Kitniyos on Pesach – by Rabbi Binyomin Radner

The Mishna states that a person is supposed to eat two cooked foods at the Pesach Seder. The Gemara Pesachim (114b) explains that the two cooked foods to be used at the seder are beets and rice. Thus, it is clear from the Gemara that eating rice on Pesach involves no issue of chometz. The Baalei The Gemara, Pesachim 114b asks: “What are these two tavshilin?” Rav Huna says the two tavshilin refer to ‘silka ve’aruza’ which are beets and rice. Once Rav Huna said this, Rava would specifically seek out beets and rice for the Seder in deference to Rava’s opinion. In contrast, Rav Ashi says that although R’ Yochanan ben Nuri’s opinion is that rice is a type of grain and one is chayav kareis for eating rice just as he is with eating chomaitz, the Halacha does not follow this opinion. R’ Yochanan ben Nuri’s opinion is a minority opinion. We see from the Gemara explicitly that there is no fear of eating chamaitz with rice. Tosafos explain that the reason for thisr this is that because rice does not rise las ike chomaitz does;, irather, ricet merely sours.

And, subsequently, tThe Mordechai concludes from this Gemara thatsays that there are those who learn from this Gemara that rice and kitniyos products are permitted on Pesach. This was also the custom of Rabeinu Yechiel that rice was permitted on Pesach.
The Rivash, Siman 420 says similarly that rice is permitted on Pesach.
There are several other opinions mentioned as well: Chizkiyah says the two cooked foods refer to a fish with an egg on top of it. Rav Yosef says that you need 2 types of meat. One as a Zecher to the Pesach and one as a Zecher to the Chagigah. Ravina says it could even be a soup with some meat in it.

So, the Gemara says explicitly that not only is there nothing wrong with having cooked rice on Pesach, but that this was actually the preferred cooked food of choice for the Seder.

The Mordechai says that there are those who learn from this Gemara that rice and kitniyos products are permitted on Pesach. This was also the custom of Rabeinu Yechiel that rice was permitted on Pesach.

The Rivash, Siman 420 says similarly that rice is permitted on Pesach.
So, the question arises how did it become a universally accepted custom amongin Ashkenzic Jewrsy to refrain from kitniyos on Pesach? This Ashkenazic custom It seems to be against an explicitly permissibilityitted in by the Gemara.

Perhaps it can be argued that to derive from this Gemara that Kitniyos is permitted is somewhat inconclusive since there are several differing opinions on what kinds of cooked foods to have at the Seder. Although one opinion is to have cooked rice, there are several

other opinions as well. It could be that according to the other opinions, cooked rice is forbidden on Pesach.

The Gemara, Pesachim (40b) states, “Rav Papa permitted the bakers of the Bai Raish Reish Galusa’s bakers Galusa to smear r their pots with Chasisi in the pots they used to cook for Pesach when cooking for Pesach. Upon hearing about R’ Papa’s leniency of this, Rava exclaimed, “How could such a thing be allowed in the Bai Raish Galusa where the workers are not careful with halachaissurim?! However, the Gemara subsequently presents an alternative version of what transpired. Strikingly, the Gemara’s alternative version of the episode asserts Some say (ika di’amri) that not only was Rava not against the practice of smearing pots with chasisi, but Rava himself actually smeared the pot with Chasisii himself!.”

In order to arrive at a halachic conclusion from this Gemara, we must address two matters: First, what the definition of “chasisi” is. Second, if we paskin in accordance with the first version of the story – which leads us to rule that smearing chasisi in pots used for Pesach is unacceptable (as Rava exclaimed) – or if we paskin in accordance with the second version of the story – leading us to conclude that it’s permissible to smear chasisi in pots used for cooking on Pesach

The precise definition of the word “chasisi” is subject to debate among the Rishonim. Rashi translates Chasisi as “‘kimcha di’avshuna”, which is roasted flour – and, therefore, learns the Gemara to be discussing the permissibility of smearing a pot with roasted flour.. Meaning, it is permitted to smear the pot with roasted flour on Yom Tov in order to enhance the quality of the food being cooked.

