This responsum was originally written in Hebrew for the Va’ad Halakhah of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel in 1989 and published in the Responsa of the Va’ad Halakhah 3 (5748-5749), pp. 35-55 (which can be accessed at (www.responsafortoday.com/vol3/4.pdf). It was aimed at Israel where hundreds of products are labeled “Kosher for Pesah for those who eat Kitniyot” and where many Ashkenazim marry Sephardim. This revised translation is addressed to all Jews. In this version, we have added some new sources and references, but we have also abbreviated some sections by referring to the Hebrew original. Since this responsum is quite lengthy, I have included a brief summary at the beginning. DG
Question: Why do Ashkanazic Jews refrain from eating rice, beans and kitniyot on Pesah? Is there any way of doing away with this custom which causes much hardship and also divides Jewish communities and even members of the same family?
A Brief Summary of the Responsum:
1) In our opinion it is permitted (and perhaps even obligatory) to eliminate this custom. It is in direct contradiction to an explicit decision in the Babylonian Talmud (Pesahim 114b) and is also in contradiction to the opinion of all the Sages of the Mishnah and Talmud except one (R.Yohanan ben Nuri, Pesahim 35a and parallels). It also contradicts the theory and the practice of theAmoraim, the Geonim, and of most of the Rishonim in all geographic areas (more than 50 early medieval authorities!).
2) This custom is mentioned for the first time in France and Provence in the thirteenth century by R. Asher of Lunel, R. Samuel of Falaise, and R. Peretz of Corbeil and others — from there it spread to various countries and the list of prohibited foods continued to expand. Nevertheless, the reason for the custom was unknown and, as a result, many rabbis invented at least twelve different explanations for the custom. As a result, R. Samuel of Falaise, one of the first to mention it, referred to it as a “mistaken custom” and R.Yeruham called it a “foolish custom”.
3) Therefore, the main halakhic question in this case is whether it is permissible to do away with a mistaken or foolish custom. Many rabbinic authorities have ruled that it is permitted (and perhaps even obligatory) to do away with this type of “foolish custom” (R. Abin in Yerushalmi Pesahim, Maimonides, the Rosh, the Ribash, and many others). Furthermore, there are many good reasons to do away with this “foolish custom”: a) It detracts from the joy of the holiday by limiting the number of permitted foods. b) It causes exorbitant price rises which result in “major financial loss” and, as is well-known, “The Torah takes pity on the people of Israel’s money”. c) It emphasizes the insignificant (rice, beans and legumes) and ignores the significant (hametz which is forbidden from the five kinds of grain). d) It causes people to disparage the commandments in general and the prohibition of hametz in particular — if this custom has no purpose and is observed, then there is no reason to observe other commandments. e) Finally, it causes unnecessary divisions betweenIsrael’s different ethnic groups.
On the other hand, there is only one reason to observe this custom: the desire to preserve an old custom. This desire does not override all that was mentioned above. Therefore, both Ashkenazim and Sephardim are permitted to eat legumes and rice on Pesach without fear of transgressing any prohibition.
4) Undoubtedly, there will be Ashkenazim who will want to stick to the “custom of their ancestors” even though they know that it is permitted to eat rice and kitniyot on Pesah. To them we suggest that they observe only the original custom of not eating rice and kitniyot, but that they use oil from legumes and all the other foods “forbidden” over the years, such as peas, garlic, mustard, sunflower seeds, peanuts etc. (see the list below, paragraph V, 1). Thus they will be able to eat hundreds of products which bear the label “Kosher for Pesah for those who eat legumes”. This will make their lives easier and will add joy and pleasure to their observance of Pesach.
5) Finally, a crucial word of caution: In general, if one wants to use kitniyot on Pesah, one should buy products that are labeled “Kosher for Pesah for those who eat kitniyot” because hametz on Pesah is assur b’mashehu [even in the slightest amount]. This includes hundreds of Israeli products and a new line of Pesah products certified by the OU. On the other hand, if one buys kitniyot before Pesah, one can buy pure kitniyot such as rice or beans, because before Pesah any hametz is batel b’shishim, annulled by 60 times its volume (see Orah Hayyim 447:4 and Hazon Ovadia, pp. 60-61).
Now we will prove each of these statements in detail:
1) Mekhilta Derabi Yishmael, Masekhta D’pisḥa, Parashah 8, ed. Horowitz-Rabin, p. 26; ed. Lauterbach, Vol. 1, pp. 60-61: (This midrash appears with minor changes in Mekhilta Derabi Yishmael, ibid., Parashah 17, p. 64; Sifrei Bamidbar, Parashat Pinḥass, Piska 146, ed. Horowitz, p. 193; and Midrash Tannaimon Devarim, ed. Hoffmann, pp. 90-91.).
“Seven days you shall eat matzot” (Exodus 12:15). I might understand this to mean all matzot? But another verse says: “You shall not eat any hametz with it” (Deut. 16:3). I meant only something that can become matzah as well as ḥametz. And which are they? They are the five species of grain, namely: wheat, barley, kusmim, shibolet shu’al and shifon. (I have purposely not translated a few words in this mishnah because there is considerable disagreement as to what they mean. See, for example, Yehudah Feliks, Hatzomeah V’hahai Bamishnah, Jerusalem, 1983, pp. 83, 155, 161, 183, 189, 190).Rice, millet, poppy seed, kitniyot and sesame are excluded because they cannot become hametz or matzah, but only sirahon[decay].
2) Mishnah Pesahim 2:5 = folio 35a:
These are the things by which a person fulfills his obligation on Pesah: wheat, barley, kusmin, shifon and shibolet shu’al. (I have purposely not translated a few words in this mishnah because there is considerable disagreement as to what they mean. See, for example, Yehudah Feliks, Hatzomeah V’hahai Bamishnah, Jerusalem, 1983, pp. 83, 155, 161, 183, 189, 190.).
3) Tosefta Pisḥa 2:17, ed. Lieberman, p. 148:
4) Sifrei Bamidbar, Shelah, Piska 110, ed. Horvitz, p. 113:
“When you eat of the bread of the land [you shall offer up aTerumah to the Lord]” (Numbers 15:19). Why was this said? Because it says “as the first yield of your baking, you shall offer up Hallah [a dough-offering]” (ibid., v. 20), do I also hear that this covers other fruits as well? You deduce: Here it says “bread” and later it says “bread” [regarding Pesah, Deut. 16:3], if the “bread” mentioned later refers to the five species of grain, then the bread mentioned here also refers to the five species of grain. And they are: wheat, barley, kusmin, shibolet shu’al and shifon. (I have purposely not translated a few words in this mishnah because there is considerable disagreement as to what they mean. See, for example, Yehudah Feliks, Hatzomeah V’hahai Bamishnah, Jerusalem, 1983, pp. 83, 155, 161, 183, 189, 190).Rice, millet, poppy seed, and sesame are excluded because they cannot become hametz or matzah, but onlysirahon [decay].
5) Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (This translation was not written by Yonatan b. Uziel, Rabbi Akiva’s student. This is proven by Megillah 3a and see, for example, Yomtov Lipmann Zunz and Hanoch Albeck, Haderashot Beyisrael Behishtalshelutan Hahistorit, Jerusalem, 1947, p. 36ff.; David Rieder, Sinai 59 (5726), pp. 281-282; Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 4, col. 845).to Numbers 15:19:
And behold when you eat of the bread of the grain of the land,and not of rice and millet and kitniyot, you shall set apart a separation before God.
6) Mishnah Hallah 1:1-2 [=Mishnah Menaḥot 10:7, with some changes]:
Five things are liable to hallah [a dough-offering]: wheat, barley,kusmin, shibolet shu’al and shifon.(1a)… A person who eats from them an olive’s worth of matzah on Pesah, has fulfilled his obligation; an olive’s worth of hametz, is liable to karet [divine punishment by premature death].
7) Tosefta Hallah 1:1, ed. Lieberman, p. 275:
8) Yerushalmi Pesahim 2:4, fol. 29b [with corrections based on the parallel source in Yerushalmi Hallah 1:1, fol. 57a]:
It is stated “when you eat of the bread of the land [you shall offer up a Terumah to the Lord]” (Numbers 15:19). I would say that all things are liable to Ḥallah? The verse states “of the bread” and not all bread. If it is “of the bread” and not all bread, then it is only for wheat and barley. From where do we learn that it applies to other grains? But another verse says: “as the first yield of your baking” – it is inclusive. And did it include everything?!… Rabi Mana said: I went to Caesarea and I heard Rabi Aḥva bar Ze’ora say: and my father (The text of the Yerushalmi is corrupt. I am correcting and interpreting it on the basis of Rabbi Saul Lieberman,Hayerushalmi Kifshuto, Jerusalem, 1935, p. 403 and Z.W. Rabinowitz, Sha’arei Torat Eretz Yisrael, Jerusalem, 1940, p. 122.)., R. Ze’ora, would say this in the name of Rabbi Yishmael: it says “bread” on Pesaḥ (Deut. 16:3) and it says “bread” in reference to Ḥallah (Numbers 15:19), just as the “bread” mentioned in reference to Pesaḥ is something that can become matzah or ḥametz, so “bread” mentioned in reference to Ḥallah can become hametz or matzah. They checked and found that only the five species of grain can become matzah or ḥametz; all the other species do not become matzah or ḥametz, they only become sirahon[decay]. It was taught: “Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Nuri said: karmit is liable to Hallah because it can become matzah or ḥametz, while the Sages say: it does not become matzah or ḥametz.” And let them test it?! On the essence of the testing they disagree: Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Nuri said they tested it and found that it becomes matzah or ḥametz, while the Sages say: they tested it and did not find that it becomes matzah or ḥametz.
9) Bavli Pesaḥim 35a (the first part also appears in Menaḥot 70b):
These [five species of grains in the Mishnah], yes; rice and millet, no. From where [in the Torah do we learn that matzah is made from these five species only]? Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, and so they taught in the House of Rabbi Yishmael and in the House of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: the verse said: “you shall not eat ḥametz with it, for seven days you shall eatmatzot (Deut. 16:3) – foods that become leavened through man’s efforts, can be used to fulfill the obligation of eating matzah. This comes to exclude things that do not become leavened, but sirahon [decay]. Our mishnah does not follow Rabbi Yoḥanan Ben Nuri… as it is taught: “Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri said: rice is a type of grain and the punishment for making hametz out of it is karet, and a person can use it to fulfill his obligation [of eating matzah] on Pesaḥ. And Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Nuri used to say [above, source 7]: “Karmit is liable to Hallah“.
10) Bavli Pesaḥim 114b:
[A baraita ibid. states that they brought before him “two cooked dishes”.] What are “two cooked dishes”? Rav Huna said: spinach beets and rice. Rava would look for spinach beets and rice because this was something that came from the mouth of Rav Huna. Rav Ashi said: learn from Rav Huna that there are none who pay heed to the words Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri,for it has been taught [above, source 9]: “rice is a type of grain and the punishment for making hametz out of it is karet, and a person can use it to fulfill his obligation [of eating matzah] on Pesaḥ”.
11) Bavli Pesaḥim 40b:
We refrain from molilin [meaning of Hebew uncertain] the pot on Pesaḥ, and whoever wishes to do so, adds the flour and then after adds the vinegar. And some say: he even adds the vinegar and then the flour… Ulla said: Both the one and the other are forbidden… R. Papa permitted the stewards of the House of the Exilarch to mash a dish with hasisei [meaning of Aramaic uncertain]. Said Rava: Is there anyone who permits such a thing in a place where slaves are plentiful? [because if we allow the slaves to mix in hasisei, in the end they will mix in flour and make the mistake of violating a prohibition] Some say. Rava himself mashed a pot with hasisei.
Most of the sources cited above (sources 1-9) clearly indicate that in the time of the Tannaim (before 200 CE) there were two main approaches regarding the status of rice, millet and kitniyot. Most of the Sages, including Rabbi Yishmael, were of the opinion that only the five species of grain were liable to Hallah and can become hametz or matzah. On the other hand, Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Nuri was of the opinion that karmit was liable to Hallah and that rice also leavened and could be used to fulfill the obligation of matzah on Pesaḥ. According to the editors of the Yerushalmi (source 8), they tested karmit and Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Nuri and the Sages disagreed over the results of this test. In any case, even without Rav Ashi’s explicit ruling (source 10), we would be required to rule according to the Sages because, as is well known, “one [Sage] vs. the majority, the halakhah follows the majority” (Berakhot 9a and parallels).
In the time of the Amoraim, Rav Huna ruled that it is permissible to eat rice at the Seder as one of the two cooked dishes and Rava acted according to his ruling (source 10). Rav Ashi concluded from Rav Huna’s comments (ibid.) that there wasn’t anyone who took Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri’s opinion into account.
On the other hand, it is hard to rely on source 11 as a basis for either position. [See the Hebrew version, middle of paragraph II, for a full discussion of this difficult source.]
