Besides the prohibition of eating Chametz on Pesach, there is a Biblical obligation to remove all Chametz from one’s possession. The following is a guide to the fulfillment of this Mitzvah.
Pre-Cleaning the Home For Pesach
Before Pesach the home must be thoroughly cleaned and Chametz removed. The following is a checklist of some of the places to look for Chametz.
Arts and crafts supplies (sometimes made with chametz, e.g.noodles, barley, play-doh)
Baking supplies (baking pans, etc.)
Behind furniture (See 1)
Benchers (Grace After Meals booklets) (See 2)
Books (See 2)
Broom (shake out)
Candle sticks and tray
Car (between and under seats, boot, glove compartment, ash trays,baby seat, under car mats, in station wagon)
Carpet (underneath if not wall-to-wall or if torn)
Clothing (pockets, cuffs)
Cosmetic bag, drawer, shelf
Detergent shelves (where detergents are kept)
Dining room buffet
Dining room table, chairs
Electric broom (check bag)
Garbage cans (outside)
Kitchen table, chairs
Radiator (behind and under)
Refrigerator (See 1)
School bags, books, locker & desk
Sefarim (books) (see 2)
Sink (behind and under)
Stairs (between and under)
Storage bin, room
Toy cars, wagons and riding toys
Toys, toy chests
Truck, see: Car
Vacuum cleaner bag (empty out)
1. Furniture or appliances, which cover Chametz (eg. refrigerator, stove) and can be moved - should be moved. If you will be unable to move it during the Bedikah (search for leaven) on the night of erev Pesach, you may rely on the moving and cleaning done before the Bedikah. Nullification, however, is required.
2. Some authorities hold that Sefarim and books require Bedikah (searching) or locking away. Others hold that although Bedikah is not required, one should not bring to the table on Pesach a volume, which may have been used around Chametz. Benschers and Zemirot booklets cannot be cleaned properly from Chametz and should not be used during Pesach. They should be put away with the Chametz which is sold to a non-Jew.
SELLING THE CHAMETZ
Chametz must not remain in one’s possession over Pesach. People who possess stocks of Chametz, which cannot be removed or destroyed before the festival, may arrange for their Chametz to be sold to a non-Jew. Any area in the home, or any article such as clothing, dishes, etc., may be locked or closed up in a way that is not accessible on Pesach, and without any further cleaning, sold “as is”. This is especially useful in times of need such as pregnancy, or illness, where one may not be able to fulfil the usual pre-Pesach routine.
The sale of Chametz is not just a mere ritual, but is carried out in a legal manner by a rabbi. The rabbi is empowered to conduct this sale on behalf of any individual wishing to sell Chametz. This should preferably be done in person, but may be done by means of an agent, or by sending a power of attorney to the rabbi. The empowering of the rabbi must take place before the time of prohibition on the Eve of Pesach, by which time the rabbi must have arranged the sale of all Chametz to a non-Jew. After Pesach the non-Jew is approached to sell the Chametz back to the original owners.
The Chametz, which is sold, must be stored away and locked up in such a manner that it should not come to be accidentally used. The rabbi should be informed of the places where the Chametz lies. In the bill of Sale we give the non-Jew permission to enter our premises and take the Chametz if he so chooses. The cupboard or room is also legally rented to the non-Jew over the Pesach period, so that his Chametz does not lie in the Jew’s property.
Please note that business premises, offices, factories, etc., belonging to a Jew must also be cleaned and all Chametz disposed of or sold.
SEARCH FOR AND REMOVAL OF CHAMETZ -
BEDIKAT & BITUL CHAMETZ
The final search for the Chametz by candlelight takes place on the evening before Pesach, immediately after nightfall. The search must be conducted in all seriousness and the house given this one final check for Chametz, even though a thorough cleaning has been carried out beforehand.
It is customary to place ten small pieces of Chametz around the house. (Care should be taken that they should not crumble). Some have a custom to wrap them in paper. A candle is taken and the special blessing recited. (Details can be found at the beginning of a Haggadah). The search then begins; during the search the ten pieces of Chametz are customarily swept into a paper bag by means of a feather. Only Chametz to be used the next morning can be left and put aside in a secluded and guarded spot. After the search a statement is recited that nullifies and makes ownerless all undiscovered Chametz. This is an important statement and negates any possibility of inadvertently possessing Chametz over Pesach. It should be read in any language that one understands.
It reads as follows:
“All manner of leaven (Chametz) that is in my possession that I have not seen or have not removed, or have no knowledge of, should be null and disowned as the dust of the earth.”
Chametz may not be eaten after mid-morning on the day before Pesach. Then all leftover Chametz should either be disposed of by destroying it or by selling it to a non-Jew (through the rabbi - see above). The Chametz not sold should be burnt or otherwise effectively disposed of so that it no longer exists, together with the ten pieces and other remnants of Chametz found in the previous night’s search. After disposing of the Chametz the following statement is recited with all sincerity.
“All manner of leaven (Chametz) that is in my possession that I have seen or have not seen, that I have removed or have not removed, shall be null and disowned as the dust of the earth.”
Always burn the Chametz in a safe manner. Keep children a safe distance from the fire and never throw flammable liquids directly onto a fire. The fire should remain under adult supervision until it is completely burned out. Any burn should be immediately treated by being placed under cold water for twenty (yes twenty) minutes. Seek medical advice.