Mixtures of Chametz

Pesachim (3:1) | Yisrael Bankier | a year ago

Mixtures of Chametz

The third perek opens by listing objects that one is "ovrim be'pesach". Exactly what that mean is subject to debate. The list however includes examples of mixtures of chametz and chametz nuksha (chametz not fit for consumption). We shall try to understand this Mishnah.

The Bartenura understands that the term ovrim means the items are mitbaarim -- must be removed -- along with the other chametz. The Bartenura explains that even though one does not violate the prohibition of having these things in their possession over pesach, the Chachamim still require their removal.

Rashi (Pesachim 42a) however understands that ovrim means that one violates a biblical prohibition if he finds them in this possession during pesach (baal yireh). The Meiri explains that this would only be the case if there was a kezayit of chametz in the mixture. It is important to note that at the end of the Mishnah we learn that if one eats a food mixed with chametz, even though it is not punishable with karet, they would be liable to lashes. Nevertheless, that is only if the mixture was such that one would eat a kezayit's worth of chametz when eating a pras worth of the mixture. The Meira notes that according to this understanding, even if there was less that that proportion of chametz in the mixture, as long as the mixture contains a kezayit's volume of chametz, one violates the prohibition baal yireh. Why?

The Meiri explains that once someone has chametz in their possession that is the size of kezayit, if they isolated it and ate it, they would liable. Consequently, they violate the prohibition of baal yireh. The reason why one is exempt if one consumes a mixture, such that he does not eat a kezayit's worth of chametz when eating a pras is because he lacks that act of achila that would render him liable. In other words, it would be considered as if one ate less than the minimum quantity of chametz to render one liable to lashes in multiple sittings. In that case they would not combine to make him liable.

The Magid Mishnah (Chametz UMatzah 4:8) however understands that according to the Rambam, one prohibition is dependent on the other. In other words, if the ratio is such that there is not a kezayit kedai achilat pras, then the prohibition of baal yireh is not violated. How do we understand that the Magid Mishnah considering the Meiri's distinction?

The Grach (Maachalot Asurot 15:1) asks another question. On the one hand the Rambam rules that there is no issue of baal yireh if a mixture containing chametz is not edible for people. Regarding chametz itself the Rambam rules that as long as it is edible for animals then one does violate the prohibition. The reason is that that chametz can be used as a leavening agent to produce more chametz. Surely that logic should also apply to mixtures containing chametz also.

The Grach answers that there is a difference between pure chametz and mixtures containing chametz. Regarding chametz alone, the consideration is whether it is food. Consequently, if it can affect leavening, it is still food. With respect to mixtures, the question is one of taam ke'ikar. In other words, the question is whether the flavour imparted by the mixed in chametz is considered like chametz itself. If it is not fit for eating, then the law of taam ke'ikar does not apply. Consequently, it is as if the chametz is not there.

The Grach explains that that is why, regarding a mixture, if there is less than a kezayit kedai achilat pras, it is prohibited rabbinically. It is not a question of chatzi shiur (having less than the minimum to make on liable punishment) but rather that without a din (law) of achila (eating), taam ke'ikar does not apply.

Finally, the Grach explains the Maggid Mishnah above. One would assume that baal yireh has nothing to do with kezayit kedai achilat pras. In other words, the issue of having chametz in one's position has nothing to do with whether piecemeal consumption of chametz combines to make one liable. Nevertheless, as we have seen above that without a din of achila, taam ke'ikar does not apply. Consequently, if there is less than kezayit kedai achilat pras then there is no taam ke'ikar and if there is no taam ke'ikar then the chametz in the mixture is annulled and one would not violate baal yireh.


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