Skip to main content

New Kitniyot Survey Reveals Big Changes in Approach to "Little Things"

It’s been 10 years since the Great Kitniyot Rebellion of 2007 when Rav David Bar-Hayyim issued his famous (or infamous) psak halacha that permitted Ashkenazim to eat kitniyot during Pesach.
Back then, most people were so preoccupied with the removal of kitniyot that the removal of chametz almost seemed like an afterthought. But as the Rav explained, kitniyot are the little things & we need to focus on the bigger issues.

Over the last 10 years, many people have talked, written or blogged about eating kitniyot—or not eating them. Even the Reform and Conservative Movements have hopped on the kitniyot bandwagon. But until now, everyone has only cited anecdotal evidence.  

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Great Kitniyot Rebellion, Machon Shilo created an online survey (in English) about Pesach customs and kitniyot. Circulated via Facebook and popular Israel-based email lists, the survey was answered by nearly 150 people.

While we can't claim that the sample is statistically valid at this stage, the survey has nevertheless revealed some very interesting trends:
  • 30% of respondents who eat kitniyot derivatives have been doing it for less than 5 years.
  • 25% of respondents who eat kitniyot have been doing it for less than 5 years.
  • 35% of people who have changed their customs were influenced by Machon Shilo
Nearly 300 years before Rav Bar-Hayyim and Machon Shilo, the great Hacham Zvi Hirsch Ashkenazi, the rabbi of Amsterdam (1660-1718), unsuccessfully tried to annul the kitniyot prohibition. He wrote that:

“He who does away with this practice, may my part be with him; would that the great authorities of this generation in this region agreed with me to carry out this great mitzva.”

Kudos to Rav Bar-Hayyim and Machon Shilo!

Take the survey at or see the interim results below.


Popular posts from this blog

Moshe But Not Yehoshua?

Moshe received the Torah, but Yehoshua conquered Eretz Yisrael.
Many of us were a bit surprised with the outcome of the Likud primaries. Two of the biggest supporters for Jewish rights on Har HaBayit, Moshe Feiglin and Tsippi Hotovely, received very low spots on the Likud list and it's unlikely that they'll be in the next Knesset.

So what happened? The most obvious cause is that they were both victims of a hit list put out by Bibi and his cronies. This probably had a number of components that included:
Voting lists. Bibi's organization promoted lists of "kosher candidates" or pre-filled ballots that did not contain Moshe or Tsippi. These lists are designed to utilize all of your votes so that you only vote for approved candidates. Phony deals. Moshe and Tsippi were probably the victims of phony deals. Part of the wheeling and dealing of primaries is that the various "camps" agree to support each others candidates, or for a portion of their voters to supp…

Don't Go Nuts Over Peanuts

Rav David Bar-Hayim responded to a question about eating kitniyot and quinoa:
It is tragic that so many Jews have been bamboozled into avoiding foods that are both permissible and healthy. The good news is that it is simple to set yourself free. All that is required is a healthy determination not to be hoodwinked, a refusal to allow persons driven by commercial interest, fanaticism or a misconceived piety to distort Tora Judaism and recreate it in their own image.More from his tshuva:
Peanuts may be consumed during Pesah even by those who choose to refrain from qittniyoth (or are still working up the courage…). At some point in the 1960’s, a campaign was launched by certain individuals to ban peanut oil so that they could sell their four-times-the-price substitute. Rav Bar-Hayim was informed of this by a Rabbi from NYC who served his community for over 40 years. It was a scam for profit.
Exactly 29 years ago Rav Bar-Hayim heard the very same opinion expressed by HaGaon HaRav Shaul Yisrae…

The Custom of Tefillin

The custom of Tefillin is very ancient, even predating the custom of kitniyot. In the USA, tefillin are commonly worn during Chol HaMoed. When making aliyah, most olim from the USA adopt the the "Minhag HaMakom", a.k.a. the local custom, and stop wearing them during Chol HaMoed.

What makes this so interesting is that: Most olim continue to abstain from eating kitniyot during Pesach under pretense of following "Minhag Avoteinu", commonly understood as the custom of their parents, rather than the local custom. Most olim adopt what they believe to be the local custom despite the fact that their Fathers wore tefillin during Chol HaMoed. And this is the really interesting part--wearing tefillin is not actually a Minhag (custom), but a Mitzvah D'Oreitah, a commandment dictated by HaShem in the Torah.  Ironically, the first source in the Torah that commands us to wear tefillin has a Pesach theme: And it shall be for a sign for you upon your hand, and for a memorial bet…