Responsa in a Moment
Vol. 17, No. 3
Four Brief Responsa Regarding the Laws of Pesah
By Rabbi David Golinkin
(Orah Hayyim 433, 448, 451)
In memory of my teacher
Rabbi Prof. Saul Lieberman z”l
on his 40th Yahrzeit
I) Question: Is it required to perform Bedikat Hametz (the search for leaven) in a car? (Orah Hayyim 433)
Responsum: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Haim David Halevi and Rabbi Shimon Eider ruled “yes” rather cryptically, without citing any sources (see the list of literature below). I have therefore gathered some sources below that prove that it’s indeed necessary to perform Bedikat Hametz in a car.
We have learned in Mishnah Pesahim 1:1: “Every place where one does not bring hametz does not require searching”. This means that in a place where one does bring hametz, one must search.
Indeed, in Pesahim fol. 8a the Amoraim elaborated: “Rabba bar Rav Huna said: a house of salt and a house of wax need to be searched. Rav Pappa said: “A house of wood and a house of dates need to be searched.” Rashi explains the first sentence: “Because he stands up in the middle of a meal in order to bring salt and candles.”
Rabbi Yitzhak Alfassi, the Rif, quotes these two Amoraic sayings as the halakhah (ed. Vilna, fol. 4b = ed. Hyman, pp. 33, 199-200).
The Rambam also ruled (Hametz and Matzah 2:6) according to the passage in Pesahim.
Rabbi Isaiah di Trani the Younger (Haria”z, Italy, thirteenth century) turned the matter into a general principle (Piskei Ri”az to Pesahim, Jerusalem, 1966, col. 161 = Shiltei Hagibborim to the Rif ad loc): “The general principle: Any place where there is doubt as to whether there was hametz must be searched; any place where there is no doubt whether there was hametz… need not be searched.”
There is a similar ruling in the Tur, Orah Hayyim 433 (Toledo, died 1340; Hatur Hashalem, vol. 4, p. 317): “And he searches in all the places where he suspects lest hametz was brought there, such as wine cellars which are in use and in a place where they store small fish, salt, wood, candles and dates, which sometimes run out in the middle of a meal and the servant goes to bring them with bread in hand…”.
There is a similar ruling by Rabbi Ya’akov Molin (Mainz, died 1427; Minhagei Maharil, ed. Spitzer, p. 37): “And so too for us, all rooms and attics need to be searched, for all of them are in use. And sometimes he gets up from a meal with bread in hand and goes there… And so too for pickling and cheese rooms and cellars. And all places that are in use even if not on a regular basis, and even wood and coal sheds…”.
And there is a similar ruling by Rabbi Yosef Karo (Safed, died 1575; Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 433:3): “He searches all the places where he suspects lest hametz was brought there, and therefore all the rooms of the house and the attics need to be searched, for sometimes a person enters them with bread in hand…”.
Therefore, if the Sages and the Rishonim [early authorities] required one to search in all the above-mentioned places lest he brought hametz there, how much the more so must we search a car in our time, when people usually eat pizza, falafel, snacks and entire meals in their cars.
From a practical point of view, one should not recite the blessing twice, but rather recite the blessing at home, and after searching the house, go out to the car and search there, as explained by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Hayyim David Halevi (as per Orah Hayyim 432:2 and many other sources).
Rabbi Shimon Eider, Halachos of Pesach, Jerusalem and New York, 1985, 1998, pp. 71, 74
Entziklopedia Talmudit, Vol. 2, cols. 346-348, s.v. Bedikat Hametz (without specific discussion of our topic)
Rabbi Hayyim David Halevi, Aseh Lekha Rav, Vol. 6, Tel Aviv, 1985, in the brief responsa at the end, No. 43
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Responsa Yehaveh Da’at, second edition, Jerusalem, 1977, Vol. 1, No. 5, also summarized in his book, Hazon Ovadia:Hilkhot Pesah, second revised and expanded edition, Part 1, Jerusalem, 2003, p. 52
II) Question: Is it permissible to sell the hametz of another Jew without his knowledge? (Orah Hayyim 448:2)
Responsum: Yes, it is permissible to do so, as is clear from the sources collected by Rabbi Gedalia Felder. This ruling is based on a Talmudic story and on the halakhic principle “One benefits a person not in his presence” (Kiddushin 23a and elsewhere). The story appears in Pesahim 13a and is one of the earliest stories about selling hametz to a non-Jew, about a thousand years before the practice of selling hametz every year was accepted.
