Friday, April 18, 2008


My wife asked me a question, and I have no idea what the answer is.

Our understanding of why the Ashkenazim don't eat kitniot for Pesach is because the various grains and legumes were often ground at the same mill and so it was possible that the legumes would be contaminated by grains or one would be mistaken for the other. But what is the reason for prohibiting the eating of non-ground corn or beans? Surely, these cannot be mistaken for grain? Why can't we eat corn on the cob with our Passover brisket?

Though this year the cRc seems to be a lot more lenient. They allowed fennel greens to be eaten for Passover. Fennel seeds are still forbidden as kitniot.

In general, this year the cRc Passover guide seems to be a lot more lenient. I wonder what's going on?


Blogger The back of the hill said...

The argument against kitnios starts with the milling at the same place, but by extension anything that might be packaged or transported in the same containers (and hence mixing might occur), and goes beyond that to anything that might be sold in the same place (a dry-goods store, in bins - imagine the flour bin later being used for lentils), and continues with anything that might be mistaken for, or confused with, the five grains. Add to that the rule against inadvertently leading someone else into error by example, and you have all the reasons for banning anything even remotely doubtful from kashrus le peysach.

So from ground material to merchandise that might be inadvertently mixed (dry goods, including beans and rice), to look-alikes (grains and kimmel), to treated similarly (milled, polished or bagged), even linguistically related (all non-five-grains excepting that weird South-American whatever-it-is, but including wild rice - technically a marsh weed).
Hence no corn - the cognate in Dutch, German, Yiddish means grain.

Why then the prohibition against something which could not possibly be confused by sight or name, like corn-syrup?
Well, in addition to being koren, the processing may have mixed it, and the basic ingredients might have been admixed by bagging or containering.

I have utterly no idea why fenugreek is possul, however. Possibly because the name means Greek hay, and the five grains are grasses, and hay comes from grasses..... But because fenugreek is also possul, no maple syrup - fenugreek is used in the manufacturing of maple syrup.

On the other hand, I hold that in the same manner that coconut milk by it's fragrance clearly shows that it is not dairy, and therefore can indeed be used for cooking meat, rice similarly cannot be confused with the five grains - it doesn't even come from the same growing regions. That bag of Thai Jasmine Rice could not possibly contain even trace amounts of the five grains.

April 18, 2008 12:46 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

This is what I've heard:

That the rabbis esentially outlawed anything that could be made into flour, I guess to avoid confusion. According to the all-knowing Blumenkrantz, we're lucky that when the rabbis were ruling, they didn't have potatoes (which apparently were only brought over from America later on) bc they would have assured them as kitniyot as well. And had that happened, no one would be able to eat anything on Pesach at all.

April 20, 2008 1:25 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

>Why then the prohibition against something which could not possibly be confused by sight or name, like corn-syrup?

I am talking about corn on the cob, fresh corn, and other legumes... I will accept processing as a stringency for now.

April 21, 2008 8:48 PM  

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