In light of a Gemara earlier that asserts unopposed that “kimcha di’avishuna” may not be used to smear pots used for cooking on Pesach, the Baalei HaTosafos disagree with Rashi’s definition of “chasisi”, and maintain that “chasisi” is flour made from lentils. Tosafos challenges this definition of Rashi, citing the Gemara one daf earlier on 39b at the bottom that Mar Zutra ruled that kimcha diavshuna should not be used on Pesach to smear the pot, for fear that it will not cook well and it will become chomaitz. Kimcha diavshuna is flour made from oven-dried grains. There was the concern that perhaps the flour was not completely roasted and when it would combine with water it would become Chomaitz. There is no dissenting opinion in the Gemara who argues on this, so it is quite puzzling how Rashi could say that kimcha diavshuna is permitted on Pesach.
In defense of Rashi’s position, the Tzlach and Chok Yaakov explain that there are two kinds of kimcha di’avishunah. While the kimcha di’avishuna of the Gemara earlier alluded to by the Baalei HaTosfos is indeed referring to roasted kernels, the kimcha di’avishuna mentioned by Rashi is not roasted kernels; rather it is flour made from Matzah (i.e. matzah meal). Thus, given the Tzlach and Chok Yaakov’s understanding of Rashi, the Gemara is discussing the permissibility of using Matzah meal to smear pots used for cooking on Pesach. Therefore, Tosafos argues that the correct definition of Chasisi is like the definition of the Aruch as flour which comes from lentils and does not normally become Chomaitz.
So, how could Rashi define Chasisi as roasted flour and permitted if the Gemara previously said that roasted flour is forbidden to cook with?

The Tzlach comes to the defense of Rashi arguing that perhaps the Gemara earlier which said that it is forbidden was referring to grains which are roasted in the oven, whereas over here we are discussing that the flour itself was roasted in the oven. Meaning, if the flour itself was roasted in the oven we do not suspect that some of the flour was not completely cooked. The concern was only in a scenario where the kernels were roasted in which case we are concerned that some of the flour was not completely roasted and could still become Chomaitz.

So now, roasted matza meal would be permitted whereas roasted kernels would be forbidden.

This is also how the Chok Yaakov explains the view of Rashi.

And indeed, we find numerous other Rishonim – Tur, Bais Yosef, Rif, Rosh, and Ritva -who understand that Chasisi is Matzah meal and likewise understood the Gemara to be discussing the permissibility of using matzah meal to smear pots used for cooking on Pesach.

The Tur, Bais Yosef, Rif, Rosh, and Ritva among other Rishonim all say that it is permitted when it is flour which is grinded from baked Matzah. They all understand that this Chasisi which is permitted to smear pots with is referring to matza meal. Accordingly, this would seem to be a Heter for Gebrokts (cooking with matza meal) as opposed to a Heter for Kitniyos.

The Rif, who understands that chasisi is matzah meal, paskins like the second version of the Gemara. Thus, according to the Rif, the Gemara is not discussing kitniyos at all. Instead, what emerges from the Gemara is a heter for eating Gebrokts on Pesach.

The Biur HaGra seems to hold like the Baalei HaTosfos that chasisi is lentil flour. Moreover, the Gra paskins like the first version of the Gemara that chasisi cannot be used to smear pots for cooking on Pesach. The Gra attributes the stringent practice of not eating kitniyos on Pesach to this Gemara and explains that the concern is that the lentil flour could become confused with wheat flour.The point is made that since lentil flour could become confused with wheat flour, Rava did not want it to be used on Pesach.

The Rif translates Chasisi as baked matzah which is grinded down into flour. He also only brings the second version (ika di’amri) that Rava smeared the pot with Chasisi himself. He does not even bring the first version of the Gemara that Rava protested the pots being

smeared with Chasisi in the Bai Raish Galusa which means that he rules that it is completely permitted to cook with matza meal and that kitniyos is not being discussed here.

