Chapter: 4 – Bedikat Ĥametz – the Search for Ĥametz

1. The Time for Bedikat Ĥametz

As we learned in the previous chapter, one who possesses ĥametz on Pesaĥ transgresses two prohibitions: “no ĥametz of yours shall be seen” (Shemot 13:7), and “there shall be no se’or found in your homes” (ibid. 12:19). In order not … Continue reading

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2. Activities Rabbinically Forbidden before Bedikat Ĥametz

The Sages prohibited starting a task or a meal during the half hour before the time of bedikat ĥametz, out of concern that one might become caught up in these activities and forget to search for ĥametz. It is permitted, … Continue reading

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3. The Berakha

Before beginning to search for ĥametz, one recites the berakha “Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us concerning bi’ur ĥametz” (“asher kideshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu al bi’ur ĥametz”). Though the actual bi’ur ĥametz will not take place until the … Continue reading

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4. Places That Must Be Searched

Any property owned by a Jew that might contain a kezayit of ĥametz must be searched. Therefore, the kitchen and the dining room where people eat must be searched, and any room, storage space, or porch where people sometimes bring … Continue reading

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5. The Candle and the Flashlight

The Sages ordained that bedikat ĥametz be performed by candlelight, because candlelight is focused and effective for searching. During the day, the light of the sun detracts from the brightness of the candle, and it is difficult for the eye … Continue reading

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6. Must One Search for Less than a Kezayit of Ĥametz?

The purpose of bedikat ĥametz is to find pieces of ĥametz that are a kezayit or larger, for one only violates bal yera’eh and bal yimatzei if there is a kezayit or more of ĥametz in one place in his … Continue reading

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7. Do Books Require Bedikat Ĥametz?

According to several Aĥaronim, one is required to search all of his books, page by page, because a crumb of ĥametz might have fallen into one of them. These authorities maintain that the objective of bedikat ĥametz is to remove … Continue reading

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8. Do We Rely upon the Cleaning Done before Pesaĥ?

Most Jewish families clean their homes thoroughly before Pesaĥ. Any part of the house that was cleaned well, and into which people were careful not to bring ĥametz afterward, does not require a thorough search (Sha’arei Teshuva 433:1; Da’at Torah … Continue reading

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9. Hiding Pieces of Bread and Receiving Help from Family Members

It is customary hide pieces of bread before bedikat ĥametz, so that the person performing the search will have to discover them. Some maintain that this custom is meant to ensure that the searcher finds ĥametz, because if he does … Continue reading

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10. One Who Travels

If one travels abroad before Pesaĥ and plans to return home after Pesaĥ, his performance of bedikat ĥametz depends on when he departs: if he departs within thirty days of Pesaĥ, i.e., from Purim onward, he must search his home … Continue reading

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11. Does Renting One’s Entire House to a Gentile Exempt It from Bedikat Ĥametz?

Some families leave home for the entire Pesaĥ holiday, and the question arises: Can these people exempt themselves from cleaning and searching for ĥametz by selling or renting their entire house to a gentile? The poskim differ on this issue. … Continue reading

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12. Bedikat Ĥametz after the Proper Time and the Status of One Who Rents a Hotel Room

The Sages ordained searching for ĥametz on the night of the fourteenth of Nisan. If one did not search at this time, he is required to do so on the fourteenth by day, and to say a berakha over the … Continue reading

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13. Synagogue, Dormitory, and Yeshiva

Synagogues and batei midrash (Torah study halls) require bedikat ĥametz on the night of the fourteenth, because people sometimes eat ĥametz in them. This is true even of synagogues where people generally do not eat, for children sometimes enter them … Continue reading

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14. Ĥametz Buried under a Pile of Dirt and the Question of Searching a Storeroom

If ĥametz is buried under less than three tefaĥim (24 cm) of stones, dirt, and the like, it is not considered to have been disposed of, and it must be uncovered and disposed of before Pesaĥ. This is because it … Continue reading

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