There is no doubt that in the Geonic period they allowed rice and kitniyot on Pesah, according to the Sages, Rav Huna, Rava and Rav Ashi. Indeed this is the explicit ruling of Rav Aḥa of Shivha (She’ilta 87, Parshat Tzav, ed. Mirsky, Vol. 4, pp. 33-34). On the other hand, Rav Yehudai Gaon (Halakhot Pesukot, ed. Sasson, p. 14) and Rabbi Shimon Kayara (Halakhot Gedolot, ed. Warsaw, fol. 30c at bottom = ed. Jerusalem, part 1, p. 295) rule according to the Mishnah (source 2) without mentioning Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Nuri at all. In Italy as well, during the Geonic period, rice and kitniyot were permitted on Pesaḥ. This point emerges clearly from two early halakhic works:
III. The Rishonim – those who permit eating rice and kitniyot on Pesah
The overwhelming majority of Rishonim who addressed our issue ruled that it is permissible – in accordance with the Sages, Rav Huna, Rava and Rav Ashi. Maimonides is typical of this approach in his Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Ḥametz Umatzah, 5:1):
There is no prohibition regarding ḥametz on Pesaḥ, other than the five species of grain… but kitniyot such as rice and millet, beans and lentils and the like cannot become ḥametz, so even if one kneads rice flour and the like in boiling water and covers it with a cloth until it rises like dough that has fermented – it is still permitted to be eaten because it is not leavening but sirahon [decay].
The following is a list of the Rishonim who permit eating rice and kitniyot on Pesaḥ. They are listed chronologically within each geographic area. [The exact references are found in the Hebrew version of this responsum, paragraph III.]
Rabbeinu Ḥananel on both passages in Pesahim; Rif on both passages; Rambam on the Mishnah and in his Mishneh Torah loc. cit.; Rashbatz (Rabbi Shimon bar Zemah Duran); Rashbash (Rabbi Shlomo ben Shimon Duran), who explicitly rejects the French custom we shall encounter below.
Rabbi Yitzḥak ibn Giyyat; Rabbi Moshe Ḥalawa; Rabbi Vidal de Toulousa, Magid Mishnah to the Rambam, ad loc.; the commentary attributed to the Ritba on Pesaḥim 35a; Ran on the Rif in both passages; Sefer Haḥinukh; Rabbi Ya’akov ben Asher, Tur Oraḥ Ḥayyim 453; Rabbi Ḥayyim ben Shemuel of Toledo, Tzror Haḥayyim; Rabbi Menaḥem ibn Zeraḥ, Tzeidah Laderekh; Rabbi David Abudraham; Ḥiddushei Talmid Harashba Lifsaḥim; Ribash (Rabbi Yitzḥak Bar Sheshet); Rabbi Yosef Karo, Beit Yosef andShulḥan Arukh, Oraḥ Ḥayyim 453.
Rabbeinu Yeruḥam, Toledot Adam Vehavah; Rabbi Shmuel Yerodany, Ohel Moed; Rabbi Meir ben Shimon Hame’ili, Sefer Hame’orot Lifsaḥim;; Rabbi Menaḥem Hameiri, Beit Habeḥira Lifsaḥim (in three places); Rabbi Yitzḥak ben Abba Mari, Sefer Ha’itur; Rabbi Aharon Hakohen of Lunel, Orḥot Ḥayyim = Kol Bo;Rabbi Yehonatan Hakohen of Lunel on Pesaḥim; Rabbeinu Manoaḥ on the Mishneh Torah, ad loc.
France – Ashkenaz:
Ra’avan (Rabbi Avraham Ben Natan), Even Ha’ezer; Rabbi Eliezer ben Yoel Halevi, Sefer Ra’aviah; Rabbi Eliezer of Metz, Sefer Yere’im; Rabbi Eleazar of Worms, Sefer Harokeah; Rabbi Moshe of Coucy, Sefer Mitzvot Gadol; Rabbi Yitzhak of Corbeil, Sefer Mitzvot Katan; Rabbi Alexander Zusslein Hakohen, Sefer Ha’agudah; Rabbi Mordechai ben Hillel Hakohen, Sefer Hamordechai; Rabbi Yeḥiel of Paris cited by the Mordechai and by Rabbeinu Peretz onSefer Mitzvot Katan; Rabbi Yehudah Sir Leon cited by Rabbi Samuel of Falaise; Rabbeinu Asher ben Yeḥiel, Piskei Harosh and cf. his Responsa of the Rosh 19:21; Sefer Haneyar.
Rabbi Jacob Hazzan of London, Etz Ḥayyim.
Rabbi Yishayahu di Trani, Tosfot Ri”d on Pesaḥim 35a and alsoPiskei Ri”d on Pesaḥim (in three places); Rabbi Yishayahu Aharon z”l, Piskei Ria”z on Pesaḥim; Rabbi Tzidkiyah ben Avraham Harofe, Shibolei Haleket; Rabbi Yeḥiel ben Yekutiel, Tanya.
In 13th century France we hear for the first time of the custom of prohibiting rice and kitniyot on Pesaḥ. This custom was expressed in three different ways:
However, as we have seen, there is no proof that this is a custom of the “early Sages”. Moreover, already in the 13th century, the Rishonim did not know how to explain these customs. Rabbeinu Peretz himself stresses that there is no prohibition involved: “Obviously [mistama] they did not treat this custom as a prohibition due to concern over actual leavening, as they did not err in a matter that school children who studied the halakhah know, that it says explicitly in Pesahim that only the five species of grain can become hametz” (see sources 2 and 9 above).
As a result, over the course of time, rabbis invented at least twelve different explanations for this custom, but it appears that they do not withstand careful scrutiny. Here are the explanations in chronological order:
1) Rabbi Asher of Lunel quoted above stated (ca. 1210): “And the entire world (sic!) followed this custom of not eating zeronim on Pesaḥ because they become leavened and therefore are calledḥimtzei (Yevamot 63a and Ḥullin 52b). In other words, humus =ḥimtzei is not eaten because its name indicates that it becomes hametz. But this is problematic, as Rabbeinu Manoaḥ asked ad loc.: “and it doesn’t seem reasonable to say that the custom derives from the prohibition at all, because there are no kitniyot in the world that become leavened”. Furthermore, he stresses that even the etymology is questionable; Rashi on Ḥullin 52b explains ḥimtzei to be peas, whereas ḥiftzei are humus!
2) Rabbeinu Manoaḥ himself rejected the custom: “and there is no fear of violating any prohibition”. However, afterward he found written that there is one type of kitnit called vetch that is essentially a type of wheat. In a rainy year it reverts back to being wheat and is referred to as fermented vetch “and therefore they prohibited all types of kitniyot and this reason has a basis”. This explanation is also hard to accept. Firstly, vetch is a type ofkitnit, not wheat, and therefore even if it was referred to as fermented vetch, it cannot become leavened. Furthermore, it is hard to believe that all kitniyot were prohibited because of one specific kind of kitnit.
Rabbeinu Peretz himself argues that this custom is a gezeirah[rabbinic decree] and suggests three different explanations (sic!) for it:
3) Kitniyot are cooked in a pot and dishes made from grains are cooked in a pot. If we become accustomed to a porridge made from kitniyot, we may err and also eat a porridge made from grain since both are cooked in pots. Therefore, they made the decree.
