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Special Qitniyoth Pots For Passover, and Important Exceptions to the Usual Prohibitions

March 26, 2015

See this from Eretz Hemda:

Question: May I (an Ashkenazi) eat on Pesach at the house of a Sephardi friend food that was cooked in pots that he uses to cook kitniyot? If so, why? (They have assured me that all ingredients will be kitniyot free.)

 Answer: The various questions of kitniyot on Pesach seem to have become so divisive over the last period of time that one can barely open his mouth on the topic without fear of attack or offending someone. However, the answer to this question should be acceptable to all combatants on the topic.

 The Terumat Hadeshen (one of the pillars of early Ashkenazic p’sak) (Responsa 113) says that although we are strict not to eat kitniyot, if a grain of kitniyot falls into a pot on Pesach, we are not so strict as to forbid the food, for the prohibition on a mixture containing any amount (mashehu) of chametz on Pesach does not apply to kitniyot. The Rama (Orach Chayim 453:1) concurs that if kitniyot fall into a pot we do not forbid the contents of the pot. (If one can find the kitniyot they must be removed- Mishna Berura ad loc.:8). The Terumat Hadeshen apparently permits the food in the pot only when there is a tiny amount, which would be batel (nullified) by standard food prohibitions, other thanchametz on Pesach. However, most poskim understand that the Rama includes in his leniency any case where the kitniyot is a minority (Pri Chadash :1; Chuk Yaakov :5; Mishna Berura :9; see Bemareh Habazak IV, 51). Thus, while we never know exactly how much flavor comes out of the walls of a pot which has absorbed non-kosher food, we know that there will not be a majority of kitniyot in the “kosher for Ashkenazim” food that is cooked in the pots in question.

One might want to claim that our case is more severe than that which the Rama discussed, because here one is purposely setting up the situation where he will rely on the fact that the minority kitniyot will be batel. (There, the grain fell in.) There is much to say about this, but we will concentrate on the question at hand, dealing with utensils, not b’en (actual pieces or juices of a forbidden object that are in the food directly, not expelled from the walls of the pot).

We have precedents of foods that are permitted by certain communities and forbidden by others. (Regarding kitniyot, it is quite clear that the stringency, while binding on Ashkenzaic communities, is not something that is forbidden on its own merits, but based on custom- see Beit Yosef, OC 453). The Rama (Yoreh Deah 64:9) discusses the custom of the Jews of the Rhine area to eat a certain type of animal fat that most other Jewish communities felt was forbidden. He rules that although members of other communities should not eat from this fat or from a food that contains 1/60th of it, these others may use the utensils that this fat was cooked in. From here we see that there is more room to allow cooking in the utensils of those who are more lenient than others on a certain matter than to eat from a food that contains a significant minority of such questionable food. As we have already seen, most poskim permit eating a food that has in it a significant minority of kitniyot. It is also quite clear that the likelihood of a serious prohibition is stronger by the fat than by kitniyot. Thus, it follows that it is permitted according to the Rama (who is the decisor for the Ashkenazi custom on kitniyot) to eat from “kitniyot pots.” See also Yechave Da’at V, 32, who comes to this conclusion after presenting several more precedents.Although stringency on Pesach has positive elements and times exist when one has cause to consider where he should be eating, it is neither healthy nor halachically warranted in our case to preclude such a large group of Jews from hosting another large group (see Rashi, Yevamot 88a).

The argument that qitniyoth should not be cooked from the outset in regular Kosher-for-Passover pots is quite simple:

Qitniyoth are a forbidden food, and therefore any tastes they emit are also forbidden.

However this premise is mistaken; as we have shown before, the custom is to avoid only qitniyoth in particular forms, but there are many ways that qitniyoth are permitted. We also saw the the old custom was that qitniyoth derivatives were never avoided. Therefore, even if one were to hold that qitniyoth should not be consumed on Passover, there is no issue with preparing them in Passover pots.

For those who asked, the tradition to avoid certain foodstuffs on Passover is very limited. In Europe, they avoided only foods similar to rice and beans, and we have seen that eating whole vegetables from which seeds may be obtained is not forbidden. This must be so, for if one were to forbid that from which seeds can be removed for consumption, he would have to prohibit every fruit and vegetable that has removable seeds. Take for example cucumbers, eggplants, and tomatoes. One could easily gather and eat their seeds, but no rational person would prohibit them as qitniyoth. Whole pea pods should not be forbidden just because one could remove the peas. The following is a list of foods for which there are facial reasons to prohibit them, but which are nevertheless entirely permitted. Remember, if someone were to assume that anything that fits into the multitude of reasons given for the practice, he will arrive at some untenable conclusions, like forbidding coffee and chocolate, which no one forbids.

1. Corn on the cob and popcorn: Cooked corn on the cob is a whole vegetable and can neither be confused with wheat kernels nor processed into a flour, and popcorn is prepared entirely without water.

2. Quinoa.

3. Coffee.

4. Chocolate.

5. Rice cakes: also prepared from raw rice without water. See this video and note how the rice, even if it contained wheat, has no chance of every becoming leavened due to the rapidity, or instantaneity, of its processing.

6. Sesame seeds and sesame products.

7. Peanuts and peanut products. Like sesame seeds, these only became forbidden in the 1960’s due to a political conspiracy.

7. Whole or cut string beans: considered a whole vegetable. Remember, qitniyoth are the edible seeds of a plant.

8. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and kohlrabi: because some cynic might point out that because mustard is generally considered qitniyoth and these other vegetables are in reality one species derived from mustard, they should all be forbidden. Actually, the reverse is true. Mustard is not qitnoiyoth, either, because the seeds are never eaten as a food unto themselves.

9. The same is true with regards to poppy seeds and flax seeds. Both are only used to decorate or flavor food, and were never included in the prohibition until recently. Ironically, the Vilna Gaon claims that hemp seeds are in the food category and therefore covered by the prohibition.

10. All the usual oils made from the above.

11. Any actual qitniyoth completely processed without water, like raw, fresh chick peas or soy beans. Many qitniyoth may not be physically edible in this state anyway.

12. Whole, raw beans that are not wet and still fresh (i.e. they still retain their natural moisture, but have no actual water on them) may be cooked uncovered in a microwave oven. Once again, there is no remote chance that this can in any way result in the inadvertent creation of leaven if they had been with wheat grains, nor can such foods be confused with grains ground into flour. This exception to the usual prohibition has no mention in the classical codes only because microwave ovens were recently invented, but it is completely in line with the opinions of the Rema, Aroch Hashulhan, Hayei Adam, and Mishna B’rura.

13. Any and all the usual Middle-Eastern  spices that our European ancestors never really used anyway. The companies on the market know this, but it is not worth their time and money to ask the supervising agencies to certify these as extra kosher for Passover, so they usually include the caveat “for qitniyoth eaters only,” but it is not true. They are permitted to everybody.


From → halacha

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