Listen Carefully

Careful speech demands careful listening. It is a delicate matter to communicate the news of the unexpected death of a dear friend. This is a timely daf for me, as I received such news myself only three days ago. In this daf, protocol for mourning from a distance is included, too.

Daf 327 (Pesachim 4a-4b)

The gemara continues to present examples of careful speech. Finally, the gemara returns to study of the mishnah, asking “Why should it, in fact, be necessary to search for the chametz on the night before Pesach?” A related question: “regarding one who rents a house . . . on the 14th of Nissan, upon who is it incumbent to search? Is it incumbent upon the landlord . . . or perhaps . . . upon the tenant?”

The search for chametz is declared to be merely a rabbinic requirement. The gemara suggests that, biblically, renouncing the chametz is sufficient. (Rashi: “Exodus 12:15 . . . [says] on the first day you shall eliminate leaven from your homes. By using the term eliminate, rather than destroy, the Torah implies that the chametz can be eliminated in one’s heart– by nullifying it– without physically destroying it.”) Thus, the entire debate that follows regarding the timing of the search or the credulity of witnesses (if the search was not made by the resident himself) appears to be theoretical– an inquiry to determine rabbinic best practice rather than an analysis of a biblical commandment. So it appears– at least for now . . .

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