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D6. Keeping Our Home & Domain Free of Leaven & Chametz from Passover through the Feast of Unleavened Bread.    [Make a Comment]

We are to maintain our home and all territory that is under our control completely free of leaven and chametz, from Passover through all seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Exodus 12:15 (Maimonides RP156; Meir MP22; Chinuch C9)
For seven days you are to eat matzah - on the first day remove the leaven from your houses. For whoever eats hametz [leavened bread] from the first to the seventh day is to be cut off from Isra'el.

Exodus 12:19 (Maimonides RN201; Meir MN3; Chinuch C11)
During those seven days, no leaven is to be found in your houses. Whoever eats food with hametz in it is to be cut off from the community of Isra'el - it doesn't matter whether he is a foreigner or a citizen of the land.

Exodus 12:33-34
The Egyptians pressed to send the people out of the land quickly, because they said, "Otherwise we'll all be dead!" The people took their dough before it had become leavened and wrapped their kneading bowls in their clothes on their shoulders.

Exodus 12:42-49 (Maimonides RN126-128; Chinuch C13-14, C17)
This was a night when ADONAI kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when ADONAI keeps vigil for all the people of Isra'el through all their generations. ADONAI said to Moshe and Aharon, "This is the regulation for the Pesach lamb: no foreigner is to eat it. But if anyone has a slave he bought for money, when you have circumcised him, he may eat it. Neither a traveler nor a hired servant may eat it. It is to be eaten in one house. You are not to take any of the meat outside the house, and you are not to break any of its bones. The whole community of Isra'el is to keep it. If a foreigner staying with you wants to observe ADONAI's Pesach, all his males must be circumcised. Then he may take part and observe it; he will be like a citizen of the land. But no uncircumcised person is to eat it. The same teaching is to apply equally to the citizen and to the foreigner living among you.

Exodus 13:7 (Maimonides RN200; Meir MN2; Chinuch C20)
Matzah is to be eaten throughout the seven days; neither hametz nor leavening agents are to be seen with you throughout your territory.

Matthew 26:17-19
On the first day for matzah, the talmidim came to Yeshua and asked, "Where do you want us to prepare your Seder?" "Go into the city, to so-and-so," he replied, "and tell him that the Rabbi says, 'My time is near, my talmidim and I are celebrating Pesach at your house.'" The talmidim did as Yeshua directed and prepared the Seder.

Mark 14:12-16
On the first day for matzah, when they slaughtered the lamb for Pesach, Yeshua's talmidim asked him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare your Seder?" He sent two of his talmidim with these instructions: "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him; and whichever house he enters, tell him that the Rabbi says, 'Where is the guest room for me, where I am to eat the Pesach meal with my talmidim?' He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make the preparations there." The talmidim went off, came to the city and found things just as he had told them they would be; and they prepared the Seder.

Luke 22:7-13
Then came the day of matzah, on which the Passover lamb had to be killed. Yeshua sent Kefa and Yochanan, instructing them, "Go and prepare our Seder, so we can eat." They asked him, "Where do you want us to prepare it?" He told them, "As youre going into the city (a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house he enters)

John 2:23
Now while Yeshua was in Yerushalayim at the Pesach festival, there were many people who "believed in his name" when they saw the miracles he performed.

John 6:4
Now the Judean festival of Pesach was coming up

John 11:55
The Judean festival of Pesach was near, and many people went up from the country to Yerushalayim to perform the purification ceremony prior to Pesach.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Your boasting is not good. Don't you know the saying, "It takes only a little hametz to leaven a whole batch of dough?" Get rid of the old hametz, so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. So let us celebrate the Seder not with leftover hametz, the hametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth.

Galatians 5:7-9
You were running the race well; who has stopped you from following the truth? Whatever means of persuasion he used was not from the One who calls you. "It takes only a little hametz to leaven the whole batch of dough."


This Mitzvah requires that no leaven, whether alone or part of food containing leaven (chametz), be in a Jew's possession or within his control during the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This implies that he (or she) must, before sundown on the 14th day of Nisan, remove it from his house, garage, shed, trash bin, business property, territory domain, or anywhere else where he has proprietary rights of control, and must not let it back in for seven full days. This abstinence commemorates the Jews' hasty departure from Egypt, when they had no time to allow their bread to rise and therefore had to eat unleavened bread on the first leg of their journey. According to Exodus 12:19, obedience to this commandment is not an option for either a Jew or a Gentile who is a "citizen of the land" (K'rov Yisrael).

Leaven is analogized to sin in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and in Galatians 5:7-9, and its removal from our lives is directly linked to the Passover, and to the Passover lamb - our Messiah. But leaven is not always symbolic of sin, as we can see from Leviticus 23:17, which requires that the firstfruits bread offering of Shavuot be made with leaven.

The particulars of what should be considered leaven and chametz are controversial within Jewry. Sephardim and Ashkenazim follow different rules on the subject, and Messianic Jewish communities are equally diverse. Is leaven anything that can cause food to rise, or must there be fermentation in order for it to qualify? What grains must be removed from the house because they are subject to spontaneous fermentation during storage? Rice? Barley? Beans? Discussions of such particulars are found in the Talmudic literature, but not in any of the classical mitzvah codifications. I do not think it would be judicious for me to express my opinion of these particulars here. The general idea in the Scriptures is that the Israelites' bread that would otherwise have fermented with yeast did not have time to rise. Therefore, our not keeping casually-stored grains that would have had time to ferment and rise would seem to be the general intent of the biblical text.

The legal fiction, in which people sometimes engage, of keeping control of their chametz (whether stored in their house or not) by selling it to a Gentile for a minimum amount of money with the understanding that the Gentile will sell it back to them after the days of Unleavened Bread is not in accord with the spirit of the Scriptures. People should gauge their purchases and production of leavened products so as to minimize their material loss, but they should not engage in subterfuge.

This Mitzvah is mandated for Jews and K'rovei Yisrael, but not for Gentiles generally; the text of 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 cited above is therefore metaphorical in its application as to them.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch distinguish between not possessing leaven and not finding it in one's house. Meir and HaChinuch require that a Jew search his house for leaven, whereas Maimonides does not mention such a requirement. None of the commentators attempt to define "leaven", but HaChinuch says that yeast is an example of it. Meir states that if a non-Jew places chametz in a Jew's house and the Jew has not taken responsibility for it, the chametz need not be destroyed; otherwise it must be.


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