Shabbos 86 “Pesachdik” Deodorant

Does one need to ensure that deodorants and perfumes used over Pesach do not contain chametz, typically wheat-based alcohol?

In general, the rule is that any chametz that is no longer fit for a dog to drink is no longer subject to the biblical prohibitions  of eating, owning , or benefitting from Chametz on Pesach  ( see Pesachim 45b and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 442/2) , though one who is crazy enough to actually eat it might still have transgressed a  rabbinical prohibition (see machlokes there )

As no dog in its right mind would drink deodorant or perfume, it thus seems obvious that there is no concern with such things over Pesach. 

Some, however,  have suggested that as the alcohol in the deodorant could technically be separated by chemical means , it is  thus theoretically still edible, but as pretty much anything  can be separated chemically with the correct process and halocho is generally based on the current status of an item, not a hypothetical status after a major chemical process , this seems to be somewhat of a stretch.

However , there is another concept that needs to be addressed , and that is the principle  of סיכה כשתיה ( anointing is the equivalent of drinking  .)

This principle is derived in a Mishna on our daf from a passuk,  and is applied to Yom Kippur  in particular, to the point that anointing oneself on Yom-Kippur is forbidden just like drinking is .

This comparison  is only partial though, and the severe punishment of kareit (excision ) that applies to one who eats knowingly and intentional on Yom Kippur certainly does not apply to one who anoints oneself – at most , it involves a regular biblical prohibition , at least , a rabbinical one based on a verse ( אסמכתא ) 

The question is whether this principle is unique to Yom Kippur, as implied by the Mishna’s precise wording , or applicable in other areas of halocho too, with the Mishna using Yom Kippur just as the main example of such application , for whatever reason .

If this principle  does indeed apply to Chametz on Pesach too, it would seem that anointing oneself with Chametz might be equivalent to drinking it, and thus forbidden .

However, even if this is true, one would have to investigate further whether this could create a biblical or even rabbinic prohibition on using deodorant or perfume containing chametz on Pesach.

This is because the biblical  prohibitions on Pesach only apply to chametz that is still fit for a dog to eat .

Even if anointing oneself with chametz that is fit for a dog to eat is forbidden like drinking is on Pesach , and not just as part of the prohibition of benefitting from chametz, seeing as the perfume is not fit for a dog to DRINK , there might  still be no prohibition to ANNOINT with it, at least biblically .

Even if it is still forbidden rabbinically to drink such unfit chametz, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Chazal extended their ruling to the already novel principle of סיכה כשתיה .

One would have to investigate whether

–  סיכה כשתיה merely means that  anointing is the same as drinking regarding the actual prohibition itself   ,


 -whether it is a broad enough comparison to mean that if it is FIT for anointing , it is ALSO  as if it is fit for drinking .

Only if the latter is true , would we say that seeing as perfume and deodorant is fit for anointing, it is considered as if it was fit for drinking, and thus anointing with it is forbidden.

One could also argue that deodorant is not used for classic anointing at all, which is to provide  a good fragrance, soften the skin,  or other pleasure, but simply to remove bad odor, which MIGHT be  permitted even on Yom Kippur. This depends on the scope  of the prohibition on Yom Kippur, which is in turn derived from the requirement to afflict oneself.

The latter argument is not straight forward, as most modern deodorants are dual purpose and many people indeed choose them based on their preferred fragrance,  using them even  when they are not particularly sweaty or smelly.  As such, it seems to me that such deodorants may indeed be viewed halachically as perfumes, though I have not come to any conclusion on the matter.

There is much to discuss about the first חקירה   we made regarding whether the rule of סיחה     כשתיה   applies only on Yom Kippur or in all areas of halacha.

Suffice to say is that given that this is a Chiddush, and the Mishna specifically mentions Yom Kippur alone, the burden of proof should be with one who wishes to claim that Yom Kippur is merely an example of the application of a general rule.

Examining the source for the rule, one comes to  the Passuk in Tehillim  109 , where David haMelech describes the curse that befalls those who forget Hashem and oppress the poor-וַיִּלְבַּ֥שׁ קְלָלָ֗ה כְּמַ֫דּ֥וֹ וַתָּבֹ֣א כַמַּ֣יִם בְּקִרְבּ֑וֹ וְ֝כַשֶּׁ֗מֶן בְּעַצְמוֹתָֽיו: 

(and the curse will come like his garment, and it will come like water inside him and like oil in his bones”)

In the passuk, oil which soaks into one’s bones through annointing , is compared to water in one’s insides (stomach) which is absorbed through drinking, hence the basis (though admittedly by the Mishna itself only a “zecher ladavar”) for the rule.

As the context is that of suffering, and the Mitzva of Yom Kippur is also that of self-affliction, it seems clear that the comparison is being made specifically in the context of affliction, not other things.

However, the room is still open to argue that if refraining from annointing with oil and the like  is considered a  requirement of  affliction like refraining from drinking water is, then the benefit obtained on Pesach from annointing with chametz , is also equivalent to the benefit obtained from drinking chametz.

If so, even if we do not expand the rule to include also  אסורי אכילה  (things that one is forbidden to eat or drink), perhaps we would at least extend it to אסורי הנאה , like Pesach.

Although  the prohibition of benefitting only applies to edible chametz, perhaps chametz which is fit for annointing  is also considered edible regarding the definition of benefit?

In practise, it seems that there are a lot of Chiddushim (novel ideas) required to forbid using deoderant or even perfume containing chametz alcohol on Pesach, and that it is probably fine.

I wrote this as a lomdishe analysis based mainly on this daf, without taking an encyclopedic view to the concept as is required to come to a full conclusion, but a quick look at parallel sugyos and the relevant Rishonim reveals that there is indeed some disagreement as to the scope of this rule .

I  was happy to see that although the Chofetz Chaim in Biur Halocho (326/10) tends towards stringency even in regular אסורי אכילה like חלב  (forbidden fats), most contemporary poskim including Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l  (O.C 3/62) and Rav Asher Weiss  יבדל לחיים  ( I have seen quoted from his Hagada siman 24 but have not got hold of one yet) seem to  hold that there is no problem with annointing  with inedible chometz materials , each citing various distinctions that I made in this analysis!)

( These daf posts are aimed to raise points for discussion and analysis based on a chosen idea on the given daf . They are written quickly, without sufficient time to be checked thoroughly  by myself or senior Talmidei Chachomim, and not meant for psak halocho- please message me privately if you require practical guidance in the relevant area and if I cannot help you myself, I shall  bli neder try direct you or your question to someone who can.

I hope that those who read them will give their input and help me improve on them)

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