The source texts on the kitniyoth issue (The medieval custom of refraining from certain small, granular plant stuffs during the Passover holiday) are both abundant and readily accessible for anyone interested in researching the issue. I won’t be expounding on those sources or offering an opinion on them here.
No, today I’m more interested in pointing out the observable reality of the disagreement among Jews of Ashkenazic extraction on the issue of kitniyoth.
This is not an Ashkenazi/Sefaradi thing. This issue is confined almost entirely within the modern Ashkenazi world. And anyone with eyes to see can tell you that the battles may be raging, but the pro-kitniyoth people have already won the war.
Although they are still very much the minority, year by year the margin shrinks ever so slightly, especially in Israel. The modern miracle of a Jewish nation reconstituted on its own homeland has thrown long-separated communities together once again. These Jews intermarry, some of them question and eventually jettison longstanding exilic customs, and a new identity is slowly forged.
Where the parents are stiff-necked, the children or grandchildren often take initiative. Where the posqim are stubborn, the common folk take initiative and the poskim are eventually forced to follow. Right or wrong, for better or for worse, this is the reality on the ground.
In my own community, just over a decade ago, Ashkenazi kitniyoth eaters were almost unheard of. Those who consumed kitniyoth derivatives were also a small minority. Today, that is no longer the case. I know of non-kitniyoth parents that have lost all of their children to the “other side”.
The frustration which used to be heard mainly from the pro-kitniyoth crowd, is now increasingly heard from the non-legume consumers, many of whom now seem to feel harangued by a group of fence-breaking rabble rousers. Social media is awash with such discourse this time of year.
It’s just not as simple as it used to be. The issue has now crossed ethnic lines, opened a new front within the modern Ashkenazi world and for many, penetrated into the very heart of the immediate family unit.
My friends, the kitniyoth genie is out of the bottle and no one, but no one will put it back. The eventual death of this custom is a fait accompli. I wouldn’t bet on seeing the majority reversed in my lifetime, but eventually, most religious Ashkenazim in Israel will go back to what their Ashkenazi ancestors were doing before this whole thing started in France.
My advice for surviving the “kitniyot war” with minimal PTSD is to remember who WE are and be mindful of the difference between real war and foolish infighting over non-issues.
When missiles are falling, when we are burying our dead, no one is asking the guy/gal next to them about their position on kitniyoth. We’re a family and we are bound to one another by much more than what we do/don’t eat at any given time of the year. Respect your family and friends, respect how they choose to serve God, and most of all, don’t sweat the “small stuff”.
Hagh Pesah kasher w’sameah!