Masechet Pesachim opens with the laws of bedikat chametz – searching for chametz. Other than the prohibition consuming chametz during pesach, one is also not allowed to have chametz in their possession. This is based on two prohibitions. more commonly knowns as baal yireah and baal yimatze. One can avoid violating these prohibition by relinquishing ownership of chametz in their possession – a process known as bitul. Nevertheless, the Chachamim required one to search for and remove any chametz from their property. The Bartenura explains that the Chachamim were concerned, that during Pesach one might find a nice loaf and regret the bitul wanting to consume it. They would subsequently violate the prohibitions of baal yireah and baal yimatze.1
We learn in the first Mishnah that the ideal time to perform bedikat chametz is the night of the fourteenth of Nissan. The third Mishnah however records a debate regarding one that did not check on the night of the fourteenth. R’ Yehuda maintains that they may check up until and including the time of burning chametz. The Bartenura however explains that after that point, R’ Yehuda is concerned that one might end up eating what he finds. The Chachamim however maintain that one if did not check the night for the fourteenth, then they should check the next day. If they did not check then, they should do so during the “moed” and even after the “moed”. We shall try to understand the position of the Chachamim.
The Tosfot Yom Tov cites the Bartenura who explains that the moed refers to the time that one must burn chametz. Consequently, according to this understanding, one has until Pesach to search for chametz. The Tosfot Yom Tov suggests that the Bartenura (and Rashi) understand that the Chachamim are also concerned that one might eat some chametz as they search. Nevertheless they are only concerned when the punishment for doing so is extreme – is karet – which is only once Pesach begins.
The Tosfot Yom Tov notes that there is another understanding of moed – the festival. However Rashi preferred this understanding of moed because after Pesach there is no prohibition of baal yireh and baal yimatzeh and according to Rashi the purpose of bedikat chametz is to avoid this prohibition. Consequently there would be no reason to search for chametz after Pesach.
The Ran however maintains that moed does refer to Pesach. Consequently, the Chachamim required one to search for chametz during and even after Pesach if they did not do so prior to that point. He explains that one would still need to search for chametz after Pesach as the Chachamim prohibit deriving any benefit from chametz one owned during Pesach. He asserts that this is the correct explanation since R’ Yehuda referred to the time of burning chametz as “shaat biur”. The fact the Chachamim use a different term, moed, must mean it refers to a different point in time.
The Tosfot Yom Tov defends Rashi’s interpretation citing the Gemara (Bava Kama 92b), that uses the term moed moed and after the moed in the same way as Rashi’s explanation. Why then is there a change in language in the Mishnah? The Tosfot Yom Tov suggest that this is based on the principle that one obligated to pass on teaching using the same language as his teacher (Eduyot 1:3). Consequently, both the Chachamim and R’ Yehuda simply used the terminology consistent with their tradition.2
1 The Ran citing Rashi explains that the concern is that one might not have sincerely performed bitul prior to Pesach. The Tosfot however are not concerned with the prohibitions of baal yireah and baal yimatze. Instead they are concerned that one might find a some chametz during Pesach, and since during the year eating bread is the norm, they might inadvertently consume what they find.
2 The Chiddushei Mahriach further defends Rashi. He explains that R’ Yehuda stated three times: the night, the morning (shacharit) and the time of biur. According to Rashi’s explanation, the Chachamim match these times periods and simply added an additional one – after the moed. In other words, every one of R’ Yehuda’s time periods are first restated by the Chachamim. According the other explanation, the expressions do not align. The Chachamim should have said, one must check at night, the morning, during the time of biur to align with R’ Yehuda, then add after the time of biur, during the moed and after the moed.
The Tifferet Yisrael (Boaz 2) (who maintains that position of the Ran) questions why it is necessary for the Chachamim to repeat any of R’ Yehuda’s time periods. It would have been sufficient to state that the Chachamim add that one must check even during the moed. He explains that the repetition is necessary to stress the extent of each position. According to R’ Yehuda even if one is certain that there is chametz one is not allowed to search for chametz after the time of biur. According to the Chachamim, even if there is only a doubt whether there is chametz, one must still search for chametz even during Pesach.
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