ישיבת כרם ביבנה

Bitul Chametz

הרב מרדכי גרינברג
נשיא הישיבה

In order to introduce Masechet Pesachim, we will discuss various laws regarding bi'ur and bitul chametz.

The issur of chametz is a unique issur. In some ways it is more stringent than all other issurim, even avoda zara, in that there is no other issur which the Torah requires us to remove completely from our house. Even avoda zara, about which the Torah says, "No part of the banned property may adhere to your hand" (Devarim 13:18), we are only required to obliterate from Eretz Yisrael (according to Rambam). Removing chametz from one's possession, however, applies everywhere in the world!

There is a lav (prohibition) of "bal yeiraeh" which one violates if he has chametz in his possession on Pesach, as the Torah says, "lo yeiraeh lecha chametz - no chametz may be seen in your possession." (Shemot 13:7) In addition, there is a positive commandment to get rid of one's chametz, as it says, "ach bayom harishon tashbitu se'or mibateichem - but on the previous day you shall nullify the leaven from your homes." (12:15) How does one fulfill this positive commandment? The Mishna (Pesachim 21a) brings a dispute. R. Yehuda says that one must burn the chametz. Chachamim maintain that one may destroy the chametz in other ways, such as throwing it into the ocean or crumbling it and letting the wind carry the crumbs away. What is at the root of this machloket?

R. Chaim says that there are two ways of viewing the commandment of "tashbitu." Either there a positive commandment that the chametz must be burnt, as we find with kodashim that there is a specific mitzvah to burn the notar. Or, perhaps it is not a mitzvah that the chametz be burnt, but that you must get rid of the chametz so that you will not have chametz in your house. R. Yehuda, who maintains that burning is necessary, follows the first option. But according to the Chachamim, who follow the second opinion, it does not matter how the chametz is destroyed, so long as the chametz is out of the house.

R. Chaim uses this principle to explain an apparently difficult Rambam. The Rambam writes in Hil. Chametz Umatza (1:3) that if one had chametz in his possession when Pesach started, he does not receive malkot (lashes) for violating bal yeiraeh, because it is "lav she'ain bo ma'aseh"; he violated it passively, without doing any action. However, if someone bought or made chametz during Pesach, he gets malkot, because he performed an action of bringing chametz into his property. The Achronim ask that this is against a Gemara (Pesachim 95) which says that one does not get malkot for bal yeiraeh because it is "lav hanitak l'aseh" (prohibition which is converted into a positive command). Just like someone who steals does not get malkot, because he is required to return the object which he stole and undo the issur, so too, if one has chametz, he is required to undo the issur by performing the aseh to get rid of it. Why, then, does the Rambam say that one does receive malkot if he buys or makes chametz on Pesach? There is a possibility to undo the violation by getting rid of the chametz!

R. Chaim explains that many times the Torah lists a aseh and a corresponding lav, but sometinmes the aseh comes to rectify or undo the lav, and sometimes not. Regarding notar, one violates an issur by leaving kodashim past a certain time, but one does not get malkot because it is possible to rectify the violation and burn it. Similarly, someone who violated the lav of stealing can rectify it by performing the aseh of returning. On the other hand, if one does melacha on Yom Tov, the Gemara says that he violates an aseh and a lav. The Torah said that we must keep Yom Tov, and strengthens this mitzvah with an additional lav for doing melacha. Here, doing the aseh does not fix the lav, and, for this type of lav, someone does receive malkot.

According to R. Yehuda, the mitzvah of burning chametz is like the mitzvah of burning notar. If one has chametz in his posession, he can rectify that violation by performing the aseh of burning the chametz. Because the aseh fixes the lav, it is considered a lav hanitak l'aseh, and one never gets malkot for bal yeiraeh, because there is a possibility to fix the lav. According to the Chachamim, who say that one can get rid of chametz in any way, there is an aseh of tashbitu which says that one should get rid of chametz from his house before Pesach. In addition, if someone does not get rid of the chametz, he violates the lav of bal yeiraeh. The aseh here does not correct the lav, and therefore it is not a lav hanitak l'aseh and one receives malkot for violating the lav, provided that he did an action of making or buying chametz on yom tov. The Rambam rules like Chachamim, whereas the Gemara which says that bal yeiraeh is a lav hanitak l'aseh is only according to R. Yehuda. Since we follow Chachamim, the Rambam rules that it is possible to get malkot for violating bal yeiraeh.

The gemara mentions that one can be "mevatel" (renounce) the chametz in order to get rid of it. According to the Gemara (Pesachim 6) mideoraita, it is sufficient if one only performs bitul. What is the source of this halacha? Rashi says that it is learned from the word "tashbitu," which literally means that we should "nullify." Why does it not say to burn or destroy the chametz? We see that an action is not necessary. Similarly, the targum Onkelos translates tashbitu as "annul in your heart." However, according to Rashi's explanation there is a problem. According to R. Yehuda in the Mishna, that one must burn chametz, how can one perform "tashbitu" merely by annulment of the chametz in one's heart?

It is possible to say that the Gemara which allows one to do bitul is not according to R. Yehuda, and, indeed, according to R. Yehuda one must burn the chametz and not do bitul. Rav Kasher, in Torah Shleimah, points out that there are Midrashim that seem to say that one cannot do bitul, and he explains that these medrashim follow the opinion of R. Yehuda who says that one may only do tashbitu through burning. The Rishonim, however, do not assume this way. The Ran writes that mideoraita either bitul or bi'ur works. Although there is a dispute between R. Yehuda and Rabanan regarding how to do bi'ur, even R. Yehuda agrees with the concept of bitul. Tosfot argues and writes that according to R. Yehuda, tashbitu means only burning. So how does R. Yehuda learn that one may do bitul? Tosfot says that bitul chametz is a totally separate concept, that of "hefker." The Torah says, "velo yeiraeh lecha chametz - no chametz may be seen in your possession." Chazal teach that the prohibition of bal yeiraeh applies to only your own chametz, but you are allowed to see someone else's chametz. If someone does bitul, the chametz is no longer his. Bitul is not bi'ur chametz, it is hefker. Just as someone may sell his chametz before Pesach even according to R. Yehuda, so too, he may do bitul.

Thus, according to Rashi, if someone is mevatel his chametz, not only does he avoid violating bal yeiraeh, but he also performs the mitzvah of tashbitu. According to Tosfot, however, although one avoids bal yeiraeh through bitul, one can only perform tashbitu through actively getting rid of the chametz. According to the Shaagat Aryeh, there is an interesting nafka mina to this machloket. Can someone be mevatel chametz which is not his? According to Tosfot, one cannot be mevatel someone else's chametz, just as someone cannat be mafkir another's chametz; according to Rashi, one can do bitul even on someone else's chametz.

The Achronim ask on the nafka mina presented by the Shaagat Aryeh. The Gemara (6b) asks, why should someone have to do bedikat chametz if he does bitul? After all, he does not violate bal yeireah once he has performed bitul! The gemara answers that he might find a piece of chametz on Pesach, and if he finds it on Pesach, he cannot be mevatel it. Why not? As R. Elazar says, chametz after chatzot on Erev Pesach is not in one's possession, and even so, the Torah considers as if the chametz is in the owner's possession, regarding the violation of bal yeiraeh. Thus, how can the Shaagat Aryeh say that according to Rashi one can be mevatel someone else's chametz, while the gemara says that one can not be mevatel chametz on Pesach because it is not his? It is clear that one can only be mevatel his own Chametz!

In truth, this question should not be asked on the Shaagat Arye, because he seems correct in his interpretation of Rashi. The Gemara discusses the situation of one who rents a house on Erev Pesach, who must search for and get rid of the Chametz? Rashi explains the Gemara's question as follows: Although the renter can be mevatel the chametz and he will not violate bal yeiraeh, since Chazal said that one may not rely only on bitul, but must also do bedika, who must do the bedika? It is clear that according to Rashi one may perform bitul on someone else's chametz. The Achronim's question, then, must be asked on Rashi himself. How do we understand Rashi?

The Mishna says that every person must do bedika. Rashi says (Pesachim 2a) that the reason is so that one will not violate bal yeiraeh and bal yimatzei. Tosfot asks, why do you need to do bedika for this, since the Gemara says later, that one who does bedika must do bitul anyway. If someone does bitul, he will not violate bal yeiraeh. Why, then, must one do bedika according to Rashi, since he will do bitul anyway? Therefore, Tosfot argues and says that if someone does not do bedika, we are not concerned that he will violate bal yeiraeh, because he will do bitul. Rather, we are concerned that he may find a piece of chametz on Pesach and eat it. If he does bedika before Pesach, he will not find chametz in his posession on Pesach.

The Ran answers for Rashi, that if someone only does bitul, it might not be a complete bitul, and in his heart he will want to keep his chametz. Chazal say that he must do bedika in case his bitul is not done whole-heartedly. Similarly, the Bartenura on the Mishna says that we are concerned that he may find a piece of chametz and he will then rescind his bitul. R. Akiva Eiger asks, though, that there is a principle in Shas, "devarim shebalev einam devarim." If someone performs a kinyan, or any legal transaction, and thinks in his heart various intentions or sitpulations that will negate the transaction, his kinyan still works if he does not express them verbally. So here, where he performed the action of bitul, his bitul should still work according to Rashi even if he does not really want to do bitul? Why is Rashi concerned that someone will rescind his bitul or not do a complete bitul; he performed a valid bitul and he will not violate bal yeiraeh?

We are left with two questions on Rashi:a) How do we answer R. Akiva Eiger's question on Rashi?b) How do we understand Rashi that one can do bitul on someone else's chametz while the gemara seems to say that one can only do bitul on his own chametz?

In order to answer this we must understand what bitul chametz is. As we explained, according to Tosfot bitul is a form of hefker, an action which can be done if someone wants to render any of his possessions ownerless. But if this is so, generally, hefker must be done verbally, and must be done in front of three people, but bitul has neither of these requirements! The Rishonim asks these and other questions on the approach of Tosfot.

The Rambam in Hilchot Chametz Umatza 2:2 writes the following: "How does one do tashbitu? One annuls it in his heart, considers it as dust, and should think in his heart that he has no chametz whatsoever. Any chametz in his possession is as dust and is purposeless." It is clear that the Rambam follows the approach of Rashi, not of Tosfot. The Rambam never mentions that one must say anything; rather, bitul is a mental process. According to Rambam and Rashi, bitul is not an action done to the chametz, rather, it is the mindset of the person separating himself from the chametz. This is the difference between hefker and bitul. Hefker is a kinyan done on the object, whereas bitul is removing oneself from the chametz.

The Tur writes that someone does not need to verbally state the bitul, he can think it in his heart. Based on this he writes that if someone is far from his house and does bitul, he does not say a bracha, because bitul is a mental process, and a bracha is not recited over mental processes. With this we can answer R. Akiva Eiger's question, that when someone does bitul, we can not use the rule of devarim shebalev einam devarim. That principle applies only when someone does a real action, and his thoughts at the time of the action can not uproot that action. But bitul is something which works primarily through thought, and therefore if he did not have complete intention to nullify, his bitul is not valid. This is the explanation of the Ran and the Bartenura, that if one does not do the bitul with a full heart, he violates bal yeiraeh. Similarly, even though there is a minhag to utter the bitul verbally, the essence of the bitul is in one's heart, and therefore the Tur says not to say a bracha if one is doing bitul alone and not seeking after the chametz to destroy it.

How, according to Rashi, can one do bitul on someone else's chametz? According to our understanding, bitul is distancing oneself from the chametz, and just as someone may distance himself from his own chametz, he may also distance himself from someone else's chametz. Then why can't someone do bitul on Pesach itself, even though the chametz is not his, he should be able to do bitul according to Rashi? Rav Aharon Kotler's son offers the following explanation. Upon careful reading of the Gemara, one sees that R. Elazar's intention was to say that when the Torah placed the chametz in one's possession on Pesach, it did so in order that one who did not get rid of his chametz will violate the issur of chametz. Thus, the reason that one cannot be mevatel is because the Torah wants him to violate the issur regardless, not because of the technical problem that the chametz does not belong to him.

In summary, there are two disputes between Rashi and Tosfot:a) What is the nature of bitul? According to Rashi, bitul is removing one's connection to the chametz, whereas according to Tosfot bitul is hefker.b) What is the reason for doing bedika? According to Rashi (based on the understanding of the Ran and the Bartenura), since he may not do bitul fully, we require him to do bedika. According to Tosfot, one must do bedika so that he will not find a piece of chametz on Pesach and eat it.

One can see that these two disputes are connected. According to Tosfot, bitul is hefker, and therefore, bitul must be done verbally and it is not sufficient if he does it mentally. If so, Tosfot cannot say that the reason one must do bedika is that we are concerned he will rescind his bitul and violate bal yeiraeh, because devarim shebalev einam devarim; invalid thought at the time of bitul does not invalidate the bitul. Instead, Tosfot says that the reason one must do bitul is that we are concerned he will find chametz on Pesach and be tempted to eat it. According to Rashi, however, bitul can be done mentally, and the reason one must do bedika is that maybe his bitul will be incomplete. Because bitul can be done mentally, if it is done with incomplete sincerity, it will be invalidated and he will thereby violate bal yeiraeh.

* * *

The Radvaz writes asks his Responsa, why is there such a stringent issur regarding chametz? Why must one get rid of chametz, while he may own every other type of issur? Furthermore, regarding every other issur, if there is issur mixed with heter, the mixture is permissible if there is enough heter. However, chametz is forbidden no matter how much it is mixed with! The Radvaz answers that Chazal refer to chametz is a symbol of the yetzer hara. The mitvot of chametz are to teach us that just as one must search in every place and destroy every last piece of chametz, so too he must totally rid himself of the yetzer hara. The ARI z"l writes that if one truly searches and gets rid of all of the chametz, he is sure not to sin the entire year!

 

 

קוד השיעור: 4023

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(Written by R. Avi Chermon based on a shiur klali)

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