Bedikat Chametz

Haggadah Section: Introduction

There is a tradition that on the night before Passover, we search the house one last time to ensure that we have no chametz (translated as "leaven" in English, refering  to any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives, other than Matzah) still left in our house.  This process of searching for chametz is often referred to as bedikat chametz (The search for the chametz).

The search is traditionally conducted with a candle, feather, wooden spoon, and a paper bag for collecting any chametz found. It is customary to place ten pieces of bread throughout the house to be “found” during the search. These should be wrapped in paper or some other flammable wrapping (but not silver foil, as it does not burn to prevent crumbs during the process.

On the evening before Passover, as soon as the sun is down, gather the household together, light the candle, and recite the following blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה אֱלֹהֶינוּ מֶ֫לֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִרְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָ֫נוּ עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ.

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al bi’ur chametz.  --- Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who sanctifies us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the removal of chametz.

Next, hold the lit candle and search for chametz in every room, as well as any other area of the home that may have chametz, such as the basement, attic, garage, or car. Even once a house is thoroughly cleaned, there is often still a bagel crust or a Cheerio hiding in some overlooked cranny.

When you’re done, take all the chametz that was found in the search, wrap and seal it securely, and place it in a conspicuous spot. This chametz will be joined with all remaining chametz in your home, and burned the next morning. (Food intended to be sold or eaten later should similarly be carefully put aside.)

When you’ve completed the search recite the "Kol Chamira" declaration, nullifying all unknown chametz and relinquishing it from your ownership.

כָּל־חֲמִירָא חֲמִירָא וַחֲמִיעָה דְּאִבָּא בִרְשׁוּתִי, דְּלָא חֲמִתֵּהּ וּדְלא בִעַרְתֵּהּ וּדְלָא יְדַעְנָא לֵהּ לִבָּטֵל וְלֶהֱוֵי הֶפְקֵר בְּעַפְרָא דְאַרְעְא.

All  חָמֵץ  and anything leavened that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have observed it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth. ”

The next morning, the eve of Passover, you will burn the chametz that was found during the search and you recite the “Kol Chamira” declaration yet again culminating the end of the “chametz-free” process.  This burning is often called  bi’ur chametz (The removal of the Chametz).

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