Shiur #07: Bal Yera'eh u-Bal Yimatzeh (Pesachim 5b)
An Analysis of Verses
by Rav Meir Shpiegelman
Translated by: Rav Hillel Maizels
NOTE: This week, the shiur
will step outside the usual Talmudic discussion in order to examine the
different verses in the Torah prohibiting possession of chametz on Pesach. The gemara (5b) seems to effectively
equate "lo yera'eh" and "lo yimatzeh."
The shiur will examine the scriptural peshat of those verses. Next week, we will return to the
usual analysis of the gemara.
The gemara (5b) cites two verses from which the prohibition can be
1. "For seven days, yeast shall not be found (LO YIMATZEH) in your homes."
2. "And there shall be no leavened bread seen by you (LO YERA'EH lekha), nor
yeast seen by you in all your borders." (Shemot 13:7)
The gemara then proceeds to define how each verse extends, or restricts,
the prohibition. Seemingly, the
ramifications of the two verses are combined into one final and all-inclusive
prohibition. This conclusion is
supported by an anonymous opinion quoted by the Ritva (s.v. Ne'emar).
The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 1:2), however, specifically states
that "one who leaves chametz in his possession on Pesach ... transgresses TWO
prohibitions." The Rambam states in
Sefer Ha-mitzvot (shoresh 9) that a mitzva which is recorded more than once in
the Torah, is nonetheless counted as only one mitzva. It follows that since lo yera'eh and
lo yimatzeh are counted separately by the Rambam, both in Hilkhot Chametz
U-matza and in Sefer Ha-mitzvot (Negative Commandments 200 and 201), they must
constitute two distinct prohibitions.
In order to understand the difference between the two prohibitions, it is
necessary to carefully analyze their sources in the Torah.
The prohibition against having chametz in one's possession on Pesach is
mentioned 3 times in the Torah:
A. Shemot 12:1-20
B Shemot 13:1-10
C. Devarim 16:1-8
Please read through these passages carefully, highlighting the key
phrases and noting the similarities and differences between them which are dealt
with below. Keep a Tanakh open as
you read the shiur.
1. The TYPE of issur:
a. In Shemot 12 the phrase "lo yimatzeh"
(not be FOUND) is used.
b. In Shemot 13 and Devarim the Torah
mentions "lo yera'eh" (not be SEEN).
2. WHOSE chametz:
a. In Shemot 12, there is no mention of
the term "lekha" (to you/of yours) which is generally understood to necessitate
b. In Shemot 13 and Devarim it is
mentioned ("lo yera'eh lekha").
a. In Shemot 12 the
prohibition extends only to "your homes."
b. In Shemot 13 and Devarim, it extends to "all your borders."
In Shemot 12 the mere EXISTENCE of chametz in the home is prohibited (lo
yimatzeh), whether or not one is aware of it.
In the other passages, only chametz that one owns (lekha) and is aware
of, is prohibited (lo yera'eh). On
the other hand, the prohibition includes all the borders of Israel. These two aspects are possibly
connected: In one's home, which is a much more limited area, we can be more
stringent and prohibit all chametz, even that which is unknown, or does not
belong to anyone. In the wider area
of "all one's borders," we cannot be so particular.
a. In Shemot 12 the date given is "on
b. In Devarim, the date given is "the
c. Shemot 13 features a combination of
these two terms.
a. In Shemot 12 and Devarim only "se'or"
(yeast) is prohibited, and not "chametz" (leavened bread).
b. In Shemot 13 both se'or and chametz
a. In Shemot (both 12 and 13), the
prohibition is connected to the eating of matza, or to the Exodus from Egypt.
b. In Devarim, however, the context is
the korban Pesach. It is forbidden
to eat chametz seven days of bringing the korban Pesach, which would seem to
affect it somehow. [This phenomenon
is not unique, for we have many cases in the Torah of a certain action occurring
once and having an effect for seven days thereafter. For instance, touching a dead body,
nidda, and so on.] This prohibition
on the eating of chametz is followed by a prohibition on having (or seeing)
chametz, apparently an extension of the former.
Since all of these aspects apply to the halakhic Pesach (as opposed to
the historical Pesach of the exodus), it is not surprising that the gemara
combines the issurim of bal yera'eh and bal yimatzeh.
The command to eat matza in Shemot 12 could be connected to the fact that
Benei Yisrael were told do everything in haste ("chipazon" - verse 11). Only one who has time can bake and
eat chametz. Since yeast cannot be
rushed, but must be left to rise, the Torah forbade having yeast in order to
discourage a leisurely attitude, which would interfere with the objectivity of
Based on these differences, it becomes apparent that the commands in
Shemot 12 are intrinsically different from those in the other two passages. However, although Shemot 13 and
Devarim are similar, the basic character of the prohibition is different. [e.g. no mention is made of the
Korban Pesach in Shemot 13.]
