We have referred various times to the debate between Rashi and Tosfos on the first daf regarding the reasons for the requirement to search for chametz the night before Pesach.
Rashi explained that it is to avoid the prohibitions of בל יראה ובל ימצא.
Tosfos, in contrast, argued based on the Gemara (Pesachim 4b and 6b) that seeing as on a biblical level, בטול חמץ is sufficient to remove it from one’s possession, AND בטול is compulsory rabbinically, the search is not necessary to avoid these prohibitions and is rather a rabbinic requirement to avoid coming to eat chametz that one has nullified on Pesach.
On Daf 5, the Gemara analyzes the sources and parameters of these two related prohibitions and on Daf 6, it also records a debate amongst Tannaim as to how to fulfill the positive commandment of תשביתו (removing chametz from one’s possession.)
To make some order, let us summarize the various pessukim involved:
שמות פרק יב
(טו) שִׁבְעַ֤ת יָמִים֙ מַצּ֣וֹת תֹּאכֵ֔לוּ אַ֚ךְ בַּיּ֣וֹם הָרִאשׁ֔וֹן תַּשְׁבִּ֥יתוּ שְּׂאֹ֖ר מִבָּתֵּיכֶ֑ם כִּ֣י׀ כָּל־אֹכֵ֣ל חָמֵ֗ץ וְנִכְרְתָ֞ה הַנֶּ֤פֶשׁ הַהִוא֙ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מִיּ֥וֹם הָרִאשֹׁ֖ן עַד־י֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִעִֽי:
“For 7 days, you shall eat matzoth, but on the first day, you shall cease to have any seor (yeast) in your houses, as anyone who eats chametz will have his soul cut off from Israel, from the first day until the seventh day”
Here, we see a positive mitzva to remove all seor/chametz from one’s possession before Pesach (the Gemara understands the “first day” here to refer to the day before Pesach, from midday and the word “but” to divide the day into two, half permitted to own chametz and half forbidden.
“Seor” refers to chametz that is no longer fit for a dog to eat but has turned into yeast which has the capability of causing other dough to become chametz.
שמות פרק יב
(יט) שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֔ים שְׂאֹ֕ר לֹ֥א יִמָּצֵ֖א בְּבָתֵּיכֶ֑ם כִּ֣י׀ כָּל־אֹכֵ֣ל מַחְמֶ֗צֶת וְנִכְרְתָ֞ה הַנֶּ֤פֶשׁ הַהִוא֙ מֵעֲדַ֣ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בַּגֵּ֖ר וּבְאֶזְרַ֥ח הָאָֽרֶץ:
“For seven days, seor may not be found in your homes, for anyone who eats “that which leavens”, his soul will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, amongst the stranger and citizen of the land.”
Here, we see a prohibition to allow any seor to be found in one’s house over the Pesach period, as well as the severe punishment of כרת for one who eats seor or chametz on Pesach.
There also seems to be a hint to the Ran’s suggestion (see earlier post on Daf 2) that the reason for this prohibition is indeed to avoid the serious penalty for eating it.
שמות פרק יג
(ז) מַצּוֹת֙ יֵֽאָכֵ֔ל אֵ֖ת שִׁבְעַ֣ת הַיָּמִ֑ים וְלֹֽא־יֵרָאֶ֨ה לְךָ֜ חָמֵ֗ץ וְלֹֽא־יֵרָאֶ֥ה לְךָ֛ שְׂאֹ֖ר בְּכָל־גְּבֻלֶֽךָ:
“Matzoth shall be eaten for these seven days, and no chametz shall be ‘seen for/to you’ and no seor shall be ‘seen for/to you’ in all your borders.”
Here, we see a prohibition against any seor or chametz “being seen for you” in all one’s borders.
What precisely this means, requires clarification, and based on the simple reading, it could refer to
- A prohibition against seeing any chametz
- A prohibition against seeing any chametz that belongs to you
- A prohibition against having any chametz that is or could be seen by you
- A prohibition against having any chametz in one’s possession, the word “יראה” not referring to literally being seen, but rather to “appearing before one/being present” (as in “ולא יראה פני ריקם” regarding עליה לרגל.)
דברים פרק טז
(ד) וְלֹֽא־יֵרָאֶ֨ה לְךָ֥ שְׂאֹ֛ר בְּכָל־גְּבֻלְךָ֖ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִ֑ים…..
“and there shall not be seen to you any seor in all your borders for 7 days”
This seems to be a repeat (as is common in Sefer Devarim) of the prohibition against seeing seor on Pesach.
Based on the Gemara (Beitza 7b,) most of the Rishonim seem to understand that the prohibition against seeing chametz or seor is one prohibition applicable to both chametz and seor (see for example רמבם סה”מ לאו ר and סמ”ג עז-עח but see also סמ”ק לד-לה who counts them separately!)
Similarly, the prohibition against owning chametz or seor is also seen as one prohibition.
However, the relationship between the prohibition against seeing chametz/seor (בל יראה) and the prohibition against owning (בל ימצא) is more subtle.
Although they are counted by the Rishonim as two separate prohibitions (see for example Sefer haMitzvos 200/201) the Gemara understands that they share parameters, and whenever the one applies, the other applies as well.
For example, even if one owns chametz that is hidden from sight, one transgresses BOTH prohibitions, even though one does not see it.
In addition to this “double prohibition,” there is also a positive command of “תשביתו”, removing chametz from one’s possession before Pesach, which one transgresses on failure to do so.
There is so much to go into regarding this “double” prohibition and its related positive commandment and we shall hopefully get a chance to get to understand them a lot more over the coming daf- in the meanwhile, I hope that this brief summary will help clarify some of the basics.