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Chapter 111:1
The Search and Nullification of Chometz

1. One should search for "chometz" (1) on the night before Erev Pesach (that is, the night of the 14th of Nissan) (2). We are obligated to conduct the search at the beginning of the night (3). One should not eat (4), nor perform any work, from a half hour before nightfall onward [until he finishes the search].

FOOTNOTES:

(1) "Chometz results when one of the five species of grain - wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt, or one of their derivatives - is allowed to remain undisturbed in contact with water for 18 minutes or more. Chometz results instantly when these grains are exposed to hot or salted water." ("Laws of Pesach" by Rabbi Blumenkrantz). Foods like bread, cake, cereals, noodles, whiskey and beer are Chometz.

(2) Based on a verse in the Torah (Exodus 12:15), on the morning of the 14th of Nissan, before Midday, there is a mitzvah to mentally view all Chometz in one's possession as owner-less ("hefker") and as useless as dirt. This activity is called "Hashbasah" (or "Bitul") and if done correctly, with full mental commitment, will prevent one from violating the prohibition to possess Chometz on Pesach (we articulate this mental commitment verbally). However, the Sages were concerned that not everyone would be able to perform the "bitul" with full mental commitment, and therefore, they ruled that in addition to mental bitul, we are all obligated to search ("bedikah") for the Chometz in our possession, and to dispose ("biur") of what we find (Mishna Berura 431:2). As we shall see in Chapter 14, one can sell his chometz to a Gentile before Pesach.

(3) Immediately after the appearance of three stars (Mishna Berura 431:1).

(4) A small snack is permitted (Ibid 431:6).

 

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