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Analyzing Chometz:  Adapted from the Torah of Rav Dovid Kviat zt”l

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

During Yom Tov one must try to visit one’s Rebbe.  One of my Rebbeim was Rav Dovid Kviat zt”l. Rav Kviat was a Rosh Yeshiva in the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, a Rav of the 18th Avenue Agudah shul, a member of the Moetzes HaRabbonim of Agudath Yisroel, the author of dozens of Seforim entitled, “Sukkas Dovid” on Shas, a Talmid of Rav Chatzkel Levenstein, and one of the last of the Alter Mirrers. Perhaps an alternative method of visiting one’s Rebbe during this time of Corona isolation, is to learn one’s Rebbe’s Torah – and perhaps spreads it to others.

Chometz is unique in that it is completely forbidden on Pesach, and yet entirely permitted after Pesach.  Where do we find such a prohibition?


On Pesach the consumption of Chometz is a prohibition of Kares.  It is forbidden in benefit.  One may not see it or find it. Chazal extended this prohibition from a k’zayis to any amount whatsoever.  One must both burn it and annul it.

Yet, after Pesach, it converts to being absolutely permitted!

Is this the case regarding other prohibitions such as chailev? Or forbidden blood?  Yom Kippur is not a prohibition of the item per se, rather there is a prohibition placed upon the person himself – and thus it is understood why it depends upon time. Chometz on Pesach, however, is indeed a prohibition on the item itself – so where do we find that something so prohibited in its essence changes to something entirely permitted?


We know from the Radbaz’s responsum that Chometz alludes to the yetzer hara.  Therefore, we need to search for it in all the pathway and alleyways of our thoughts – and any miniscule amount cannot be considered as nothing.


However, at the end of the day, Hashem created this world with a yetzer hara.  This is the essence of our toiling here on earth – to uproot the yetzer hara from within us.  Therefore, it must continue to be and exist – it cannot be entirely eliminated  – for if so, we would be like the angels that have no schar, no reward.

This is why Chometz is permitted after Pesach.  We need it and it cannot entirely eliminate it from the world.  However, we must strive to negate it and consider it as nothing.  Therefore, Hashem gave us a specific time to endeavor to negate it and this time is Pesach. Even after we return to the Chometz, which is the yetzer hara, we will be able to negate it afterward as well – that it not rule over us.  This is how we can earn merit in our AVodas Hashem the entire year.

Each person has the power and capability to create for himself a personal spiritual geulah during this time – but it cannot be eliminated entirely.

We must, however, seek and request Divine assistance in our struggle.  We must daven to Hashem that He help us stand up to the Yetzer Hara.  Without Tefilah, nothing will work. Just as in Mitzrayim it states, “Vataal shavasam el haElokim – and their cry arose unto Hashem..”  It was only then that the yeshuah came about.  The same is true with everyone, as can be seen in the incident with a student of the Baal Shem Tov.


Rav Dovid Purkes, originally a skeptic of the Baal Shem Tov but later a student of the Baal Shem Tov who was part of his inner circle, lived in Mezhbizh next to the Baal Shem Tov.  He took it upon himself to obtain wine for his Rebbe (probably for the impending Yom Tov of Pesach).

[Yair Hoffman:  In the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth – wine was non-existent.  Indeed, Rav Kviat zt”l would tell me how his own father would make kiddush on Challah except for on Pesach where he would with great difficulty obtain raisins and make raisin wine for the 4 cups of wine every Pesach.]

Rav Purkes travelled to a foreign country and spent several weeks either making or obtaining wine to bring back to the Baal Shem Tov.  As he finally came to the border of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth a customs official asked Rav Purkes what he was carrying with him.  Rav Purkes responded that it was wine.  The customs official did not believe him, and he touched the wine – rendering it pasul.

Rav Purkes asked of the Baal Shem Tov:  “I had worked diligently and guarded everything carefully with all my strength that you should have kosher wine! Why did this happen?”

The Baal Shem Tov responded, “Granted that you took all the necessary precautions in guarding the wine, nonetheless, there was one thing that was missing.  You were missing the component of Tefilah on the matter – that you should have assistance from Shamayim on the matter.  That is why you ultimately were not successful.”

This thought is actually a Gemorah in Niddah 70b. We need both elements.  We need the amel – the physical action and struggle in all our endeavors, but we also need the element of Tefilah – prayer.  This is true in the matter of negating the koach of the yetzer harah as well.

[Additional thought by Yair Hoffman: Perhaps this lesson should also be applied in our struggle against COVID-19.  True, we are practicing social distancing and taking zinc and getting rest, but we must also daven to hashem for assistance in not getting ill].

May we all have a healthy and kasher Pesach filled with simcha and develop our strength to battle with our yetzer hara in the coming year.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

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