Halacha for Sunday 17 Adar II 5779 March 24 2019

The Laws of Chametz and Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach-5779- Maran zt”l’s Correction

The Essence of Leavening
The Torah (Shemot 13) tells us regarding the holiday of Pesach: “Matzot shall be eaten for seven days; neither leaven nor sourdough shall be seen in all of your borders.” The leaven that the Torah prohibits is produced by the combination of grain-flour and water remaining in this state for a long enough period of time; this causes the internal composition of the flour to leaven (rise). From the moment the mixture begins to leaven it is considered “Chametz” which is prohibited for consumption or benefit on Pesach and it is also prohibited for a Jew to retain Chametz in his property on Pesach.

Kitniyot
Rice and all other legumes, including peas and beans, are permitted on Pesach, for the prohibition of Chametz only applies to grains and legumes are not classified as “grains”. One must nevertheless take care to check the grains of rice well to make sure that no kernels of wheat or barley are mixed inside, for it is fairly common that in some places where rice is grown or packaged, other grains are also grown or packaged in close proximity as well and some kernels of these grains can easily become mixed into the rice and indeed make one’s entire dish prohibited for consumption (for even one tiny crumb of Chametz can prohibit a large pot of food). Thus, it is customary to check through rice three times before Pesach with all due concentration and seriousness, at a time when small children are not present to disrupt the individual checking.

The Custom of Ashkenazi Jewry and Some Sephardic Communities
Due to fear that kernels of various grains may have become mixed into the legumes, Ashkenazim customarily prohibit the consumption of legumes on Pesach. Indeed, the greatest Ashkenazi authorities enacted that it is completely prohibited to eat any legumes on Pesach. However, this prohibition was not accepted at all by most Sephardic and Middle Eastern communities. A Sephardic individual should not act stringently regarding this matter for several reasons.

However, there are several G-d-fearing Sephardic communities who are stringent and customarily abstain from eating rice on Pesach. This is especially common among Moroccan and other North African communities. However, even they are customarily stringent only with regards to rice, but they do eat other forms of legumes. Some customarily abstain from eating chick peas on Pesach as well.

Maran zt”l and Harav Unterman zt”l
Before Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l assumed the position of Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, the rabbinate would publish a Pesach Guide for the residents of the city which stated, “Legumes are forbidden for consumption on Pesach; however, Sephardic Jews customarily act leniently in this regard.” In the year 5730 (1970) when Maran zt”l served as the Chief Rabbi of the city, he pointed out to Hagaon Harav Isser Yehuda Unterman zt”l, who served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and later went on to serve as Chief Rabbi of Israel, that this statement in the guide was flawed since legumes are permissible on Pesach! Thus, the statement was changed to read, “Legumes are permissible for consumption on Pesach; however, Ashkenazi Jews customarily act stringently in this regard.” There is a clear halachic ramification regarding this statement as even Ashkenazim may retain possession of legumes on Pesach. For instance, if an Ashkenazi couple has an infant who drinks baby formula which contain legume ingredients or derivatives, it is completely permissible for them to continue using the formula on Pesach, as long as they do so carefully and with specific utensils and bottles designated for the baby. However, there is no room to claim that legumes are completely forbidden on Pesach.

The Issue This Year
This year, 5779, there is an additional question regarding Kitniyot on Pesach and that is because the Seventh Day of Pesach (the last day of Pesach in Israel) falls out on a Friday. The question therefore becomes whether or not Ashkenazim (who customarily do not consume Kitniyot on Pesach) may cook Kitniyot on Chol Hamo’ed Pesach so that they will have what to eat on Shabbat immediately following the conclusion of Pesach. We shall discuss this issue, G-d-willing, at the appropriate time.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Similar Types of Fruit

In the previous Halacha, we have established that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges, which are not so readily available throughout the year. When one merits eating from these fruits the first time during the year and the fruits......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Grafted Fruits

Question: May one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing the first time during the year one eats citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges? Answer: We must first preface this discussion with the law that when one eats a new fruit that one has not yet partaken of that year, after recit......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha

Reciting The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Fragrant Objects

Question: Should one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a fragrant object which renews itself yearly? Answer: The root of this question is based on what we rule that regarding any fruit which renews itself yearly, such as berries and pomegranates, before partaking of that fruit for......

Read Halacha


Measuring for the Purpose of a Mitzvah

In the previous Halacha we have mentioned that our Sages have prohibited any kind of measuring on Shabbat or Yom Tov. For instance, one may not weigh various foods items or beverages on Shabbat. Although the scale is mechanical and not electronic, this is likewise a rabbinic prohibition. Measurin......

Read Halacha

Walking on Grass and Climbing a Tree on Shabbat

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one of the works forbidden on Shabbat is reaping. Included in this prohibition is detaching anything that grows from the ground, whether with regards to wheat and barley or anything else which grows from the earth. The Prohibition to Climb a Tree on ......

Read Halacha

Measuring on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Question: On Yom Tov when cooking is permissible, may one use a mechanical scale (not an electronic one) to weigh the ingredients one needs for cooking? Answer: Our Sages prohibited measuring on Shabbat or Yom Tov, for this is considered a “mundane act”, i.e. an action performed speci......

Read Halacha

Question: May one set an alarm clock to go off on Shabbat?

Answer: It would seem to be prohibited to set an alarm clock to go off on Shabbat based on the Baraita (Shabbat 18a) which states, “One may not place wheat into a water-operated mill (before Shabbat) in order for the wheat to be ground on Shabbat.” Although no forbidden work is being per......

Read Halacha