A Teshuvah Permitting Ashkenazim to Eat Kitniyot

A Teshuvah Permitting Ashkenazim to Eat Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesah

Amy Levin and Avram Israel Reisner November 2015 / Kislev 5776

The following teshuvah was approved by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly on December 24, 2015 by a vote of nineteen in favor, one opposed, and two abstaining (19-1-2).

Since it is recognized that Sephardim permit the eating of kitniyot (legumes, rice and corn) on Pesah, although Ashkenazim traditionally do not do so, might kitniyot be permitted to Ashkenazim?

Psak Halakhah:
In order to bring down the cost of making Pesah and support the healthier diet that is now becoming more common, and given the inapplicability today of the primary concerns that seem to have led to the custom of prohibiting kitniyot; and further, given our inclination in our day to present an accessible Judaism unencumbered by unneeded prohibitions, more easily able to participate in the culture that surrounds us, we are prepared to rely on the fundamental observance recorded in the Talmud and codes and permit the eating of kitniyot on Pesah.

Some Details of This Psak:

  1. Fresh corn on the cob and fresh beans (like lima beans in their pods) may be purchased before and during Pesah, that is, treated like any other fresh vegetable.
  2. Dried kitniyot (legumes, rice and corn) can be purchased bagged or in boxes and then sifted or sorted before Pesah. These should ideally not be purchased in bulk from bins because of the concern that the bin might previously have been used for hametz, and a few grains of hametz might be mixed in. In any case, one should inspect these before Pesah and discard any pieces of hametz. If one did not inspect the rice or dried beans before Pesah, one should remove pieces of hametz found in the package on Pesah, discarding those, and the kitniyot themselves remain permissible.
  3. Kitniyot in cans may only be purchased with Pesah certification since the canning process has certain related hametz concerns, and may be purchased on Pesah.
  4. Frozen raw kitniyot (corn, edamame [soy beans], etc.): One may purchase bags of frozen non-hekhshered kitniyot before Pesah provided that one can either absolutely determine that no shared equipment was used or one is careful to inspect the contents before Pesah and discard any pieces of חמץ (hametz). Even if one did not inspect the vegetables before Pesah, if one can remove pieces of חמץ  (hametz) found in the package on Pesah, the vegetables themselves are permissible.
  5. Processed foods, including tofu, although containing no listed hametz, continue to require Pesah certification due to the possibility of admixtures of hametz during production.
  6. Even those who continue to observe the Ashkenazic custom of eschewing kitniyot during Pesah may eat from Pesah dishes, utensils and cooking vessels that have come into contact with kitniyot and may consume kitniyot derivatives like oil (מי קטניות).