In loving memory of my dear father, Moreinu haRav Avraham Benzion ben Azriel Hertz Isaacson zt’l ( Rabbi Ben Isaacson of blessed memory), whose love of Torah, passion for justice, and acts of kindness inspire everything I do.
We are already aware that it is forbidden to eat, derive benefit from, or own Chametz during Pesach itself, and that this prohibition extends forwards to the afternoon of Pesach eve, from midday onwards.
The Mishna on Daf 28a tells us that whereas chametz that belonged to a non-Jew on Pesach(literally that Pesach “passed over” ) may be benefitted from by a Jew after Pesach, chametz that belonged to a Jew on Pesach may not, because the passuk says “ולא יראה לך”- chametz shall not be seen by you, which we have learnt is a source for the twin prohibition of seeing and owning chametz on Pesach (see post on Pesachim 5-7.)
We are immediately struck by the need to explain how the prohibition against seeing and owning chametz on Pesach is connected to the Mishna’s חדוש (novelty) that chametz owned by a Jew on Pesach remains forbidden after Pesach, and two possibilities spring to mind:
- Chazal learnt from the passuk that this biblical prohibition extends beyond Pesach itself.
- Chazal forbade such chametz after pesach on a rabbinical level due to the biblical prohibition of owning it on Pesach itself, as some form of fine.
Besides for the obvious differences in how biblical and rabbinical prohibitions are treated when it comes to doubts and other difficult situations, a few POSSIBLE practical ramifications of the above analysis could be whether chametz that a Jew was unaware was in his possession on Pesach (שוגג) should be subject to the prohibition.
If the biblical prohibition on Chametz in a Jew’s possession on pesach simply extends to after Pesach, it would seem irrelevant whether the Jew intentionally kept the chametz in his possession or did so mistakenly.
However, if it is a rabbinical fine, it is possible, though not by any means certain, that Chazal did not extend the fine for an unintentional transgression, particularly if he performed the search and destroy operation to the best of his ability.
It is also possible though that Chazal wanted a person to be so careful that they extended this fine even to an unintentional lapse, perhaps even if he did בטול and thus never even transgressed the biblical prohibition of owning chametz at all!
In contrast, if it is simple an extension of the biblical prohibition, it does not seem likely that it would apply to someone who performed בטול and thus never transgressed the biblical prohibition at all, but on the other hand, it would probably apply to one who transgressed the prohibition unintentionally.
The Gemara opens its discussion on this Mishna by attempting to identify whose view, amongst 3 Tannaim who debate the subject in a Beraisa, is reflected in this Mishna.
It brings a Beraisa which lists 3 opinions:
- Rabbi Yehuda holds that it is biblically forbidden for Jew to eat or benefit from chametz
- Before Pesach (from midday on Erev Pesach)
- During Pesach and one who does so is subject to כרת.
- That a Jew owned on Pesach, even after Pesach
- Rabbi Shimon holds that there is no biblical prohibition against chametz either on Erev Pesach or after Pesach
- Rabbi Yossi haGalili holds that even on Pesach, the prohibition is limited to eating (and owning) chametz and not to benefitting from it.
The Gemara notes that our Mishna does not appear to reflect the view of any of these 3 authorities because
- Rabbi Yehuda does not appear to differentiate between chametz of a Jew and that of a non-Jew, learning the 3 prohibited periods from the three times the prohibition of chametz is mentioned.
- Rabbi Shimon does not appear to forbid chametz after Pesach at all
- Rabbi Yosi holds that even during Pesach, the prohibition is only to eat chametz and not to benefit from it.
The Gemara brings two approaches two reconciling the Mishna with at least one of these opinions:
- Rav Acha bar Yaakov says that the Mishna does indeed reflect the view of Rabbi Yehuda, but that Rabbi Yehuda compares the prohibition of benefitting from chametz to that of seeing chametz, which we already know does not apply to chametz of a non-Jew. According to this, we would need to say that Rabbi Yehuda holds that there is no biblical prohibition of benefitting or perhaps even eating chametz of non-Jew even during Pesach, which would be an enormous חדוש (see Rashi.)
- Avoiding the need for such a חדוש in the words of Rabbi Yehuda (who initially appeared to be more stringent that his colleagues), Rava says that the Mishna reflects the view of Rabbi Shimon, and that the prohibition of benefitting from chametz owned by a Jew over Pesach, AFTER Pesach, is a rabbinical fine for owning it on Pesach , following the second explanation we suggested earlier of the passuk the Mishna brings- the passuk thus being the reason but not the actual source for the prohibition.
The Gemara proves that Rav Acha bar Yaakov changed his mind and m,m accepted Rava’s explanation.
As such, we now have a סתם משנה supporting Rabbi Shimon who holds that there is no biblical prohibition of chametz before or after Pesach at all and that the prohibition of benefitting from chametz owned on a Jew over Pesach AFTER Pesach is only a rabbinical fine.
It follows, based on an earlier analysis, that in case of a ספק or other situation where rabbinical prohibitions do not apply, we should perhaps be lenient, and that in situations where a person tried his best to get rid of his chametz and unintentionally left some over, there MIGHT be no need for such a fine and the chametz might be permitted.
Yet, the Rambam rules (Chametz uMatza 1/8,9) seemingly like Rabbi Yehuda, that Chametz is biblically forbidden from midday on Erev Pesach and that even if one mistakenly left chametz in his possession, or even if he did so due to matters beyond his control, it is still forbidden after Pesach (Chametz uMatza 1/4 .)
Whereas his former his ruling is subject to debate amongst Rishonim (see for example Raavad there) the consensus of the Rishonim seems to follow his later ruling (see Ramban, Ritva, Rosh, Ran etc) and go even further by forbidden it even if he did בטול but failed to get rid of it.
The basis of these rulings is the subject of much discussion, and we shall return to it in the coming daf, Hashem willing.
These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.