הפקר כעפרא דארעא (Nullification)

dust-particles-16353

כל חמירא וחמיעא דאיכא ברשותי, דלא חזיתיה ודלא בערתיה, לבטיל ולהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא

“All chametz or leaven in my possession that I have seen and that I have not seen, that I have destroyed and that I have not destroyed, shall be nullified and become ownerless, like the dust of the earth”

I guess it’s a game they want to play, but I don’t fully understand the mania with which observant Jews work to find and eradicate every last speck of leaven in their homes. Transforming the remains of bread into dust, with a few simple words, the halakhic speech-act of nullification permits the impermissible by turning it into a neutral-like substance (leaven, idols, things like that).

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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