Hence the question arises how did kitniyos become assur on Pesach if the Gemara and the majority of Rishonim say explicitly that it is permitted?
The point is made that since lentil flour could become confused with wheat flour, Rava did not want it to be used on Pesach.

Nonetheless, the Biur Hagra says that this Gemara with Chasisi is where the chumra of kitniyos comes from; that they had to be machmir on flour made from lentils in a place where the workers were not careful with issurim. All the more so today, that we should be machmir on flour from lentils as well as on flour from other kitniyos products.
Interestingly, the Pri Chadash first challenges how we have the right to rule stringently regarding make chumras out of Kitniyos after the Gemara specifically says that it is permitted. Interestingly, this Gemara which says that kitniyos is permitted, is actually the source for the chumra to treat it as forbidden. From the fact that Rava exclaimed that how could such a thing be permitted, this is the source to say that it is assur. And that therefore we should forbid anything which is similar to grain since it can get confused with grain, and might c/v result in one eating chomaitz once he is allowed to eat kitniyos. However, he writes that abstaining from Kitniyos is not our minhag except for with rice since one year the rice was checked 3 times and still a kernel of wheat ended up being found in the rice. So whereas the Pri Chadash was hesitant about using this Gemara as a source for the chumra of kitniyos, expressing reservations that it is a stretch except for with rice, the Gra does go with it and says to be machmir. And this even though the halacha does not follow Rava’s exclamation but rather follows Rav Papa who says that kimcha diavshuna is
permitted. And even though this exclamation of Rava is only about kitniyos according to Tosafos and the Aruch. According to Rashi, Rif, Tur and Rosh, Chasisi is not lentil flour, it is just flour from previously baked matzos (matza meal.)

So the basis for the whole Chumra of kitniyos seems to be an exclamation of Rava which we do not even pasken like.

The Tur, Siman 453 writes,” There are those who forbid eating kitniyos on Pesach, as they are fearful that perhaps chomaitz grains are mixed into them. However, this is a chumra yesaira and is not our minhag.”

The Bais Yosef, in his notes on the Tur, brings from the Rabeinu Yeruchem that kitniyos is a minhag shtus and that there is no one who is concerned with this minhag, except for the Ashkenazim.
The Mechaber O.C. 453:1 states: “These are the things that one can be yotzai matzah with on Pesach: The 5 grains which are wheat, spelt, barley, rye, or oats. But not with rice or other types of kitniyos which cannot come to be leavened. One can only be yotzai the

mitvah of Matzah on the first night of Pesach with matzah which has the potential to become chomaitz. It is also permitted to make a cooked food out of Kitniyos.”

Rema notes, “Some prohibit it and the custom in Ashkenaz is to be stringent not to eat cooked foods made from Kitniyos. One should not change this custom. However, if

kitniyos fell into a pot of food, thean, ex post facto, we do not consider the food to be forbidden. It is also permitted to light candles with oil made from kitniyos, as well as to keep kitniyos in the house over Pesach. Meaning, it is not asur in benefit like Chomaitz gamur is and one does not have to sell it over Pesach. It is much more lenient than Chomaitz gamur.

