For the week ending 20 July 2013 / 12 Av 5773

Pesachim 30 - 36

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • What to do on Pesach with clay pots used for chametz
  • Bread baked in an oven smeared with meat fat
  • Kashering chametz vessels for Pesach use
  • Chametz of a Jew serving as security for loan from a non-Jew, and vice versa
  • When lender assumes ownership of mortgaged property
  • Chametz found in Jewish owned store with non-Jewish workers, and vice versa
  • Chametz buried beneath a collapsed wall
  • Payment for involuntary eating of terumah and of terumah that is chametz
  • Why the atonement for me’ilah (misuse of Sanctuary property) is limited to involuntary violation
  • How to make use of foods that have become spiritually impure
  • The products of terumah that has been planted
  • The status of teumah that has not been guarded against contamination
  • Grains that qualify as material for matzah
  • Which halachic status of matzah can disqualify it for use of the mitzvah
  • Limitations on the baking of matzah

Too Rich for Matzah, Too Poor for Chametz

  • Pesachim 36a

We are accustomed to thinking that if flour is turned into dough it becomes either matzah or chametz depending on the manner in which it is baked. It therefore came as a surprise when Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish ruled that one is not liable for the punishment of extirpation due to the consumer of chametz on Pesach if what he ate was bread formed from flour mixed with a liquid such as wine, oil or honey rather than water. Such a product is called lechem ashirah – rich bread – and cannot qualify as matzah – which is called the “bread of poverty” (Devarim 16:3) – even if baked in the proper fashion.

This places such a product in a category all by itself, neither chametz nor matzah!

An attempt was made by Rabbi Papa to explain why this product is not considered chametz. The mention of matzah and chametz in the same above-mentioned passage can be seen as an equation instructing us that whatever does not qualify as matzah cannot be considered chametz. Since matzah ashirah does not meet the requirement of “bread of poverty” it is also not considered chametz.

This approach is challenged, however, from the law which states that if one swallows liquefied matzah he does not fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah, but if he swallows liquefied chametz he has sinned. This demonstrates that there is no equation between matzah and chametz. It was Rabbi Idi bar Avin who supplied the true explanation of why flour combined with any liquid other than water does not qualify as chametz. All liquids other than water, he pointed out, are chemically incapable of creating the leavening action which creates chametz. Such a produce is therefore too rich for matzah and too “poor” for chametz.

What the Sages Say

“Why is matzah called lechem oni (Devarim 16:3)? Because many things are declared (onim means to declare) in connection with it (Hallel and Haggadah are said at the Seder – Rashi).”

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