7. The Procedure for Getting Rid of Ĥametz

As we have learned, we clear the ĥametz out of our homes both in deed and in thought. The process of removal consists of four stages: search (bedika), nullification (bitul), elimination (bi’ur), and nullification once again. The process begins with the bedika on the evening of the fourteenth. The search is aimed at ensuring that we have no more ĥametz in our home other than the ĥametz that we are keeping to eat and to destroy. Immediately after the search, we nullify the ĥametz for the first time; this is the removal in thought. The next morning we physically destroy the remaining ĥametz in our possession in deed. It is customary to destroy it by burning it. After the burning, one again declares null any ĥametz in his possession.

There are two more possible ways of disposing of ĥametz: selling it to a gentile and declaring it ownerless. As noted, one violates bal yera’eh and bal yimatzei only for ĥametz in his possession, and it is only ĥametz that is in his possession that he is commanded to eliminate. Thus, if he sells the ĥametz to a gentile or declares it ownerless, he does not violate any prohibition on its account.

Thus, search, disposal, and nullification are actions directed against the ĥametz with the aim of eliminating it. In contrast, declaring the ĥametz ownerless and selling are not directed against the ĥametz to destroy it, but rather their aim is to remove the ĥametz from our possession so that we do not violate the ĥametz prohibitions. With the search, the disposal, and the nullification, we wage war against the ĥametz, whereas by selling it or declaring it ownerless, we evade the responsibility it places upon us. These are all ways to remove the ĥametz.

Now that we have learned the principles of the mitzva of removing the ĥametz, in the coming halakhot we will explain the laws of removal of ĥametz in detail. We will begin with the halakhot of the search for ĥametz, with which we begin our campaign against ĥametz. We will then continue on to the halakhot of nullifying and destroying ĥametz. Then we will address the laws of selling ĥametz to a gentile for one who wishes to preserve the value of his ĥametz and free himself from the need to destroy it.