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What do I do if I find Chametz in my house on Pesach?

  

Library » Holidays » Passover » Chametz | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Rabbi Naftali Silberberg: Happy Passover and welcome to Askmoses! How can I assist you?

Shocked: I just found a granola bar in my purse. Pure Chametz. I thought I cleaned it out well, but I guess I didn't do such a thorough job after all... What do I do now?

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg: Go destroy it. Burn it or crumble it and flush it down the toilet -- and make sure that no crumbs fall anywhere in the house.1

Shocked: Are there any other options? Can I give it to my non-Jewish co-worker?

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg: No. You are obligated to destroy it immediately. I'll wait here until you destroy it and then I'll answer all your questions.

Shocked: OK. I'll be right back.

Shocked: I'm back. It’s gone. Now please explain to me why I wasn't allowed to give it away.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg: Sure. Once Passover enters (actually from the beggining of the sixth hour on the day before Passover; see When does the prohibition against eating and possessing Chametz begin?), it is forbidden to derive any benefit from chametz2 . When you give this chametz to your co-worker you are receiving credit for giving a gift -- thus benefiting from this chametz. You can give away chametz before Passover, but once the holiday begins all chametz which is found must be destroyed.

Shocked: Thanks rabbi.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg: Btw, this law applies only if chametz is found on a weekday of Chol Hamoed. If the chametz is found on the first two or last two days of Passover, or on Shabbat, the chametz is Muktzeh and cannot be moved. In such an instance, the chametz should be covered, and then destroyed immediately after the holiday or Shabbat (even if the holiday of Passover has already passed).3

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.

Footnotes

  • 1. Kitzur 112:17. Also, before destroying a piece of Chametz (.90 oz. or bigger) on Passover say the following blessing: Baruch Atah Adonai Elo-heinu Melech Ha-olam Asher Kidi-shanu Bi-Mitzvotav V'Tzi-vanu Al Bi-ur Chametz [Blessed are You G-d our L-rd King of the universe who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to destroy Chametz].
  • 2. Kitzur 443
  • 3. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 111:17 (if you find Chametz on the last two days of the Holiday and will therefore destroy it after the Holiday is over, you don't say a blessing).

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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Chametz
Any leavened product which is produced from wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats. This includes bread, cake, cereals, crackers, biscuits, yeast, pasta and whisky. It is forbidden for a Jew to possess or consume Chametz throughout Passover.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Chol Hamoed
(lit. "mundane [days] of the festival"), the intermediate days of the Festivals of Passover and Sukkot. On these days many of the holiday work restrictions are lifted.
Muktzeh
An object which may not be moved on Shabbat or Jewish holidays, usually because it serves no permissible purpose on these days.