05. Ḥametz Nuksheh (Hardened Ḥametz)

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

An example of ḥametz 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 ḥametz nuksheh, and the Sages forbade eating it or keeping it on Pesaḥ (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 Pesaḥ (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 ḥametz nuksheh, and it is forbidden by rabbinic law to eat or keep it on Pesaḥ (SA 459:2).[4]


[4]. The opinion of SA 447:12 is that ḥametz nuksheh is only rabbinically forbidden, and therefore, ḥametz nuksheh that existed over Pesaḥ is not forbidden after Pesaḥ. This is also the opinion of SAH 442:20-21 and MB 442:2, based on the opinion of most Rishonim. However, several Rishonim maintain that ḥametz nuksheh is forbidden by Torah law. There are two related issues: the prohibition of eating ḥametz nuksheh and the prohibition of keeping ḥametz nuksheh (see Berur Halakha on Pesaḥim 48b regarding the issue of eating, and 42a regarding the issue of keeping it over Pesaḥ). According to Rabbeinu Tam and many other poskim, flour that is mixed with fruit juice and a little bit of water is also considered ḥametz nuksheh. See below (8:1) regarding matza ashira.

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Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman