Why do we Search for Chametz?

Posted on Apr 2, 2015 | 2 comments

Question submitted to Ask the Rabbi” by:

Name: Anonymous

City: Minneapolis, MN

Full Question:

“I am looking the reasons why we search for Hametz in our home before Pesach, and what are the reasons we do those rituals?

Thank you for your Help.”

Rabbi Tully Bryks responds:

The prohibition of Chametz (unleavened bread) on Pesach is not limited to eating it. We are also not allowed to own any Chametz or benefit from it in any way during Pesach. just say no the chametzSo to this end, we are required to search our house for Chametz the night before Pesach. We are only required to search rooms where Chametz might be found, so bathrooms in most homes would be exempt. Since a proper search of the whole house usually requires more than one night, it is advisable to start cleaning and searching many days, or even weeks, ahead of time. The climax of that cleaning effort would then take place on the night before Pesach. A Bracha (blessing) is recited and the search begins.

There is a rule that we are not allowed to recite a Bracha in vain, as it contains G-d’s name. So what if someone cleaned their house really well in advance, recited the Bracha at the proper time on the night before Pesach and then could not find any more Chametz? In such a case, they would have said G-d’s name in vain. To avoid this issue, we place 10 pieces of bread around the house before the search begins. As a result, even if someone did not succeed in finding any more Chametz, they would still “find” the 10 pieces of bread and the Bracha would not be in vain.

It is important that a person does not get mixed up and focus their search on the 10 pieces of bread and not on any hidden Chametz that might have been missed in the earlier cleaning effort. Contrary to what some might think, the main goal is to find unknown Chametz, while the 10 pieces of bread are only there as a precaution.

Wishing you and your family a Chag Kasher and Chametz-free Pesach!

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    2 Comments

  1. I live in an essentially grain-free house, as we adhere to a low carb diet. For Shabbat, we make Kiddush, but no Motzei.

    The only time there’s bread in the house is for Bedikat Hametz, and I’m starting to think that’s absurd. Why “contaminate” the house with possible crumbs, when there weren’t any crumbs to clean up in the first place.

    Of course we clean the house for Pesach and put away the non Kosher LePesach foods, but we really don’t have anything that’s blatantly Chametz at any time.

    So I’m wondering, is it really necessary to bring bread into the house for Bedikat Chametz? And if not, what do we search for. I suppose it’s possible to do a search without finding anything, but then what do I burn next morning.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks and Chag Sameach.

    • Rabbi Tully Bryks

      As you may know, there are two prohibitions involved in owning Chametz on Pesach. If your house is free of Chametz, then you would not be violating those prohibitions.
      But there is a also a positive Mitzvah to search for, and destroy, any Chametz in your possession. And since it is likely that some product containing Chametz has entered your home at some point over the year, you would have the opportunity to fulfill this positive Mitzvah as well.
      To avoid creating new problems, each piece of bread should be individually wrapped so they don’t leave crumbs and they should be smaller than the size of a Kazayis (roughly one slice of bread or a small roll). In this way, if you fail to find one of the pieces, it would be too small to violate the prohibition against owning Chametz on Pesach. But the combination of the 10 pieces combined should be at least the size of Kazayis, enabling you to make the Bracha before beginning the search as well as have a sufficient quantity for the burning the next day.

Comments and Questions are welcome