Monday, March 23, 2009

Ever Heard of Kitniyot? Wish You Hadn't?

Kitniyot is the Hebrew term for legumes but it has special meaning for Ashkenazi Jews during the Pesach holiday.

As Aish explains:

...the category of prohibited Passover food called "kitniyot." Sometimes referred to generically as "legumes," this includes rice, corn, soy beans, string beans, peas, lentils, mustard, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Even though kitniyot cannot technically become chametz, Ashkenazi Jews do not eat them on Passover. Why?

The Smak (Rabbi Yitzchak of Korbol) explains that products of kitniyot appear like chametz products. For example, it can be hard to distinguish between rice flour (kitniyot) and wheat flour (chametz). Therefore, to prevent confusion, all kitniyot was prohibited.

The Beit Yosef (Rabbi Yosef Karo, 16th century, Israel) notes that since regular grains may become mixed together with kitniyot (apparently due to changes in crop cycles), one may inadvertently come to eat actual chametz.

Well, the Jewish spirit is uncontrollable.

There's a Kitniyot Liberation Front blog.

And Machon Shilo has been campaigning for years to do away with the kitniyot customs in Israel.

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