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It's Official: Rav Bar-Hayim is a "Smark Aleck"

According to Shmuel Poppenheim, a spokesman for the Eidah Haredit:
Every Jew carries with him the customs that he received from his father and his father's father. Smart alecks like [Bar-Hayim] think that they can come along and change everything. (Jerusalem Post, April 6, 2007, page 5)
Mr. Poppenheim neglected to mention why he has abandoned the custom of his father's father's father's father's father's father's father, who lived in Erets Yisrael and ate kitniyot during Pesah.

Nor would he confirm or deny that his forefather had dressed like Sinai Tor and those hilltop guys.


Don't be so sure.

See here.

Regarding eating rice on Pesach, Rav Culi, leader of all Sephardic Jewry in Constantinople 300 years ago, writes as follows:

Although rice is examined many times, it still can be found to contain wheat. A religious Jew should therefore not eat rice on Passover. (Meam Loez Haggadah, p. 227).

It must be pointed out for the sake of intellectual honestly that Rav Culi wrote this as an added praiseworthy stringency and not as a law for Sephardim. Nevertheless it says what it says.

Rav Culi based this opinion on the Pri Chadash 467. The Pri Chadash was a commentary on the Shuchan Aruch written by Chachum Chizkeya da Silva, another leader of Sephardic Jewry who moved to Jerusalem at age 20 (in 1679). Here was a great Sephardi leader living in Jerusalem advocating that Sephardi Jews refrain from eating rice on Pesach.
Anonymous said…
There's a question I've had for years, and I could not belive the answer your opponents give for it.
Q: What is the punishment for eating kitniyot if you are Ashkenaz?
A: You should be put to death.

Amazing. Chametz, the prohibition of the Holy Torah itself, bears the punishment of Karet. But the eating of rice or lentils, that makes you Chayav Mitah at the hands of a Bet Din! Amazing how eager people are to be distracted from Hashem's mitzvos, and how eager some robonim are to avoid anything that smacks of innovation or leniency.

Thanks for putting up this site; I'm not in perfect agreement with you on other issues, but the fact that you have opened a place to discuss the issue is wonderful.

As for your the latest “I told you so” comment given to you on rice, how does this affect eating Wild Rice (Zizania Palustris), a crop that grows in marshes in North America, and is processed where it grows near the great lakes, far away from any kind of wheat? Better we not think about that… eating it seems to be worse than chametz!

1. The punishment of death is not for eating the Kitniyos. The punishment is for violating the prohibition of Lo Sasur (See Devarim 17:11). (And I don't believe it's by Beis Din.)

2. The punishment for eating Chometz is Karas which is MUCH worse than death – it is spiritual death!

3. The Goanic decree called for refraining from ALL rice. Not from all rice except Zizania Palustris. To quote Rav Blumenkrantz ZT"L “who knows what other reasons the Gaonim in their wisdom had to prohibit kitniyos. There is no greater desecration of the Gaonic decree than to make breaks around the fence of their decrees.”
It is amazing that so much effort is being invested in defending a simply minhag by these "Neturei Kitnyos". Clearly these people are so misguided that they *seem* to place the keeping of every and each minhag of Galuth (a punishment) forever. They may come to Erets Yisrael, but they are perfectly fine to recreate Galuth in the courtyard of the King.

I am sure that these well-meaning Jews would unfortunately have similar invective for Jews who go to the halachically permissible areas of Har HaBayith, for those who wear techeleth etc.

Unfortunately they do what their fathers have done and will stray neither left nor right, even if there is evidence to do so would enhance their practice, tefillah or increase their closeness to HKBH.

Rav Bar-Hayim has an excellent article on this attitude called "Challenging Inertia". See it at:

P.S. I cannot answer your question, but I am sure that a reason can always be found for making it assur. It takes a true talmid chacham to know the law and to tell you why something is muttar.
Anonymous said…
Yonatan- I agree with you about the bravery needed to rule Mayekil these days. In today's era of "Yeridat Dorot," the impulse to rule as strictly as possible is embraced with few exceptions. It takes courage and a mastery of Torah to be lenient these days in any issue, be it Beyn Adam Lemakom or Beyn Adam L’chaveyro.

Eliyahu- please note that wild rice is NOT actually rice in any way. It’s just an advertising term. hence the scientific name (real rice is of the genus Oryza). The original Native American names were ignored so that the product could be mass marketed to American consumers. What we call Wild Rice should have the same status as Quinoa, as Wild Rice has as much to do with domestic rice as a student of Rav Ovadiah Yosef has to do with a Baptist bible college. It is hardly tenable to maintain the Geonim specifically banned a plant that they had never seen and that no Jew would eat for a thousand years after their time simply because of an advertising effort.

Rabbi Hoffman’s article did not seem to refer to violating Lo Tasur as what merits the death penalty. His implication seems to be the eating of Kitniyot in and of themselves as the cause. “The Maharil (Hilchos Pesach 25) writes that violating the minhag can cause one to be put to death!“

As for Karet, I know that Rambam held as you do. That being said, many others do not view Karet as something worse than execution at the hands of a Beit Din (lest eating on Yom Kippur seem a graver offense than Murder). In that framework, invoking execution as legislated by the Sages for the eating of kitniyot, even if via Lo Tasur, means that the Minhag effectively trumps the punishment for the Torah law itself. This seems to be what R. Jacob Emdem was so dismayed about when it came to kitniyot, that people would more concerned with a later edict over Torah law itself, and spend less time meditating on the meaning of Matzah.

If, in fact, it’s not Rice, nor was included in the gezerah, it may very well be permitted. Who says it’s not? It sounds like you are correct that it should be like Quinoa.

As for Rav Hoffman’s article I don’t know why he did not spell it out but those who hold violating Kitniyos is death (and this is also debated) such as the Maharil hold so because of Lo Sasur.

If you are asking why Lo Sasur deserves such a great penalty (if you hold it’s worse that kares) you essentially can use the same argument against every gezara. I would direct your question to G-d. Perhaps it follows the logic of high security installations where the fences have to be electrified but the doors only need regular locks.

Regarding Rav Yaakov Emdem Z”TL indeed he felt that the Ashkanazim who refrained from Kitniyos would have to eat, and hence bake, more Matzah instead. He felt since they had to make so much maztah they would be lenient and end up C”V eating Chumatz (matzah not baked properly) on pesach. Interesting to note that Rav Emdem (and his father) lived completely among Sephardim. Also be aware he is virtually the ONLY Ashkanazi posek to hold this way. And finally be aware that Rav Yaakov Emdem himself writes that he refrained from eating Kitniyos!!! He writes he did not feel that he himself, nor his father, – nor any single person - could overturn such a gezarah!!! It’s funny how some people who quote him forget to mention that!
Anonymous said…
Eliahu Ben Calev fails to recognize that we no longer live in the time of Rav Emden, nor of the Chafeitz Chaim, nor of Rav Kook. Eliahu-give this some thought-just maybe they didn't feel that they could overturn this minhag because of the circumstances of then. Do not forget that a Rav in every generation will take into account what the public is capable of accepting. Yes-rabbis tend to be conservative, and hesitant to change. Rav Bar-Hayim, a monumental Torah scholar is aware of the fact that many of our generation can and do accept what he is saying. I believe that you are arrogant in your assumption that Rav Bar-Hayim has not considered all that you think must be considered before coming out with this important psak.

Eliahu-why don't you just invest in matters of greater importance and recognize that not all rabbis must agree with your rabbis.

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