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The Laws of Pesach - Defining Chametz (2) ֠Mixtures

  • Rav David Brofsky

the laws of THE FESTIVALS



In memory of Yakov Yehuda ben Pinchas Wallach
and Miriam Wallach bat Tzvi Donner





by Rav David Brofsky



Shiur #3: The Laws of Pesach

Defining Chametz (2) – Mixtures



            Last week, we discussed the definition of chametz, which is prohibited on Pesach.  We distinguished between chametz gamur, a mixture that has either displayed physical signs of leavening or, according to some, stood for at least 18 minutes, and chametz nuksheh, which has either not completed the process of chimutz or was never fit for human consumption.  We also noted that all chametz, even chametz which has spoiled, must be destroyed before Pesach.  It is permitted, however, to own chametz that has spoiled to a point at which it is no longer fit for canine consumption (nifsal me-akhilat kelev); according to some, it is also permitted to consume such chametz during Pesach. 


            This week, we will continue our attempt to define the chametz which the Torah prohibits eating and owning during Pesach.  We will discuss mixtures of chametz, as well as the custom to refrain from eating “gebrukts.” 


Ta’arovet Chametz


            Generally, regarding ordinary prohibited foods (ma’akhalot assurot), we distinguish between different types of mixtures: yavesh be-yavesh and lach be-lach. 


            A mixture of yavesh be-yavesh refers to a mixture of dry substances that were not cooked together.  For example, a mixture of pieces of kosher and non-kosher meat that have not been cooked together is considered a "dry mixture."


There is a further distinction between a mixture of similar pieces and dissimilar pieces.  A mixture of similar pieces (min be-mino) refers to a mixture in which the pieces of kosher and non-kosher meat are from the same species of animals and have similar tastes, such as slabs of kosher and non-kosher beef.  A mixture of dissimilar pieces (min be-sheino mino) refers to a mixture in which the pieces are from different species of animals and therefore have different tastes, such as beef and pork. 


In a mixture of yavesh be-yavesh, we are not concerned with a physical melding of the pieces or with the transfer of "taste" from one piece to another, but rather with the chance that one may eat a piece of non-kosher meat.  If the majority of the pieces are kosher, may one eat a non-identified piece from the mixture? What is the halakhic identity of a particular piece chosen from the mixture? The stakes are high, being that one may actually eat an entire non-kosher piece of meat.  But there is also a chance that one may not partake of any non-kosher substance if the majority of the pieces are kosher.  The general halakhic principle of statistical majority, based on Shemot 23:2 (acharei rabim le-hatot), legislates that "chad betrei batel," one non-kosher piece can be viewed as "batel" (nullified) in the majority of kosher pieces, and the mixture may be consumed. 


Another type of mixture is known as lach be-lach, a "wet mixture."  In this scenario, the non-kosher substance melds with the kosher substance and they cannot be separated from one another.  This can occur when two liquids, kosher and non-kosher, are mixed together.  Ta’am (taste) can also be transferred, under certain circumstances, if a solid comes into contact with a liquid. For example, if milk falls onto a piece of meat or meat falls into a soup and is removed but the taste remains, ta’am may be transferred under the proper conditions.  Quite often, the entire mixture will assume the taste of the non-kosher entity.  What is the status of the entire mixture?


We must once again distinguish between a mixture of similar tasting substances (a piece of non-kosher beef in a kosher beef soup) and a mixture of dissimilar tasting foods (non-kosher meat in a tomato soup).  On the one hand, in a min be-sheino mino (dissimilar) mixture, the taste of the primary, kosher substance may dilute the taste of the minor, non-kosher substance until the taste of the minority non-kosher substance may no longer be noticeable.  In this case, it is possible to actually determine whether the taste of the prohibited substance is still noticeable.  On the other hand, in a mixture of similar tasting substances, a min be-mino mixture, the taste of the prohibited substance is not different from that of the prohibited one and therefore is undistinguishable. 


Chazal teach (Chullin 97b) that a mixture of dissimilar substances (min be-sheino mino) requires sixty times more heter (permitted substance) than issur (prohibited substance) in order to permit the mixture, while a mixture of similar tasting substances (min be-mino) is the subject of Talmudic debate.  In such a case, the Rabbanan maintain that the mixture is permitted once there is a majority of heter.  R. Yehuda disagrees and argues that, on the contrary, the mixture is not permitted even if the slightest amount of issur has been introduced.


Issur Mashehu- Chametz on Pesach Cannot be Nullified:


Regarding a chametz lach be-lach mixture of dissimilar substances, the Chakhamim and R. Eliezer (Pesachim 42a) debate whether there is a special prohibition concerning a ta’arovet chametz.  However, regardless of the specific prohibitions and punishments involved, the uniqueness of chametz generates an important practical difference between chametz mixtures and other mixtures. While chametz that becomes mixed with other foods before Pesach is nullified by permissible matter sixty times greater in volume (bittul ba-shishim), when chametz is mixed with permissible matter during the festival, it can never be nullified.  Even the smallest amount (mashehu) prohibits the entire mixture.  As Rav teaches (Pesachim 29b):


Rav said: Chametz, in its time [during Pesach], whether [mixed] with its own kind or with a different kind, is forbidden; when not in its time, [if mixed] with its own kind, it is forbidden; [if with] a different kind, it is permitted… This refers to a minute quantity [of chametz].


            The Rishonim question why the laws of chametz are so much stricter than that of ordinary mixtures to the degree that a mixture of dissimilar substances, which is usually batel ba-shishim, is not batel at all in the case of chametz. 


Rashi (Pesachim 29b, s.v. she-lo) explains that the Sages added this extra stringency to chametz and not to other prohibited substances such as cheilev (prohibited fats) and dam (blood), which are also punishable by karet, because in those cases “one is accustomed to separate oneself from them. Chametz, however, one is not accustomed to separate oneself from, as one eats it throughout the year.” In his opinion (following the view of R. Yehuda), a regular mixture of similar substances (min be-mino) is also not subject to bittul.  The chametz stringency is thus really manifests in a case of min be-sheino mino. The Rosh (Avoda Zara 5:30) concurs. 


The Rambam (Hilkhot Ma'akhalot Assurot 16:9) offers a different reason.  He writes that chametz cannot be nullified because it is a "davar she-yesh lo matirin," a prohibited item that will eventually become permitted.  The Talmud (Beitza 3b) teaches that a non-kosher item that will become permitted after time, such as “chadash” (the new wheat that is prohibited until after the first day of Pesach), cannot be nullified in a mixture.  Rashi explains that one should not rely upon bittul if one can simply wait until the item will be permitted.  Therefore, in our case, since one could simply wait until after Pesach is over and then eat the chametz, there is no justification for relying upon bittul. 


The Rishonim challenge this assertion for numerous reasons.  The Mordekhai (Pesachim 553), for example, suggests that since chametz will become prohibited again the next year, it cannot be considered to be a davar she-yesh lo matirin.  (The Ran [Nedarim 52a] offers an entirely different understanding of davar she-yesh lo matirin.)


The Acharonim suggest a number of practical differences between Rashi, who attributes this stringency to the severity of the prohibition of chametz, and the Rambam, who defines chametz as a davar she-yesh lo matirin. 


For example, chametz is prohibited mi-deoraita on Erev Pesach from noon until nightfall, although the punishment of karet is not incurred.  The Shulchan Arukh (447:2) rules that if chametz is mixed into a mixture on Erev Pesach, even after the sixth hour, the chametz is still batel ba-shishim.  The Mishna Berura (15) explains that since the prohibition is less severe than the prohibition of chametz during Pesach, it can be nullified before Pesach.  Similarly, the Arukh Ha-Shulchan (447:3) suggests that chametz nuksheh should be batel ba-shishim, as one who eats it does not incur karet.  Since these prohibited consumptions are less severe in nature, Chazal did not apply the prohibition of mixtures to them, as per Rashi’s suggestion. The Arukh Ha-Shulchan offers other differences between the two opinions as well. 


Rabbeinu Tam (Tosafot 30a, s.v. amar Rav) and the She’iltot (Tzav, She’ilta 3:80) disagree with the opinions cited above and assert that chametz is actually batel ba-shishim even during Pesach.  Tosafot report, however, that Rabbeinu Tam did not actually accept this opinion in practice.  The Shulchan Arukh (447:1) rules that chametz is not batel if it is mixed with permitted substances during Pesach. 


