A striking talmudic passage asserts that it is biblically permitted to eat the ḥametz of a non-Jew on Passover. How are we to explain this strange claim? What might this development teach us about the dynamics of rabbinic texts?Excerpt:
In this essay, we will demonstrate how the Talmud’s surprising position does not reflect a fundamental legal change in the halakhot of ḥametz on Passover. Instead, it is the result of a series of literary and interpretive impulses, which carry unintended, and in this case extreme, consequences. Tracing the development of this remarkable talmudic assertion will give us a window into how complex chains of rabbinic literary processes can sometimes lead to strange conclusions.A technical essay, but one that illuminates the process of internal exegesis in the rabbinic literature.