4) According to Bava Metzia, chapter 7, kitniyot are called “something that is piled up”, like the five species of grain, so if we permit kitniyot, they will think that it is permissible to cook the five species of grain and therefore they made the decree. Later on, he even prohibits mustard because it is something “that is piled up”.
5) In some places, bread is commonly made from kitniyot in the same way as bread is made from the five species of grain, and if we permit the use of kitniyot, they will think it is permissible to bake bread from the five species. Therefore, they made the decree.
However, these explanations are not convincing. Firstly, there never was such a “decree”. Rabbeinu Peretz himself and Rabbi Shemuel of Falaise before him related that this was “the custom” and Rabbi Shemuel who preceded Rabbeinu Peretz by fifty years even stresses that there is no explanation for this custom (and more on this below). Moreover, the phrase “something that is piled up” does not appear in Bava Metzia, chapter 7 in our editions! (Perhaps Rabbeinu Peretz had this reading in Nedarim 55a – seeibid.) In any case, even if the Talmud said that kitniyot are “something that is piled up”, the Rashbatz already rejected this comparison (see details in the Hebrew version of this Teshuvah, IV, 5) Furthermore, in Mishnah Nedarim (7:2 = folio 55a), Rabbi Meir states that kitniyot are considered a grain but the Sages disagreeand the law is according to the Sages! In addition, Bava Metzia87a proves that bread and kitniyot differ from each other and if so, this contradicts explanation No. 5! Therefore, there is an attempthere by Rabbeinu Peretz to explain the “decree”, but he did not succeed in doing so.
6) Rabbeinu Ya’akov ben Asher (Ashkenaz and Spain, 1270-1343) gives a different explanation for the custom: “There are some who prohibit eating rice and all types of cooked kitniyot because different grains become mixed in with them”, but he then adds: “and this is an unnecessary stringency and they did not follow this custom” (Tur Oraḥ Ḥayyim 453).
This explanation is also given by five additional Rishonim, (in theBeit Yosef, ibid, in the name of Hagahot Maimoniyot citing theSemak; (This is missing from our version of Hagahot Maimoniyot as well as from Hagahot Rabbeinu Peretz on Sefer Mitzvot Katanquoted above, but the passage does appear in Hagahot Maimoniyot on the Rambam, ed. Constantinople, 1509 (facsimile, Jerusalem, 1973), fol. 126b in the name of סה”ק = Sefer Hamitzvot Hakatan).in the commentary attributed to the Ritba on Pesaḥim35a; in Sefer Hamikhtam to Pesaḥim, ed. Blau, New York, 1959, pp. 45, 99; in Orḥot Ḥayyim, Hilkhot Ḥametz Umatzah, paragraph 55; and by the Meiri in Beit Habeḥirah to Pesaḥim pp. 111, 242 – but with a variation, see ibid.). It is repeated by several later Sefardic sages who stopped eating rice on Pesaḥ because once they found wheat or spelt in it (Rabbi Ḥizkiya de Silva, Peri Ḥadashon Oraḥ Ḥayyim 453, subparagraph 1; Rabbi Ḥayyim Yosef David Azulai, Kuntress Tov Ayin, at the end of Sefer Va’ad Laḥakhamim, paragraph 9, section 6; and see Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 54 and ET, note 693 for more late Sefardic authorities who maintained this view).
7) R. Moshe (Maharam) Halawa (Spain, late 14th century) discussed this custom in his commentary on the two passages inPesaḥim. The first passage (source No. 9) states: “These [five species of grains in the Mishnah], yes; rice and millet, no”, and Rashi explained (in Berakhot 37a) that rice is millet. Maharam Halawa continues: “The Sages of France said that since the Talmud only excludes those which become sirahon [decay], it may be inferred that other types [of kitniyot] are forbidden. And they gave this general principal: ‘Anything that swells when cooked may not be cooked on Pesaḥ because it contains a little ḥametz and therefore they prohibited rice dishes and dishes of zeronim.” (ed. Jerusalem, 1976, p. 104 and cf. ibid., p. 181. This explanation is also cited in the commentary attributed to the Ritba on Pesaḥim35a.) In other words, rice and millet become sirahon [decay] and are permitted, but other species that swell up are consideredḥametz noksheh (p. 181) and may not be cooked on Pesaḥ.
However, Maharam Halawa himself already rejected this explanation. After he proved that “אורז” is rice, he adds: and these two things (i.e., rice and millet) were included to show that eventhe foods that resemble a species of grain do not become leaven and, all the more so the other types [of kitniyot]. “Therefore, all the other types are permitted” (p. 104). Furthermore, the second Talmudic passage [source No. 10] contradicts the approach of our French rabbis, given that Rav Huna and Rava cooked rice on Pesaḥ (ibid., p. 181)!
Two Aḥaronim (later rabbis who lived after the Shulhan Arukh) tried to justify this custom using some of the Talmudic sources cited above:
8) The above-mentioned Rabbi Ḥizkiya de Silva refers to Pesaḥim40b [source 11]. [See the Hebrew version of this Teshuvah for his explanation.]
9) Rabbi Yeḥiel Michel Epstein (Arukh Hashulḥan, Orah Hayyim453:5) cites the above Yerushalmi (source 8) where Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Nuri and the Sages disagreed over the essence of testing, and he continues: “and so it can be inferred by a kal vahomer (an a fortiori argument), that if among the greatestTannaim there was a disagreement over something that is proven by the senses — where one says that the senses prove this and the other says the opposite — then it is all the more so true when it comes to ordinary uninformed people who may err in this when they say that this may also become leavened…! And this is absolute proof of the statements of our holy Rabbis who issued the decree regarding this matter, and they knew the reason behind their decree!” In other words, the disagreement between Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Nuri and the Sages over karmit after they tested it shows that it really is possible to get mixed up between kitniyot and the five species of grain (as in Rabbeinu Peretz’s approach), and therefore they decreed what they decreed. However, this too is unconvincing. The story of the test does not appear in a Tannaitic source. This is the answer of the editor of the Yerushalmi. It is unclear that they actually conducted such a test. Secondly, there they are discussing karmit, not rice or other types of kitniyot. Thirdly, we have already proved that there never was such a decree. Finally, there is not the slightest hint that the Rishonimwho were accustomed not to eat kitniyot on Pesah relied on theYerushalmi.
