Sunday, April 16, 2006

To Eat or Not to Eat Kitniot on Passover?

Dovi Harel, an Ashkenazi man married to a Sephardi woman, motivated by the difficulty of eating at his in-laws on Passover (because of conflicting Passover traditions), proposes a people's revolution to get rid of the Ashkenazi ban on eating Kitniot on Passover:
So here's the deal, plain and simple. I understand that you, most respectable rabbis, aren't going to solve the legumes conundrum. What rabbi needs the headache? The first to offer a solution will be written off as 'reform' or 'national religious.' I truly understand you.

The bible forbade hametz (leavened bread) on Passover. The edict against legumes was added later out of concern that hametz could get mixed into the tiny spaces between the beans or grains (though the truth is, no one really knows exactly where the ruling came from).

In modern times, when things are packaged in sophisticated methods, when everything undergoes careful sorting, if Rabbi Ovadia Yosef isn't worried that a bag of rice has traces of flour in it - then I'm not worried either. I understand that you don't have the power to lift the ban that has become traditional among the people, or at least among some of the people. I understand, and therefore I'll help you out. The much-needed revolution won't be brought about by you, the rabbinate. The revolution will come from the lower rungs - from the people.

We'll start eating legumes on Passover. It'll spread, because people will have no choice; because the reality of Ashkenazi grooms and Sephardic brides is stronger than edicts and traditions; because between celebrating the festival of liberation and emphasizing exile - I choose the path of life, the path of redemption.
It's true enough that some innovations of Jewish law came about because the practice of the people changed. And the law had to be changed, a posteriori, to reflect the change in practice.


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