Shabbat Pesach| 5765
Chametz and Davar Hagorem Lemamon
It is an enjoyable challenge, worthy of the commandment to find matters of pleasure on the chagim, to try to connect various areas of halacha to the mitzvot of the day. We will take this opportunity to find connection between the matter of chametz and the topic from Choshen Mishpat of davar hagorem l’mamon (=dhlm). Dhlm describes acase where one does not own a given object, but it is worth money to him. The question then is whether that relationship to the object is a halachically significant one, giving the person various rights and/or obligations in reference to it as if he were an owner, or not. Following are two Talmudic applications of this concept in regard to chametz.
The gemara (Pesachim 5b) brings the halacha that if one is watching chametz for a non-Jew, and he is obligated to pay for the chametz if it gets lost or stolen, then he is required to remove the chametz from his ownership before Pesach. The gemara comments that this halacha is understandable if we assume that dhlm is like money. Then we would say that the fact that the existence of the chametz exempts him from paying for its disappearance makes him considered like an owner, who must remove his chametz before Pesach. If one posits that dhlm is not like money, then the explanation of the aforementioned halacha is that the pasuk of “lo yimatzei (the chametz should not be found)” teaches us that even a flimsy connection to the chametz makes a person responsible for it.
The gemara (Bava Kama 98b) says that if one steals chametz before Pesach and it is in his possession during Pesach, without being sold or burned before Pesach, then he is able to return the chametz after Pesach and say that he is giving back the same physical object that he took. What, then, happens if a third party burns the chametz after Pesach, when there is no longer a mitzva to do so? The gemara says that it depends what one holds on the question of dhlm. If dhlm is like money, then the third party has destroyed something that relates to the thief and is worth money to him, and the third party must pay the thief for damages. If dhlm is not like money, then the thief is not connected enough to the chametz he stole to demand damages on it.
The halacha is that dhlm is not considered like money (Rambam, G’neiva 2:6).
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