10) One of the Aḥaronim searched for a historical reason behind this custom. Rabbi Sha’ul Berlin (Ashkenaz, 1740-1794) published a book of responsa entitled Besamim Rosh in 1793 which he attributed to Rabbeinu Asher (1250-1327). Over time it emerged that Berlin himself had written the work. (There is extensive literature about Responsa Besamim Rosh. See for example: Ḥida, Shem Hagedolim, Ma’arekhet Sefarim, s.v. בשמים רא”ש; Rabbi Ḥayyim Mikhal, Or Haḥayyim, Jerusalem, 1965, pp. 262-263; Leopold Zunz, Die Ritus, Berlin, 1859, pp. 226-228; Rabbi David Tzvi Hoffmann, Responsa Melamed Leho’il, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, No. 60; Rabbi Reuven Margaliyot and Yitzḥak Werfel, Areshet (5704), pp. 411-418; Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Responsa Yabia Omer, part 2, Yoreh Deah, No. 24:4-6; Rabbi Yeruḥam Fischel Perla, Noam 2 (5719), pp. 317-324; Moshe Samet, Kiryat Sefer 43 (5728), pp. 432-433, 436-440; Meir Wunder, ibid., 44 (5729), pp. 307-308; Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 4, cols. 663-664; Rabbi Louis Jacobs, Theology in the Responsa, London and Boston, 1975, pp. 347-352; Rabbi M.M. Kasher, Sarei Ha’elef, second edition, Jerusalem, 1979, pp. 352, 637; and Rabbi Reuven Amar, Kuntras Yafeh Labesamim, in Responsa Besamim Rosh, ed. Jerusalem, 1984).In any case, the author of Besamim Rosh vehemently objects to the custom being discussed: “It is odd that the matter is explicitly permitted in the Gemara and it is not known from any source that a Bet Din issued a takkanah regarding this matter… but God forbid that we should prohibit that which is permitted for no reason, and especially to assist the poor and needy who do not have enough meat and [matzah] for the entire week of the festival… And the ones who adopt the stringent approach will in the future have to face the consequences”. In his opinion, “it is possible that from the expulsions and chaos this matter became entrenched, as the first expulsion was to Montessin (perhaps: from Montessin?) and there was also a small group of Karaites among them who were expelled and they settled amongst us when they were expelled together with us, and they did not know of the distinction between one type of bread and another and [they thought that] everything becomes leavened” (Responsa Besamim Rosh, No. 348). Indeed, one scholar tried to justify this theory (Yehudah Rosenthal, MehkarimUmekorot, Vol. 1, Jerusalem, 1967, p. 241). However, this explanation does not withstand careful scrutiny. First of all, nowhere has it been proven that there were Karaites in France at that time. Secondly, we have no record of a city called Montessin in France in the Middle Ages (it is missing in Henri Gross, Gallia Judaica, Paris 1897). Thirdly, we already saw that the custom was first mentioned in France in the 13th century before the expulsions fromFrance. Lastly, it appears that some of the Karaites stopped eating kitniyot at a later point and it is clear that they acquired the practice from the Rabbanites and not vice versa.
In 2006, Prof. Simhah Emanuel published two new medieval explanations for our custom from manuscripts:
11) Rabbi Barukh Hayyim lived in France ca. 1270. His student reports that he heard from Rabbi Barukh Hayyim who heard from his teacher Rabbi Avraham that the reason that beans are forbidden on Pesah is “because they are accustomed on weekdays [i.e., not on Pesah] to put flour in it [i.e., the beans] to make it thick, and they are liable to get confused [and do the same] on Pesah”. In other words, out of habit, they will put flour in the beans on Pesah; therefore, they prohibited eating beans on Pesah (Emanuel, p. 52).
12) Rabbi Eleazar of Worms (died 1236) states simply in his sermon for Pesah: “And that they don’t eat beans and lentils [on Pesah], because they contain wheat” (Emanuel, p. 90). Prof. Emanuel suggests that at that time in Europe there was a three-year crop rotation between grain, kitniyot and letting the land lie fallow. This method “no doubt led to unplanned growth of a little grain in a field of kitniyot, and perhaps it was this after-growth which caused the Sages to forbid kitniyot on Pesah” (Emanuel, p. 52).
From the 13th century onward, this custom spread in three directions:
The use of kitniyot oil in a lamp hanging over the table (R. Yisrael Isserlein; R. Ya’akov Mollin); krom kimmel (caraway seeds sold in a store; R. David Halevi, Taz); peas (Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Margaliyot); tea (Rabbi Ya’akov Reisher); coffee (various rabbis); potatoes (Rabbi Ya’akov Emden and Rabbi Avraham Danzig); green Egyptian beans (Rabbi Ya’akov Emden); kitniyot oil (Rabbi Ya’akov Emden); peanuts (ET, note 732); radish and garlic (ibid., note 734; R. Yosef Te’omim; R. Hayyim Hizkiyah Medini); sesame seeds (ET, note 709); tatarke (buckwheat; ibid., note 710); mustard (ibid., note 714); sunflower seeds (ibid., notes 719-720).
Moreover, in Ashkenaz they were so strict with regard to this practice that many prohibited kitniyot even in times of emergency, such as during a famine or plague. This phenomenon reached its peak in the 19th century in an episode known as the “kitniyot wars”. On the other hand, there were authorities who permitted kitniyot in times of emergency. (See Rabbi Zevin, pp. 260-262; Rabbi Rosenbaum, pp. 100-101; Rabbi Leiter; Rabbi Seigel; Rabbi Felder, pp. 401-406).
Why were the Aḥaronim (1575 ff.) so strict about this topic? Why did most of them refuse to be lenient even in times of emergency? The answer is quite simple. They were unfamiliar with much of the literature we cited above because those books had yet to be printed in their time. On the other hand, everyone was well- acquainted with Rabbeinu Peretz’s glosses on the Semak (Sefer Mitzvot Kattan). As a result, they thought this custom was an ancient gezeirah (rabbinic decree) and not merely a custom. Here are two examples among many:
VII. The Most Reasonable Explanations for this Custom
However, the truth of the matter is there was no rabbinic decree and none of the reasons cited above is the original reason for the custom. Apparently, originally this custom was connected not toPesaḥ but to all Yamim Tovim [festivals]. The above-mentioned Rabbeinu Manoaḥ (Provence, ca. 1265) already explained this in his commentary on the Rambam (Hilkhot Ḥametz Umatzah 5:1). After rejecting the explanation offered by Sefer Haminhagot, he states: “Rather, it is not proper to eat kitniyot on a festival, since it is written ‘And you shall rejoice on your festivals’ (Deut. 16:14) and there is no joy in eating a dish made from kitnit”.
