Chametz on Erev Pesach (Pesachim 4b - 6a)

  • Rav Binyamin Tabory


1.  Pesachim 4b-6a "Tenan ha-tam R. Meir omer ... ke-mashmalan.
2.  Rambam Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 1:8; 3:8; and Ra'avad.
3.  Pesachim 28a-b, from the mishna until bottom of daf b.
1.  Is it permitted to benefit from chametz on erev Pesach according to R. Shimon?
2.  What is mandated by the law of "tashbitu?"
3.  When does the issur of "bal yera'eh" begin?

A. Issur Akhila


            The gemara (daf 28a-b) records an argument between R. Yehuda and R. Shimon.  According to R. Yehuda, there is a specific biblical prohibition (issur lav) to eat chametz on erev Pesach while R. Shimon says that no such prohibition exists.


            The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 1:8 and Sefer Ha-mitzvot, mitzvat lo ta'aseh 199) rules in accordance with R. Yehuda, that there is such a biblical prohibition. One who transgresses this prohibition is punishable by malkot (lashes).  He cites the gemarot in Pesachim 28a and 5a which, according to him, is consistent with the opinion of R. Yehuda. Therefore, he claims that the gemara is adopting R. Yehuda, while rejecting R. Shimon.


            The Ra'avad (ad loc.) disagrees, and maintains that the halakha is in accordance with R. Shimon and, therefore, there is no punishment of malkot.  However, even according to R. Shimon, there is a biblical prohibition against eating chametz on erev Pesach.  The Ramban (Sefer Ha-mitzvot ad loc.) agrees with the Ra'avad. Later in the shiur, we will identify the source of this prohibition.


B.  Tashbitu


            The gemara (daf 4a) cites a machloket between R. Meir and R. Yehuda regarding the exact point at which the rabbinic prohibition of eating chametz begins on erev Pesach, the fifth or sixth hour of the morning.  This implies that the biblical prohibition begins after the sixth hour.  The gemara then continues to search for the biblical source for this prohibition.


            At first glance, our gemara should be relevant only to R. Shimon who maintains there is no specific lav on chametz on erev Pesach.  Therefore, we must inquire why chametz is, nonetheless, prohibited on erev Pesach.  According to R. Yehuda, however, it seems self-evident that there is a specific lav of chametz on erev Pesach and the search for an alternative source seems superfluous.  Indeed, Maharam Chalawa and Rabbeinu David cite a manuscript of Rashi, not found in our standard editions, to the effect that our gemara refers only to R. Meir (who presumably agrees with R. Shimon) and not to R. Yehuda.


            However, Maharam Chalawa and Rabbeinu David themselves maintain that the gemara seeks a source to obligate the removal of the chametz on erev Pesach and this point is relevant even according to R. Yehuda.  Although there is a specific lav not to EAT chametz on erev Pesach, as is evident on Pesachim 28, one may have thought that you may retain the chametz in your possession until the night of Pesach.


            The gemara cites two alternative sources which prohibit us from retaining chametz (mi-de'oraita) from the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan:


1. "tashbitu" (Shemot 12:15) The command to nullify or dispose of one's chametz, which implicitly prohibits possession of the chametz.

2. "lo tishchat al chametz" (Shemot 34:25). The command not to sacrifice the korban Pesach if one still has chametz in one's possession.


            [There might be a practical difference depending on which source is determined to be authoritative.  If the source is the negative lo tishchat - women are certainly enjoined from retaining chametz.  However, if the source is the positive commandment "tashbitu," one may argue that women are excluded as it is a time-related commandment from which women are exempt.  Thus, one would reach the strange conclusion that women could retain chametz until nightfall.  (Although the Minchat Chinukh rejected this idea, see R. Perlow in Sefer Ha-mitzvot, Rabbeinu Sa'adia Gaon, mitzva 50 for a fuller discussion of this point)]


            As we mentioned above the Rambam rules in accordance with R. Yehuda. He uses our gemara (5a) as a support for his contention.  Therefore, it seems that, only according to R. Yehuda, where there is a prohibition to eat chametz, it is possible to entertain that one is also prohibited to retain chametz. However, according to R. Shimon, there is no issur at all of retaining chametz on erev Pesach. Since there is no prohibition of eating, it may be argued that the Rambam felt that even if R. Shimon does prohibit retaining chametz on erev Pesach, nevertheless he would not agree to an additional stringency placed by Rabbanan.  Only if there is an actual lav (R. Yehuda's opinion) and not merely the positive commandment "tashbitu" would there be a new enactment of Rabbanan.  In any case, according to the Rambam, our gemara is only in accordance with the opinion of R. Yehuda.


