The Prohibition of Kitniyos on Pesach

The most prominent aspect of the upcoming Pesach festival is without a doubt the dietary restrictions. Throughout Pesach we replace bread with matzah and avoid all leavened products, turning our kitchen into quite something else. The lettuce leaves, horseradish, saltwater dips, and fascinating sandwiches of Seder Night also deserve a mention.

Another important culinary aspect of Pesach is the issue of kitniyos, legumes. Although there is no mention of the issue in the Torah, in the Mishnah or in the Gemara, the custom for Jews of Ashkenazi descent is to refrain from eating legumes of all kinds during Pesach. The question of what constitutes a legume for the purpose of this halachah, and how far the restriction goes, is therefore of great importance for Pesach cooking.

In the present article we will discuss the halachos pertaining to the issue of kitniyos, and seek to understand the reasons behind the custom, its halachic severity, and the extent of its application. Is quinoa included in the prohibition? Why is it permitted to eat potatoes on Pesach (Imagine life without them!)? Must separate dishes be used for those who must eat kitniyos on Pesach?

The Minhag of Gebrokts

Probably the most often-asked Pesach related question is: “Do you eat gebrokts?” “Gebrokts” is the German or Yiddish term referring to something “broken apart” – in this case, matzah. (In… Read more »

02/03/2013

Honoring Seder Night Pledges

This week’s article discusses the contemporary question of fulfilling promises—Afikoman promises. Is there a full halachic obligation to honor one’s Afikoman promise of Seder Night? Is there a difference between young and older children? Is the duress that a parent sometimes experiences in trying to retrieve the Afikoman a factor? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Biur Chametz the Easy Way: The Sale of Chametz

This week’s article is the first of a two-part series on the sale of chametz. What is the history of the chametz sale that has become so widespread? What was it initially intended for, and what does it achieve? Does one fulfill the mitzvah of tashbisu by selling one’s chametz? What are the benefits of a collective sale, and how should the purchasing non-Jew be given access to his chametz? How, indeed, must the chametz be treated over Pesach? These questions, and more, are addressed in this week’s article.