In this second lesson about ‘biur chametz’, we will fill in some of the details that were not covered in the first:
A. The minhag is to perform biur chametz during the daytime of Erev Pesach, not the night before, after BC. Two reasons are given:
1) It is consistent with other mitzvah burnings, such as the burning of ‘nosar’ / leftover meat from a korban / sacrificial offering, which was not eaten by its deadline. Typically, the deadline was the crack of dawn the day after the offering (or two days in some cases), and thus the burning of the ‘nosar’ always took place in the morning.
2) By burning the chametz close to the deadline of owning it (i.e. end of the fifth hour on Erev Pesach), we are reminded to recite the second bitul / nullification declaration at that time. [Notes: Remember, the sequence of events is: biur then bitul - otherwise, we would not have fulfilled the mitzvah of burning OUR chametz, as we would have already nullified it. Get it? Also, we must leave enough time for the burning chametz to actually disintegrate into “coals” before the deadline; otherwise, we haven’t truly gotten rid of it in time! Finally: If necessary, the chametz may be burned the night of the BC, e.g. one is afraid the chametz will be strewn about by critters. Technically, any time during the 30 days before Pesach, one fulfills the mitzvah of burning the chametz.]
B. Besides the time-honored minhag of selling chametz to a non-Jew, it is also permissible to give it to him as a gift. There is an interesting discussion about giving chametz as payment of a debt. Would this be considered “benfitting” from the chametz during Pesach, since as a result of the chametz, the creditor is now off the Jew’s back?! The conclusion is that this is perfectly fine, as long as the debt is paid off before the deadline on Erev Pesach. The only prohibition would be to allow the non-Jew to leave the chametz in the Jew’s property during Pesach, and come back-and-forth to access it. This is a case of ‘mar-is-ayin’ (i.e. it looks like prohibited activity), as it appears as though the Jew is actually paying the non-Jew back on Pesach!
C. How far does the prohibition against deriving ‘hana-ah’ / benefit from chametz go? Pretty far! Let’s illustrate this with a far-out example mentioned in the Mishnah Berura: Suppose someone had chametz that was not completely burnt to coals before the deadline on Erev Pesach. Now it’s too late: Even if the chametz continues to burn, eventually turning into coals, the heat generated by those coals are forever deemed to be the heat of chametz, and one may not derive any heat-benefit from these coals. Suppose he didn’t observe this law and placed the hot coals in his oven and even baked Pesach-dik matzos with their heat. Now the food is prohibited on Pesach – not because of its having absorbed the taste of chametz (since it had by then already turned to coals) - but because of the heat-benefit from the chametz-coals that contributed to the resulting matzos! Now, suppose the matzos that were baked with those coals got mixed up with permissibly-baked matzos, and we cannot discern which are which. Now ALL of the matzos are forbidden, because there is a no-bitul (nullification of prohibited substance in permissible) rule on Pesach! The only recourse in that situation would be to sell the whole lot of matzos to a non-Jew, and deduct the value of the forbidden ones. This way, at least you may benefit from the remainder of the money!
That’s pretty far, isn’t it? By the way, do we now understand why we burn our chametz outside the house and not inside in our ovens?