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Pesach: Working with chametz on Pesach


My workplace is not particularly observant, so the religious employees take off on Pesach. The reason is primarily because our work, which involves raising insects (for agricultural research), requires handling a substrate that is possibly chametz. The mixture consists of sugar, yeast, water, a little bit of acid, and bran. Is this actually chametz? What should we do? Some of the employees are resentful that their religious coworkers "can't work" on chol hamo'ed, since this prevents everyone else from taking off during that time. In short: is it permissible to work on chol hamoed Pesach at this place?

Here are answers to clarifying questions:

  • Was the substrate prepared before or on Pesach?  Before Pesach.
  • Is it wet or dry?  Wet
  • Is it edible?  Not in the least. Not even fit for a dog. The larvae (of the flies we cultivate in the lab) feed off of it.
  • What is done with the substrate?  We place the fly eggs in it, and the larvae that develop from them feed off of it.
  • Is the yeast synthetic or from barley?  They are beer preserves.
  • Is the bran free of wheat kernels?  Yes, it consists of parts of the shell of the wheat kernels, but it does not include the kernels at all.


Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

Since the mixture is prepared before Pesach and is not fit for a dog's consumption, it seems that there is no prohibition of leaving the substrate over Pesach, but is forbidden to eat (which here is inedible in any case). Like anything that is not worthy for a dog's consumption, the prohibition of deriving benefit does not apply (see Mishna Berura §442:22). This is especially the case when the mixture is prepared before Pesach. For these reasons, it is even possible to use this substrate (as is the issue in the question at hand) during Pesach without a problem.