The Mishnah (2:2) teaches one may not gain benefit from chametz after Pesach,if it was owned by a Jew during Pesach. The Mishnah cites the following pasuk when teaching this law: “You may not see your leaven” (Shemot 13:7). How is the verse the source of this law and how do we understand this law in general?
Rava in the Gemara (Pesachim 29a) explains that in truth, one would be allowed to get benefit from chametz after Pesach. Nevertheless the Chachamim enacted a gezeira prohibiting such chametz: “since he transgressed the prohibition of ‘you shall not see’ and ‘you shall not find’”. We shall try to probe the motivation for the gezeira.
Rashi explains that the gezeira,constitutes a fine – knas – because the person transgressed the prohibition. The Ritva however explains (citing the Raah, who cites the Ramban) that it is not that the person transgressed, but rather that he could have transgressed. As the Ramban explains, even under the circumstances where the chametz was inadvertently (be’shogeg) in his possession or beyond his control (ones), that chametz after Pesach is still prohibited.
Rav Soloveitchik (Hararei Kedem II:31) notes that one ramification of this debate is found in the Meiri. He explains that the Chachmei Lunil felt that if one was mevatel (nullified) his chametz then they can get benefit from that chametz after Pesach. The reason is that they did not transgress baal yireh u’baal yematze during Pesach. The Meiri however disagrees explaining that there is a hint of negligence having kept the chametz at all. Furthermore even cases of shogeg and ones are included, because one could have transgressed the prohibition and we are concerned the one might then deliberately leave chametz in their property for after pesach.
It is interesting to note that the Ramban appears to bring both explanations. Initially (1:4) he explains that “One is forever forbidden from gaining benefit from chametz after pesach; this is a rabbinic fine because he transgressed baal yireh u’baal yematze…” Yet later he explains that “even if he left it be’shogeg or be’ones [it is prohibited] so that one does not deliberately keep chametz during Pesach in order to benefit from it after pesach.”
Rav Soloveitchik explains that the root motivation for the gezeira was as a fine for those that transgressed the prohibition. The Rambam however explains why even cases of shogeg and ones were included in the gezeira. In other words, why should these cases also considered like meizid? It is out of a concern that in the end the prohibition will be transgressed.
Indeed this past-present-future motif is reflected in teshuva as well. We take action now with our immediate attention on leaving that sin that was committed in the past. Yet teshuva is not complete without looking to the future as well. One must resolve to not commit that transgression again. (See Rambam Hilchot Teshuva 2:2.)
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