Friday, April 07, 2006

The kitniyotization of quinoa has begun! (update)

... at least in the Chareidi world.

A year ago, I wrote that, eventually, quinoa would be considered kitniyot. Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal crop native to the Andes that can be used a grain-equivalent. It is clearly not included in the five species of grain that are prohibited from the Torah for use on Passover. “Kiniyot” is a broad, undefined1 category of items that are not chametz, but are forbidden by custom to Ashkenazic Jews on Passover. Because of its nature as an undefined category, and the lack of a contemporary reason for continuing the prohibition, the category of kitniyot has expanded to include such items as corn and peanuts2 (both New World crops).

For the record, here's the text from the Aish website:

Finally, there is one product called "quinoa" (pronounced "kin-o-ah") that is permitted on Passover even for Ashkenazim. Although it resembles a grain, it is technically a grass, and was never included in the prohibition against kitniyot. It is prepared like rice and has a very high protein content. (It's excellent in "chollent" stew!) You should be able to find it at most health food stores. Of course, it needs to be from a closed container that is new for Passover.



Let's see how long it stays there...

(Hat tip to llennhoff on WeirdJews)

Update: Yaakov Menken on Cross Currents and Gil Student on Hirhurim chime in. The kitniyot-expansion machine ticks on. We are now in stage III of the process: uncertainty.

Update 2: A clarification of the “process” of kitniyotization:
  1. Unknown
  2. Universally permitted
  3. Kitniyot in limited circles. Some permit, some prohibit
  4. Kiruv organizations prohibit?
  5. Universally accepted as kitniyot. Prohibited.


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1 Kitniyot might initially have been defined as "legumes." Before crop rotation was commonly used as a farming technique, they were frequently grown in the same fields as grain products at the same time in order to take advantage of the nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These kitniyot may have contained actual prohibited chametz. An alternate derivation of the prohibition is that they or their products may be made to look like prohibited grains or their products. Either way, the reason for the prohibition is quite tenuous today. The best reason I can find is in a 1997 essay by Richard J. Israel:

Though I try very hard not to pasken for anyone, if you were to ask me, "As an Ashkenazi Jew, should I eat kitniot on Pesach?" I would say no. Most Passover-observing Ashkenazi Jews don't eat kitniot. If you want to be part of their club, don't eat kitniot.



2 The controversy over peanuts was unfortunately resolved in favor of a ban during the mid-20th century, so, Jews of my generation are less likely to accept them as permissible. (My current opinion is that they are permissible, but I avoid them on Passover). Peanuts, incidentally, are legumes, so, they could in theory have been used for the same purposes of nitrogen fixation of grain fields. To the best of my knowledge, they weren't, simply because they were unknown to the Old World at the time when those farming practices were used.

Comments:
How does this indicate the beginning of "kitniyotization"? Right now, it looks like a codification of quinoa's permissability.
 
From the linked Yated piece:

Last year Yated tracked down the information and found that the dayan in question does not support the hetter to use it and the person in charge of that area in the kashrus division of the Eida HaChareidis (Badatz) says that quinoa is included in the gezeiroh of kitniyos on Pesach for Ashkenazi Jewry.
 
Ah, that clears things up. Thanks for adding that extra link.
 
Why do you avoid peanuts on Pesach? Rav Feinstein said they were OK and the CJLS does too (of course the CJLS says a lot of things).

Kitniyot and the ignorance about it is one of those things that make me ashamed to be Ashkenazi (though I have a heter to eat it with plenty available in the Holy Land and actually grew up eating rice at my Mizrahi cousins' seders).

I once bought cheese that said it was KP only for kitniyot eaters (in Israel) and my roomate freaked out and was like "keep it away from my food." I'm like "you don't have to eat it."

Move to Israel and follow Golinkin (though I actually do have some problems with the sociology of his teshuva since you can eat non-kitniyot food cooked with kitniyot).

Is there a list somewhere of the original kitniyot?

What do you think about the new Chancellor?
 
amechad said:
Why do you avoid peanuts on Pesach? Rav Feinstein said they were OK and the CJLS does too (of course the CJLS says a lot of things).

Because it's the common practice here. Were it not the common practice, I would not avoid them (I think they're permitted). It is not easy to find completely raw peanuts and it is even harder to find packaged-and-hechshered peanuts and peanut products, since most American hechshers are Ashkenazic and follow this stricture [read: stupidity]. Were I to move to Israel, I would probably accept the common Israeli practice.

As for the CJLS, when I see a critical mass of observant Jews following their opinion on the subject

though I actually do have some problems with the sociology of his teshuva since you can eat non-kitniyot food cooked with kitniyot

Huh? Those who follow the custom don't eat things cooked with kitniyot in them. But, use of kitniyot does not make a pot or dishes non-kosher.

As far as I understand the sociology of Golinkin's teshuva, it is specific to Israel and a few other places, where he was essentially codifying an existing practice.

Is there a list somewhere of the original kitniyot?

If not, one should be compiled and distributed widely. Since kitniyot is based entirely on tradition, I would suggest closing the kitniyot canon where we are now.

What do you think about the new Chancellor?

There's a new chancellor?
 
* As for the CJLS, when I see a critical mass of observant Jews following their opinion on the subject, and CJLS-hechshered kitniyot products, I might consider following it.
 
http://forward.com/articles/7635 Arnold Eisen, a Stanford prof in the sociology of religion is set to become chancellor upon confirmation by the JTS board (reports The Forward, JTA, and NY Times).

And yeah, I meant to say "non-kitniyot food cooked with the same things as kitniyot -- what you said"
 
Amechad: It's ridiculous (though not surprising) that your roommate would be worried about cheese containing traces of kitniyyot. The original minhag — wich is far too mekil for our frummer-than-thou society — was to avoid only kitniyyot themselves, not their derivatives. One could buy OU-hekhshered Passover oil derived from kitniyyot, once upon a time. I would say that batel bashishim applies in the case of a cheese, but the more appropriate term would probably be batel bashtuyot.
 
Aren't kitniyot batel b'rov?
 
I suppose they are. It's hard to latch onto the technical aspects of a point of kashrut that has no basis in halakhah in the first place.
 
I'm not sure that I would characterize this prohibition as having no basis in halacha. It's more likely that its real basis is lost.

If you're looking for the details of something with no basis in halacha, try this (see #1).
 
"Although it resembles a grain, it is technically a grass..."

No comprende. Aren't all grains grasses? What is flour milled from if not the seeds of wheat-grass?
 
I didn't even notice that. Actually, there's that error and an incorrect implication in that sentence. For what it's worth, quinoa is not a grass in the biological classification scheme. More importantly, the biological classification has no significance to its status in halacha. Even if it were a true grain, it and its products would not be chametz, because only five defined species of grain are included in the prohibition of actual chametz. And, it would not be kitniyot for the same reason -- that it has no history as being classified that way,
 
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