Nissan 5771 – We Are All Seekers: Laws of Bedikas Chametz

We Are All Seekers: Laws of Bedikas Chametz Nissan 5771
We Are All Seekers: Laws of Bedikas Chametz
by Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein


By this time, Pesach cleaning has already been long underway (right…?). In the spirit of preparing ourselves for Pesach, let’s take look at the halachos of Bedikas Chametz.

Once we have cleaned the house, office and car, what is the “Bedikah” for?

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים תלג’ יא’ – המכבד חדרו בי”ג בניסן ומכוין לבדוק החמץ ולבערו, ונזהר שלא להכניס שם עוד חמץ – אף על פי כן צריך לבדוק בליל י”ד. [הגה: וכל אדם צריך לכבד חדריו קודם הבדיקה [It is a mitzvah in its own right and it has its own specific halachos:- Must be done “for the sake of” the Bedikah- It must be done “by the light of a candle”- It should be done on the night of the 14th of Nissan (following the daytime of the 13th)- A bracha is recited on this Mitzvah when it is done at the proper time.

One can cut down on the time it takes to do the bedikah during “Pesach Cleaning”:

If one meets the following requirements, the mitzvah of the Bedikah is considered to have already been fulfilled:- After the cleaning, the room was thoroughly checked over “for the sake of” the mitzvah of the Bedikah.- A flashlight, or other form of directed light is used to check the dark areas and corners, as well as knapsacks, suitcases, pocketbooks, car glove compartments, etc.- One makes 100% sure not to allow any more chametz into that room/area.

What about renting to a non-Jew?

Any area sold or rented for Pesach does not require a bedikah. The Poskim suggest that if one is selling their whole home for Pesach that they leave out an area from the sale so that they are able to fulfill the mitzvah.

When should the bedikah be done?

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים תלא’ א’ – בתחילת ליל י”ד בניסן בודקין את החמץ לאור הנר בחורין ובסדקין, בכל המקומות שדרך להכניס שם חמץ. The Lichatchilah time for the mitzvah of the Beikah is the night of the 14th of Nissan, immediately after Tzeit HaKochavim.

If one will not be at the place of the bedikah on the night of the 14th:

Any property that a person is in within 30 days before Pesach that is not being sold/rented to a non-Jew must be checked through the “official” Bedikah on the night of the 14th. If one will not be there on the night of the 14th:- One must do the Bedikah (with all of the halachot outlined above) the night before they leave, without a bracha. Or, one can set up a “shaliach,” a representative, who will be there the night of the 14th to do the Bedikah for them. The second option, doing the mitzvah at the proper time and with a bracha through another person is preferable to doing the mitzvah earlier. If no one will be there on the night of the 14th, then the responsibility falls on the last person to leave the area. Those who leave earlier should appoint the remaining person to do the mitzvah for them also as a shaliach.

Procedure for the Bedikah itself:

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים תלא’ ב’ – יזהר כל אדם שלא יתחיל בשום מלאכה ולא יאכל עד שיבדוק, ואפילו אם יש לו עת קבוע ללמוד לא ילמוד עד שיבדוק. ואם התחיל ללמוד מבעוד יום אין צריך להפסיק (ויש אומרים שצריך להפסיק, וכן נראה לי עיקר). Prior to the Bedikah, beginning from 30 minutes before Tzeit HaKochavim, one is prohibited from doing things that would distract them from beginning the Bedikah on time:  A meal is prohibited – even if one began the meal earlier, unlike other mitzvos, here they must stop at 30 minutes before Tzeit HaKochavim- A snack should not even be had- Learning Torah deeply- Cleaning/Kashering/cooking etc.

The Bracha:

The goal of this mitzvah is to find, and ultimately destroy, any chametz in the house. The Bedikah takes place at night, and the Biur, destruction, takes place the following morning. Since the mitzvah in the Torah is to destroy the chametz, the bracha reflects that and the bracha is “Al biur chametz.”.- If one knows for certain that an area was cleaned of chametz completely, they perhaps cannot recite the bracha on the Bedikah, as they will not end up finding anything. · שולחן ערוך אורח חיים תלב’ ב’ – הגה: ונוהגים להניח פתיתי חמץ במקום שימצאם הבודק כדי שלא יהא ברכה לבטלה(מהר”י בר”ן). ומיהו, אם לא נתן לא עכב – דדעת כל אדם עם הברכה לבער אם נמצא(כל בו). It is for this reason we have the practice of putting out ten pieces of bread.· שולחן ערוך אורח חיים תלב’ א’ – קודם שיתחיל לבדוק יברך אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על ביעור חמץ (ואם התחיל לבדוק בלא ברכה יברך כל זמן שלא סיים בדיקתו(כל בו)). ויזהר שלא ידבר בין הברכה לתחילת הבדיקה, וטוב שלא ידבר בדברים אחרים עד שיגמור כל הבדיקה כדי שישים אל לבו לבדוק בכל המקומות שמכניסין בו חמץ One may not speak until the entire Bedikah is completed. Talking related to the Bedikah itself is permissible. Many Poskim rule that even though students living in a dorm room are required to do a Bedikah, they do not recite the bracha on it.

The Candle:

While a candle is mentioned explicitly in the Gemara, a flashlight or other directed light works as well. Because the Gemara mentions a candle specifically, and includes pesukim to show the special status of an actual flame, some have the practice to recite the bracha and begin the Bedikah with a candle, and then switch to a flashlight after a few minutes or finding one of the pieces of bread.

The Bitul:

After the Bedikah is completed, one recites the “Kol chamira vichamiya” statement nullifying any chametz that they do not know about. The following day, at the Biur itself, all chametz, known or not, is made nullified.

May Hashem bless you with a Chag Sameach and Kasher!