1. Bitul Ĥametz in the Evening and Morning

As we learned (above 3:4), one fulfills the mitzva of bi’ur ĥametz (disposing of ĥametz) in two ways, in action and in thought. The process of bi’ur ĥametz involves four stages. The first two, bedika and the first bitul, are performed on the evening of the fourteenth of Nisan. The second two stages, bi’ur and the second bitul, take place the following morning. Having discussed the laws relating to bedikat ĥametz in the previous chapter, we shall now address bitul ĥametz.

After bedikat ĥametz, we immediately rid ourselves of the ĥametz by nullifying it mentally. To make this process easier, a formal declaration of nullification – bitul ĥametz – was composed. This declaration is in Aramaic, because, at the time of its formulation, most Jews understood only Aramaic. It reads (according to the Ashkenazic rite):

כל חמירא וחמיעא דאיכא ברשותי, דלא חזיתיה ודלא בערתיה, לבטיל ולהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא.

Kol ĥamira ve-ĥami’a de-ika bi-rshuti, de-lo ĥazitei u-delo bi’artei, li-vtil u-lehavi hefker ke-afra de-ar’a.

This declaration can also be said in Hebrew:

כל חמץ ושאור שיש ברשותי, שלא ראיתיו ושלא ביערתיו, יבטל ויהא הפקר כעפר הארץ.

Kol ĥametz u-se’or she-yesh bi-rshuti, she-lo re’itiv ve-shelo bi’artiv, yivatel ve-yehei hefker ke-afar ha-aretz.

In English:

All ĥametz and leaven in my possession that I have not seen and have not eliminated shall be nullified and become ownerless, like the dust of the earth.

The Sephardic version mentions only ĥametz, which includes leaven, and only nullification, which includes renunciation of ownership (see Ĥazon Ovadia, p. 32).

Following the actual bi’ur ĥametz on the morning of the fourteenth (see below, part 3 of this chapter), we perform a second bitul ĥametz. This is because the evening bitul ĥametz applies only to ĥametz we did not find in our search, and of which we remain unaware. It cannot, however, apply to the ĥametz we still intend to eat, since such ĥametz is important to us. We likewise cannot nullify the ĥametz we found in our search, because we intend to dispose of this by burning. Moreover, applying our evening bitul ĥametz to the ĥametz we still plan to eat would reveal the insincerity of our bitul and render it ineffective.

Therefore, in the evening we nullify only the ĥametz we did not find in our search; we do not intend to include the ĥametz we set aside to be eaten or burned. The problem is that if we misplace or overlook some of this remaining ĥametz, we are liable to violate the law of bal yera’eh and bal yimatzei. To prevent this from happening, we nullify the ĥametz a second time. One must be careful to nullify the ĥametz by the end of the fifth seasonal hour of the day, for with the onset of the sixth seasonal hour it is forbidden to derive any benefit from ĥametz, and it can no longer be nullified (SA 434:2).

The wording of the morning nullification is slightly different from that of the evening. In the evening we nullify only the ĥametz that was not found during the search, while in the morning we nullify the ĥametz in its entirety. It reads:

כל חמירא וחמיעא דאיכא ברשותי, דחזיתיה ודלא חזיתיה, דבערתיה ודלא בערתיה, לבטיל ולהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא.

Kol ĥamira ve-ĥami’a de-ika bi-rshuti, de-ĥazitei u-delo ĥazitei, de-bi’artei u-delo bi’artei, li-vtil u-lehavi hefker ke-afra de-ar’a.

This declaration can also be said in Hebrew:

כל חמץ ושאור שיש ברשותי, שראיתיו ושלא ראיתיו, שביערתיו ושלא ביערתיו, יבטל ויהא הפקר כעפר הארץ.

Kol ĥametz u-se’or she-yesh bi-rshuti, she-re’itiv ve-shelo re’itiv, she-bi’artiv ve-shelo bi’artiv, yivatel ve-yehei hefker ke-afar ha-aretz.

Or in English:

All ĥametz and leaven in my possession that I have seen and that I have not seen, that I have destroyed and that I have not destroyed, shall be nullified and become ownerless, like the dust of the earth.

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