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Before Pesach, it is common to attempt to get rid of whatever chametzdik food one is able to. Taking this and the issur (prohibition) of bal tashchit into account, is it actually permissible to throw out and/or burn chametz that is still edible, rather than selling it?

CYLOR

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  • If one holds that one should not sell chametz gamur then they should make a chesbon to try to finish all their chmatez beforehand,
    – sam
    Apr 3, 2015 at 1:33
  • Chametz on Pesach is value-less. You aren't destroying anything of value.
    – Double AA
    Apr 3, 2015 at 3:10
  • @DoubleAA Technically, when you destroy it, it has value. But I agree with your comment anyway. Case in point: Rav... Shteinman I think?... someone, anyway, was asked about a baal t'shuva's stealing his parent's chametz before Pesach (in a manner that would effect a change in ownership) so as to prevent his parent from owning it on Pesach, and then selling it to a non-Jew, and replied that, as the chametz would become worthless if not stolen, the theft was effectively meshiv aveda (returning a lost object, i.e., here, saving an object from being lost).
    – msh210
    Apr 3, 2015 at 8:37
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    related answer judaism.stackexchange.com/a/16323/1362
    – rosends
    Apr 3, 2015 at 11:50

2 Answers 2

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I have always had this question as well, and I recently found an answer:)

In Yabia Omer Chelek Even Haezer 4:9 אות ד Rav Ovadia discusses how the custom of breaking the cup at the wedding is not bal tashchit since there is a purpose for it and bal tashchit doesnt apply to that minhag, since whenever we have a reason for the action, bal tashchit doesn't apply. The same thing he writes in Yechaveh Daat 5:46 where he discusses if cutting branches of a tree that produces fruit for the schach is bal tashchit. He answers that it is not bal tashchit because again it has a reason, and it is a mitzvah, and therefore bal tashchit doesn't apply in those situations.

I would say the same thing here: Since the Torah tells us to get rid of the chametz and therefore we have a reason, bal tashchit doesn't apply in this case.

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  • Same thing (even for a minhag) with overflowing a cup of wine Apr 4, 2023 at 12:07
  • This doesn't excuse having lots of chametz sitting around that needs to be destroyed. The issur was when you got pizza take-out when you still had 10 boxes of pasta in the cabinet. You're right that once you get to erev pesach you have to destroy the pasta, but it was wrong to put yourself in that situation.
    – Double AA
    Apr 4, 2023 at 16:51
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עשה דוחה לא תעשה - The biblical commandment to destroy all the leaven in one's possession overrides the general prohibition of bal tashchit. According to Rabbi Yehuda - which I believe is how Rashi rules - the mitzva of biur chametz is by burning. In fact, the general custom is to burn the last remains of chametz.

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    I would imagine that this would not fall under bal tashchit in the first place, since bal tashchit is likely defined as destruction for no purpose, whereas here the destruction is for the purpose of fulfilling a mitzvah; thus there would be no necessity to invoke עשה דוחה לא תעשה
    – wfb
    Apr 14, 2015 at 21:17
  • fair enough....
    – Loewian
    Apr 15, 2015 at 1:35

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