Bedikat Chametz, getting rid of all chametz before Pesach.

During the days of Pesach, in addition to the prohibition of consuming any “chametz,” it is also forbidden to possess it. Whether it is inside one’s house or elsewhere, chametz must be removed. Therefore, on the eve of Pesach, the night before, the mitzvah of “bedikat chametz” is performed. This involves checking every corner of the house to ensure no chametz remains. Any chametz found is to be gathered and then disposed of the next day.

Additionally, one must perform “bitul,” a declaration that renounces ownership of any chametz, ensuring that from that moment onward, the chametz is no longer in one’s possession and is considered public domain.

Below is a brief summary of the halachic guidelines:

Places to be checked:

1. Before Pesach, the house should be cleaned thoroughly to facilitate the bedikah.

2. On the night of the 14th of Nisan, the night before Pesach, the mitzvah of Bedikah is fulfilled. This involves examining every place in the house where chametz may be present, even if the house has already been cleaned earlier.

3. Every possible location where chametz might be found should be checked, including the kitchen, living room, dining room, bedrooms, hallways, etc. Special attention should be given to inspecting cabinets, the refrigerator, freezer, and similar places where chametz might have been mixed with Pesach foods.

4. Pockets, bags, purses, backpacks, and similar items should also be checked. If these were already checked before the night of Bedikah and care was taken not to introduce chametz afterward, they do not need to be rechecked.

5. High places (e.g., on top of cabinets or in attics) or very low places (e.g., under furniture) where chametz is unlikely to be found need not be checked unless there is reason to suspect chametz might be there, especially if children have been present.

6. Areas behind or between furniture where hands cannot reach do not need to be checked.

7. Vehicles also require Bedikah, ideally performed after the house has been checked.

8. All properties one owns or rents, even if not occupied during Pesach, should be checked. This includes recently purchased homes or rentals where keys have been exchanged.

9. If selling a property to a non-Jew, Bedikah is unnecessary. It is advisable to sell the property before the night of Bedikah to avoid this obligation falling on Pesach eve.

10. If owning property in a distant location or another city/country and not present for Bedikah:

   – If someone trustworthy is present, they should perform Bedikah (and make the blessing).

   – Otherwise, any chametz should be sold before Pesach.

Timing and procedure for Bedikah:

1. Bedikah should be conducted immediately after nightfall.

2. Starting from half an hour before the designated time, refrain from engaging in any work or eating leavened bread, cakes, or cookies (any food requiring a blessing of “Mezonot”) weighing more than 54 grams to prevent delaying Bedikah. Once the Bedikah time arrives, it is best to avoid consuming any other foods to ensure timely completion.

3. Torah study should also be avoided from the time of Bedikah onward, except for scheduled classes.

4. If Arbit (evening prayers) have not been recited yet and the Bedikah time arrives, Arbit should be prayed first, followed by Bedikah.

5. Bedikah should be performed using the light of a candle made from wax or paraffin to illuminate hard-to-see places such as gaps or drawers. If a candle is unavailable, a small flashlight may be used. Havdalah candles with intertwined wicks forming a large flame are not suitable for Bedikah due to safety concerns; if used, Bedikah must be repeated (without a blessing).

6. It is not necessary to turn off electric lights during Bedikah.

7. It is customary to hide 10 small pieces of bread (each weighing less than 29 grams) to find during Bedikah and burn the next day. If no bread is available for this ritual, Bedikah may proceed with a blessing without impediment. Any pieces of bread not found during the search are nullified with the declaration of bitul.

8. Before starting Bedikah, recite the blessing “Baruch Atah… asher kiddeshanu… al bi’ur chametz.” If the whole family participates in Bedikah by scattering throughout the house, they should hear the homeowner’s blessing first before proceeding individually. If one forgets to say the blessing initially, it may be said during the Bedikah process, but not afterward, especially at the moment of burning the chametz.

9. Once the blessing is recited, Bedikah should commence immediately without interruption. If non-related topics were discussed before starting Bedikah, the blessing should be repeated. Once Bedikah has begun, while it is best to avoid distractions, if unrelated topics are discussed, the blessing need not be repeated.

10. If one owns multiple properties, recite the blessing at the first property checked and proceed to check others without repeating the blessing. The same applies to vehicles.

11. If unable to perform Bedikah on the night of the 14th for any reason, it should be done during the day (eve of Pesach). If Pesach begins without Bedikah, it should be done during Chol HaMoed (intermediate days of Pesach). Even after Pesach, any remaining chametz must be disposed of, as any chametz that remains in one’s possession and was not nullified before Pesach may not be consumed (in which case, no blessing is said).

12. After completing Bedikah, ensure that the chametz to be consumed that night and the following morning, as well as the chametz to be burned, are kept secure to prevent it from spreading throughout the house again.

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