There is a strong proof that this is the original reason for this custom. This explanation is hinted at 400 years earlier by Halakhot Ketzuvot cited above: “and all types of kitnit are permissible onPesaḥ and on the festivals” or in a different version: “And all types of kitnit may be cooked, whether on Pesaḥ or on the other festivals” (as quoted by Rabbi Shemuel of Falaise – see note 5). Apparently, already in 9th century Italy, there were those who avoided eating kitniyot on Pesaḥ and on the other festivalsbecause “there is no joy in eating a dish made of kitnit” (Rabbeinu Manoaḥ, above). Why is this so? There are three possible explanations:
1.It is known from many Talmudic sources that the poor and simple folk used to eat kitniyot. (Tosefta Peah 4:8, ed. Lieberman, p. 57; Yerushalmi Terumot8:7, fol. 46a; Bereishit Rabbah 38:3, ed. Theodor-Albeck, p, 352;Kohelet Rabbah, end of Parashah 1, ed. Vilna, fol. 6d; Esther Rabbah 2:4, ed. Tabory-Atzmon, p. 54; Tanḥuma Aḥarei Mot 1;Ketubot 67b; Soferim 21:3, ed. Higger, p. 356. Although according to Mishnah Beitzah 1:8; Tosefta Yom Tov 1:21-22, ed. Lieberman, p. 285 = Beitzah 14b; and the Bavli ibid., 12b there were Sages who ate kitniyot and lentils on festivals, it seems that they no longer did so in the Middle Ages. For these sources, seeJewish Encyclopedia, s.v., Lentils; Julius Preuss, Biblical and Talmudic Medicine, New York, 1978, p. 565; Immanuel Löw (above, note 2), vol. 2, p. 446; Yehuda Feliks (above, note 2), pp. 156-163; Moshe Ber, Amora’ei Bavel, second edition, Ramat Gan, 1982, pp. 295-296 and note 21).In addition, it should be noted that this was also the practice among the Greeks, Romans and Arabs. (Hugo Blümner, The Home Life of the Ancient Greeks, London, 1893, p. 208; Oxford Classical Dictionary, second edition, Oxford, 1970, p. 443; Theodor Gaster, The Holy and the Profane, second edition, New York, 1980, p.177 in note).If so, it is not surprising that there were those who thought that it is forbidden to eat kitniyot onfestivals.
VIII. “A Foolish Custom/A Mistaken Custom/An Unnecessary Stringency/A Stringency without Rhyme or Reason”
However, despite the fact that the above reason is apparently the original historic reason for this custom, there is no doubt that all of the authorities except for Rabbeinu Manoaḥ were unaware of this. That is, in their eyes, this was a custom without any known reason and therefore they invented reasons for this custom such as the twelve different explanations we have seen above. But several authorities took a different approach. They also thought that this was a custom without a reason, but instead of justifying a surprising custom that contradicted the Babylonian Talmud and all Talmudic sources, they admitted that there is no reason for this custom and they labeled it “a foolish custom”, “a mistaken custom”, “an unnecessary stringency” or “a stringency without rhyme or reason”. This alternative approach is reflected in the writings of five important halakhic authorities:
Undoubtedly theses rabbis are correct. From a halakhic perspective (and contrary to the historical explanation we suggested above), this is a “foolish custom” or a “mistaken custom” because it contradicts the Babylonian Talmud and all the Talmudic sources and because nearly all the Jews who observed this custom throughout the generations thought it was connected somehow or other to the prohibition against eating ḥametz. (It is interesting to note that Reform rabbis reached the same conclusion at the Breslau conference in 1846: “The custom of not eating kitniyot on Pesaḥ, including rice, has no basis and should not be observed”. See Ve’idot Harabbanim Begermania Bashanim 1844-1846, Jerusalem, 1986, p. 63 and JQR Old Series 18 (1906), p. 651. It should be stressed, however, that most of the decisions from that conference were not based on halakhic considerations and are contrary to my halakhic worldview.).
If so, we must investigate if it is permissible to do away with an old custom in general and a foolish or mistaken custom in particular (see the Bibliography at the end of this responsum). We must preface our remarks by saying that there is no simple and unequivocal answer to this question. We have emphasized elsewhere (See my book The Status of Women in Jewish Law: Responsa, Jerusalem, 2012, pp. 328-330).that throughout the generations there was a constant tension between the desire to preserve ancient customs and the need to adapt customs and laws to a new reality and changing circumstances. Furthermore, there is ambivalence even in the writings of the same authority! Here are two examples among many.
On one hand, Rabbeinu Tam said “the custom of our forefathers is Torah”, “a custom is [equivalent to] halakhah” and “a custom does away with a halakhah”, but, on the other hand, he said that the word “מנהג [minhag, custom] is גהנם [Gehinom, Hell] spelled backwards” and that “there are customs that should not be relied on even where we learned that ‘everything should follow the local custom’ ” (see E.E. Urbach, Ba’alei Hatosafot, fourth edition, Jerusalem, 1980, pp. 80-81). And the same is true of Rabbi Moshe Isserles, the Rema. On one hand, he wrote “and no custom should be done away with or mocked because it was not for naught that it was instituted”. On the other hand, he also wrote: “However, if the situation changed compared to what it was in the time of the Rishonim, it is permissible to change the custom to suit the times” (Orah Hayyim 690:17 with the Ba’er Heiteiv, subparagraph 15). (See my book The Status of Women in Jewish Law: Responsa, Jerusalem, 2012, pp. 328-330.).
Therefore, we will focus on our specific question: is it permissible to do away with an ancient custom when: a) It is contrary to the halakhah as codified by the Talmud, the Geonim, and most of theRishonim; b) It has no clear or accepted reason so that five major authorities referred to it as a foolish custom/a mistaken custom/an unnecessary stringency/a stringency without rhyme or reason; c) It causes disparagement of the mitzvot because many people know that the custom has no reason; d) It causes hefsed merubeh[substantial monetary loss] for the poor who must purchase more meat, fish and matzot, because rice and kitniyot are “prohibited”. The answer is affirmative. Many Talmudic sages and halakhic authorities have already discussed this issue – many permitted doing away with such a custom and some even compelled doing away with such a custom. Here are some of the sources we have found:
Rabbi Eliezer said: It happened in the synagogue in Tiberias that they were accustomed to permit it [a certain type of door bolt on Shabbat] until Rabban Gamliel and the Elders came and forbade them. Rabbi Yossi says: They were accustomed to forbid it, but Rabban Gamliel and the Elders came and gave them permission.” Tosafot (ibid., s.v. Rabbi Yossi) explain: “But if they are more stringent due to an error, it is allowed to give them permission in their presence”.Rabbi Eliezer said: It happened in the synagogue in Tiberias that they were accustomed to permit it [a certain type of door bolt on Shabbat] until Rabban Gamliel and the Elders came andforbade them. Rabbi Yossi says: They were accustomed to forbid it, but Rabban Gamliel and the Elders came and gave them permission.” Tosafot (ibid., s.v. Rabbi Yossi) explain: “But if they are more stringent due to an error, it is allowed to give them permission in their presence”.