The Mordechai, (Pesachim 35 b) brings the Hagahos Maymonos who says that kitniyos is permitted on Pesach as there is no concern of it becoming Chomaitz. He rules as well that kitniyos is permitted on Pesach. However, then he subsequently brings from Reb Yitzchok offrom Kurbil in his Sefer HaMitzvos Hakatzer (Smak) that the custom of abstaining from kitniyos is a worthy one and should be upheld. Kitniyos products could quite easily become confused with other products which are roasted;, and if kitniyos would beis permitted, people they wouldwill come to permit other Chomaitz products as well. Furthermore, sometimes bread is made from kiniyos and it couldcan easily get confused with wheatreal bread. which is Chomaitz. Now, Aalthough the Gemara rules that kitniyos is permitted, this was only in those days when they were experts in Halacha. But now in later generations they enacted this decree to abstain from kitniyos as there was the concern that people would come to eat Chomaitz. Either because the kernels from the 5 grains would get mixed into the kitniyos, or because once rice bread was being eaten on Pesach people would come to eat wheat bread. The Mordechai then mentions that there were great Rabbis who abstained from kitniyos on Pesach, as well as those who did not. So although he himself rules that it is permitted, he does acknowledge the argument of those who forbade it.

Although most Rishonim seem to hold that kitniyos is permitted on Pesach in line with the Gemara, the Semak explaialins that it is forbidden since as we are not careful as they were in the times of the Gemara. Over the period of time stretching from the Semak to the Rema the custom of abstaining from kitniyos seems to have mainstreamed into the masses of Ashkenazic Jewry and remains a minhag observed throughout.

The word kitniyos is generally translated as legumes. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupin, and carob.

Mishna Berura explains that kitniyos is not prohibited according to the letter of the law but it is just a chumra that was taken on. The Mishnah Berura provides two reasons for

the chumra of kitniyos. In addition to citing the similar reasoning to the Pri Chadash, he explains The reason for the chumra of kitniyos is that because there were times when grain would get mixed into the kitniyos and it was impossible to be checked it well, and after it would get cooked or baked the whole mixture would become chomaitz. Secondly, there were times that they would make bread out of rice flour and people could not discern which breads were made from rice flour and which were made from wheat flour. Basically, if people would be allowed to eat bread made from rice flour

they might come to eat bread made from wheat flour as well which is real Chomaitz. So they enacted the stringency of kitniyos on rice bread lest people mistakenly come to believe that wheat bread is permitted on Pesach just like rice bread is. Therefore, they forbade all rice bread to make sure that no chomaitz would be eaten on Pesach. Then they took this further and forbade all rice products in addition to bread, because of the concept of lo pelug. Meaning, if rice-based foods would be permitted, they might come to eat rice bread. And if rice bread is permitted they may come to eat wheat bread.

So the 2 reasons for the chumra of Kitniyos on Pesach is:
1. The kitniyos products could easily have chomaitz kernels inconspicuously mixed in to them.
2. The Rabbis were concerned that if rice bread would be eaten on Pesach, then people would become confused and come to eat wheat bread as well.
Sefardim eat kitniyos on Pesach in line with the ruling of Bais Yosef and Ashkenazim do not eat kitniyos on Pesach in line with the ruling of the Rema.

Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 553:4) writes rather strongly in favor of observing the chumra of kitniyos on Pesach. Although it is permitted to eat rice on Pesach, nevertheless, our Rabbis have already been stringent about this for many hundreds of years and treat it like an issur to refrain from eating rice and beans on Pesach. It is known that many seeds of grain can easily get mixed into kitniyos, and additionally it can be easily mixed up with other grain products. Also, since flour can be made from rice just like wheat, people will not differentiate between one flour and the next and may come to c’v eat chomaitz on Pesach. Since our fathers accepted this issur upon themselves as a geder to the Torah it is assur for us to do away with this chumra. Those who challenge it and are lenient with it give testimony on themselves that that they are lacking any fear of Heaven, and are not familiar with the ways of the Torah. Aruch Hashulchan brings another proof to kitniyos from the Yerushalmi.

Reb Yaakov Emden, in the Mohr Uketzia, writes that his father the Chacham Tzvi referred to kitniyos as a ‘minhag garua’ (not a good thing) and as a chumra di’asi li’dai kula, for if people would not be able to eat kiniyos on Pesach they would have to make a lot more matzah to make up for the shortage, and matzos would not be made with as much scrutiny and discernment. Additionally, refraining from kitniyos compromises onto refrain from kitniyos is causing Simchas Yom Tov.
is being withheld from people because of a chumra that has no taam verai’ach.
The Sharei Teshuva writes that in Germany and Poland they had accepted this chumra of kitniyos upon themselves for several hundred years, and one should not be maikel and be poiraitz geder. There was a location where they wanted to end this chumra and it did not work out.

