) is a Hebrew word meaning legumes
. During the Passover
holiday, the word kitniyot takes on a broader meaning to also include, in addition to legumes, grains and seeds such as rice, corn, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, peas, and lentils.
According to Orthodox Ashkenazi
laws, Kitniyot may not be eaten during Passover by Jews. Although Reform
Ashkenazi Judaism currently allow for the consumption of Kitniyot during Passover, long-standing tradition in these and other communities is to abstain from their consumption. According to Torat Eretz Yisrael
and Minhagei Eretz Yisrael
, any Jew worldwide, regardless of origin, and despite the practice of their forefathers, may eat kitniyot on Passover
, for it is a practice rejected as an unnecessary precaution by Halachic authorities as early as the time of its emergence.
Laws and customs
() only prohibits Jews from eating chametz
. Chametz is leaven made from the "five grains": wheat
, shibbolet shu'al
, according to Maimonides
s according to Rashi
) or rye
. There are additional rabbinic prohibitions
against eating these grains in any form other than matzo
Among Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews, the custom ( minhag
) during Passover is to refrain from not only products of the five grains but also other grains and legumes. Traditions of what is considered kitniyot vary from community to community but generally include maize
(American corn), as well as rice
s, and bean
s. Many also include other legumes, such as peanut
s and soy
, in this prohibition. The Chayei Adam
es not to be kitniyot because they were unknown in the time when the prohibition was created, an opinion followed today by nearly all Ashkenazi authorities.
and Yemenite Jews have not traditionally observed a prohibition on eating kitniyot on Passover, although some groups do abstain from the use of dried pulses
argument (the argument according to Jewish law and tradition) against eating kitniyot during Passover originated in early medieval
France and Provence and later flourished in high medieval Ashkenazi
The original reasons behind the custom of not eating kitniyot during Passover are not clear, though two common theories are that these items are often made into products resembling chametz
(e.g. cornbread), or that these items were normally stored in the same sacks as the five grains and people worried that they might become contaminated with chametz. It is also possible that crop rotation
would result in the forbidden chametz grains growing in the same fields, and being mixed in with the kitniyot. Those authorities concerned with these three issues suggested that by avoiding eating kitniyot, people would be better able to avoid chametz. Since Jewish law is quite stringent about the prohibition against chametz in the house during Passover, even in small amounts, a tradition developed to avoid these products altogether.
(Hagaos HaGra, ibid.) proposes a different source for this custom. The Gemara
(40b) notes that Rava
objected to the workers of the Exilarch
cooking a food called chasisi
on Pesach, since it was wont to be confused with chametz. Tosafot
understand that chasisi
are lentils, and thus, argues Vilna Gaon, establishes the basis for the concern for kitniyot. Rabbi David Golinkin
in the Responsa of the Masorati (Conservative) Movement
cites Rabbenu Manoah (Provence, ca. 1265) who wrote an opinion in his commentary on Maimonides (Laws of Festivals and Holidays 5:1) that "It is not proper to eat kitniyot on holidays because it is written (in ) that ‘you shall rejoice in your festivals’ and there is no joy in eating dishes made from kitniyot". Lentils were a food of mourners.
Even where the prohibition against kitniyot was practiced, some poskim
opposed it, among them Rabbi Yeruham of 14th century Provence.Golinkin, "The Kitniyot Dilemma, Kolot Vol 6, No. 3, page 10, Spring 2013 Others, including Rav Moshe Feinstein did not advocate abandoning the custom, but he opposed expanding the list of forbidden kitniyot Igrot Moshe
, Orah Hayyim
Modern Judaism and Kitniyot
Reform Jewish authorities, such as the Responsa Committee of the Reform Jewish Movement
for the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the United States and Canada, have also ruled in favor of permitting kitniyot. Reform Judaism first formally permitted eating kitniyot
during Passover in the 19th century.
While most Conservative Jews observe the tradition of avoiding kitniyot
during Passover, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards
, an authoritative body in Conservative Judaism, issued two responsa
in December 2015 that said it was now permissible to eat these previously prohibited foods throughout the world. These responsa were based on a 1989 responsa by the Responsa Committee of the Israeli Conservative Movement
that permitted Conservative Jews in Israel to eat kitniyot
. While eating kitniyot has become more common in Israel, due in large part to the influence of Sephardic Jewish food customs, it is not yet clear whether Conservative Jews in other parts of the world will embrace the new rulings or continue to refrain from kitniyot.
Some Orthodox rabbis, such as David Bar-Hayim
at 'Beth HaWaad' beth din
of Machon Shilo
and Conservative Rabbi David Golinkin of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies
, have argued that the prohibition of kitniyot
, while appropriate in Eastern Europe where the Askenazi tradition began, should not apply to the United States or Israel. According to The Forward
, some Israelis are choosing a more permissive rabbinical interpretation of kitniyot, which allows for the consumption of a wider range of formerly banned items, and some Ashkenazi
Jews in Israel who are married to Sephardic Jews have adopted the Sephardic custom. However, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
and other Orthodox organizations still maintain that the prohibition is binding on all Ashenazic Jews worldwide. The Orthodox Union maintains a kitniyot hechsher
intended for non-Ashkenazic Jews who consume kitniyot
In the 1930s, Maxwell House
coffee hired the Joseph Jacobs advertising firm in the 1930s to market to a Jewish demographic. The agency hired a rabbi to research coffee, resulting in a determination that the coffee bean is more like a berry than a bean, thus making it kosher for Passover.