For the week ending 29 June 2013 / 20 Tammuz 5773

Pesachim 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The need for a new chametz search when rodent brings some to house
  • What to do after the search with chametz left for tomorrow’s consumption
  • Various mysteries as to whether chametz is still in the house
  • Can one who did not search in time still do so after chametz is forbidden to eat?
  • The parallel of above to chadash, Shabbat, first-born animal and animal care on holiday
  • How late on day before Pesach can chametz be eaten?
  • A disparity in testimony of two witnesses regarding exact hour
  • When the day before Pesach is Shabbat
  • The importance of remaining above suspicion
  • The two loaves on Temple Mount which served as signal when to burn chametz
  • The contact between different levels of spiritual impurity
  • How to deal with terumah which is suspect of spiritual contamination
  • When bread becomes so inedible that it is no longer susceptible to spiritual contamination as food

Search and Destroy Mission

Is there a need to prohibit any activity connected with foods that are forbidden to eat?

This question arises in regard to a Jew who failed to conduct the required search for chametz on the eve of the day before Pesach and did not get around to doing so until the hour of that day when it is already forbidden to eat chametz and the chametz already found is to be burned.

The Sages disagree with the position of Rabbi Yehuda that no search be made then for fear that in the process of searching one might forget that the time has already arrived when chametz is forbidden and will involuntarily eat what he finds. Their own position here that no such safeguard is necessary seems to contradict their position in regard to chadash.

The Torah prohibited eating grain before the omer of barley is offered on the altar of the Beit Hamikdash on the second day of Pesach (16th of Nissan). Once the omer was offered on that day, one would find the marketplaces in Yerushalayim well stocked with flour and other grain products. This meant that the grain had been processed at a time when it was not yet permitted to be eaten. This, says Rabbi Meir, was done without the approval of the Sages who hold that it is improper to be active with food which is not permitted to be eaten for fear that one will inadvertently eat from it.

Why a safeguard is required in regard to processing chadash and not in regard to searching for chametz is thus explained by the Sage Rava. When someone is processing grain and preparing it for consumption there is a real danger that he may forget himself and consume it at its premature stage. But when one is searching for chametz in order to destroy it as required by the Torah, there is hardly a likelihood that he will then eat what he finds.

What the Sages Say

“Jews have already been promised that the Prophet Eliyahu will not arrive (to announce the arrival of Mashiach the following day) on the day preceding Shabbat or a holiday because of the preoccupation of the people (to prepare the Shabbat and holiday meals which will be interrupted by their rushing to greet him).”

  • The Sages in response to Rabbi Elazar ben Yehuda
(Pesachim 13a)

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