They were accustomed to separate tithes in Bet She’an. “Testified R. Joshua b. Zeroz… before Rabbi [Judah the Prince] concerning R. Meir that he ate a vegetable leaf in Bet She’an [without separating tithes], and Rabbi permitted[people to eat without tithing produce in] the entire region of Bet She’an.” Rav Nissim Gaon [North Africa, 11th century] explained in his Megilat Setarim: ” ‘But if the custom is based on a mistake, where they think it is prohibited and it is permitted, then he may allow it in their presence’, and based on this, this episode in Bet She’an is understandable because it was a mistake that they thought that it is part of the Land of Israel” (Piskei Harosh to Pesaḥim, Chapter 4, paragraph 3, folio 129c). This ruling of Rav Nissim Gaon is based on the following passage:
“Rabbi Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Avin: everything which one does not know is permitted and mistakenly treats as a prohibition, he asks [the Sages] and they permit it to him. And everything that he knows is permitted and treats as a prohibition, should he ask, they do not permit it to him.”
Of course, regarding our issue, this is a double-edged sword because there are some who do not eat kitniyot because they think it is forbidden, and others who do not eat kitniyot who know it is really permissible. However, no doubt most of the people who follow this custom today, “mistakenly treat [it] as [a] prohibition” and therefore they can “ask and they permit it to him.” And so ruled Rabbeinu Manoaḥ loc. cit.: “There is no doubt that if he wanted to eat zeronim [seeds] and other types of kitniyot on Pesaḥ, this is permitted and there is no concern of a prohibition, even if that was the custom. For it says in the Yerushalmi (loc cit): “everything which one does not know is permitted and mistakenly treats as a prohibition, he asks [the Sages] and they permit it to him”.
It should be added that the sentence highlighted in the Yerushalmi above was codified by Rabbeinu Nissim (cited above), the Rambam (see below), Ribash (see below), Tur Yoreh Deah 214, and Rabbi Yosef Karo and the Rema inShulḥan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 214:1.
“Rabbi Yosse said: All of these things, they based on a custom”. This is followed by a list of customs, some of which the Sages did away with and others they upheld. Rabbi Moshe Margaliot explained (in Penei Moshe ad loc.): “ ‘All of these things, they based on a custom’: if it is an established custom, then it is as [the Talmud] explains, and this comes to exclude a custom that is practiced by mistake”.
1) Even if this is a custom that was instituted as a precaution and preventive measure and in accordance with Rabbeinu Peretz’s approach, it should be done away with if it may lead to distortions.
2) Rav Yosef eliminated the custom of the sons of Ḥozai because, as a result of the custom, people will think that rice is a type of grain. This is exactly what happened regarding kitniyot on Pesaḥ and therefore we should eliminate this custom.
3) Where this is no uncertainty in the halakhah – as in our case – you should not follow a custom that is contrary to halakhah.
Rabbi Raphael Mordechai Malki (Jerusalem, 17th century), father-in-law of Rabbi Ḥizkiya de Silva cited above, writes:“Regarding any matter for which there is a known halakhic ruling, one who goes against the halakhic ruling is doing a prohibition, and this does not depend upon a custom”. According to this opinion, we areprohibited from avoiding rice and kitniyot on Pesaḥ, because there is a known halakhic ruling that permits it.
On can cite other halakhic authorities, but the bottom line is that it is possible to do away with the custom under discussion for several reasons:
Lastly, we would like to briefly address an important point vis-à-vis this custom in the State of Israel: is it desirable to perpetuate the differences between Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Italians, and Yemenites? Perhaps it is preferable to eliminate these distinctions and create one united Jewish people in its land? This is a worthy topic deserving a book of its own. Indeed, an entire book has already been written on the history of the relationship between Ashkenazim and Sephardim (H.J. Zimmels, Ashkenazim and Sephardim,London, 1958, 347 pages).and the author, to some extent, addressed this topic. (Ibid., Part Three).Authorities opposed to changes in Hebrew pronunciation or variations in the prayer service often quote the verse “My son, listen to the instruction of your father and do not forsake the Torah of your mother” (Proverbs 1:8 andPesaḥim 50b). Undoubtedly, there is something beautiful in each ethnic community preserving its unique traditions. In so doing, they honor their ancestors and their communities of origin which, in many cases, no longer exist. On the other hand, we have a desire to fulfill the verses “And who is like Your people Israel, a united nation on Earth” (I Chronicles 17:21) as well as “and gather ustogether from the four corners of the earth” (from the Amidah). If we want to become “a united nation on Earth”, we must start the slow process of unifying our laws and customs. In 1950, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel enacted several Takkanot regarding marriage intended to unite the Jewish people. (For the text of the regulations, see Bentzion Sharshevsky,Dinei Mishpaḥah, third edition,Jerusalem, 1984, p. 570).Later on, the Chief Rabbinate of the IDF published a Siddur with a unified prayer service for IDF soldiers (Maj. Gen. Shlomo Goren, Siddur Tefillot Leḥayal Lekhol Hashanah, Nusaḥ Aḥid, sixth revised edition, Tel Aviv, 1968. On the need to unite the prayer services of different ethnic Jewish communities, see S.D. Luzzatto, Mevo Lemaḥzor Benei Roma, ed. Goldschmidt, Tel Aviv, 1966, p. 78 and A.M. Haberman, Al Hatefillah, Lod, 1987, pp. 15-16. On the need to unite the Jewish ethnic groups in Israel today, see Rabbi Yosef Kafih (Kapah),Ketavim, Vol. 1, Jerusalem, 1989, pp. 100-101 and Avivit Levi,Holeikh Tamim, 2003, pp. 163-164; Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, Reshut Harabbim, Petah Tikvah, 2002, pp. 87-88; Rabbi Hayyim Sabbato, Bo’i Haruah, Tel Aviv, 2007, pp. 26-27).and it behooves us to continue these trends.
Unfortunately, today there is constant movement from the Sephardic to the Ashkenazic, from the lenient to the stringent. Sephardic rabbis dress like Ashkenazim, study halakhah like Ashkenazim and issue halakhic rulings like Ashkenazim. Instead of the moderate Sephardic tradition (Zvi Zohar, Halakhah Umodernizatziah… 1882-1922, Jerusalem, 1983; Moshe Bar-Yuda, editor, Halakhah Upetiḥut: Ḥakhmei Morocco Kefoskim Ledoreinu, 1985).moderating the Ashkenazim, we are witnessing the opposite process. With regard to our case, instead of Ashkenazim starting to eat rice and kitniyot on Pesaḥ, in accordance with the halakhah, there are Sephardim who are adopting this “mistaken custom which has no rhyme or reason” (see above, V, 2). Hence, specifically the issue under discussion has the potential to unite the Jewish people without losing anything. Indeed, the Chief Rabbinate of the IDF ruled many years ago that all IDF soldiers are permitted to eat rice and kitniyot on Pesaḥ, (I did not find the original permission in writing, but it is widely known. For partial permission, see Rabbi S. Min-Hahar, Dinei Tzava Umilḥamah,Jerusalem, 1971, p. 138, paragraph 303.)., but this was later rescinded. Nonetheless, we should adopt this ruling in the entire State of Israel. In so doing, we will differentiate between halakhah and a mistaken custom, enhance the joy of the festival, ease the burden of those with limited means, and move another step closer to uniting the Jewish people in its land.
