כ״ו באדר ה׳תשע״ב (March 20, 2012)

Temurah 34a – Burning leaven on Passover

Among the items listed in the Mishnah that must be burned is hametz – leavened bread – on Passover. Must hametz be burned or can it be removed or destroyed in other ways, as well?
The Gemara on today’s daf (=page) argues that by listing hametz as something that is burned, the author of the Mishnah is identifying with the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah who rules that the only method of destroying hametz is burning. In fact, the Mishnah in Massekhet Pesahim (daf 21a) brings the opinion of that it is permissible to destroy hametz even by crumbling it up and tossing it in the wind or throwing it into the sea.
In explanation of this disagreement, an interesting suggestion is made by Rabbi Hayyim Soloveitchik in his Hidushei Rabbi Hayyim HaLevi (Hilkhot Hametz U’Matzah). Rabbi Soloveichik argues that these two positions depend on the basic definition of bi’ur – destruction – of the hametz. Is this a purposeful command, so that the very act of burning hametz is the fulfillment of a mitzvah, or is the commandment merely a requirement to ensure that the individual’s property will be cleared of hametz? Rabbi Yehudah who is meticulous about the quality and means of destroying the hametz, requiring that it be burned, believes that the mitzvah is actually eradication of the hametz. The Sages who permit any manner of destruction do not see the eradication of hametz as a commandment in itself, as it is merely the means to an end – the removal of hametz from the person’s property.

Although our Mishnah presents Rabbi Yehudah’s opinion without comment, nevertheless the halakhah follows the Sages, and hametz can be destroyed in any manner, although it is nevertheless customary to burn it (see RemaShulhan ArukhOrah Hayyim 445:1).

 

Previous