacceptable leniencies
with real prohibitions involving Chometz; he thus expresses the desire to
join someone who would be able to do away with this custom to refrain from
eating Kitniyos on Pesach. The Kaf HaChaim (Sham Ot Yud) quotes others who
agree that this is an improper custom, but he notes that even among
Sephardim, who generally do not observe this custom, there are those in
Yerushalayim who do not eat rice because it once happened that some wheat
was found in a cooked rice product. This story is also found in the Pri
Chodosh (Sham Si'if Katan Alef), who finds a hint to the general custom of
avoiding Kitniyos on Pesach in the aforementioned Gemara in Pesachim (Daf
Mem) which records that one of the Amoraim was concerned about using flour
made from lentils, which are Kitniyos, in a place where the people are not
careful or knowledgeable about Mitzvos, because of the possible confusion
with flour made from real Chometz. He concludes that since people today are
indeed less diligent about these matters, it is proper to avoid any
products that are similar to grain, although he notes that the Sephardim
generally do not follow this custom. The Kaf HaChaim (Sham) does quote some
Sephardic Poskim who forbid Kitniyos as well, but he concludes that many
Sephardim do not observe this practice at all.

The Maharatz Chayes, however, in an essay entitled "Minchas Kenaos"
(Nidapes biSefer Kol Sifrei Maharatz Chayes, Chelek Bet, biHe'arah
bi'Amudim Taf Taf Resh Kaf Zayin -- Taf Taf Resh Lamed), quotes verbatim
the words of Rav Yaakov Emden referred to above (Sham) in opposition to
this custom, but he then defends the custom strongly against Rav Yaakov
Emden's objections, stating that it is wide-spread in Ashkenazic
communities, and that it can not and should not be undone, because a custom
that has become accepted becomes like a law from the Torah. He thus
concludes that there is no possibility of changing the practice and
allowing Kitniyos to be eaten on Pesach. The Shaarei Teshuvah (Sham Si'if
Katan Alef) reports that there were those who attempted to do away with
this practice, but were unsuccessful because the Gedolim among the
Ashkenazic leaders maintained it strongly; he states that there is no room
for leniency, and that anyone who is lenient is "breaking down the fence,"
meaning that he is violating the accepted norm. The Shaarei Teshuvah (Sham)
also quotes from the Maharil (Sefer Maharil, Hilchot Ma'achalot Asurot
baPesach, Daf Yud Chet) that one who eats Kitniyos on Pesach is violating
the prohibition of Lo Tasur (Ayin Devarim Tet Zayin: Yud Alef), which
forbids one from disobeying the decisions of the Chachomim, as implied by
the Gemara in Berachos (Daf Yud Tet), and he adds that anyone who goes
against the rulings of the Rabbanan is deserving of death. The Chasam Sofer
(Shaiy'lot uTeshuvot Chasam Sofer, Chelek Orach Chayim Siman Kuf Kaf Bet),
among others, also discusses this entire issue at some length, and decides
that one can not change the practice of the greater community; he also
suggests another source for this practice.

There is, however, some question as to exactly which products fit into the
broad category called "Kitniyos;" Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffmann (Shaiy'lot
uTeshuvot Melamed LiHo'il, Chelek Orach Chayim Siman Pei Zayin) states that
the term "Kitniyos" is not really precisely defined by the Poskim. The
Rambam cited above (Sham) mentions rice, millet, beans, and lentils as
examples of Kitniyos, but there are other products which fall into this
category as well, and the Rambam himself elsewhere (Perek Alef miHilchot
Kila'yim, Halacha Chet) adds another type of bean, along with sesame seeds
and other types of seeds and beans to the list of products which are in the
general category of Kitniyos, saying that any seed which people eat is in
the category of Kitniyos. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah, Siman Resh Tzadi
Zayin, Si'if Gimmel) gives the same examples to define the term Kitniyos.
It appears from the aforementioned Semak (Sham) that produce which grows in
a manner similar to the way the five types of grain grow is also included
in the prohibition against eating Kitniyos; the Taz (Orach Chayim Sham,
Si'if Katan Alef) seems to agree, explaining that this is why mustard is
considered Kitniyos, while the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Sham Si'if Dalet), who
agrees regarding mustard, adds that certain caraway seeds are also
considered Kitniyos for the same reason. The Pri Megadim (biMishbitzot
Zahav Sham Si'if Katan Alef) discusses the status of coffee, as does the
aforementioned Shaarei Teshuvah (Sham), and both conclude that it is
permissible and is not in the category of Kitniyos; in general, the Chok
Yaakov (Sham Si'if Katan Tet) implies that one should not add to the list
of Kitniyos products prohibited by the Chachomim and by the force of
custom, because the whole prohibition against eating Kitniyos is a
stringency to begin with. Nevertheless, there are other products which are
indeed considered Kitniyos as well; the Mishnah Berurah (Sham Si'if Katan
Gimmel) mentions buckwheat and corn, for example, prohibiting their
consumption on Pesach, Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shaiy'lot uTeshuvot Igrot Moshe
Orach Chayim Chelek Gimmel, Siman Samech Gimmel) discusses the status of
peanuts, which some people avoid on Pesach, and the Sefer She'arim
HaMetzuyanim BeHalacha, commenting on the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Siman Kuf
Yud Zayin, Si'if Katan Zayin biDibor haMatchil "uPolin"), mentions that
green beans and, apparently, peas, may be considered Kitniyos as well. It
is clear that the precise definition of Kitniyos relating to Pesach depends
on customs which may vary from place to place.

