I know many people (chiefly S'faradim) don't have the custom altogether of refraining from eating kitniyos on Pesach. Among those who do have such a custom, moreover, there are varying customs as to what is forbidden as kitniyos: I've heard some people refrain from eating peanuts while others do not, for example. What foods were originally considered forbidden as kitniyos wherever the ban began?

  • I heard this week that there are Turkish Jews who abstain from rice but no other kitnyot because there's an opinion in the gemara that rice can be used to make matza. – Charles Koppelman Mar 28 '13 at 19:27
  • See Igros Moshe OC 3:63 ,it seems that is based on community and what was part of the original gezairah in that place. – sam Mar 28 '13 at 22:44
  • @sam, that's a good reason to ask my question, "What foods were originally considered forbidden as kitniyos wherever the ban began?", then. – msh210 Mar 28 '13 at 23:38
  • It started in different places for two separate reasons by two separate Rishonim – sam Mar 29 '13 at 0:45
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    @sam, it looks like you have an answer. Would you like to post it as such? – msh210 Mar 29 '13 at 5:24

The earliest source, Sefer Mitzvot ha-katan (SMaK) of R. Yitzchak of Corbeil lists, in French, pois (peas), fole (perhaps, fave, fava beans, 'ful' in Hebrew) & ris (rice), which he lists as 'types of kitniyot'. Prior to that, the designation 'kitniyot' applied primarily in the context of the laws of kilayim. Rambam conceptualizes three categories of crops that grow from the ground: cereal, kitniyot, and vegetables. Kitniyot are the group that occupy that middle space.

According to the Tur's rationale for the kitniyot ban, namely, that some grain might be mixed in, it would make sense for kitniyot to be defined as legumes proper. Legumes have been used for centuries in crop rotation systems, as nitrogen-fixing bacteria reside in their root systems, and they replenish the soil better than any other plants (artificial nitrogen fixing is only about a century old). It would thus be likely that a stray stalk of cereal grain would grow within a field of legumes.

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    R' Elli Fischer, thank you for your answer, and welcome to Mi Yodeya! Mo'adim LeSimhah, and I hope to see you around! – Seth J Mar 29 '13 at 14:15
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    Btw, have you had a chance to check out Hagada - Mi Yodeya? – Seth J Mar 29 '13 at 14:15

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