A group of rabbis has announced that more Orthodox Jews are abandoning the practice of abstaining from eating kitniyot (beans and pulses) during the Passover holiday.
Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, head of the Machon Shilo institute, notes with satisfaction that the organization is frequently cited as having an impact on people’s decisions.
“Each year I am contacted by an increasing number of people who inform me that they are no longer adhering to the ban on eating kitniyot,” says Rabbi Bar-Hayim. “They thank me for the permit to eat kitniyot and for providing clear halachic insight that makes Torah Judaism relevant for thinking people.”
Rabbi Bar-Hayim uses sources in the Mishnah and Gemara to demonstrate that customs are connected to the place where one resides and are not simply packed up like household items to be relocated in a new place of residence.
'Torah sages can err'
The original kitniyot ban was for the Jews of Ashkenaz, or the Rhineland,” he notes.
“It was probably erroneous for these Jews to take this custom with them to other areas like the United States where there was no local custom, and certainly erroneous for them to bring it to the Land of Israel where the practice throughout the ages was to eat kitniyot.
"Eating kitniyot during the holiday is the true custom of our forefathers in the holy land. Rice was even included on the Seder plates of antiquity.”
Rabbi Bar-Hayim continues, “It’s okay that Torah sages can err. Even the Sanhedrin could err as is mentioned explicitly in the Torah. Mistakes can occur regarding kitniyot or about building emergency health facilities in Ashkelon. The halachic framework can be used as a framework for a Torah-based solution.
"As we recently read in the weekly Torah portion (Leviticus 4:13), errors were rectified by bringing a sacrifice to the Temple. May we soon merit to rebuild the Temple and bring sacrifices, for the Pesach offering and for the errors we’ve made along the way, whether forbidding foods that were not forbidden or preventing the construction of a hospital emergency room for the sake of ancient pagan graves that can be respectfully relocated.”