Mar 15, 2018

Interesting Psak: B&D rice cakes are not kitniyot

Rav Elyakim Levanon, rav of the Shomron, has issued a psak stating that rice cakes from the company "Better and Different" can be eaten on pesach even by Ashkenazim and are not considered kitniyot.

Kitniyot is always a controversial topic, and nowadays we consider as kitniyot many things that were never before considered as such. The debates renew every year in the days leading up to pesach, and this psak is definitely unique and will not be accepted by many.

It should be stressed that Rav Levanon is only referring to the rice cakes made by Better and Different company, and not rice cakes of other companies.

Rav Levanon explains that he visited the factory and inspected the process of manufacture. From the moment the rice kernels leave the sacks until they are puffed, they do not come into any contact with water. As well, the rice is sifted and inspected. Rav Levanon sys that if you consider the Ashkenazi poskim's opinions on kitniyot and their concerns, this manufacturing process raises no questions or concerns about kitniyot. And, he adds, even those who prohibit, did not prohibit rice like this.

The rice cakes are labeled kosher for Pesach for those who eat kitniyot, but, according to Rav Levanon, even people who do not eat kitniyot on Pesach can eat them.
source: Kipa

I definitely won't be eating these rice cakes on Pesach, but I dont eat rice cakes all year round either.

What I do not understand from what he says is that even those who prohibit do not prohibit this rice. Why not? Did they differentiate in types of rice? If rice is kitniyot and prohibited, who cares how much you sift it or keep it away from water? And if keeping it away form water and sifting is good enough to circumvent the custom against eating kitniyot, why not eat many other forms of kitniyot that are banned, as long as you sift it and inspect it and keep it away from water?

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  1. There's very little about the prohibition that makes any sense. Chametz is בטל בשישים before Pesach. So, anything made before Pesach that is not supposed to contain Chametz, should be מותר according to everyone.

    1. That is how the Sefaradim rule - there are opinions in the Rishonim that Chametz which became bateil before Pesach becomes un-bateil once the holiday starts (at night, not on Erev Pesach). That is the Ashkenazi custom.

    2. That still makes no sense. We don't rule that way for actual chametz!

    3. I realize that my last reply might not make any sense.

      We don't rule that way for anything else, except Kitniyot. All other foods might have the same issue, but we ignore it. My Rav gave a shiur last night, in which he stated that it's best to prepare all of ones food before Pesach, just because Chametz is Batel.

    4. Kitniyot? Kitniyot are batel b'rov even ON Pesach! You must mean chametz.

    5. With all due respect to your Rav, Avi, cooking all of your food before Pesach is looney. What happened to the mitzvah of Oneg? (Not to mention that you'd need an extra fridge just to store all of that food.)

    6. My wife has no plans to try. But the point here is the Halachic aspect. We apply rules to Kitniyot that we don't apply to anything else.

  2. Start with a simply question. Suppose you make matzah out of kitniyos. IIRC, there were some poskim who permitted it, some who did not.

    This is essentially what he is saying -- they are very careful never to do something that, if done to wheat, would make it chametz.

    On a practical level, it would be very hard to do this with most rice products. You would have to watch them all the time to make sure they do not come into contact with water.

  3. The same should apply to air- or oil-popped popcorn. I had an (Ashkenazi) Rabbi who tried to organize a Pesach movie+popcorn event but it never happened.

  4. My Rav spoke about this before Ma'ariv, this past Shabbos. He explained that as long as the Kitniyot do not come into contact with water, they are permitted, even for Ashkenazim. He mentioned this product in particular, but said the same about popcorn. I don't know if, or when, you'll be able to buy popcorn kernels that are certified to have never been in contact with water, but they would be usable on Pesach.


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