Judge Okays Sale of Leavened Products During Passover

Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Tamar Bar-Asher Zaban ruled Wednesday that groceries, pizzerias and restaurants are permitted to sell chametz (leavened products, not eaten during Pesach) because they are not "public" places in which chametz is prohibited for sale by law. She struck down four indictments issued by the Jerusalem municipality against business owners for selling chametz last Passover.

The angry responses were not long in coming. "The ruling puts a gun to the temple of the Jewish people," Religious Affairs Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) said.

Bar Asher-Zaban ruled that "the [matzot] bill, much like the law that was ultimately approved, does not prohibit the sale of chametz, but was meant only to 'prevent the display of bread, rolls and pitas in public.' That, therefore, is the purpose of the law. The law wasn't meant to interfere in the religious decree to eat matza, and wasn't meant to deal with chametz prohibitions as they are outlined in the halakha."

She ruled that the Holiday of Matzot Law is symbolic, and its goal is not to anchor halakhic laws within the secular law books. It does not include all chametz products, but rather specifically addresses the products that symbolize chametz: bread, rolls and pita.

National Religious Party Chairman MK Zevulun Orlev said that the ruling is divorced from reality and deals a critical blow to the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.