13. Synagogue, Dormitory, and Yeshiva

Synagogues and batei midrash (Torah study halls) require bedikat ḥametz on the night of the 14th, because people sometimes eat ḥametz in them. This is true even of synagogues where people generally do not eat, for children sometimes enter them with ḥametz (SA 433:10). However, when it comes to saying a berakha over this search, there is some uncertainty. Therefore, it is best that the person responsible for searching the beit knesset first search his own home, and when saying the berakha there, intend to include the synagogue.[9]

Boys and girls living in a dormitory and paying for this facility have the status of tenants, and if a kezayit of ḥametz remains in their room during Pesaḥ they violate bal yera’eh and bal yimatzei. Therefore, they are obligated to search their rooms before Pesaḥ. If they will be staying there during Pesaḥ, they are required to search on the night of the 14th with a berakha. If they leave the dormitory a number of days before Pesaḥ, they are required to search on the night before they leave, without reciting a berakha.[10] The responsibility for searching the rest of the rooms and halls in the yeshiva belongs to the yeshiva administration.

One who buys or begins renting a home before Pesaḥ must search it even if he has not yet occupied it, because the previous resident may have left some ḥametz there. Since the house is in his possession, this ḥametz will cause him to violate bal yera’eh and bal yimatzei. If he owns another house where he will be fulfilling the mitzva of bedikat ḥametz, he can sell or rent out the new home to a gentile and thus exempt himself from the obligation to search it (see above, section 11).


[9]. The opinion of most poskim is that he should recite the berakha, since it is a mitzva. See MB 433:43 in the name of SAH. But AHS 433:12 states that one of the reasons for bedikat ḥametz is to prevent violation of bal yera’eh, and since a synagogue does not belong to any one individual, no one would violate bal yera’eh on any ḥametz that remains there. Accordingly, there is no mitzva to check the synagogue, and thus no berakha should be recited. See Maharsham 5:49. Nonetheless, if the synagogue or beit midrash belongs to one particular individual or to several partners, according to all authorities he/they must check it with a berakha. However, if the synagogue owner had already recited the berakha in his house, he need not recite another berakha in the synagogue.

[10]. Ḥazon Ish ruled for a yeshiva student that even if he would not be in his room over Pesaḥ, it is preferable for him to check his room on the night of the 14th with a berakha. This opinion is quoted in Sidur Pesaḥ Ke-hilkhato 12:9. Some authorities debate whether the yeshiva student is considered a renter, since the yeshiva administration can switch him to a new room at a whim (see Piskei Teshuvot 437:4). However, it appears that yeshiva administrations generally do not transfer older students to new rooms without prior agreement. Therefore, this is similar to a standard rental agreement where there are conditions that if breached result in the cancelation or abrogation of the rental agreement. Thus, older yeshiva students are considered renters of their rooms.

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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