            Thus, according to R. Yehuda, not only is it forbidden to eat chametz on erev Pesach, one may not retain it either.  It should be noted, however, that although erev Pesach is similar to Pesach regarding the prohibitions of chametz, the two are, nevertheless, not identical.  There is certainly no issur karet of eating chametz on erev Pesach and it is questionable whether bal yera'eh (the specific lav of retaining chametz on Pesach itself) applies to erev Pesach.  This issue will be discussed later in this shiur.


Issur hana'a


            In the previous section we noted that, aside from the Rambam, although there is no specific lav on eating chametz on erev Pesach, according to R. Shimon it is possible that "tashbitu" or "lo tishchat", nevertheless, apply.  While this may involve nothing more than a mitzva to dispose of chametz, it may indicate an issur hana'a.  The gemara (daf 6b) states: "If one betroths a woman by giving her chametz even in the sixth hour, when the issur is only mi-derabbanan, the kiddushin is invalid."  One may argue that this is only the opinion of R. Yehuda.  R. Shimon, however, would disagree and validate such a kiddushin.[See Ba'al Hama'or]


            The Ba'al Ha-ma'or maintains the radical position that R. Shimon would allow one to perform "tashbitu" by eating the chametz. 


            Maharam Chalawa and the Ran maintain, however, that the requirement of "tashbitu" creates a ban both of eating and hana'a.  They seem to interpret "tashbitu" as a negative prohibition - one must destroy or nullify the chametz and, therefore, not benefit from it in any manner.  According to the Ran, "tashbitu" is the source for the prohibition of hana'a all of Pesach.  This implies that "tashbitu" applies the entire week.


            According to Tosafot 28b and the Ramban in Milchamot, R. Shimon agrees that "tashbitu" precludes eating chametz, however, one may benefit from the chametz until Pesach mi-de'oraita. They apparently felt that eating contradicts "tashbitu."  In effect, the Torah said destroy or nullify but don't eat the chametz. 


            According to the Ramban and the Ra'avad there exists an issur hana'a on a rabbinic level (and therefore R. Shimon would agree that kiddushin with chametz on erev Pesach is invalid) whereas Tosafot maintain that there is no issur hana'a at all according to R. Shimon.


C. Bal Yera'eh


            Although there is no reference to the possibility of the lav of bal yera'eh in our gemara, the issue has been raised in the Rishonim.  Rabbeinu David (Pesachim 5a) expressly rejects such a possibility (even according to Rashi). Nevertheless, Rashi in a number of places seems to posit that the lav does begin on erev Pesach.  (See Pesachim 6b s.v. Ve-da'atah and the Tzlach there; Pesachim 4a s.v. Bein Le-Rav Meir; Bava Kama 29b s.v. Mi-shesh Sha'ot).  However, Rashi on the mishna Pesachim 63b says although there is a punishment of malkot (lashes) during Pesach for bal yera'eh, there is no such punishment on erev Pesach.  Tosafot Yom Tov on that mishna interprets Rashi that there is no bal yera'eh on erev Pesach.  Presumably, one may demur and say the lav exists but there are no malkot as the lav should be rectified by "tashbitu" (making it a lav ha-nitak le-aseh) and "tashbitu" does not apply to the week of Pesach).


            If we do take Rashi to mean that there is no lav at all on erev Pesach, we may suggest that the contradiction can be resolved by maintaining that Rashi thinks that bal yera'eh exists only according to R. Yehuda who holds that there is a real "issur akhila" on erev Pesach; however, according to R. Shimon, even if chametz may not be eaten due to "tashbitu," since there is no real lav, there is no bal yera'eh.  (A careful reading of the above texts of Rashi could support this conclusion; the Talmud Yerushalmi Pesachim 1:4 states almost explicitly that there is a machloket between R. Yehuda and R. Meir whether bal yera'eh exists on erev Pesach).


            The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 3:8 states that if one did not nullify his chametz before the sixth hour and he finds chametz after the sixth hour, he transgresses bal yera'eh.  The Ra'avad (ad loc.) comments that perhaps the Rambam thought there is bal yera'eh from the sixth hour but this is not true as the Torah explicitly says "seven days."  On the other hand, the issur hana'a begins the same time as the issur of eating (see Pesachim 28b). The Maggid Mishneh points out that a careful reading of the introduction to Hilkhot Chametz U-matza Rambam explicitly states that this section contains a mitzva of "tashbitu" from the fourteenth and bal yera'eh all seven days of Pesach.  Thus, he interprets halakha 8 to mean that he would violate bal yera'eh only from the night of Pesach.  (Noda Bi-yehuda OC Mahadura Kama 20 disagrees with the Maggid Mishneh and says although bal yera'eh applies on erev Pesach, it is only "mi-divrei sofrim" [derived from Torah but not explicitly stated] and therefore was not mentioned in the introduction.)  Since we noted that the Rambam codified the law according to R. Yehuda, there is a specific lav of eating chametz on erev Pesach, which would explain why bal yera'eh might apply.



There are four areas that need to be investigated when determining the status of chametz on erev Pesach:
1. Issur akhila:
According to R. Yehuda there is a specific biblical prohibition against eating chametz on erev Pesach [from noon onwards]. According to R. Shimon, although there is no specific prohibition it is, nevertheless, forbidden. The Rambam rules in accordance with R. Yehuda. The Ra'avad and the Ramban rule in accordance with R. Shimon.
2. Possession of chametz:
According to Maharam Chalawa and Rabbeinu David, this prohibition exists both according to R. Yehuda and R. Shimon.
According to the Rambam, this prohibition exists only according to R. Yehuda.
We explained that the argument of the Rishonim is based on whether the gemara on daf 4b-5a applies to R. Shimon or not.
3. Hana'a:
Everyone is in agreement that, according to R. Yehuda, it is forbidden to benefit from chametz on erev Pesach. However, there is a disagreement concerning the opinion of R. Shimon:
According to the Ba'al Ha-ma'or, one can even eat the chametz as a means of destroying it.
According to the Ran and Maharam Chalawa, it is forbidden to benefit from chametz in any manner.
According to Tosafot, one may benefit from chametz, but not eat it.
According to the Ramban and the Ra'avad, there is an issur hana'a on a rabbinic level.
4. Bal Yera'eh:
It is possible that according to Rashi and the Rambam, this prohibition exists according to R. Yehuda.
Editor’s note: See Shiur #2 where two distinct approaches to the nature of erev Pesach were developed: 1. An independent holiday connected to the Korban Pesach.   2. A day set aside to prepare for Pesach.
The opinion of R. Shimon which limits issurei chametz on erev Pesach to Tashbitu [and all that it implies] corresponds with the understanding that erev Pesach basically functions as preparation for Pesach proper. However, R. Yehuda's opinion is developed by the Ramban, may indicate a more intrinsic role which erev Pesach plays. Therefore, a whole array of issurei chametz [issur akhila, tashbitu, and perhaps bal Yera'eh] begin on erev Pesach at noon.


Sources and questions for the next shiur:


The Nature and Timing of the Obligation of Tashbitu


1.  Shemot 12:15 [Ibn Ezra ibid; Chizkuni ibid. on the word "tashbitu."]

Can you offer two interpretations of the word "tashbitu?"

2.  Pesachim 4b "Ka mashma lan keivan de-bedikat chametz mi-derabanan ... bi-derabanan;" Rashi s.v. Be-bitul be-alma; Tosafot s.v. Mi-deoraita.

Pesachim 4b "Tnan ha-tam ... she-lo le-tzorekh."

3.  Mishna on 21a.

In your opinion, what ideas stood at the root of the machloket?

4.  Rambam, Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 2:1-2.

5.  Or Zarua, Hilkhot Pesach, siman 256 (page 58a) "Shama'ti omrim ... mi-derekh."  {Or Rosh, Pesachim 1:10 "... ve-nigmar be-sha'a chamishit."

What are Rabbeinu Yitzchak's assumptions?  Would the Rambam agree?

[6.  Minchat Chinukh, mitzva 9; Rabbeinu Chayim Halevi on the Rambam, Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 1:3.]