Some Sefardic communities in Yesrushaolayim have the custom to be machmir on rice.
Reb Ovadya Yosef rules that it is permitted to eat kitniyos on Pesach, provided that the rice be checked thoroughly, 3 times and without small children in the vicinity, to ensure that no wheat or barley get mixed into it. There are some sefardim who do not eat rice at all for fear that they will not be able to check it well. Even sefardim who do have the

custom to refrain from eating kitniyos and rice on Pesach, if they want to change their minhag they can do it with Hataras Nedarim. The Gemara, Pesachim (114b) says that there is one opinion that rice is a type of grain and that eating it is chayav karais. However, we do not hold like this view and are not concerned with it at all. The Sefer Hamichtam, among other Poskim, rules likewise that it is permitted to eat kitniyos on Pesach. The Bais Yosef, (Siman 453) cites the opinion of Rabbeinu Yeruchem (14th century Provence) that to be machmir

on kitniyos on Pesach is a minhag shtus., unless they are doing it just to be machmir on themselves and I don’t know why.

Although we do not pasken like this Rabbeinu Yeruchem that kitniyos is a minhag shtus, it is in fact used by Reb Moshe Feinstein as a snif lehakel for peanuts as to why we do not need to be machmir on eating peanuts on Pesach.

The Hagahos Maimonois, Chapter 5 relates that even schoolchildren know that rice and kitniyos can never become chomaitz. So the reason for the chumra is simply because grain from the 5 types of grains get easily mixed in and it is difficult to differentiate between kitniyos and chamaitz. The Smak, (Siman 222) says similarly that the concern was that they will get mixed up with regular chomaitz and if people eat kitniyos they will end up eating chomaitz as well.

Potatoes

The Nishmas Adam, (Hilchos Pesach Klal 130, Question 20) discusses the topic of Kitniyos. Firstly, he says that it is not just a minhag but rather an issur dirabanan just like any other. He argues that since the minhag was accepted and widespread it should be no different than the minhag of bnos yisroel to count 7 clean days even when they are not certain that it’s dam niddah. There was an instance in which a community had the minhag to be machmir on potatoes, treating it like kitniyos because flour can be made from potatoes. One year there was a great famine in Ashkenaz and therefore the Rabbinical Court convened and decided to permit potatoes to be eaten that year on Pesach. Despite the fact that this was asked during a period of difficulty, the Chaei Odom challenges this exception made by the court, questioning if they had the right to permit potatoes to be eaten on Pesach that year. He suggests that perhaps the way that Kitniyos was accepted in the first place was under normal circumstances, not under extenuating circumstances. But he argues that kitniyos is likely a kabala and similar to counting 7 clean days and therefore not sure how they could waive the issur of kitniyos that year. He closes with a tzarich iyun.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Chayei Odom was of the foremost, prominent, and accepted Poskim in Klal Yisroel over the past couple of centuries, this challenge was for the most part not accepted by the Poskim or Klal Yisroel. R’Shlomo Zalman Aurbach in Halichos Shlomo says that this was not accepted in Klal Yisroel to be machmir on potatoes. Interestingly, Reb Shlomo Zalman is reputed to have been machmir on potato-based products for himself, but not with pakening for other people. Reb Moshe Feinstein says the same that potatoes are certainly not included in

kitniyos. There are many who express some surprise at the Chayei odom’s seeming attempt to forbid potatoes and include it under the category of Kitniyos.

The Szanzser Rebbe is quoted as saying that the Chayei Ddom wished to forbid the ‘chayei odom’, something which the lives of people depend on. Meaning potatoes which many people relied on to keep them alive, and if they would listen to the Chayei Odom it would be a sakana for them.

