MBY 442:1 Mixtures that contain chametz (part 1)
Intro: A significant body of halacha throughout the Torah gamut deals with the study of mixtures (Heb. ‘ta-aruvos’) of forbidden substances with permissible ones. Its application ranges from milk and meat mixtures to kosher wine barrels mixed up with non-kosher ones, and everything in-between. The halacha considers every possible factor in determining the outcome, including the following: Within the mixture, what are the relative percentages of forbidden and permissible substances? Are they actually blended together or just not sorted and thus indistinguishable? Are they of the same type or of different types? Is the mixture liquid or solid? Does the principle of ‘bitul’/nullification apply or not? Of course, halacha always tracks the status of a law, whether it is Torah-based (mid’oraisa) or Rabbinic (mid’rabanan). In short, it’s a bit complicated!
Pesach holds a particularly honored position with regard to ‘ta-aruvos’, namely mixtures which contain both chametz-dik and Pesach-dik ingredients. Additional and unique factors in the Pesach arena include: the time the mixing occurred - whether on Pesach or before Pesach; and an added stringency which does not allow for the regular ‘bitul’ principle in many cases, even when the amount of chametz is miniscule!
To attempt to encapsulate the complex first ‘seif’/paragraph of Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berura in this siman (with Hashem’s help) we will, once again, employ a chart. Please study carefully as we examine different cases which vary the ratio of chametz to non-chametz and consider: how they are judged regarding the prohibition against eating chametz, and how they are judged regarding the prohibition against owning chametz (BYBY – ‘bal yeiraeh u’bal yimatze’ / owning chametz during Pesach). Remember that one who willfully eats a minimum amount of chametz (within a certain time-span) on Pesach is subject to Kares (a Divine punishment), while one who owns that same chametz, but does not eat it, is not subject to Kares (even though he may have violated a Torah prohibition!) Remember also, that the Rabbis imposed a penalty on any chametz that was unlawfully-owned during Pesach, such that even after Pesach no benefit may be derived from that chametz forever. This is known as the law of ‘Chametz she-avar alav haPesach’ (chametz that went through Pesach in the possession of a Jew).
Another piece of background information is in order here, before we present the chart: In the subject of ‘ta-aruvos’, it is important to identify whether or not one can taste the forbidden substance in the mixture. One of the factors in determining this fact is whether the mixture is ‘min b’mino’ (similar substances, e.g. chametz-dik flour mixed with Pesach-dik flour, where the taste of the prohibited substace is not discernible because both have the same taste!) or ‘min b’she-eino mino’ (dissimilar substances, e.g. ‘kutach habavli’/a Babylonian compound mentioned in the Mishna where bread crumbs are mixed into a milky dip. It is primarily this type of mixture we are dealing with in this lesson.) Whenever the taste of the prohibited substance is detected, the halacha is more stringent because of the principle ‘ta’am k’ikar’ (taste is like substance). It is disputed in the Talmud whether this principle is ‘mid’oraisa’ or ‘mid’rabanan’, and the Mishnah Berura refers to it here. If it is mid’oraisa, we may say that the forbidden taste in the mixture actually causes the entire mixture to take on the status of prohibited substance (!), such that all of the ingredients contribute to amassing a minimum shiur, as we will see in the chart. [Note: The concept of ‘ta’am’ is differentiated even further, when we examine whether there is actual prohibited substance in the mixture together with its ‘ta’am’ (‘ta-amo u’mamasho’/its taste and its substance) or just ‘ta’am’ without substance (‘ta-amo v’lo mamasho’/its taste without its substance). We will learn that the force of ‘ta’am k’ikar’ may possibly convert permissible substance into prohibited, even in the absence of actual prohibited substance!]