Bedikat Chametz

Rabbi Eli Eleff

TIME FRAMES

WHEN MUST BEDIKAT CHAMETZ BE PERFORMED?

Bedikat chametz must be performed on the eve of the fourteenth of Nissan (April 13, 2014) after nightfall, approximately 40 minutes after sunset.

Once nightfall has arrived, one may no longer engage in any form of work until the bedika is performed.

WHEN DOES ONE RECITE THE BRACHA?

The bracha is recited before the actual bedika process is begun.

WHAT IF THE BRACHA IS FORGOTTEN AT THE OUTSET?

As long as the bedika is not complete, you may recite the appropriate bracha.

WHAT IF I CANNOT PERFORM THE BEDIKA ON THE NIGHT OF THE 14TH?

Ideally, a shaliach (representative) should be designated to perform the bedika at the appropriate time.

If one cannot be found, the bedika should be performed on the last evening before departing the home. An early bedika is done without a bracha.

IF FOR SOME REASON I MUST DO THE BEDIKA ON THE DAY OF THE 14TH, DO I RECITE A BRACHA?

Yes, when searching on the day of the 14th, a bracha is recited until the time of bitul chametz.

PROCEDURES

WHAT BRACHA IS RECITED?

The bracha of al bi’ur chametz is recited, immediately preceding the bedika.

HOW MUST THE BEDIKA BE PERFORMED?

One must check all rooms, closets and anywhere chametz may have been. Special care should be given to corners and crevices as it is possible that chametz may still be hiding there. The bedika is performed with the aid of the light of a single candle. It’s a generally accepted custom to start with a candle and then transition to a flashlight. Whatever chametz is found must be burned the next morning.

MUST ONE PUT OUT 10 PIECES OF BREAD?

The Ari z”l established the custom of placing 10 pieces of non-crumbly bread around the house to be “found” during the bedika. If it is not feasible to divide the chametz into 10 pieces, fewer pieces may be used. Irrespective of the number of pieces, it is imperative that some chametz pieces be laid out prior to the bedika.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I FIND MORE THAN 10 PIECES?

Good for you! This is the purpose of the bedika – to search for chametz that we may, or may not, know about. Put those extra pieces aside along with the 10 pieces that you laid out.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I FIND FEWER THAN THE 10 PIECES LAID OUT?

Go back and keep checking! If after an exhaustive search of the entire premises, including all nooks and crevices, it is still not found, one does not have to go back and recheck. Under such circumstances, make sure to have extra concentration when reciting the Kol Chamira, the nullification of all chametz.

LOCATIONS

IF MY HOUSE WILL NOT BE USED ON PASSOVER, MUST I CHECK THE ENTIRE PREMISES?

Ideally, the whole house should be checked by the owner, or at least by a shaliach. Please refer to question #4 on the previous page. If one finds it difficult to perform a bedika on the whole house, it might be possible to clean and check one room, with the remainder of the house sold to a non-Jew. Please consult your local Orthodox rabbi for a ruling on this matter.

IF I AM STAYING AT A HOTEL FOR PASSOVER, DO I NEED TO CHECK THE HOTEL ROOM?

Yes, you must check the hotel room as you would your own house. Please bear in mind that it is essential that the 10 pieces of bread be placed out before performing this hotel bedika.

IF I ARRIVE ON EREV PASSOVER BY DAY, DO I NEED TO DO A BEDIKA? WITH A BRACHA?

As mentioned above, one should check with a bracha provided that it is before the zman bitul.

IF I AM A GUEST AT SOMEONE’S HOUSE, DO I NEED TO DO BEDIKAT CHAMETZ?

No. If one is a guest they may rely on the owner. However, if the host is around, one should ask them if the home was checked.

MY NEIGHBOR IS SELLING HIS HOUSE AND GOING AWAY FOR PASSOVER, CAN I HOUSE MY GUESTS THERE IF NO ONE DID A BEDIKA? AND, IF NOT, FOR WHICH ROOMS MUST A BEDIKA BE DONE?

You must perform a bedika on all rooms that will be used over Passover.

IF I RENT OUT MY HOUSE, DO I NEED TO DO A BEDIKA BEFORE I LEAVE? WHAT ABOUT THE PERSON RENTING FROM ME?

If you rent out your house to another Jew and you gave him the keys before the eve of the 14th, it is the renter’s obligation to check for chametz on the premises.

DOES MY CAR NEED BEDIKA?

Yes. Especially if you have little kids.

MY LOCKER AT SCHOOL?

Yes. Please bear in mind that Oreos are NOT kosher for Passover!

MY OFFICE, AND WHEN SHOULD THIS BEDIKA BE PERFORMED?

Again, your personal workspace should be checked. Ideally, one should do it the last day or (if it is possible to stay until) night fall that you are there.

MY ENTIRE WORKPLACE – IF I AM THE OWNER?

Yes.

Hopefully this will help you to enjoy a chametz-free Passover no matter where your travels take you. Don’t forget that no matter where you may be, the OU is probably there, too!