3.Can Ĥametz That Was Nullified before Pesaĥ Regain Its Status ("Ĥozer Ve-ne’or") on Pesaĥ?
The Rishonim disagree over this fundamental question: Is ĥametz that was batel be-shishim before Pesaĥ ĥozer ve-ne’or ("reawakened." i.e., its nullification is reversed) when Pesaĥ arrives, or does its bitul before Pesaĥ mean that it cannot be ĥozer ve-ne’or? If it is ĥozer ve-ne’or, the entire mixture is rendered forbidden, because during Pesaĥ even a drop of ĥametz is not nullified in any mixture. For example, a crumb of ĥametz that falls into a large dish of cooked meat before Pesaĥ is obviously batel, and this food may even be consumed after midday on the fourteenth of Nisan. The question is whether it is still permissible to eat it after Pesaĥ begins.
Some poskim rule that if ĥametz was batel be-shishim before Pesaĥ, it is considered completely eradicated, and it cannot be ĥozer ve-ne’or on Pesaĥ. Therefore, the entire mixture is permitted for consumption (Rosh, Smag, Tur, and others). Other poskim say that the annulment that takes place before Pesaĥ is not effective; as soon as Pesaĥ begins the ĥametz reawakens, and the entire mixture is rendered forbidden (Rambam, Rashba).
This question has implications for the status of matzot. Occasionally, some water drips on a mound of wheat grains, causing a few of the grains to leaven. It is very difficult to find these grains and remove them from the pile, but it is clear that the kosher wheat grains that did not become ĥametz outnumber the leavened grains by more than sixty-to-one. According to the opinion that ĥametz is ĥozer ve-ne’or, if all the wheat is ground together and matzot are baked from its flour, it will be forbidden to eat them on Pesaĥ, because the drop of ĥametz in it renders all of the matzot forbidden. It is therefore important to make sure that there is not even a single leavened grain in the wheat from which matza is made. However, according to the opinion that ĥametz that is nullified before Pesaĥ is not ĥozer ve-ne’or, the matzot are kosher for Pesaĥ. There is no need to check the wheat kernels one by one in order to remove the leavened ones, because they were already batel be-shishim before Pesaĥ. 4.Ĥozer Ve-ne’or in Practice
SA 447:4 rules that when ĥametz is batel be-shishim before Pesaĥ it is not ĥozer ve-ne’or, and therefore it is permissible to eat such a mixture on Pesaĥ. This is because, according to the Torah, ĥametz is batel be-shishim even during Pesaĥ. The Sages added the stringency of rendering a mixture forbidden because of even a drop of ĥametz. This means that the dispute about ĥozer ve-ne’or relates to a rabbinic prohibition, and when in doubt about a rabbinic dispute, the halakha follows the lenient opinion. This is the position adopted by most Sephardic Jews.
Rema (ad loc.) rules in accordance with Terumat Ha-deshen (1:124), that if ĥametz that was batel be-shishim before Pesaĥ was a fluid mixture (laĥ), the halakha follows the lenient opinion, and the ĥametz is not ĥozer ve-ne’or. If, however, it was a solid (yavesh), the law follows the stringent opinion, and it is ĥozer ve-ne’or. For example, if a drop of beer falls into another beverage, it blends with the liquid and ceases to exist independently. As a result, after being nullified, it is not ĥozer ve-ne’or and does not render the mixture forbidden. However, if a crumb of ĥametz falls into a solid food, because it continues to exist independently and does not blend with the mixture, it has a degree of significance. Therefore, when Pesaĥ arrives it is ĥozer ve-ne’or and renders the entire mixture forbidden. This is the approach adopted by Ashkenazic Jews and some Sephardic Jews. 3
Flour, because of its fineness, is considered a fluid mixture. This is because the distinction between fluid and solid depends principally upon whether or not the forbidden food blends completely with the permitted food. In a fluid mixture, the forbidden food blends completely with the permitted food, and in a solid mixture the forbidden food remains independent. Accordingly, there is no need to check the wheat grains before they are ground and baked into matzot, because after the wheat is ground, the flour produced from the leavened grains will be nullified and blend completely with the rest of the flour, and when Pesaĥ arrives it will not reawaken to render the mixture forbidden (SA and Rema 453:3).
Based on this principle, some poskim say that it is best to bake matzot before Pesaĥ so that if some flour or dough becomes ĥametz during the kneading process, it will blend with the rest of the dough and be batel be-shishim before Pesaĥ. This assures that it will not reawaken and render the matzot forbidden during Pesaĥ. Sometimes, when machine matzot are being baked, particles of dough get stuck in the tines of the machine and remain there long enough to become ĥametz, whereupon they fall back into the dough. However, because the pieces of dough that became ĥametz blend completely with the rest of the dough, it is considered a fluid mixture, and since the ĥametz is batel be-shishim before Pesaĥ, it is not ĥozer ve-ne’or.