Is it also prohibited to derive benefit from a mixture that contains a minute amount of chametz?


The Ra’avad, Ramban, and Rashba rule that one may derive benefit from such a mixture; Chazal only prohibited eating it.  The Rif, Rambam, Rashi and Tosafot, however, disagree, and forbid deriving benefit from this mixture as well.  The Shulchan Arukh (447:1) rules accordingly. 


Which mixtures are subject to this stringency?


The Rishonim disagree as to whether this stringency also applies to a mixture of dry substances.  For example, if a piece of chametz became mixed in with pieces of matza and cannot be discerned, what is the status of the mixture?  Generally, a substance of issur in a yaveh ba-yavesh mixture is batel be-rov, nullified when mixed with a majority of kosher food.  The Rif (Avoda Zara 30a) implies that the stringency regarding chametz applies to dry mixtures as well; even a mashehu of chametz in a dry mixture is not batel. The Rosh (Avoda Zara 5:30), however, limits its application to wet mixtures.  The Shulchan Arukh (447:9) cites two opinions regarding this question, and the Mishna Berura (95) concludes that the consensus of the Acharonim is to accept the first, more stringent opinion. 


            The Beit Yosef (467) cites earlier authorities who caution against drinking water from wells during Pesach, especially from wells shared with non-Jews, lest there be pieces of chametz in the well.  One should carefully filter out grains of wheat with a cloth.  The Mishna Berura (467:62, 67) writes that while one may be lenient regarding grains of wheat, if bread fell into a pit of water, the entire pit is prohibited. 


            In a similar vein, in recent years, poskim have questioned whether the water which comes from the Kinneret should be prohibited, lest pieces of bread cast into the Kinneret during Pesach prohibit the entire lake.  R. Asher Weiss, in his Haggada Shel Pesach - Minchat Asher, cites numerous opinions that assert that one need not be concerned with chametz which falls into a river, as opposed to a contained body of water.  After discussing the relevant views of the Acharonim, he notes that according to Mekorot (Israel’s National Water Company), all water that is brought from the Kinneret is first exposed to a pool of fish, which consume organic material, then to a chemical process that breaks down organic material, and finally to chlorination, which kills bacteria and purifies the water. He concludes:


In my humble opinion, the real answer to this question lies in a powerful rationale, which states that a river cannot be prohibited by a mashehu [of chametz].  Because if so, the entire ocean could be prohibited by a crumb of bread which fell in, and all of the world’s water would be prohibited! And this is simply unacceptable, and logic does not tolerate this.


The popular work Piskei Teshuvot (467:14) also discusses this issue and cites five reasons to be lenient.


Chozer Ve-Ne’or and Noten Ta’am Li-Fegam:


As we learned above, chametz, even in the smallest amount, prohibits an entire mixture.  Not only do the normal laws of bittul not apply to chametz, but the application of other leniencies generally associated with mixtures is questionable.  In addition to the fact that a mixture of chametz with other foods is prohibited even in the smallest amounts and not subject to the laws of bittul, leniencies associated with other food are at times not applied to chametz. 


If chametz is mixed with other substances before Pesach, it can be batel ba-shishim, as we learned above.  The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-Matza 4:12) writes that although the chametz was batel before Pesach and one may own it during Pesach, the mixture should not be eaten during Pesach.  The Rambam and other Rishonim believe that the chametz is “chozer ve-ne’or” (literally, “wakes up again”) during Pesach and should therefore not be consumed.  The Rosh (Pesachim 2:65) disagrees.


            The Shulchan Arukh (447:4) cites both opinions.  The Rama rules, in accordance with the Terumat Ha-Deshen (114), that while one may be lenient regarding wet mixtures, one should accept the strict opinion regarding dry mixtures.  Apparently, while issur mixed into a wet mixture “disappears,” in a dry mixture, it is still present, only indistinguishable. 


Due to the severity of the prohibition of chametz and the stringencies associated with mixtures of chametz, some have the custom to buy only products produced before Pesach, when chametz is batel.  Similarly, matzot are made before Pesach so that one can, be-diavad, rely upon the bittul of chametz in one’s matzot if necessary.  Some are even accustomed to purchase “18 minute matzot.” During the production of these matzot, the machines are stopped and cleaned every eighteen minutes to ensure that no dough that was caught in the machines, which would still be batel ba-shishim, is mixed into one’s matzot. 


