Question:

Is there any issue of ta’aroves chametz with flavoured nargila (hookah) tobacco? Should these items be sold or disposed of before Pesach?

Answer:

There is an old dispute between the Maharam Shik and the Divrei Chaim with regards to snuff tobacco. The Maharam Shik1)Orach Chaim Siman 242 holds that ingredients added to the tobacco to enhance the smell are chashuv (important). Through the mechanics of “achshevei” (a mental assigning of importance to a non-food item) this chashivus causes the tobacco mixture becomes to be forbidden, thus requiring bittul or sale. The Divrei Chaim2)Yoreh De’ah Siman 20 on the other hand disagrees and says that as long as the mixture took place before Pesach the chametz ingredients were “ruined” in the process and lose their status as edible chametz. Thus the mixture is permitted to be enjoyed on Pesach.

The Beis Meir3)Orach Chaim Siman 467:8 says that the whole debate mentioned above is only true by snuff tobaccos. However, smoking tobacco that is inhaled in the mouth is more stringent according to everyone regarding the “achshevei” and thus would require bittul or sale.

The custom amongst many nowadays is to refrain from all smoking of tobacco on Pesach unless it has a hechsher.

Please don’t take this response to be in some way condoning the smoking of tobacco, the negative health effects of which are well known.

References   [ + ]

1. Orach Chaim Siman 242
2. Yoreh De’ah Siman 20
3. Orach Chaim Siman 467:8