Halacha » Chametz


There is a dispute among the poskim if the beliot of chametz have the status of forbidden food or permitted food when a utensil is being koshered for use on Pesach. The chametz is most certainly forbidden on Pesach, however, since it is not yet Pesach, how do we treat the chametz? Is it permitted food, and only requires hagala, even for chametz that was absorbed through direct heat? Or do we consider the chametz forbidden, since we are koshering it in preparation for a time that the chametz will be forbidden, and if the chametz was absorbed through direct heat the utensil would require libun.

The Gemara (פסחים ל) writes that knives which were used to cut hot chametz foods can be koshered for Pesach through hagala. The Rishonim note that this appears to contradict another Gemara (חולין ח.) that knives bought from a non-Jew need libun because they may have been used to cut hot meat while it was on the fire. Why would knives with beliot of non-kosher meat need libun but knives with beliot of chametz would only need hagala?

The Raavad (ע”ז עו. ד”ה רב אשי) answers that the chametz was permitted when it got absorbed, but knives from a non-Jew absorbed food when it was already in a forbidden state, and therefore requires libun to remove the beliot. The Ramban (ע”ז שם ד”ה רב אשי) answers that chametz is indeed treated as a prohibited food when koshering prior to Pesach, however most of the time the knives are not used in a way that necessitates libun. The Ramban rules that a utensil only needs to be koshered based on its most common use. Therefore, all knives only need hagala, and the Gemara in Chulin that suggests to kosher with libun was just suggesting one way of koshering, not the only way of koshering.

What we can take out of these two answers is that the Raavad rules that chametz is treated as a permitted food prior to Pesach, and when koshering for Pesach one never needs to do more than more than hagala. However, the Ramban rules that chametz is treated as a prohibited food when koshering for Pesach, even though it is not yet Pesach, since the beliot of chametz in a utensil are the same chametz that will be forbidden on Pesach [see: Rov tashmisho]. Most Rishonim rule like the Ramban that chametz is treated as a prohibited food even prior to Pesach (Rif, Rosh, Rashba, Ritva, and Rashi). The Shulchan Aruch and Rama (או”ח תנא:ד) write that chametz has the status of a prohibited food, unless there are further reasons to be lenient. (One reason might be if a frying pan was used for chametz, since frying pans are a subject of dispute if they need libun or hagala, for Pesach we can be lenient, since there is also the possibility that chametz is anyway treated as a permitted food prior to Pesach.)