What is Chametz?


There are a number of different commands and prohibitions regarding the owning and eating of Chametz on Pesach. There is a positive command to destroy Chametz, two negative commands not to own Chametz, a negative command against eating or benefiting from Chametz, and a Rabbinical command to search one’s house for Chametz.


What is Chametz?

Chametz is defined as food which contains any one of the 5 grains [wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oat] which have leavened. When these grains or their flour derivatives come into contact with water, they leaven after remaining with the water for a certain amount of time. Once the grains or flour have leavened they are defined as Chametz.

The following is a list of Chametz items:

  • Pasta
  • White flour
  • Bread
  • Pita
  • Beer
  • Whisky
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Non-food Chametz products: All non-food products that contain Chametz ingredients are permitted to be owned and benefited from over Pesach. However, care must be taken not to consume the product, and hence it must not come into contact with food or one’s lips.
  • Play dough/Play-doh: Play-doh is made up of actual Chametz. It is made of flour, water and food coloring.[1] It must be destroyed before Pesach or sold to a gentile.[2] If one did not do so, then he is to destroy it on Pesach as soon as he remembers[3], without reciting the blessing.[4] If one sold his Chametz, then the play-doh is to be placed in the area sold to the gentile.


[1] Ingredients provided by the play-doh company, “Hasbro”: The compound is primarily a mixture of water, [2] Play-doh is consumable and does not contain any poisons or dangerous material for a human. It must thus be destroyed just like a piece of actual dough. It is not covered by the allowance of owning Chametz that is not food, which is brought in 422/22, because that refers to Taaruvos Chametz, and play-doh is Chametz Beiyn. However, it may be viewed as Chameitz Nuksha since it is not meant to be eaten and thus resembles the dough made by the Sofrim, mentioned in 442/20, which is Chameitz Nuksha. Therefore, although it must be destroyed or sold to the gentile before Pesach, if one did not do so and found play-doh on Pesach, it is to be destroyed without a blessing, as is the law by Chametz Nuksha in 442/20.

[3] 442/20

[4] ibid

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