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

The Sages ordained searching for ḥametz on the night of the 14th of Nisan. If one did not search at this time, he is required to do so on the 14th by day, and to say a berakha over the search. If one did not search before Pesaḥ at all, he must search on Pesaḥ, with a berakha. The fact that he nullified his ḥametz before Pesaḥ does not change this, because he is still required to fulfill the Sages’ enactment, and secondly, because there is a possibility that he will come across some ḥametz during Pesaḥ and, forgetting the prohibition, eat it. If, after Pesaḥ, one suddenly realizes that he did not perform bedikat ḥametz, he must do so, in order not to violate the rabbinic prohibition of ḥametz she-avar alav ha-Pesaḥ. This search, however, requires no blessing (SA 435:1).

One who rents a hotel room has the status of a tenant. This is because he pays for the room, it is at his disposal, he receives a key to lock and unlock it, and strangers and hotel personnel are only allowed to enter with his permission. Therefore, he is commanded to recite a berakha and search his room on the night of the 14th, and afterward he must nullify any ḥametz in his possession that may have gone undiscovered. One who checks into a hotel during Pesaḥ must inquire whether the rooms were searched for ḥametz. If they were not searched for ḥametz, but were merely cleaned in the routine manner, or if they were cleaned but then a gentile lodged there, he should perform a bedika with a berakha.

A hospital patient is required to search his room and his closet on the night of the 14th. However, no berakha is said over this search, since the room is not at his disposal; at any time he can be moved to a different room, and other patients can be moved into his room.

A hotel owner is required to perform bedikat ḥametz in every room of his hotel, and if it is difficult for him to do this himself, he can hire a shali’aḥ. Regarding rooms rented to gentiles, or to Jews who do not perform bedikat ḥametz on the night of the 14th, a problem arises. On the one hand, the rooms are rented to them, and the owner cannot force them to keep halakha and search for ḥametz. On the other hand, if they vacate during the holiday, he will have to search their rooms immediately and remove any ḥametz left behind, and he might not have time to do this. The solution, therefore, is to sell or rent all the hotel rooms to a gentile before Pesaḥ, and to have the hotel owner serve as an intermediary during Pesaḥ between the gentile and the guests.

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Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman