5. Ĥametz Nuksheh (Hardened Ĥametz)

The ĥametz that the Torah forbade is ĥametz gamur (absolute ĥametz), meaning that the leavening process has been completed, and the food has become edible. But if fermentation had begun but not concluded, and from the outset the food was barely edible, then it is called “ĥametz nuksheh.” According to most poskim, ĥametz nuksheh is not forbidden by Torah law, but the Sages prohibited it so that people would not err and come to eat or keep real ĥametz.

An example of ĥametz nuksheh is the glue that scribes used to prepare from flour and water for gluing paper. Since its leavening process was never completed, and it is barely edible, it is ĥametz nuksheh, and the Sages forbade eating it or keeping it on Pesaĥ (MB 442:2). If its form was changed, as when the glue is used to stick papers together, then one is allowed to keep it. Others are more stringent and maintain that if the glue protrudes from between the pages, then it is considered as if it has maintained its same form, and it is forbidden to keep it on Pesaĥ (SA and Rema 242:3).

Similarly, dough that began to ferment to the point that its surface blanched, but the surface was not cracked as with true leavening, is considered ĥametz nuksheh, and it is forbidden by rabbinic law to eat or keep it on Pesaĥ (SA 459:2).[4]

[4]. The opinion of SA 447:12 is that ĥametz nuksheh is only rabbinically forbidden, and therefore, ĥametz nuksheh that existed over Pesaĥ is not forbidden after Pesaĥ. This is also the opinion of SAH 442:20-21 and MB 442:2, based on the opinion of most Rishonim. However, several Rishonim are of the opinion that ĥametz nuksheh is forbidden by Torah law. There are two related issues: the prohibition of eating ĥametz nuksheh and the prohibition of keeping ĥametz nuksheh (see Birur Halakha on Pesaĥim 48b regarding the issue of eating, and 42a regarding the issue of keeping it over Pesaĥ). See also the Encyclopedia Talmudit entry “Ĥametz Nuksheh” p. 108 (definition) and pp. 110-115 (extent of the prohibition). According to Rabbeinu Tam and many other poskim, flour that is mixed with fruit juice and a little bit of water is also considered ĥametz nuksheh. See below (8:1) regarding matza ashira.
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