Understanding the differences
Until this point of the shiur, we have examined each source separately
and compared them to each other. It
is still necessary, however, to explain why the prohibition was worded
differently in each instance. There
are two possibilities:
Assuming that the prohibition of bal yimatzeh (Shemot 12) was given BEFORE Bnei
Yisrael left Egypt, as its place in the text would indicate. Accordingly, at that time, the Jews
were forbidden to have chametz in their possession.
This viewpoint is supported by the following: The word "bayit
(house/home)" is a key word in Shemot 12.
A key word reflects a central theme in a given passage and is identified
by the fact that it appears seven times (in different forms) in a passage. [In our case, the word bayit is
actually repeated eight times.
However, one time it is an exception, because it is part of a complex word,
"beit-avot;" whereas all the others stand alone.
Either way, bayit is an important word in this passage.] Therefore, all commands in this
passage must be related to bayit, including chametz. Before the Exodus, the concept of
borders (as mentioned in the other two passages) was not relevant, because Bnei
Yisrael had control only over their homes (and even this is questionable).
Consequently, the prohibition related only to one's home, and not to all
one's borders. The stringency of the
prohibition with regard to bayit is due to its role as an altar for the original
korban Pesach - as the blood on the doorposts suggests. In Egypt, eating the Korban Pesach
was like eating from the altar.
Chametz is not allowed on the altar, and hence it was prohibited from the home
at that time.
After the Exodus, the special aspect of bayit is replaced by "gevul"
(border). In addition, since the
idea of an altar is also absent now, the only problem with chametz is its
inherent conflict with the actual sacrifice, or with the eating of matza
(depending on Shemot 13, or Devarim).
This conflict only arises from chametz of which one is aware (chametz
yadu'a), and not from unknown chametz existence.
Therefore, the prohibition is only against SEEING chametz. Since we are concerned, too, that one
may eat chametz, no distinction is made between chametz belonging to oneself, or
to others (which is in your borders) [assuming the prohibition extends to
chametz belonging to a Gentile].
According to this understanding, bal yera'eh is an expansion of bal
yimatzeh, and they are not two separate laws [following the opinion quoted by
the Ritva]. Moshe's command after
the Exodus merely reflects the change in the situation of the Jews and does not
present a totally new law.
B. Assuming that the prohibition of bal
yimatzeh (Shemot 12) was given AFTER Bnei Yisrael left Egypt.
The beginning of Shemot chapter 12 (until verse 20) is divided into two
clear sections: the first (until verse 13) relates specifically to Pesach
Mitzrayim; the second commands us to keep Pesach every year thereafter (Pesach
le-dorot). Textually, this command
comes before Bnei Yisrael left Egypt.
Nevertheless, it is an accepted principle that the Torah is not always
chronological ("ein mukdam u-me'uchar ba-Torah"), particularly in sections where
there is good reason to believe they are out of place. [This follows both Rashi's and
Ramban's approach to the Torah - particularly regarding the building of the
mishkan vis-a-vis the sin of the Golden Calf.]
It is, therefore, quite possible that the second section was said at a
later date, based on the following points:
1. Moshe apparently relays these
commands to Bnei Yisrael only once they have already left Egypt (chapter 13).
2. Verse 17 states: "In the midst of
this day I have taken your multitude out of Egypt." Obviously, this could only have been
said after they had actually left Egypt.
3. Pesach Mitzrayim did not last
seven days and Bnei Yisrael were permitted to do work, therefore these commands
found in ch. 12, could not have applied here.
[In fact the laws of Pesach Mitzrayim are very similar to those
pertaining to Pesach Sheini, but an investigation of that is beyond the scope of
Following from all the above, we can assume that the
command in Shemot 12 was given after the Exodus.
Accordingly, both lo yimatzeh and lo yera'eh were given after the exodus
and they must constitute two separate prohibitions [which follows the opinion of
In Shemot 12, the motivation for prohibiting the possession of chametz is
the concern that one may eat it.
This reason is mentioned twice, both regarding the law of destroying chametz
(tashbitu) and lo yimatzeh. Since
the problem is the concern over eating chametz, ALL se'or in one's home must be
destroyed, so as not to leave a possibility of transgressing this prohibition.
In Shemot 13, however, the problem is not the danger of eating chametz,
but rather the conflict between chametz and remembering the Exodus from Egypt. Therefore, it is not connected
specifically to one's house. One is
supposed to relive Pesach Mitzrayim and the Exodus. Just as they did not have chametz
then - not because of any commandment, but simply because their dough did not
manage to rise - so too, we do not have chametz in our possession. The prohibition here is not
restricted to one's house, because in the Exodus itself, no one had a house -
they were traveling. When they left,
they did not have chametz in their possession and accordingly, we are not
allowed to have chametz in our possession.
