Machon Shilo Notes Increase in “Ashkenazi” Kitniyot Eaters

The kitniyot rebellion continues as more Orthodox Jews are abandoning the practice of abstaining from eating kitniyot during the Passover holiday. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim, head of Machon Shilo, notes with satisfaction that his institution is frequently cited as having put this issue on the map.
“Each year I am contacted by an increasing number of people who inform me that they have dedided to drop the custom of not eating kitniyot,” says Rabbi Bar-Hayim. “They thank me for the “heter” for and providing clear halachic insight that makes Torah Judaism relevant for thinking people.”
Rabbi Bar-Hayim uses sources in the Mishnah and Gemara to demonstrate that customs are connected to the place where one resides and are not simply packed up like household items to be relocated to a new place of residence.
“The custom regarding kitniyot is first mentioned in 13th century France. It later spread to other parts of Europe,” notes the Rabbi.
“It was erroneous for Jews to take this custom with them to other parts of the world where there was no local custom, and certainly erroneous for them to bring it to the Land of Israel where the practice throughout the ages was to eat kitniyot. Eating kitniyot during the holiday is the true custom of our forefathers in the holy land. Rice was even included on the Seder plates of antiquity.”
Rabbi Bar-Hayim continues: “Torah sages can err. Even the Sanhedrin could err as is mentioned explicitly in the Torah. Part of the system of Halachah is how to deal with errors and aberrations. In order to fulfill its God-ordained purpose, Jews must see themselves as members of a united Torah nation, rather than scattered communities. Only a united nation can have a national purpose and aspiration. The Jewish people needs to reconstitute itself as a united nation living in its land, and that requires a united Halachic system.”