08 Mar HALACHICALLY SPEAKING: KITNIYOS AND KITNIYOS SH’NISHTANA
We are all familiar
with the customs of
kitniyos on Pesach, but
who does it apply to,
what is included in the
custom, and what about
derivates or extracts
The custom among
is not to eat kitniyos
which includes rice, buckwheat, millet, beans
and lentils, peas, and mustard. An Ashkenazi
Jew should not be lenient with regard to eating
kitniyos. The custom among the Sefardim is that
kitniyos may be eaten. Although, some poskim
say that even Sefardim should not eat rice.
However, the minhag of most Sefardim is to eat
rice on Pesach.
The custom to refrain from eating kitniyos
emerged after the time of the Gemorah, about the
time of the Maharil (approx 1427). It has become
the accepted custom. It is a custom which is a
chumra, not according to the letter of the law.
Nonetheless, the Aruch Ha’shulchan says “one
who is lenient in this it is testimonial that he has
no fear of Hashem or fear of sin, and he is not
a expert in the ways of Torah.” In addition he
says “this custom is followed by all of Germany,
France, Russia, and Poland, and all of their
descendants, which has a good reason, and a
snake should bite one who derives from it.”
Some say the reason to refrain from eating
kitniyos is because it grows in fi elds that are
adjacent to the fi elds where chometz is grown,
and some wheat (chometz) may be mixed into
the kitniyos. Since it is impossible to sift the
grains, it may become chometz when the grains
ferment. In addition, many times one grinds
the rice into a powder which resembles fl our.
An unlearned person may then think that this is
wheat fl our and use regular wheat fl our as well.
Furthermore, according to the stringent opinion
it is not eaten because of a lo plug: just as wheat
is forbidden so this is also not eaten. The opinion
of the Rabbeinu M’noach is that because when
one eats kitniyos, one does not have true simcha
and one is supposed to have simcha on Yom Tov.
The custom is that those who refrain from eating
kitniyos do so from Erev Pesach at the time
when chometz is forbidden.
Which Additional Items are Included
Aside from items listed above, additional items
are also included in the minhag to refrain from
eating on Pesach. Beans, Bean sprouts, Black
eye peas, Canola Oil (see below), Caraway,
Chickpeas Corinader, Corn, Corn Syrup (see
below), Cumin, Dextrose, Emulsifi ers, Fennel,
Fenugreek, Flax Seeds, Green beans, Kimmel,
Lechitin, Lentils, Licorice, Lucerne, Lupine,
Millet, Mustard, Popcorn, Poppy Seeds, Saffron,
Sesame Seeds, Snow Peas, Soy Oil, Soy beans,
Soy, Starch, Stabilizers, String beans, Sunfl ower
Seeds, Tofu. However, coffee, tea, garlic, and
radishes, are not included in the chumra of
Spices are not included in the chumra of kitniyos.
Nonetheless, one should check them and other
kitniyos (when permitted) to make sure no
chometz grains where mixed in.
There are some poskim who include potatoes
in the minhag to refrain from eating kitniyos
on Pesach, since they too, are ground into
fl our which can be confused with grain fl our.
However, this opinion is not accepted today.
Horav Moshe Feinstein zt”l says that we only
defi ne something as kitniyos if there is a custom
to regard it as kitniyos. Since the custom of
kitniyos dates back to the times of the Maharil
and potatoes did not reach the shores of Europe
until the 16th century, they were never included
in the chumra. Also since there is a great need
for potatoes on Pesach kept this kept hem away
from being prohibited.
Horav Moshe Feinstein zt”l says one who has
the custom to refrain from eating peanuts should
adhere to his custom. However, one who does
not have such a custom does not have to refrain
from eating peanuts. Peanuts and peanut oil are
permitted on Pesach and not included in kitniyos
because any food which was not around at the
time of the chumra is not forbidden (see potatoes
above). The custom of some is to be lenient
regarding using peanut oil as well.
One may place food directly on paper towels,
and need not be concerned about starch. There
is no chumra, issur, or minhag to prevent a drop
of kitniyos from falling into food. Indeed, the
Shulchan Aruch permits the use of a lamp fi lled
with oil from kitniyos even though it is certain
that some of the kitniyos will be sprayed onto
food. In the case of the paper towels, there is
no certainty at all of any leaching into the food.
In the case of the paper towels, no one has ever
confi rmed the leaching of even a molecule
of starch from the paper towel into the food.
The kitniyos starch is so fi rmly bonded to the
paper towel that an iodine test won’t’ reveal its
Derivatives from Kitniyos
Although the Rama clearly says that oil made
from kitniyos is not permitted on Pesach. Some
say if it is made before Pesach it is permitted, the
custom follows the Rama.
Many times a company will make oil from a
grain There is a discussion in the poskim if oil
made from kitniyos has the same status as the
grain itself and an Ashkenazi would not be able
to use it on Pesach, or is it not considered from
the grain and permitted?
This is very common with soybean and corn
oil. The opinion of Horav Kook zt”l was to be
lenient. However, the accepted custom is to be
stringent. Therefore, the custom is not to use
soybean or vegetable oil. Some say that canola
oil, which is actually “rapeseed oil,” belonging
to the mustard and cabbage family, should not
be used on Pesach as it was around at the time
when the issue of kitniyos was accepted upon
those who follow the custom to be stringent. Oil
from olives, palm, coconut, and walnuts are not
subject to the chumra of kitniyos.
Cottonseed oil is made from extracted oil from
the seeds of the cotton plant after the lint has
been removed. The Minchas Yitzchok is unsure
whether to permit its usage for Pesach. Horav
Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt”l says the custom
is to refrain from using this oil on Pesach. The
Tzelhmer Rav zt”l was lenient. The custom in
Eretz Yisroel is to be stringent and avoid using
cottonseed oil, but in America cottonseed oil is
permitted, following the custom of Horav Moshe
Feinstein zt”l, Horav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l,
and all the Rabbonim who came from Europe.
