In The Way: The Leavenator!

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The Leavenator | by Jason SalasI have a particular problem: With Passover coming up, I need to eradicate the household of all leaven items yet I don’t want to throw out good food. Sound familiar? It’s actually not my problem, I have no qualms about tossing food out that I don’t want. I’ve done it many times with a meal that I prepared that turned out tasting like a rubber tire. Yet some folks consider throwing out “good food” a sin. I’ve yet to find that particular mitzvah in the Torah but maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

I’ve heard talk about the best way to get “rid” of the leaven. I use quotation marks because many of the ways don’t involve ridding one’s self from the leaven as much as just distancing one’s self from it. For instance, some people choose to put their leaven in a box and store it at another person’s home, preferably a relative. This can be one of those times when it’s good to have relatives who don’t observe Torah themselves. And, I dare say, some may refrain from proselytizing said relatives during the Feast of Unleavened Bread for fear of them finally catching on and tossing out those bulk boxes of Cap’n Crunch you got on sale. I call this the “Store Next Door” method. If this is your preferred method, please invite me to your Cap’n Crunch feast immediately after we’re back on leaven.

Some talk of burning the leaven. I like this method since I like burning stuff. I do find myself battling with my own scruples when any plastic containers are thrown in along with the leaven. At that point I start to wonder if I’m in the wrong by allowing the emission of dangerous chlorofluorocarbon gasses from the burning of plastic and what not. All my happy “I’m a good Torah observant guy” feelings get choked by the gasses and guilt and I’m left wondering if I’m killing some defenseless bird in the tree and leaving the baby eggs which would, of course, fault me on an altogether different commandment. All of a sudden, I lose my fire for the burning process altogether (pun fully intended).

How about giving away your leaven to the less fortunate? That rubs me in a weird direction. We’re essentially taking our sin and telling someone, “Here, eat my sin!” I’d feel worse for such a deed. I’d rather get him a banana or a turkey leg so neither of us are in the wrong. But then that doesn’t solve my getting-rid-of-leaven problem. Yet, that does solve my give-a-bum-a-banana problem but that’s another story.

I read that some folks sell their leaven and, to do so, they must have a Rabbi act as a broker of sorts to make sure everything is done right. There’s a rule about not profiting from leaven so I’m guessing it has to be sold at cost accounting for depreciation. What exactly is the market value of half a loaf of bread or a one straggler beer-battered fish stick? And furthermore, who’s going to buy it? Good luck with that on eBay.

Personally, I like the idea of taking some time before and simply not buying any leaven stuff to begin with. I feel that, by doing so, I’d kind of be trying to eliminate the sin and not inviting any more sin before the big day. Then I start to think that it would be a good idea to live my life like that – slowly not bringing in sin while purging whatever sin I do have. Of course, it’s going to take a lot of “label reading” to find all the leaven in my life since I’ve been so entangled with the world. But it’s a process.

And, just so you know, I’m no expert on this leaven-eradication subject. I’m just giving my thoughts. I advise you to take my comments with a grain of salt. Just don’t take them with a lump of leaven.

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