Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Kitniyot - Sephardic perspective - Yechaveh Daat 1:9
Rav Yosef begins this yeshuva by discussing some of the history of the decree not to eat kitniyot on Pesach, noting that its reason is not because of chametz per se, but because since both chametz and kitniyot can be made into similar cooked dishes, we do not want people to confuse that which is permitted with that which is forbidden, and therefore they were forbidden as well. While even such Ashkenazic Rishonim as the Rosh rejected this practice as an unnecessary stringency (after all, the Gemara does talk about eating rice at the Seder), nevertheless by the time of the Beit Yosef, it had apparently become standard practice in the Ashkenazic world to not eat kitniyot on Pesach. Several centuries later, Rav Yaakov Emden cited his father the Chacham Tzvi (an Ashkenazi, despite his title) who bemoaned the institution, but was powerless to repeal it. An earlier Ashkenazic Acharon, the Maharshal, also felt that one should not be overly strict after the closing of the Talmud, but again he was powerless to undo this decree. Rav Yosef then deals with the specific question of whether or not Ashkenazim are allowed to give kitniyot to their children on Pesach. He concludes that since the prohibition is merely a protective minhag, and does not even rise to the level of midivrei sofrim, therefore it would be permissible to do so (while I would doubt that any Ashkenazim actually give their kids kitniyot on Pesach, this could be helpful in the case of medicines that might contain corn syrup or other kitniyot-based ingredients).