There are other general kashrut questions relevant to mixtures as well.  The gemara (Avoda Zara 65-6) states that when non-kosher taste mixes with a permitted substance, the mixture remains permitted if the issur has a detrimental impact on the permitted food.  The gemara deduces this from the verse that prohibits the consumption of meat that was not ritually slaughtered (neveila): "You should not eat any neveila; rather you should give it to a stranger in your midst or sell it to a non-Jew...” (Devarim 14:21).  The gemara infers that only food that can be given to a "stranger," that is, which is edible, is prohibited.  However, food that is not fit for the stranger is not considered neveila and may be consumed. 


The gemara presents two applications of this principle.  The first, as mentioned above, involves mixing a non-kosher element into kosher food, causing a detrimental effect upon the mixture.  The second, which is more common and relevant, involves cooking in non-kosher pots that have not been used for non-kosher food for at least 24 hours (eino ben yomo).  The Torah relates that after the conquest of Midian, Elazar Ha-Kohen commanded the people to "kasher" any cooking utensils taken from the spoils (Bamidbar 31:21–23).  The gemara (Avoda Zara 67-8) explains that the Torah is concerned with "gi'ulei nokhrim," the taste of non-kosher food emitted from the cooking utensils.  The gemara asserts that the Torah is only concerned with taste emitted from utensils within a day after they were used ("ben yomo").  After that day ("eino ben yomo"), however, the taste emitted from these utensils is regarded as "noten ta'am li-fegam" (imparting detrimental taste), and the food is permitted.  Therefore, utensils which are "eino ben yomo" – more than a day away from contact with ta'am of issur - may be used mi-de'oraita.   


The gemara rules, however, that it is Rabbinically prohibited to use a non-kosher utensil even after a day has passed, lest one come to cook in a keli which is ben yomo.  In other words, a "keli she-eino ben yomo" is still prohibited mi-derabanan.  Be-diavad, however, if food is accidentally cooked in a non-kosher pot which is "eino ben yomo," the food is permitted.


The Rishonim debate whether this leniency applies to chametz as well.  Tosafot (ibid., s.v. mi-khlal), the Rosh (5:6), and the Mordekhai (567) rule that noten ta’am li-figam applies to all prohibited substances, including an issur mashehu (such as chametz).  The Yere’im (52) and the Rashba (Responsa 1:499), however, disagree, insisting that a small amount of chametz always prohibits the mixture even if it is noten ta’am li-figam. 


R. Yosef Karo (Shulchan Arukh 447:10) adopts the lenient view, while the Rama records that it is customary to be strict.  Thus, if one accidentally cooks food on Pesach in an eino ben yomo pot that was used for chametz before Pesach, R. Karo would permit the food and the Rama would prohibit it.  Interestingly, the Arukh Ha-Shulchan (447:21) asserts that the halakha is really in accordance with the more lenient view; therefore, one who rules leniently for the poor has not “lost out.”  He also cites the Chakham Tzvi (75), who permits the food if the pot has not been used for at least 12 months.


Bal Yera’eh and Bal Yimatze - Owning a Chametz Mixture


The opening mishna of the third chapter of Pesachim (42a) teaches:


Elu overin be-Pesach ["With these one transgresses on Pesach;" alternatively: "These are removed on Pesach"see below]: Babylonian kutach, Median beer, Edomite vinegar, Egyptian beer, dyer's broth, cook's dough, and scribes glue.  R.  Eliezer says: Also women's toiletries…


            Last week, we discussed the last three examples cited in the mishna, described by the gemara as chametz nuksheh.  The first four examples are all mixtures containing chametz, ta’arovot chametz. 


Rabbeinu Tam (Tosafot, s.v. ve-eilu overin) understands “ve-eilu overin” as “these are to be removed,” as they cannot be eaten.  However, one does not violate bal yera’eh and bal yimatze for owning a chametz mixture. 


Rashi (ibid., s.v. ve-eilu) interprets “ve-eilu overin” as “with these one transgresses;” one who keeps a chametz mixture during Pesach violates bal yera’eh and bal yimatze.  The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-Matza 4:8) agrees. 


