Shabbat Pesach| 5765
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Question: May I (an Ashkenazi) eat on Pesach at the house of a Sephardi friend food that was cooked in pots that he uses to cook kitniyot? If so, why? (They have assured me that all ingredients will be kitniyot free.)
Answer: The various questions of kitniyot on Pesach seem to have become so divisive over the last period of time that one can barely open his mouth on the topic without fear of attack or offending someone. However, the answer to this question should be acceptable to all combatants on the topic.
The Terumat Hadeshen (one of the pillars of early Ashkenazic p’sak) (Responsa 113) says that although we are strict not to eat kitniyot, if a grain of kitniyot falls into a pot on Pesach, we are not so strict as to forbid the food, for the prohibition on a mixture containing any amount (mashehu)of chametz on Pesach does not apply to kitniyot. The Rama (Orach Chayim 453:1) concurs that if kitniyot fall into a pot we do not forbid the contents of the pot. (If one can find the kitniyot they must be removed- Mishna Berura ad loc.:8). The Terumat Hadeshen apparently permits the food in the pot only when there is a tiny amount, which would be batel (nullified) by standard food prohibitions, other than chametz on Pesach. However, most poskim understand that the Rama includes in his leniency any case where the kitniyot is a minority (Pri Chadash :1; Chuk Yaakov :5; Mishna Berura :9; see Bemareh Habazak IV, 51). Thus, while we never know exactly how much flavor comes out of the walls of a pot which has absorbed non-kosher food, we know that there will not be a majority of kitniyot in the “kosher for Ashkenazim” food that is cooked in the pots in question.
One might want to claim that our case is more severe than that which the Rama discussed, because here one is purposely setting up the situation where he will rely on the fact that the minority kitniyot will be batel. (There, the grain fell in.) There is much to say about this, but we will concentrate on the question at hand, dealing with utensils, not b’en (actual pieces or juices of a forbidden object that are in the food directly, not expelled from the walls of the pot).
We have precedents of foods that are permitted by certain communities and forbidden by others. (Regarding kitniyot, it is quite clear that the stringency, while binding on Ashkenzaic communities, is not something that is forbidden on its own merits, but based on custom- see Beit Yosef, OC 453). The Rama (Yoreh Deah 64:9) discusses the custom of the Jews of the Rhine area to eat a certain type of animal fat that most other Jewish communities felt was forbidden. He rules that although members of other communities should not eat from this fat or from a food that contains 1/60th of it, these others may use the utensils that this fat was cooked in. From here we see that there is more room to allow cooking in the utensils of those who are more lenient than others on a certain matter than to eat from a food that contains a significant minority of such questionable food. As we have already seen, most poskim permit eating a food that has in it a significant minority of kitniyot. It is also quite clear that the likelihood of a serious prohibition is stronger by the fat than by kitniyot. Thus, it follows that it is permitted according to the Rama (who is the decisor for the Ashkenazi custom on kitniyot) to eat from “kitniyot pots.” See also Yechave Da’at V, 32, who comes to this conclusion after presenting several more precedents.
Although stringency on Pesach has positive elements and times exist when one has cause to consider where he should be eating, it is neither healthy nor halachically warranted in our case to preclude such a large group of Jews from hosting another large group (see Rashi, Yevamot 88a).
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