The Sefer She'arim HaMetzuyanim BeHalacha (Sham biDibor haMatchil
"viHatotzeret") also discusses the major question of whether liquid
derivatives of Kitniyos products (Mei Kitniyot), such as oils or syrups,
are included in the prohibition against consuming Kitniyos; the Chayei
Adam, in his Nishmas Adam on Hilchos Pesach (She'eylah Lamed Gimmel), seems
to forbid these items as well, citing, among others, the Terumas HaDeshen
(Shaiy'lot uTeshuvot Trumas HaDeshen Siman Kuf Yud Gimmel) who writes that
one may use oil from Kitniyos for lighting candles, implying that one may
not, however, consume it. The Avnei Neizer (Shaiy'lot uTeshuvot Avnei Nezer
Chelek Orach Chayim Siman Shin Ayin Gimmel), among others, also assumes
that the liquid products of Kitniyos are included in the prohibition. The
Chok Yaakov (Sham Si'if Katan Vav), however, appears to take the lenient
view about this, as do Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffmann (Shaiy'lot uTeshuvot Melamed
LiHo'il Sham Siman Pei Chet), who quotes Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, and
the Seridei Eish (Shaiy'lot uTeshuvot Seridei Eish, Chelek Bet Siman Lamed
Zayin), and others; Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, in his Sefer Mikraei Kodesh on
Pesach (Chelek Bet, Siman Samech, Ot Bet, viAyin Sham biHarirei Kodesh
Ha'arot 5-7) discusses this question and notes that Rav Chaim Soloveitchik
allowed the oil from a certain product to be eaten, but he implies that it
may depend upon how similar the original Kitniyos product is to the five
species of grain that can become Chometz. Rav Moshe Feinstein, in his
aforementioned Teshuvah (Sham), writes, though, that in a place where there
is no custom prohibiting a particular product, one should not be stringent
and avoid it.

It must be pointed out that the entire restriction on Kitniyos on Pesach
pertains to consuming such products, but one may have them in one's
possession and even use them in other ways on Pesach, as the Ramo (Sham)
states clearly, and one may also derive benefit from them, as the Magen
Avraham (Sham Si'if Katan Gimmel) writes. It should also be noted that
although the Sdei Chemed (Asifat Dinim, Ma'arechet Chametz uMatzoh, Siman
Vav, Ot Alef) quotes some authorities who prohibit eating Kitniyos under
all conditions, he also quotes some who are lenient in pressing situations;
the Chayei Adam, in his Nishmas Adam (Sham She'eylah Kaf) leaves the
question of such leniency in doubt, but in the Chayei Adam itself (Sham
Si'if Vav), he states clearly that in a case of even a mild illness, or for
the sake of a baby, where there is a significant need, Kitniyos may be
consumed. The Mishnah Berurah (Sham Si'if Katan Zayin) also rules that in a
case of great need, one may consume Kitniyos products, although he notes
that even in such a situation, there are some types of Kitniyos which
should be preferred over others; it would appear to be advisable, moreover,
to use separate utensils for these products.

Submitted to mail-jewish by:
Zal Suldan
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Replies to: <Z-Suldan@...>


End of Volume 23 Issue 57