01. Bitul Ḥametz in the Evening and Morning

As we learned (above, 3:4), one fulfills the mitzva of bi’ur ḥametz (disposing of ḥametz) in two ways, in action and in thought. The process of bi’ur ḥametz involves four stages. The first two, bedika and the first bitul, are performed on the evening of the 14th of Nisan. The second two stages, bi’ur and the second bitul, take place the following morning. Having discussed the laws relating to bedikat ḥametz in the previous chapter, we shall now address bitul ḥametz.

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

Kol ḥamira ve-ḥami’a de-ika bi-rshuti, de-lo ḥazitei u-delo bi’artei, li-vtil u-lehavi hefker ke-afra de-ar’a.

This declaration can also be said in Hebrew:

Kol ḥametz 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 ḥametz 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 ḥametz, which includes leaven, and only nullification, which includes renunciation of ownership (see Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 32).

Following the actual bi’ur ḥametz on the morning of the 14th (see section 3 below), we perform a second bitul ḥametz. Even though we already annulled the ḥametz at night, after the bedika, that bitul applied only to ḥametz we did not find in our search, and of which we remain unaware. It cannot, however, apply to the ḥametz we still intend to eat, since such ḥametz is important to us. We likewise cannot nullify the ḥametz we found in our search, because we intend to dispose of this by burning. Moreover, applying our evening bitul ḥametz to the ḥametz we still plan to eat would reveal the insincerity of our bitul and render it ineffective.

Therefore, in the evening we nullify only the ḥametz we did not find in our search, not the ḥametz we set aside for the remaining ḥametz meals and to be burned. But since we might misplace or overlook some of this remaining ḥametz, so that we do not violate bal yera’eh and bal yimatzei, we nullify the ḥametz a second time. One must make sure to nullify the ḥametz 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 ḥametz, 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 ḥametz that was not found during the search, while in the morning we nullify the ḥametz in its entirety. It reads:

Kol ḥamira ve-ḥami’a de-ika bi-rshuti, de-ḥazitei u-delo ḥazitei, 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:

Kol ḥametz 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 ḥametz 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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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