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Showing posts from March, 2007

Kitniyot & Machon Shilo Make the Hebrew Press!!

פסק הלכה מהפכני: "כן" לקטניות בפסח החומה נסדקה: אחרי מאות שנים בהן הקפידו האשכנזים באדיקות על איסור אכילת קטניות בפסח, פוסקים רבני בית הדין של "מכון שילה": מדובר במנהג מוזר ורעוע. רבני הזרם המרכזי עדיין לא בעניין, אך גם הרב שרלו יוצא נגד ה"עצבנות האשכנזית" - החומרות שנוספו בשנים האחרונות. היה שווה לחכות הציבור מתחנן כבר שנים, יש שלא התאפקו, פסקו לעצמם והתירו את הנדר, ולקראת פסח תשס"ז כבר רואים תוצאות. 800 שנה אחרי שהונהג, נשבר לראשונה הקונצנזוס בקרב הפוסקים האשכנזים בשאלת הרלוונטיות של איסור הקטניות: רבני "בית הועד של מכון שילה" פרסמו פסק הלכה המתיר לאשכנזים בארץ ישראל לחדול מהמנהג. בפסק שפורסם בימים האחרונים טוענים רבני המכון, דוד בר-חיים, יהושע בוך וחיים וסרמן, כי אזרחי ישראל אינם אשכנזים או ספרדים, אלא "יהודי ארץ ישראל", וככאלה עליהם לנהוג כמנהג המקום ולא לחשוש למנהג הקדום.
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3382136,00.html For English, see http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3382886,00.html

Ode to Kitniyot

I'm thinking of converting,
to be a Sfaradee.
Fill myself with kitniyot,
Be happy as can be,
The problem is I'm overweight,
and that is sad to see,
And kitniyot are fattening,
Where does that leave me?
-Pogoda
Very cute. Now all we need is some sort of jig and musical accompaniment.

Worse than kitniyot

Kitniyot is a small problem compared to another questionable Pesah practice: observing two days of chag in Erets Yisrael.

Personally I find this highly offensive to the kavod of Erets Yisrael. I'm not alone. Rav Kook too held this way:

In Celebration of the Soul by Rav Moshe Zvi Neriyah (founder of Bnei Akiva youth movement and a disciple of Rav Kook), he writes about a the Keren Kayemet's second seder in 1934. They ask Rav Kook to sponsor and supervise the seder.
He refused, insisting that the second seder was an institution of the Diaspora and would violate the honor of Erets Yisrael.Then the organizers turned to one of the Rav's students and asked him to supervise the seder--and promised to compensate him generously--but that he needed Rav Kook's approval. Unaware that the Rav had already rejected the idea, the student approached the Rav. Rav Kook was sensitive to his student's financial situation and arrived at a decision:
I will authorize the event, but only if th…

Psak Halacha on Kitniyoth on Arutz-7

Machon Shilo and its Beth HaWaadh have made the headlines at Arutz-7 (Israel National News) and was briefly the #1 item.

Kol hakavod to the Rav and the Machon for their efforts in fighting for truth and abandoning shtuth.

Jerusalem Institute Questions Post-Diaspora Kitniyot Abstinence

by Ezra HaLevi

(IsraelNN.com) The religious court of a Jerusalem Talmudic research center has taken aim at the Ashkenazi practice of abstaining from legumes on Passover in Israel.

The Beit Din (religious court) of Machon Shilo, headed by Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, issued the ruling, which permits the consumption of Kitniyot (legumes) by all Jews in Israel during the Pesach holiday. Co-signing the ruling were Jerusalem Rabbis Yehoshua Buch and Chaim Wasserman.

The article then went on to discuss the background and reasoning for the psak.

Unique to the article were interviews with Rabbi Zalman Melamed (Chief Rabbi of Beit El), Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl (Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem’s Old City), and Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch…

Breaking News: Psak Halacha on Qitniyoth

The announcement we've been waiting for is here! OK we're waiting for other announcements too... but this is good news in any case.

Beth HaWaadh of Machon Shilo permits the consumption of Kitniyoth by all Jews in Israel during Pesah

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL, March 20, 2007 (Nissan 1, 5767) —Beth HaWaadh, the beth din (religious court) of Machon Shilo, has issued a religious ruling permitting all Jews in the Land of Israel to consume Kitniyoth (legumes) during the Pesah holiday. The signatories to this ruling were Rav David Bar-Hayim, Rav Yehoshua Buch, and Rav Chaim Wasserman, all of Jerusalem.

"The custom of refraining from eating Kitniyoth—legumes such as rice, lentils, beans etc.—during the Pesah holiday has always been a matter of debate" says Rav David Bar-Hayim, Head of Machon Shilo, a Talmudic research institute, and president of the Beth HaWaadh rabbinical court.

For more infomation see: www.machonshilo.org.