The commentators on the Rambam disagree as to when one violates bal yera’eh and bal yimztze.  The Maggid Mishneh questions whether one only violates the prohibition of owning chametz if one keeps a mixture containing a significant amount of chametz, that is, a kezayit bi-kedei akhilat peras (the size of an olive or more with the combined volume of three [Rashi] or four [Rambam] eggs) or even a mixture containing less (R. Moshe Ha-Kohen, cited by Maggid Mishna and Kessef Mishna 4:8).  Indeed, even among the Rishonim, the Maharam Chalavah (Pesachim 43a) rules that one only violates the Biblical prohibition of owning chametz for a mixture containing a kezayit bi-kedei akhilat peras, while Rabbeinu David (ibid. 42a) believes that any mixture containing a kezayit of chametz is prohibited to own mi-deoraita. 


The Acharonim also discuss whether this debate applies only to a ta’arovet which contains a be-ein (an actual piece) of chametz mixed into the mixture, or even a mixture which contains ta’am (taste) of chametz.


The Shulchan Arukh (442:1) rules that one violates bal yera’eh and bal yimatze for keeping a mixture containing chametz over Pesach.  The Mishna Berura (1) and Arukh Ha-shulchan (12) assume that the halakha is in accordance with R. Moshe Ha-Kohen, who rules that one violates the prohibitions of owning chametz even for keeping a mixture with less than a kezayit of chametz. 


All agree that if the chametz is batel ba-shishim (nullified by 60 parts of a permissible substance), since eating the mixture is prohibited mi-derabbanan, owning it is also only prohibited mi-derabbanan,


Practically, one must rid oneself of all chametz before Pesach.  However, whether one violates bal yera’eh and bal yimatze may impact upon whether a mixture owned by a Jew during Pesach would be prohibited as chametz she-avar alav ha-Pesach.  Furthermore, even those who are hesitant to “sell” their chametz through the traditional mechirat chametz are often more willing to sell mixtures, as one may not violate an issur de-oraita by owning them.


Ta’arovet Chametz That is Unfit for Consumption


            Last week, we learned that although dough which never became fit for human consumption is considered to be chametz nuksheh, which must be destroyed and may not be owned during Pesach, chametz that was edible but then spoiled to the point at which is what no longer fit for canine consumption may be kept.


            The Tosefta (Pesachim 3:2) writes:


Similarly, an eye salve, a compress, and a plaster into which chametz was placed do not need to be destroyed.


            The Ra’avad (Hilkhot Chametz U-Matzah 4:10-11) and Ra’avan (cited by Rosh, Pesachim 3:10), understand this Tosefta as referring to substances that become unfit for canine consumption and are therefore permitted on Pesach.  The Rambam, however, disagrees.  He writes (Hilkhot Chametz U-Matza 4:8, 12):


However, a substance which contains a mixture of chametz but is not fit to be eaten may be kept on Pesach.

A substance which is not eaten by people, or one which is generally not eaten by people, with which chametz has become mixed, for example, Tiriac and the like, although one may keep it [during Pesach], eating it is prohibited until after Pesach.  Even though it contains only the smallest amount of chametz, eating it is forbidden.


            The Rambam explains that a mixture containing chametz that becomes unfit for human consumption may be kept during Pesach, although it may not be eaten.  What is the difference between chametz gamur, regarding which one violates bal yera’eh and bal yimatze unless it becomes unfit for canine consumption, and a ta’arovet chametz, which one may keep once it becomes unfit for human consumption?


            R. Chaim Soloveitchik, in his novellae (chiddushim) on the Rambam (Hilkhot Ma’akhalot Assurot 15:1), distinguishes between chametz and ta’arovet chametz.  Chametz is itself a prohibited substance and, even spoiled, may still cause chimutz in a different dough. It thus must be spoiled to the point that it is no longer fit even for canine consumption.  A mixture, however, which is only prohibited because of the “taste” of chametz (ta’am ke-ikkar), is no longer forbidden to own if the taste is no longer fit for human consumption. 


            The Shulchan Arukh (442:4) rules in accordance with the Rambam.  Based upon this ruling, it would seem that even one who refrains from using certain medicines and cosmetics on Pesach does not need to sell them to a non-Jew, as they are certainly not fit for human consumption.  We will discuss cosmetics and medicines next week.