The Sefer Ohel Shlomo brings from the Tiferes Shlomo that that we need to give thanks for the fact potatoes were not around during the period of the Gaonim for otherwise it would have been included in the issur of Kitniyos on Pesach since flour is made from potatoes.

The Pri Migadim, (O.C. 464 Eshel Avraham 1) rules that potatoes are not considered kitniyos as they are large and kernels or seeds from the other 5 grains would not get mixed into them.

In Igros Moshe (O.C. 3:63) –Reb Moshe was asked if peanuts are included in kitniyos or not. Perhaps peanuts should be kitniyos since flour is made from them, and they are grown in the fields together with other seeds. Reb Moshe responded s that potatoes are is used to make flour in our times and have been used to make flour in previous generations in Europe, and no one ever thought to forbid potatoes. The other point that potatoesit areis grown among other seeds is also invalid, as not every seed that could possibly get mixed up with one of the 5 chomaitz grains is necessarily included in the gezaira of Kitniyos. He cites the Rema who permits other types of seeds which could easily get mixed up with wheat/barley and it is hard to check them, and still it is not included in the category of kitniyos. Therefore, kitniyos only applies to what the Rabbis said at the time that they enacted it. Additionally, there never was a conference of rabbis which decided what should be included in kitniyos and what not. The minhag of kitniyos simply evolved over time as people took on the stringency of being careful with other grains that could be easily confused with chomaitz grains. Potatoes were not included as it was not around at the time that the minhag of being machmir on kitniyos began. When potatoes later became a widespread staple the Rabbis did not want to place them under the category of kitniyos either out of necessity or because the reasons behind kitniyos were weak. (taamim kelushim.) The Bais Yosef himself cites Rabeinu Yeruchem who says that kitniyos is a minhag shtus in the first place. Similarly, with peanuts there is no reason to forbid it just as potatoes were not forbidden. He says you are allowed to give a hechsher on peanuts for Pesach. According to this, it would seem that quinoa would also not be included in Kitniyos as it was not around at the time of the prohibition and we do not add new things into the gezaira.

According to Reb Shlomo Zalman, as brought in Halichos Shlomo, (4:17) potatoes are not kitniyos, but potato flour might possibly be included in kitniyos. He does not say this definitively but rather suggests it as a possibility.

It is reported that Reb Shlomo Zalman was machmir on potato derivatives personally for himself, but not for others.

The Besamim Rosh (, Siman 248) says that this minhag is a minhag ta’os and that the machmirim will one day have to give an explanation for why they were machmir. The Maharsham, Siman 453:7 says chalila to listen to the Besamim Rosh. The Chasam Sofer, as quoted by Reb Ovadya Yosef, amusingly calls the Besamim Rosh a ‘Kuzbi Rosh’. The Manoach Gaon, Reb Zevin writes in the Sefer Hamoadim that the Besamim Rosh was possibly written by one of the maskilim in Berlin by the name of R’ Shaul Levine.
And so, whereas the whole source for the custom of being machmir on kitniyos seems to be somewhat weak, Minhag Ashkenaz is to be stringent and Minhag Sefard is to be lenient.

We have explored the issue of Kitniyos from one extreme to the other. Some refer to kitniyos as a minhag shtus, minhag garua with no taam or rai’ach, or as chumra yesaiara. Others are strongly in favor of it saying that it carries the strength of an issur, not just a minhag and that anyone who does not follow it is a poraitz geder.

It is not the intention of this work to be machria on Kitniyos or any issue discussed here.

For a final ruling a Halachic authority must be consulted.

Wishing Everyone A Gutten Mo’ed and A Continued Fraylichin Chag Kasher Vesomayach.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Reb Binyomin, as always, beautiful! Shkoyach!! Please keep on posting new Torah. We haven’t heard from you in a while… looking forward to the next Shtikel.

Comments are closed.