Please join Rabbi Denise Eger, Cantor Mark Saltzman, Student Rabbi Greg Weisman, and the Ritual
Committee as we celebrate Pesach with our annual Second Night Seder
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 6:00pm
Congregation Kol Ami Sanctuary
Gourmet Kosher for Passover Meal
(vegetarian option available)
Only $75 per adult and $40 per child (pre-B’nai Mitzvah)
Please R.S.V.P. to the Temple
Office and you must fill out this registration form. Please note that payment is due at the time of reservation.
To Legume or not To Legume?: A Discussion of Kitniyot
Passover is soon here and the annual review of the rules of
Passover are important to remind us how we enhance our spiritual grounding for
this important Festival. Passover is a
Biblical holiday lasting 7 days in Israel and for Reform Jews world-wide (8 days
for Conservative and Orthodox Jews outside of Israel).
On Passover we refrain from eating chametz, or any product
with leavening. These include: bread,
pastas, vinegars, and anything made from rye, oats, barley, spelt, or wheat
because when these come into contact with water the dough from them is
chametz. Also anything fermented or
brewed from these five grains is also forbidden so most beers and many vinegars
and alcohol like whiskey or scotch or bourbon.
Here is an excerpt from a Reform Responsa on Passover Kashrut:
"It is a mitzvah to abstain from eating leaven (Chametz) during the
entire seven days of Pesach." By "chametz", the tradition means those
grains from which matzah may be baked: wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt.
No other foodstuffs are regarded as chametz. In this, the halakhah
rejects the opinion of R. Yochanan ben Nuri, who forbids the eating of rice and
millet during Pesach because they "resemble chametz."
Talmudic law, rather, forbids the use of rice and legumes (kitniyot) as flour for
the baking of matzah and therefore permits us to eat them during the
Among Ashkenazi Jews or those from Eastern or Central Europe
a custom arose to refrain from other things called kitniyot. The word kitniyot means small things or
bits. This refers to corn, legumes such
as peanuts or beans or peas and rice. Flour can be made of these and the common
idea is to keep the categories clear.
Sephardic Jews from the Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern
countries eat kitniyot including rice, beans, lentils and chickpeas.
Today in Israel and around the Jewish world there is much
debate about kitniyot and whether or not the custom of refraining from them
during Pesach needs to be observed today especially since so much of our
processed foods contain corn syrup. One
recent rabbinic ruling stated that the meaning of the holiday to celebrate
freedom is getting lost because people are obsessing over whether or not a food
product contains corn syrup rather than concentrate on the exodus from Egypt!
This was from the Conservative movement and permitted the eating of kitniyot in
The idea of refraining from rice, beans, lentils, peas and
the like was debated even by the rabbis.
They debate raged in the important Jewish community in the South of
France and Northern Spain and even there was only observed intermittently. Several leading rabbis during the Middle Ages
said the custom of refraining from these foods was not law.
Here is more on the history of eating kitniyot from the
Reform Responsa on Passover Kashrut:
This prohibition is firstmentioned in the thirteenth
century by two French authorities, R. Yitzchak of Corbeil and R. Manoach of
Narbonne. R. Yitzchak writes that "our teachers observe the custom"
of not eating rice and legumes during the festival, though he adds that this
custom is not universally accepted and that "great sages" disregard it. Among
these was his own teacher and father-in-law, the great tosafist R. Yechiel of
Paris, who argued that since the Talmud ruled that these foodstuffs are not
chametz there is no reason to prohibit them today. R. Yitzchak, though,
reluctant "to permit something that for so long has been widely regarded as
forbidden," feels the need to justify the custom. He does so, not on the grounds
that rice and legumes are chametz ("since not even a beginning Talmud student
would make that mistake"), but because these foodstuffs resemble
chametz in that they are cooked in the same fashion. Since this resemblance
can lead to confusion--people might mistake a chametz mixture for one
of rice or legumes--the rabbis issued a decree forbidding the
latter. R. Manoach, for his part, suggests that the prohibition originates
in a widespread--but mistaken--belief that rice and legumes are forms of
chametz. Unlike R. Yitzchak, however, R. Manoach does not attempt to defend
this "errant" custom, and he suggests a talmudic basis for dismantling the
These sources tell us a great deal about both the history
and the halakhic status of the custom to abstain from rice and
legumes during Pesach. We learn that while the prohibition was well known
in France by the thirteenth century, some leading rabbis of those
communities rejected it on clear halakhic grounds. We
know that the custom did not spread beyond Ashkenazic Jewry; rabbis
in Spain and elsewhere did not hesitate to express their astonishment
against it. And although the prohibition did gain wide acceptance among the
Ashkenazim, some leading Ashkenazic authorities, including
R. Ya`akov Emden, were still criticizing it as late as the eighteenth century.
So even if you come from an Ashkenazic background there
seems to be lots of permission to actually eat kitniyot on the Passover
Passover begins Monday evening, March 25, 2013 and continues through Sunday, March 31, 2013 at Sundown.
Kol Ami will
observe a Second Seder together on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 and Yizkor on Monday morning, April 1, 2013 at 8 am.