This approach answers the famous question: If the prohibition of lo
yimatzeh and the command to eat matza (Shemot 12) were given BEFORE Bnei Yisrael
left Egypt, why does the Torah state, further on, that they ate matzot because
their dough did not have enough time to rise, though it were a historical
It is possible that for Pesach Mitzrayim there was no command to destroy
chametz. The only reason the Torah
records the fact that Bnei Yisrael's dough did not become chametz, is to show
that they did not have chametz in their possession. The command to eat matzot then did
not entail a prohibition against having chametz in one's home [as evidenced by
Pesach Sheini, where one eats matza but is permitted to have chametz].
In Devarim, the prohibition is connected to Korban Pesach (as explained
above). Any chametz which is not in
one's possession, or one is not aware of, does not stand in conflict with the
concept of the Korban Pesach.
There are two aspects to the Korban Pesach. It is a sacrifice brought by
individuals and the obligation to bring it falls upon each and every one
individually. Yet, it can also be
viewed as a communal sacrifice, as many of its laws reveal - everyone brings it
at the same time, one animal can suffice for many people, and so on. This point is highlighted by
examining the relationship between chametz and the Korban Pesach. We are forbidden to slaughter the
Korban Pesach while chametz is around ("al chametz"). This prohibition seems to have two
meanings: the individual may not have chametz in his possession while he is
slaughtering his sacrifice; the sacrifices can only be brought at a time when
the whole community does not have chametz.
[This second understanding is hinted at in the continuation of the verse,
"do not leave (it) ... till morning."
Since the second half is speaking about a time period, it is possible
that the first half is too. The
gemara itself uses this verse as a proof for prohibiting chametz from midday on
the 14th of Nisan - 5a.]
These two aspects exist with regard to chametz, too. There is a prohibition for each
individual to have chametz in his possession.
There is also an injunction against chametz being seen in all the borders
of Israel. However, this
understanding is dependent on the meaning of the word "border" in this context. Generally, this word appears in a
public context, yet there are times when it refers to an individual. If we are referring here to the
public context, then the separation of the prohibitions into two is more
understandable. The level of
responsibility of an individual over his property is total, whereas for a public
area, this responsibility is more limited.
According to an opinion quoted in the Ritva, bal yera'eh and bal yematzeh
constitute ONE issur. According to the Rambam, they are TWO separate issurim. It
is possible to explain that this argument is a function of whether the
prohibition of bal yematzeh [Shemot 12] was given before the Exodus [opinion in
Ritva] or after [Rambam].
We examined the scope of the prohibition based on a textual analysis. In
Shemot 12 [bal yematzeh] ALL chametz is forbidden but only within one's house.
In Shemot 13 and Devarim only one's OWN chametz is prohibited, but this extends
to all of one's borders.
If Shemot 13 and Devarim are seen as merely an extension of Shemot 12,
the differences between the two may be due to contextual factors:
1. The Jews controlled only their houses in Egypt; the concept of borders did
2. The house in Pesach Mitzrayim served as an altar and, therefore,
absolutely no chametz was permitted.
These factors do not play a role in the Pesach of Shemot 13 and Devarim where
the Jews are in their land and offer their sacrifices in the mikdash.
If, however, we are dealing with TWO issurim, the differences may be due to
the reasons given in the Torah for the prohibition against possession of
In Shemot 12 the
concern is that one may come to eat chametz. Thus, ALL se'or in one's home must
be destroyed, so as not to leave a possibility of transgressing this
In Shemot 13
we are commanded to relive the Exodus. The Jews had no chametz in their
possession at all and, therefore, it is insufficient merely to dispose of the
chametz in one's house.
In Devarim, the prohibition is
connected to Korban Pesach. Any chametz which is not in one's possession, or one
is not aware of, does not stand in conflict with the concept of the Korban
Sources for next week's shiur - Chametz shel hekdesh she-kibel alav achrayut:
1. Pesachim daf 5b: "Tannu
Rabbanan shivat yamim...ve-shel gavoha"
What is the din of chametz belonging to hekdesh that one has accepted
2. Shevu'ot daf 42b: "Ve-eylu
devarim ... meshalem."
3. Bekhorot daf 13b:
Why is hekdesh mentioned in Shevu'ot but not in Bekhorot?
4. Pesachim daf 29a: "Ve-yalif se'or
de-akhila ... ve-shel gavoha."
What is the logic of R. Acha bar Yaakov?