A story is told of a person who deposited a double saddle [placed on a donkey] full of hametz at the house of Yohanan of Hukok; mice chewed holes in it and there was hametz bursting out of the saddle. Yohanan came before Rabbi [Judah the Prince on Erev Pesah]. The first hour of the day, he told him: wait; the second hour, he told him: wait; the third hour, he told him: wait; the fourth hour, he told him: wait; the fifth hour, he told him: Go out and sell [the hametz] in the market. (Cf. a different version of the story in Yerushalmi Pesahim 1:4, fol. 27c at bottom and Yerushalmi Bava Metzia 3:7, fol. 9a)
In other words, someone deposited a double saddle of hametz with Yohanan of Hukok, north of Tiberias, and the eve of Pesah arrived and he didn’t know what to do. He came to Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi and when they reached the fifth hour of the day, Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi allowed him to sell the hametz. It was not a fictitious sale like today, but a real sale. Indeed, this ruling was later codified in Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 443:2. In other words, Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi permitted this sale in order to save the depositor’s hametz, because hametz found in the possession of a Jew after Pesah is prohibited (Mishnah Pesahim 2:2 = fol. 28a; Rambam, Hametz and Matzah 1:4; Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 448:3).
The halachic principle that lies behind this permission is “One benefits a person not in his presence”, i.e., one does a favor for someone not in his presence and without his knowledge in order to help him. Following this story and this principle, there are halakhic authorities who allowed the sale of the hametz of another Jew without his knowledge, and there were also rabbis who would write in the deed of sale for hametz: “and there will also be included in this sale… anyone who did not have time to give permission, due to his lack of knowledge or his forgetfulness.”
Rabbi Gedalia Felder, Yesodei Yeshurun, Vol. 6, New York, 1985, pp. 291-295
Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin, Hamo’adim Bahalakhah, seventh edition, Tel Aviv, 1960, p. 246
III) Question: How should house pets such as dogs be fed during Pesah? (Orah Hayyim 448:6-7)
Responsum: The desired solution is to feed the dog Kosher for Pesah food, but what can be done if the animal is unable to eat such food?
Rabbi Yosef Karo ruled (ibid.) that “it’s forbidden to give his animal to a non-Jew to feed during Pesah if he knows that he is feeding it barley waste that is hametz.” Rabbi Yisrael Meir Hacohen (Mishnah Berurah, ibid., subparagraph 31) and others found a solution: “If they place their animal with a non-Jew a long time before Pesah, and the non-Jew feeds it from his own food, and there is no explicit condition that he feed him hametz, and Pesah falls during [that period of time], it’s permissible even if he learns that the non-Jew is feeding his animal hametz”. In other words, this solution is based on a double legal fiction — that he hands the animal over to a non-Jew for a long period of time and that he does not explicitly tell him to feed it hametz.
Rabbi Israel Meir Hacohen also cites a second solution (ibid., subparagraph 33): to sell the animal to a non-Jew before Pesah and the animal should stay with that person during Pesah.
Rabbi Shimon Eider, Halachos of Pesach, Jerusalem and New York, 1985, 1998, p. 78, who summarizes the Mishnah Berurah
Rabbi Ya’akov Hayyim Sofer, Kaf Hahayyim to Orah Hayyim 448, paragraphs 109-111
IV) Question: What are the opinions regarding kashering glassware for Pesah? (Orah Hayyim 451:26)
Responsum: There are three main opinions in Talmudic literature and among the Rishonim, along with a fourth suggested by Rabbi Avraham Danzig some 220 years ago.
If so, it would seem that Ashkenazim may never kasher glass vessels, but some of the Aharonim [later authorities] maintained that the Rema was only strict with regard to Pesah, but it’s permissible to be lenient during the year and to kasher glass in boiling water (as per opinion No. 2 above). See Rabbi Jachter, pp. 84-86 for a summary of their opinions.
I think that Rabbi Danzig borrowed this method from a number of other Talmudic and halakhic sources. (See Avodah Zarah 33a and Yoreh Deah 135:1, 4, 12; Yerushalmi Pesahim 2:8, 29c at bottom, Tur and Beit Yosef Orah Hayyim 451, and Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 451:21)
Entziklopedia Talmudit, Vol. 8, cols. 230-231, s.v. Hagalah
Rabbi Gedalia Felder, Yesodei Yeshurun, Vol. 6, New York, 1985, pp. 166-168
Rabbi Howard Jachter, Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society XXVI (Fall 1993), pp. 77-87
Rabbi Isaac Klein, Responsa and Halakhic Studies, second edition, Jerusalem, 2005, Chapter 10, pp. 94-98
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Responsa Yehaveh Da’at, Vol. 1, No. 6
9 Nisan 5783
(image: wikicommons, Bedikas Chametz. R. Moishe Soloway)
David Golinkin is President of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. and President Emeritus of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. For twenty years he served as Chair of the Va’ad Halakhah (Law Committee) of the Rabbinical Assembly which gives halakhic guidance to the Masorti Movement in Israel. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Applied Halakhah at Schechter and also directs the Center for Women in Jewish Law. Rabbi Professor Golinkin made aliyah in 1972, earning a BA in Jewish History and two teaching certificates from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received an MA in Rabbinics and a PhD in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he was also ordained as Rabbi. For a complete bio click here.