9 Nisan 5775
Ia) Regarding the custom to prohibit kitniyot on Pesah (1989)
ET — Entziklopedia Talmudit, s.v. Ḥametz, paragraph 10, Vol. 16, cols. 101-107
Felder – Rabbi Gedalia Felder, Sefer Yesodei Yeshurun, Part 6,New York, 1970, pp. 397-425
Ḥazon Ovadia – Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Ḥazon Ovadia, third edition, Part 2, Jerusalem, 1979, pp. 53-56
Kaf Haḥayyim – Rabbi Ya’akov Hayyim Sofer, Kaf Haḥayyim, Part 6,Jerusalem, no date, pp. 65-67
Katz – Ya’akov Katz, Halakhah Vekabbalah,Jerusalem, 1984, pp. 377-378
Leiter – Rabbi Moshe Leiter, Hadarom 15 (5722), pp. 59-67
Otzar Hashut – Otzar Hashe’eilot Uteshuvot, Vol. 7,Jerusalem, 1988
Siegel – Rabbi Seymour Siegel, “The War of the Kitniyot”, in:Perspectives on Jews and Judaism: Essays in Honor of Wolfe Kelman,New York, 1978, pp. 383-389
Rosenbaum – Irving Rosenbaum, The Holocaust and Halakhah, New York, 1976, pp. 100-101
Zevin – Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin, Hamo’adim Bahalakhah, Tel Aviv, 1955, pp. 255-262
Ib) Additional Literature (2015)
Bar-Hayim – Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, a ruling of Bet Hava’ad, March 20, 2007
Ben-Lulu — Ben-Lulu, Kitniyot B’fesah etc., Ph.D. Thesis, Bar Ilan, 1998, 331 pp.
Cohen – Rabbi Alfred Cohen, Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society VI (Fall 1983), pp. 65-78
Emanuel – Simhah Emanuel, ed., Rabbi Eleazar Mivermaiza,Derashah L’fesah,Jerusalem, 2006, pp. 52, 90
Golinkin – Rabbi David Golinkin, “The Kitniyot Dilemma”, CJ Kolot6/3 (Spring 2013), pp. 10-11, 52
Leshem – Rabbi Zvi Leshem, Torah and Life 1 (2011), 22 pp. (Hebrew and English)
Plotkin – Rabbi Paul Plotkin, CJ Kolot 7/3 (Spring 2014), pp. 30, 33
Rosenstein – Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, CCAR Journal (Spring 1975), pp. 32-40
Schepansky – Rabbi IsraelSchepansky, Hatakkanot B’yisrael, Vol. 4,Jerusalem, 1993, pp. 186-188
Sheinkopf – Rabbi David Sheinkopf, Issues in Jewish Dietary Laws, New Jersey, 1988, pp. 121-201 with Bibliography
Shemesh – Avraham Ofir Shemesh, Sidra 21 (2006), pp. 99-112
Sperber – Rabbi Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael, Vol. 2,Jerusalem, 1991, pp. 99-100; 147-149
Sperber – Rabbi Daniel Sperber, Jerusalem Post Magazine, March 22, 2013, p. 37
Ta-Shema – Yisrael Ta-Shema, Minhag Ashkenaz Hakadmon, Jerusalem, 1992, pp. 271-282 = idem, Assufot 3 (5749), pp. 347-355
IIa) When is it permissible to do away with a custom? (1989)
Ba’er Heiteiv – Ba’er Heiteiv to Orah Ḥayyim 690, subparagraph 15
Benayahu – Meir Benayahu, “Minhag Bita’ut”, Sefer Zikharon Leharav Yitzḥak Nissim, Vol. 6,Jerusalem, 1985, pp. 285-295
Cohen – Rabbi Yekutiel Cohen, Magen Avot Shel R. Menaḥem Hame’iri,Jerusalem, 1989, pp. 5-26
Elon – Menahem Elon, Hamishpat Ha’ivri etc., second edition, 1978, pp. 760-763 (also available in English)
Jacobs – Louis Jacobs, A Tree of Life,Oxford, 1984, pp. 229-230
Massekhet Soferim – Massekhet Soferim 14:16, ed. Higger, pp. 270-271 and the literature listed there
Peri Ḥadash – Rabbi Ḥizkiya de Silva, Peri Ḥadash to Oraḥ Ḥayyim, paragraphs 468, 496
Roth – Rabbi Joel Roth, The Halakhic Process: A Systemic Analysis,New York, 1986, pp. 211-230
Sedei Ḥemed – Rabbi Ḥayyim Ḥizkiya Medini, Sedei Ḥemed, Kuntress Hakelalim, Ma’arekhet Hamem, Kelal 37-38, ed. Shneerson, Vol. 2, New York, 1959, pp. 880-915
Ta-Shema – Yisrael Ta-Shema, Sidra 3 (5747), pp. 115-123
Tur, Beit Yosef, and Shulḥan Arukh Yoreh De’ah 214 (aboutHatarah, annulling a custom)
IIb) Additional Literature (2015)
Freimann – A.H. Freimann, Teshuvot Rabbeinu Avraham ben Harambam,Jerusalem, 1938, pp. xx-xxi
Halevi – Rabbi Hayyim David Halevi, Aseh Lekha Rav, Vol. 3, No. 21
Har-Shefi – Bitya Har-Shefi, Mada’ei Hayahadut 44 (2007), pp. 226-248
Sperber – Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael,
Vol. 1,Jerusalem, 1989, pp. 31-38
Vol. 2,Jerusalem, 1991, p. 49, note 23 and pp. 76-125
Vol. 4,Jerusalem, 1995, pp. 188-191
I want to thank Rabbi Reuven Hammer, Yisrael Ḥazzany, Dr. Moshe Samet and Rabbi Shlomo Fuchs for a few of these references.
All four volumes of Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin’s Responsa In A Moment – Halakhic Responses to Contemporary Issues as well as other books by the author are available for purchase from the Schocken-JTS Press Bookstore.
David Golinkin is President of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. and President Emeritus of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. For twenty years he served as Chair of the Va’ad Halakhah (Law Committee) of the Rabbinical Assembly which gives halakhic guidance to the Masorti Movement in Israel. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Applied Halakhah at Schechter and also directs the Center for Women in Jewish Law. Rabbi Professor Golinkin made aliyah in 1972, earning a BA in Jewish History and two teaching certificates from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received an MA in Rabbinics and a PhD in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he was also ordained as Rabbi. For a complete bio click here.