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While burning the chametz is clearly the most popular, it is really not the only solution to disposing of it right before Pesach.
Other solutions I remember learning about are scattering it in the sea, dissolving it with acid, soaking it with poison, etc.

Is burning really the best form of Biur? Or is it most popular because of the confusion of what the word means... (biur means "getting rid of", as opposed to hav'ara which means "burning")?
Or is it just because burning things with fire is, well, fun :)

All else being equal, which is the first choice of Biur?

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Burning is definitely first for ashkenazim, because tosfot actually paskins that like R Yehuda in the mishna (pesachim 2:1) that burning is the only way to go. (i'll post as an answer when i have time to track down the tosfot.) – Double AA Apr 5 '12 at 14:58
@DoubleAA that's odd, I seem to remember learning that davka for ashkenazim burning is not the preferred way, but don't remember the source or reasoning. Though perhaps it was more of an environmental/societal issue.... – AviD Apr 5 '12 at 16:14
AViD and @DoubleAA, don't forget eating it as an option. What's the expression? "אין לך השבתה גדולה מזו"? – Seth J Apr 5 '12 at 19:46
@SethJ Hehe, okay, yeah, thats the obvious best one - bal tashchit and all that - but I thought it obvious that I meant besides that. – AviD Apr 5 '12 at 20:25
@SethJ Eating is only an option through the end of the 4th hour. I assume the question is referring to after that when you really have to destroy it. – Double AA Apr 5 '12 at 23:22
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Mishna in Pesachim 2:1 records a dispute as to how Biur Chametz is to be done. Rabbi Yehuda, comparing the destruction of Chametz to the destruction of invalid Korbanot, rules that Chametz must be destroyed by burning. The Chachamim there argue and rule that any form of destruction (tossing into the sea, or crumbling it into the wind) is acceptable. The Rambam, a Sephardi, in Chametz U'Matza 3:11 rules like the Chachamim, while Tosfot, an Ashkenazi, on Pesachim 27b sv Ein rules like Rabbi Yehuda. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 445:1) rules like the Rambam and Chachamim, while the Rama notes that the custom in Ashkenaz is to destroy the chametz with fire, seemingly (and the Mishna Berura sk 6 notes this at well) in order to fulfill the mitzva according to Rabbi Yehuda as well.

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Shaarei Teshuva 445:1 mentions that the Shaalos U'Teshuvos Ohr Yisroel brings a dispute as to whether the only way of doing Biur is by burning. I imagine that due to that it is the preferred way of disposing of the Chometz.

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