Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tyranny of the Rabbinate

So I am sitting here with a friend mentally preparing for Pesach. Are we talking about the haggadah? Are we talking about the process of kashering a kitchen? No. We are talking about quinoa.

And why are we talking about quinoa? Are we talking about what a wonderful source of nutrition it is? No. Are we talking about how well it would complement a seder meal? No. We are talking about a rabbinate that has raised ignorance to the level of piety. In so doing, it has taken a food that was permitted five years ago and rendered it forbidden. I think I missed that class when I was in Seminary.

It is simply impossible for a food to be added to the list of kitniyot when no one knew of its existence until 20 years ago. None other than the Igrot Moshe states this clearly. That, apparently, is not good enough for our local va'ad (unnamed, but you all know where I live).

As long as I am on this diatribe, you should know that we can get a wonderful kosher for Pesach dijon mustard up here in Toronto. I send it to several friends in the US. I just checked on a brand of natural peanut butter. The friend with whom I am sitting is so incensed with this ignorant piety that her family has gone off the deep end. Her children will nosh on popcorn during the seder. We will also get hummous and tehina to go on our matza. A lovely lentil dahl is also wonderful, healthy, and a welcome change from the other foods we eat year to year.

You have an obligation to enjoy your food at Pesach. In my mind, that obligation trumps the silliness of a minhag that really should go away, and certainly should not be extended. Moreover, the Talmud tells us that we will be called to account for every legitimate pleasure we ever deny ourselves. I will not deny myself legitimate pleasures, particularly at the holidays. I will never answer a kashrut question that denies you such pleasures.

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