All of this is be-di’avad, but one should preferably take care to bake matzot from wheat that certainly has not become ĥametz and guard against the smallest crumb of flour or dough becoming ĥametz. 4 5.Does Ĥametz That Imparts Foul Taste ("Noten Ta’am Li-fgam") Render a Mixture Forbidden?
There is a well-known rule that something that imparts foul taste ("noten ta’am li-fgam") does not render a mixture forbidden. For example, if non-kosher meat falls into a pot of kosher food, and the quantity of kosher food is sixty times that of the non-kosher meat, the taste of the non-kosher meat is nullified, and it is permitted to eat the food. On the other hand, if the kosher food is not sixty times the quantity of the non-kosher meat, it is forbidden to eat the food, because the taste of the non-kosher meat is discernible in the mixture. If, however, the taste of the non-kosher meat is foul ("pagum"), since it spoils the cooked dish, it does not render it non-kosher. Therefore, as long as the kosher food constitutes the majority of the mixture, it is permitted to eat it (SA YD §103).
What about a ĥametz mixture on Pesaĥ? Some poskim (Rashbam, Rashba) say that the fact that the Sages, due to the gravity of the ĥametz prohibition, ordained that even a drop of ĥametz renders any mixture forbidden indicates that the matter does not depend upon the taste it gives to the mixture. Therefore, even when it contributes a foul taste, it is no different than a drop of ĥametz that renders its entire mixture forbidden.
The opinion of most Rishonim (Rabbeinu Tam, Ri, Rosh, and Mordechai) is that ĥametz is like other prohibited foods except with regard to bitul be-shishim. Where other forbidden foods do not render a mixture forbidden, however, like in cases of noten ta’am li-fgam, ĥametz also does not render a mixture forbidden.
In practice, SA 447:10 rules leniently whereas Rema writes that in Ashkenazic communities the custom is to follow the stringent ruling that even a drop of foul-tasting ĥametz renders an entire mixture forbidden.
Let us clarify this disagreement by way of an example: a pot in which non-kosher meat is cooked absorbs the taste of the non-kosher meat. If the same pot is then used to cook kosher food, the kosher food will absorb the taste of non-kosher meat exuded by the pot, rendering it forbidden. However, if more than twenty-four hours passed since the cooking of the non-kosher meat, the taste absorbed by the pot is pagum, and if some other food is cooked in it, it will not be rendered forbidden, because the pot is noten ta’am li-fgam.
Similarly, if one inadvertently cooks in a ĥametz pot during Pesaĥ, according to Shulĥan Arukh and most poskim since more than twenty-four hours have passed since ĥametz was cooked in the pot, the food is kosher. However, according to Ashkenazic custom, although the taste of ĥametz absorbed into the pot is foul, it renders the food forbidden, because during Pesaĥ we take the stringent position that even noten ta’am li-fgam renders a food forbidden. 5 6.The Torah Law Concerning Ĥametz Mixtures
The Torah law concerning a ĥametz mixture is complicated and subject to dispute among Tanna’im, Amora’im, Rishonim, and Aĥaronim. We shall summarize its laws here succinctly.
The Torah declares that one who eats a kezayit of ĥametz on Pesaĥ incurs karet. If the ĥametz is mixed with other foods and the mixture contains a kezayit of ĥametz in a shi’ur akhilat pras of kosher food (an olive’s bulk of ĥametz in three or four eggs’ bulk of kosher food), Ramban and other Rishonim rule that his punishment is karet, while Rif and Rambam maintain that his punishment is only malkot (lashes).
If ĥametz mixes with the same type of food, for example, leavened flour with unleavened flour, most poskim maintain that since they taste the same, the ĥametz flour is nullified by the majority (batel be-rov) at the Torah level, though there is still a rabbinic prohibition against eating it.
When it comes to the prohibition against keeping ĥametz on Pesaĥ, if a kezayit of ĥametz becomes mixed with permitted food, and the permitted food is less than sixty times the quantity of the ĥametz, one violates both bal yera’eh and bal yimatzei. According to Torah law, if the mixture is more than sixty times the quantity of the ĥametz, the ĥametz is batel. If the ĥametz becomes mixed with its own kind – for example, leavened flour with unleavened flour – and there is more of the kosher ingredient than the non-kosher, according to Torah law the ĥametz is batel and no prohibition is violated. Nevertheless, the Sages ordained that the mixture must be disposed of, lest one end up eating it on Pesaĥ. 6