An example of kintniyos derivatives is cornstarch
and corn syrup (including high fructose corn
syrup): corn starch comes from the starchy part
of the corn. To make corn syrup, enzymes are
added to the corn starch turning it into a syrupy
mixture of glucose, dextrose, and maltose.
Another example of a kitniyos derivative is
lecithin which is made from soybeans. Most
halachic authorities agree that corn syrup has the
same status as corn and is subject to the halachos
of kitniyos. Most major Kashrus organizations
do not certify products for Pesach made from
The Mishnah Berurah says regarding “musk”
which is a byproduct of blood that is found in the
stomach of a deer that we can consider it changed
since the blood is turned into a new entity. This
is how many poskim hold. He ends off that one
can rely on this if there musk is butel in sixty in
the food. Horav Yisroel Belsky Shlita holds that
although the Mishnah Berurah may be lenient we
should not certify an issur d’rabbanan which is
nishtana, although by Pesach it is allowed since
kitniyos is only at best a minhag. The custom
is to permit the use of kitniyos sh’nishtana and
there is no reason to be stringent. Those who are
stringent are doing so because they think it is a
chumra to do so but that is not correct.
Horav Elyashiv Shlita is reported as not allowing
kitniyos sh’nishtana for Pesach..
Corn syrup which is changed into sorbitol is not
considered a change (nishtana) and therefore is
subject to the halachos of kitniyos. This is also
true for dextrose. However, if the corn syrup
is turned into ascorbic acid, it is considered
changed and is not subject to the halachos of
kitniyos. Citric acid is produced from, kitniyos,
but is certifi ed for Pesach use (see below).
In order for kitniyos to be qualifi ed as nishtana,
the kitniyos has to go through a signifi cant
change in taste.
Kitniyos sh’nishtana plays an important role
in certifying diet soda since it is made from
aspartame which is a sweet enzyme that grows
on derivative of kitniyos. The custom of OU and
KOF-K is to be lenient and certify such products.
Others are not convinced that this should be
done. The custom of Rabbi Landau in Eretz
Yisroel is not to certify diet soda for Pesach that
Sodium Erythorbate is kitniyos sh’nishtana
which is used in Pesachdika frankfurters.
A different kitniyos sh’nishtana goes into
frozen gefi lte fi sh. Other kitniyos sh’nishtana
ingredients are malto dextrin, NutraSweet,
polysorbates, sodium citrate and xanthan gum.
Some examples of kitniyos sh’nishtana which
are certifi ed by the OU: citric acid, and erythoric
acid. Enzymes fermented from kitniyos are also
Propylene glycol can be made in two ways.
One is a petroleum based formula and the
other is from glycerin which is processed from
vegetable, rapeseed, and palm oil. The fi rst is
not a concern of kitniyos, but the second method
would depend on whether we consider rapeseed,
palm or sunfl ower oil a concern of kitniyos. The
petroleum based method is much cheaper and
most commonly used to make propylene glycol.
About 5% of propylene glycol is produced from
glycerin. The custom is to treat this product as
kosher for Pesach.
Quinoa is a sesame sized kernel, of the beet
family and does not resemble any of the fi ve
grains which are chometz or kitniyos. Some say
it may be used for Pesach. However,
the custom is that Quinoa is not used for Pesach
since it is used the same way as wheat.
Even according to the stringent opinion, kitniyos
is not chometz. One is allowed to have enjoyment
from kitniyos, something which is not allowed
by chometz. Based on this, one is permitted to
feed his animal a product which is kitniyos. One
is also allowed to keep kitniyos in one’s house
during Pesach if it has a hechsher without selling
it to a goy. One should write on the product that
it is kitniyos.
One is permitted to feed kitniyos to children,
including baby formula that contains kitniyos.
One may give kitniyos to his children as long as
there is a need for it, and there is no maximum
age. Some say it is proper to keep separate dishes
for kitniyos food. Others hold there is no reason
for this to be done and one may use the same
utensils. The utensils may be washed in the same
sink as non-kitniyos items.
Sick r”l – Pressing Situation
One who is sick r”l (even if he is not in danger)
may eat kitniyos on Pesach. Based on this, one
who is sick would be able to take a pill which has
kitniyos. When one is in a pressing situation, one
can eat kitniyos.
Other Halachos Regarding Kitniyos
Some say in Eretz Yisroel the custom was to
permit the eating of kitniyos. This is not true
today. A person who lives in Chutz L’aretz who
fi nds himself in a place where the custom is to
eat kitniyos must not eat there.
One who depends on his father for support must
follow his father’s custom in regard to kitniyos.
A woman from a Sefardi background, who ate
kitniyos all her life, may not do so if she marries
an Ashkenazi. However, if the husband agrees,
she may follow her old custom. If an Ashkenazi
woman gets married to a Sefardi then she may
eat kitniyos, but some say she should be matir
If an Ashkenazi Jew fi nds himself in a Sefardi’s
home on Pesach, he may eat the food that was
cooked already in pots that cooked kitniyos.
Kitniyos is butel in rov if it was mixed into a
food on Pesach.
Kitniyos is not muktzah for an Ashkenazi
person, since one is able to give it to a Sefardi.
In addition it can be given to a child who is need
The Bais Din said that in order for nishtana to be
a heter the food may have to become nifsal from
being eaten by a dog (nifsal m’achilas kelev),
otherwise it does not work as a heter. However,
this matter was left undecided since others say
that nifsal… is not required. The Bais Din was
not quick to permit the use of Quinoa for Pesach.