Milk and Eggs on Pesach- Zeh Va-Zeh Gorem:


            There are meticulous individuals who buy all milk and eggs which they intend on using during Pesach before Pesach. There are numerous reasons for this custom.


            Some are concerned that chametz derivatives (such as Vitamin D), which are added to milk, may prohibit the milk. Therefore, although Vitamin D which is added before Pesach is batel ba-shishim, if it is added during Pesach, the milk may be prohibited. 


            Others are concerned that grains which are present while the cow is milked may fall into the milk.  Again, if they mix into the milk before Pesach, they are certainly batel, while if they fall into the milk during Pesach, they may prohibit the entire mixture.


            The more interesting concern, however, relates to a halakhic principle called zeh va-zeh gorem. The Sages (Avoda Zara 48b, Temura 30a, et. al.) debate whether in a situation in which numerous substances, permitted and prohibited, are responsible for the creation of an object, the object is permitted. For example, the Talmud (Avoda Zara 49a) records:


Has it not been taught: If a field has been manured with the manure derived from an idolatrous source or a cow has been fattened on beans derived from an idolatrous source, one Tanna decides that the field may be sown and the cow slaughtered, while another decides that the field must lie fallow and the cow grow lean.


            The Rishonim offer different understandings of this debate. Rashi (49a) and the Ran (21b, in the Rif), for example, suggest that the lenient opinion views this case like a case of mixtures, and therefore since more than one source contributed to the creation of this object, the prohibited source is batel.  Others (Tosafot; Rabbeinu David, Pesachim 26b) explain that since one can attribute the creation of this object to another cause (gorem), the object is permitted.


            The Shulchan Arukh (Y”D 142:11) rules in accordance with the lenient opinion: zeh va-zeh gorem mutar.


            The Acharonim, however, disagree whether since the laws of mixtures on Pesach are so strict, we would be strict regarding this principle as well. For example, if one bakes or cooks over a fire which is fueled by regular coals and charcoal produced from chametz burnt after midday on Erev Pesach, from which one may not derive benefit, would the food be prohibited?


The Magen Avraham (445:5, see also Taz Y”D 142:4) insists that in this case of zeh va-zeh gorem, in which both the regular coals and the burnt chametz contribute to the baking or cooking of the food, the food would be prohibited. Others (see Shulchan Arukh Y”D 142:4, 7; Shakh 10 and in his Nekudot Ha-Kesef) disagree. R. Aryeh Leib Heller (1745-1812), in his Responsa, the Avnei Milu’im (6-7), concludes in accordance with the Magen Avraham, regarding chametz, and the Shakh, regarding avoda zara. See Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav (445:10 and Kunteras Acharon 445:6) who discusses this issue as well.


            Regarding milk, R. Avraham Danzig (1748-1820), in his Nishmat Adam (Hilkhot Pesach, 9) a companion to the Chayye Adam, writes that although he has not seen this specific question dealt with explicitly, he has heard that some prohibit milk from cows fed chametz on Pesach based upon the Magen Avraham cited above. He, however, concludes that milk from such a cow, even if the cow is owned by a Jew, is permitted.


The Sha’are Teshuva (448:15) also discusses this issue, and concludes that milk taken from a cow owned by non-Jews, which was fed chametz, is certainly permitted. The Kitzur Shulchan Arukh (117:13), however, cites two views, and concludes that on should preferably avoid this milk. The Mishna Berura (448:33) also relates to this question.


            R. Moshe Feinstein, in a lengthy responsum (O.C. 1:147), rules that milk from a cow fed chametz on Pesach is permitted. He notes that while is may be appropriate for a “ba’al nefesh” to act stringently regarding milk taken from a cow owned by Jews, there is no reason to be strict if the cow was owned by non-Jews. Incidentally, he wrote this responsum in 1935, in Luban, shortly before immigrating to the United States. At the end of this essay, he alludes to the persecution he experienced at the hands of the Soviets.


            In Israel, Tenuva only accepts milk from farms which do not feed their cows chametz during Pesach. Furthermore, milk is filtered shortly after taken from the cows, and therefore one need not be concerned that even a bit of chametz is found in one’s milk during Pesach. In the Diaspora, as milk is generally taken from cows owned by non-Jews, there seems to be little reason to be concerned. Some, however, as mentioned above, are still accustomed to buy all of their dairy products before Pesach, in order to adhere to the strictest opinions cited above.


