Holiday Gifts

Preparing for Bedikat Chametz: Passover 2024

Bedikat Chametz, and Passover cleaning more generally, is more than just Jewish Spring Cleaning. Learn about this mitzvah, exciting for everyone in the family. 

Bedikat Chametz is a mitzvah that involves checking the house for chametz (referring to all types of grain that could be or already are leavened) for the last time before Passover. This is done after the house has already been cleaned of its bread, oats, crumbs etc., which is pretty easy since the bedikat chametz only occurs on the night of the 14th of Nisan, the night before the Passover Seder

Man performing bedikat chametz with his son, with traditional feather, candle, and spoon
Why is Bedikat Chametz done? 
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It is a Torah prohibition to leave any chametz in Jewish possession from the night before Passover until the end of the week of Pesach. This means even if you’ve sold your remaining chametz, and left it in a designated area like a closed-off cupboard, the rest of the house needs to be cleaned. 

Make sure to check anywhere chametz might have gotten to. If you’ve got small children, there’s a good chance that means inspecting all their pockets and backpacks for cheerios or pretzels. Some people start the process of bedikat chametz weeks of even a month or two in advance, but unless you live in a mansion or a bakery that’s probably not needed. 

 

Assuming you’ve cleaned your dishes, done a thorough scrub of the kitchen, dining room or anywhere else food was eaten over the year, and just did some all-around serious Spring Cleaning, you’re probably ready for the mitzvah of Bedikat Chametz

There is a bracha (blessing) made before doing one final search.

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What is the Bracha for biur chametz?

On the night of the 14th of Nisan, the bracha for bedikat chametz is:

Baruch Ata Ad•nai El•heinu Malech Ha'olam Asher Kidishanu B’mitsvosav V’tsivanu Al Biur Chametz 

(blessed are you G-d, King of the world, who sanctifies us with the mitzvah and commands us on removing chametz)

While the activity is referred to as bedikat chametz most of the time, it is also called biur chametz, like in this blessing. This is the exact same thing, and everyone uses the bracha above.  

Once your search is complete, another line is read:

Kol chamira vachamia d’ika virshuti d’la chamiteih ud’la vaarteih ud’la ya’adona leih livtel v’lehevei hefker k’afra d’ara.

(All chametz, leaven and bread that is in my possession that I have neither seen nor removed, nor know about shall be annulled and considered ownerless as the dust of the earth.)

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Common Bedika Customs
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Three notable practices stand out about bedikat chametz

  1. Performing the search with a feather, wooden spoon, and a candle.
  2. Searching in silence
  3. Leaving out 10 small pieces of bread, wrapped in plastic or tinfoil

 

1) The 3 items, typically purchased in a kit together all have a distinct function. The candle is because one must look into nooks and corners around the house at evening time, not during the day when a light is less effective.

The feather and the spoon are both used to pick up some crumbs, flakes, and dust. The spoon used is typically wooden such that the crumbs found can be burned with the spoon.

2) The bedika is conducted in silence because since you’ve said a bracha, it would not be appropriate to get distracted with other subjects until the search is complete. 

3) As to avoid not even finding a crumb and therefore saying the blessing in vain, people now leave around tiny pieces of bread, wrapped so as to prevent crumbs splitting off. This makes for somewhat of a scavenger hunt too. 10 has become a traditional number and once the pieces are found, say the line to end the bedika.

Between the traditional objects and searching around the home, this is a fun way to get your children excited about mitzvot and cleaning: a win all around!

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Burning Chametz
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With any of the crumbs in the spoon mentioned above, along with the pieces of bread left around and any other chametz not being sold to a non-Jew, these must be burned. 

There are other ways of destroying chametz in the weeks leading up, including simply throwing it away or making it inedible to a dog and unleavenable such as by dunking it in bleach, but the best way is to burn it. Whatever was found in the final bedikat chametz must be burned, for which there is a special declaration, similar to ending the bedikat chametz:

Kol chamira vachamia d’ika virshuti dachazitei ud’la chazitei d’chamiteih ud’la chamiteih d’viarteih ud’la viartei livtel v’lehevei hefker k’afra d’ara.

(All chametz, leaven and bread that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have removed it or not shall be annulled and considered ownerless as the dust of the earth.)

 

By this point, Passover should be no more than a few hours away!

Make sure that you’ve got everything you need for the Seder table, gifts and more with plenty of time. 

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