The Fifth Question: Can we eat Legumes on Passover?

We endorse with enthusiasm Shammai Engelmayer's Passover rant in the Jewish Standard on the custom by some Jews to avoid legumes on the holiday.

He brilliantly observes:
...In Israel, several Orthodox rabbis have used this as a reason to abandon the ban on kitniyot — legumes and their derivatives (such as corn oil or peanut oil, for example). They note that the Land of Israel was inhabited by S’fardim and Mizrachi long before the Ashkenazim began their return there. Therefore, using kitniyot on Pesach honors the traditions of the land.

The same holds true for us in the United States. The waves of Ashkenazi immigration began in the 19th century. For centuries until then, the Jews of North America were S’fardim. They knew nothing about a kitniyot ban. They ate rice and the like during Pesach. It was a time-honored custom that goes back to the Talmud itself...
And he goes on to spell out the ramifications of the domineering Ashkenazi attitudes in this matter and others over the ages.

We took a quick walk through the Passover aisle at the supermarket yesterday. What? Tam Tams for Passover!? A good friend of ours noted that there's virtually nothing left to sing about in children's songs about the chametz prohibitions. Kids today have KP faux cheerios and donuts and on and on.

Shammai is right about legumes. Our friend is right about the explosion of faux products that look like chametz but according to some rabbi -- aren't leavened at all.

Questioning the rules has potential merit. Looser rules might make holiday things easier and more pleasant.

Of course, once you open the detailed topics up for conversation you run the risk that someone will ask about the essence of the chametz taboo.

The answer to that is: Chametz on Passover is forbidden by the Torah. This night is different. No more questions.

No comments: