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?
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
) brings the opinion of the Sages 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 Rema, Shulhan ArukhOrah Hayyim 445:1).