            This discussion is relevant to eggs laid on Pesach as well. Some are also accustomed to buy eggs before Pesach, fearing that they were washed with chicken feed (See Iggerot Moshe O.C 3:61 who rejects this stringency). Others fear that the stamp on the eggs contains chametz. The London Beth Din Kashrut Division ( reports that the ink used to print on eggs is made from two components, a coloring agent and a solvent. While the coloring agent is purely synthetic and does not present a problem for Passover, the solvents most commonly employed are isopropanol, ethanol or a combination of both, which may contain chametz. They explain that “the solvent is of such nature, that within a fraction of a second after applying the stamp, it completely evaporates. A moist stamp would lead to unwanted smudges. It is therefore very safe to assume, that not a trace of solvent remains within a short time of application to the egg.” They conclude, “to sum up: It is not certain if ethanol is used in stamping eggs. Even if ethanol is used, it is not certain that it is wheat derived. Even if wheat derived ethanol was used, none of it remains after the ink has dried and it no longer constitutes part of the ink.”




            The Talmud (Pesachim 41a) cites R. Yossi, who rules that one may fulfill the mitzva of eating matza on the first night of Pesach by eating matza soaked in water.  The Shulkhan Arukh (461:4) rules accordingly.  If one can fulfill one’s obligation through eating soaked matza, then surely soaked matza should not pose a problem of chametz!


            In 1681, R. Shmuel ben R. Yosef published a two volume commentary on the Shulchan Arukh, the first volume entitled Olat Tamid and the second Olat Shabbat.  This commentary, quoted often by other commentaries on the Shulchan Arukh such as the Magen Avraham, was never printed a second time. 


            The Olat Shabbat (453:73) expresses concern that flour may possibly have been left on the matzot and may ferment and become chametz if it comes into contact with water.  Therefore, he writes, one should not cook matza during the week of Pesach.  R. Avraham Gombiner (1633-1683) argues on this point in Magen Avraham (458:1) and describes the comments of the Olat Shabbat as “temuhim” (perplexing). 


            Interestingly, during the same century in Turkey, R. Chaim Benveniste (1602-1673), in his commentary to the Shulchan Arukh, the Kenesset Ha-Gedola (461, Beit Yosef, s.v. anu), records a communal enactment against using matza meal instead of flour, lest one become confused. 


I heard in my childhood that once the wife of a knowledgeable man was frying fish in oil in a frying pan.  It was then customary to cover the fish with flour before frying them in order that they should not stick to the pan.  Since on Pesach one cannot do this, his wife took baked matza and ground it up finely until it became like flour and the covered the fish.  At that moment, a neighbor entered and saw this woman frying fish with that flour, and she thought that it was actual flour.  The next day, this neighbor fried fish with actual flour.  As this was happening, her husband entered and saw his wife frying fish in actual flour and rebuked her.  She responded by related what he wife of the scholar (her neighbor) did the day before… He went to ask the neighbor and she related that God forbid [she should fry fish in real flour, but rather] she used matza meal.  When the scholars of the town heard this, they made an enactment that people should not do this, due to “mar’it ayin” [how it appears] and that it the custom there until this very day.


            Over a hundred years later, R.  Dov Ber of Mezeritch (1704/1710?-1772), known as the Maggid of Mezeritch, adopted this custom.  His student, Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1812), in his Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav (6), defends the practice of the Olat Shabbat and asserts that “there is a great reason behind this stringency.” He writes, however, that one may be lenient on the last day of Yom Tov (in the Diaspora) because of simchat Yom Tov.  This stringency is also discussed in depth by the Sha’arei Teshuva (460:10). 


            The Acharonim (Chayei Adam 127:7; Iggerot Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:64) discuss whether one who is accustomed not to eat “gebrukts” may change his custom and whether he must first perform hatarat nedarim. 


The uniqueness of chametz, as expressed in the laws of mixtures, further emphasizes what we established in our first shiur: on Pesach, one is commanded to completely separate oneself from all leavened products. 


Next week, we will discuss cosmetics and medicines on Pesach.