25 Years Ago... with Rav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

25 years ago, almost to the day (before Pesah), on Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5742 (1982), Rav Bar-Hayim spoke with HaGaon HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l after the morning prayers at Merkaz HaRav Beth Midrash.

Rav Yisraeli He stated that in his hometown, Slutzk, Russia, which, he added, was the hometown of HaGaon HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer zs"l, peanuts were not only eaten by all the Jews, including HaRav Meltzer, they were the preferred item offered to guests who came visiting on Pesah.

In the same conversation HaRav Yisraeli stated that he felt the minhag of Qitniyoth should apply only to those items thath were available in medieval Western Europe and that other items such as soy beans, soya oil, [quinoa too] should not be considered to be within the purview of this minhag.

Haval Haveilim

This blog has been included in a monthly review of Jewish blogs:
Getting ready for Pesach brings us to our favorite takkana of not eating Kitniyot (if you are of ashkenaz origin). Yonathan just started this new blog called The Kitniyot Liberation Front in which he calls not eating kitniyot a shtus and advocates repealing the ban. He has just begun detailing the sources of the ban and what he advocates. It should be interesting.See the newsletter about the Jewish blogs at
http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2007/03/hh-109-double-mega-edition.html

Why aren’t coffee beans kitniyot?

Coffee beans are indeed kitniyot! They are seeds that are eaten and planted like any other bean (including soybeans or sunflower seeds).

The Chacham Tzvi and the Yabetz said that coffee beans are definitely kitniyot, but no one says that they are forbidden on Pesah as everyone knows that when the minhag of kitniyot was adopted in the land of Ashkenaz hundreds of years ago, coffee was unknown and therefore not included under the purview of the minhag.

In addition, everyone knew that anything else came along was not to be added to the list of kitniyot. Rav Bar-Hayim relates that Rav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav told him that he held this same reasoning for permitting the consumption of soybeans during Pesah.

Origin of Kitniyot Prohibition??

One of the greatest problems with the prohibition of kitniyot it that "al panav" the origin of the custom has been shrouded in mystery. It's not in Torah, Mishna, Yerushalmi or Bavli. It just seems to appear out of nowhere.

None of the contamination explanations or "marit ayin" really sit well with me (certainly not if eating pasta made from potato flour is OK). I recently stumbled across this interesting tidbit by
Rabbenu Manoah (Provence, ca. 1265) in his commentary on Maimonides (Laws of Festivals and Holidays 5:1):

"It is not proper to eat qitniyot on holidays because it is written (in Deut. 16:14) that ‘you shall rejoice in your festivals’ and there is no joy in eating dishes made from qitniyot."

Beth Yosef, Ohr HaHayim (453)

“There are those who forbid eating rice and all sort of kitniyot ; this is a superfluous stringency. Also Rabbenu Yeruham wrote that those that practice not to eat rice and all sorts of cooked kitniyot on Pesah—it is a silly custom (“minhag shuth”) and if they do it to be stringent [regarding the issur of eating chametz], I don’t know why.

Rice on Seder Plate - Bavli Pesachim 114B

Just imagine, there were amoraim who didn't think that we should merely be able to eat rice--rather they thought that it should actually be on the seder plate:
"What are the two dishes? --Said R. Huna: Beet and rice. Raba used to be particular for beet and rice, since it had [thus] issued from the mouth of R. Huna. R. Ashi said: From R. Huna you may infer that none pay heed to the following [ruling] of R. Johanan b. Nuri. For it was taught, R. Johanan b. Nuri said: Rice is a species of corn and karet is incurred for [eating it in] its leavened state, and a man discharges his duty with it on Passover. And just in case, you get confused, I repeat what R. Ashi said: none should pay attention to R. Johanan b. Nuri who said that rice is a species of corn and you get karet for eating it leavened.

The Roadmap from Qitniyoth to Qorban Pesah

This shiur on Machon Shilo is a must-read to get some perspective. You'll hear whether a minhag (custom) is legally binding on a place – or on a person - even if he or she leaves it. It will also cover whether there is a qitniyoth minhag in Erets Yisrael. Don't forget to download the PDF source sheet too.

You need to register to listen to it! After registering, the "DOWNLOAD" button will appear. Check it out at http://machonshilo.org/component/option,com_docman/task,cat_view/gid,77/Itemid,64/

The Pesah Countdown

My son has started to count down the days to his Pesach vacation from school, so we must be getting close to chag. This year we hope to spread the word about the "shtuth" that is kitniyot (qitniyoth). Last year we generated a lot of interest with just few emails. G-d willing, we will have even greater success.

As Rav David Bar-Hayim once said, "I really don't care whether you eat qitniyoth or not. What is important is that you make conscious decisions about the way you observe Judaism, that you don't just do what you're doing because your Father did it."

Too many of us just blindly follow the practices of our Fathers of galuth, but as Dorothy said, "We're not in Kansas anymore." Nor in Babylon. We need to return to the wisdom of our fathers, of the Talmud HaYerushalmi.