Our Sages teach us, “In the merit of the righteous women, we were redeemed from Egypt.” It seems that the valiant women in every generation empower our reliving the experience of Pesah in how they prepare our homes in so many ways. Cleaning the house is just the beginning, as their noble efforts to bring together the joy of the holiday, with lavish meals and ambiance, set the backdrop for the story of our Exodus that we will retell to our children Pesah night.
What if I can’t make it home in time?
The time to do bedikat hamets, searching for hamets, is at around 7:55pm (Deal area) Thursday evening, April 14, 2022, the night of the fourteenth of Nissan. One should make every effort to do bedikah at the proper time. If one can’t make it home that night for bedikah, then his wife should search the house after she recites the berachah.
One may not eat two ounces of bread or cake, begin studying Torah, or involve himself in any project from a half-hour before the time to search.
Should I use a candle or a flashlight?
It is preferred to recite the berachah and begin to check with a candle, and then switch over to a flashlight. One can make a berachah and check with a flashlight. In either case, one should leave the light on in the room while searching.
Where do I have to check?
Any place into which you even occasionally bring hamets must be searched, such as bedrooms and the like. If no one ever brings hamets into a room, for example, a boiler room, one need not check that room. Knapsacks and coat pockets should be checked. One’s car must be checked; it can be done earlier that day or later that night. If one owns a boat or aircraft, he must check it as well. One’s office or store can be checked, either in the morning before the night of checking, or at the last time he leaves before the holiday. What one was not able to do in the night, can be done the next morning without a berachah.
What if I just cleaned my room?
The objective of cleaning is to enable smooth checking. So now that the room is cleaned, it is ready to be checked!
What am I looking for?
One should focus on trying to find anything that is edible, even something as small as Cheerios. Whatever is not found, will be nullified when saying kal hamirah.
Additionally, many seemingly innocent products in the house could have hamets ingredients. For example, if there is vinegar in the ingredients, it may be derived from grain that is hamets. Gluten-free products may also be bona fide hamets as oats can be gluten-free. Products such as flour, uncooked oatmeal, cake mixes, beer, scotch, and whiskey are hamets. Yeast that we commonly use these days is actually not hamets.
Read all product labels carefully as there are many look-alikes of non-kosher for Passover items. Additionally, not everything that was kosher last year is kosher this year. If a “P” is next to a hechsher, it always means kosher for Pesah (pareve is spelled out). Finally, not all kosher certifications are equal. One should do research and set a standard in his own home for which agencies he feels comfortable accepting.
What about pet food?
The benchmark of what is considered hamets is its suitability to be consumed by a dog. Therefore, pet foods also need to be hamets-free. If the pet food has actual hamets, one should look for a non-hamets substitute. If you go to the zoo and would like to buy food to feed the animals, be mindful of what you are purchasing.
Do I have to check the pockets of my clothing?
If the clothing went through the wash, it does not have to be checked. If one does not intend to use the garment on Pesah, he can check by patting the pockets to feel that there is no significant amount of hamets.
What should I do with the Birkat Hamazon books?
Ideally, they should be locked up, and Haggadot can be used throughout Pesah for Birkat Hamazon. Otherwise, they can be thoroughly cleaned by going through every page, ensuring no crumbs are there.
Do I have to check under the refrigerator or move the furniture?
The criteria of up to what point one is obligated to search for hamets is when it is beyond reach. It is very common to find wafers, candies, and other hamets that roll under furniture, refrigerators. or the like. So, when cleaning before Pesah, everything that can be reached or moved without exerting an inordinate amount of effort should be moved to access any hamets. One can have in mind then to be searching for hamets and on the night of bedikah just look with a flashlight to see if it was cleaned well.
What should I clean out from the children’s toys?
Playdough and children’s arts and crafts that include hamets, like colored macaroni, need not be thrown out, but should be locked up for Pesah.
What if I get a phone call in the middle of checking?
As soon as one recites the berachah to check, he may not interrupt at all until he begins to check; just like any berachah that one recites, he performs the mitzvah immediately. If he
starts to check, he should not engage in talking other than that which is relevant to the bedikah until he completes the checking and recites the bittul. If he did speak of other matters, he does not need to make another berachah. One should have other family members listen to the berachah so that he may appoint other members of the household to help with the checking.
Why do I hide ten pieces?
The berachah recited is al biur hamets―to destroy hamets. So the question arises, if one does not find any hamets, then on what is his blessing going? Therefore, it is customary to hide pieces of hamets to fulfill his blessing. The symbolism of ten is to encompass all aspects of impurity and sin that are present in the world that we seek to search out and destroy. Each piece should be smaller than the size of an olive, so if not found, you will not be in violation of owning hamets. Wrap each one in silver foil or plastic so it does not leave crumbs.
What if I can’t find all ten pieces?
If you cannot find them, look a little harder! If you still can’t find them, rely on the bittul you recite to nullify the hamets wherever it is. To avoid this, one person can be in charge of memorizing where all the pieces are hidden or write them down.
If I am traveling for Pesah, what should I do?
Your house must be cleaned and checked prior to departing. If you are leaving on or after the night of bedikat hamets, then check like you would usually do, with a berachah. If leaving before the night of bedikah, then check the night before you leave without a berachah.
If one rents and enters an apartment, house, hotel, car, etc., on or before the night of the fourteenth of Nissan, the obligation of bedikah is upon him. Therefore, check at the proper time with a berachah.
If one is checking into a hotel in the middle of Pesah, then upon arrival, he should check his hotel room without a berachah. If there is a minibar or snack closet, it should be removed or sealed off.
Do I have to burn the hamets?
Although one may dispose of his hamets in any manner, the custom is to burn the hamets with fire. Additionally, it is customary to use the lulav from the previous Sukkot for the firewood, thereby using the mitsvah of lulav for another mitsvah of burning the hamets. However, one may destroy the hamets in any other way he chooses. However, by just throwing it in the garbage, it is not necessarily destroyed and out of your property.
What if I forgot kal hamirah?
After burning the hamets before the eleventh hour, one should recite kal hamirah― “all hamets found in my possession…shall be considered like the dust of the earth.” This is found in many Haggadot. It is a declaration that all hamets currently owned shall be nullified and ownerless and not in one’s possession. After the time that hamets is already forbidden, it does not take effect; however, one can rely on the kal hamirah that he recited at night after the bedikah.
What if I found hamets?
If one finds hamets during yom tov, he should treat it as mukseh and cover it. After yom tov, he should destroy the hamets. If discovered on hol hamoed, it should be burned or flushed away immediately.