shabbos candles

Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas Shemini


Hilchos Pesach - I

Halachos concerning bedikas chametz

Why is it necessary to search for chametz, after all we all do bitul?

Indeed we all say kol chamira [1] before Pesach, whereby we declare that any chametz we legally own or of which we have any form of ownership is nullified like dust of the earth and becomes ownerless. Yet Chazal tell us that this is not sufficient, for two reasons.

The first is because bitul or nullifying is a state of mind and it is possible that one who owns a large amount of chametz is reluctant to declare it ownerless and similar to dust. Consequently he will own chametz on Pesach and violate the issur of you shall not own chametz.

The second reason is lest one finds chametz in ones possession on Pesach and seeing that we are accustomed to eat chametz throughout the year, one might forget it is Pesach and eat the chametz. [2]

But we are permitted to own non-kosher food and store it in our house, if necessary, so according to the second reason, why the difference?

Firstly, there is no prohibition to own non-kosher food, unlike chametz, where there is a specific negative commandment.

As for storing non-kosher food, since we are careful throughout the year not to consume non-kosher items, there is no concern that one might forget a particular item is non-kosher and eat it, whereas chametz is permitted all year round and one might follow natural instinct and consume it.

If so, would it not suffice to merely search for chametz and destroy it, why must we say kol chamira and nullify it?

Since it is possible that one might not find all the chametz in ones possession before Pesach and if one finds it during Pesach, one will immediately violate the issur to own chametz. It appears that if one legally owns chametz but is not aware that it is in ones possession, one does not violate the issur to own chametz, because the Mishna Berura writes [3] that only when one finds the chametz on Pesach will one violate the issur.

Must one search for chametz as soon as it is nightfall?

Learning - one may not learn once it is nightfall [4] (some poskim are concerned even with learning within half an hour before nightfall) lest one forgets to do bedikas chametz. Several poskim learn that Chazal instituted the mitzvah of bedikas chametz as soon as it is nightfall. [5]

Eating - One may not eat bread and cake etc. [6] more than a volume of an egg (between 57 - 100ml) or a large amount of fruit before bedikas chametz, for the same reason.

Should one first daven maariv and then search for the chametz?

If one normally davens maariv with a minyan one should first daven and then search. [7] The writes that since the time for bedikas chametz and maariv begin with nightfall and coincide, [8] we must follow the rule of - , which means that one must precede the more common mitzvah, which is maariv.

He rules similarly for someone who davens maariv without a minyan. The Mishna Berura [9] however also cites other poskim who say that one who always davens maariv without a minyan may search the chametz and then daven maariv, and concludes that both opinions are legitimate.

What is one looking for?

Any chametz suitable for human consumption.

But isnt the criterion for chametz something that is not fit for a dog?

Indeed the Shulchan Aruch writes [10] that chametz that is moldy or charred before Pesach may be owned on Pesach, but we must not forget that one nullifies all chametz prior to Pesach with , and although Chazal were concerned lest one sees chametz and eats it, this only applies to edible chametz, but chametz unfit for human consumption one would not consume.

Must one look for crumbs?

The poskim argue as to whether one must search for crumbs. [11] Crumbs that are slightly dirty or spoiled one would not normally eat and since one will nullify all chametz, there is no need to search for such crumbs. [Although the gemora writes that crumbs are nullified and do not require to destroying; this would apply to non-edible crumbs.]

Some Gedolei Yisrael would search for crumbs in seforim while others would not. [12]

Consequently, any crumbs that might exist in drawers, pockets and bags etc. that are dusty or spoiled would not require searching for. [13]

However, in Shulchan Aruch it says that some have the custom to scrape chametz from walls, and it is accepted that one performs a thorough search and dispose of all chametz. [14]

[1] We say after searching for chametz and we repeat it after burning the chametz. can be found at he beginning of every hagadah.

[2] See MB siman 431:2.

[3] End of seif katan 2.

[4] Siman 431:2.

[5] Vilna Gaon, Shulchan Aruch HaRav and others. See MB siman 431:11.

[6] See MB siman 431:6.

[7] Several reasons are offered (see MB siman 431:8): maariv cannot develop into a lengthy process, unlike eating, bathing and learning. If people would disperse to search the chametz, it is hard to gather them again for maariv. If one can daven at a later maariv with a minyan, the same argument as below would be applicable here as well.

[8] Unlike the Bach who learns that the time for bedikas chametz commences before nightfall.

[9] Siman 431:8 and Shaar Hatsiun 11.

[10] Siman 442:9.

[11] See MB siman 442:33.

[12] See Piskei Teshuvos siman 431 footnote 16.

[13] MB siman 442:33.

[14] Rav Sternbuch shlita. See M"B siman 442:28.


Vort on the Parsha

Throughout the seven days of miluim, the kohanim were required to eat the shelamim in the kodesh, but on the eighth day, when the Mishkan was in service, everything went back to normal, and shelamim could be eaten in the entire city. This seems strange, because surely once the Mishkan is in service, it ought to have a greater kedusha and be holier?

The Sheim Mishmuel answers that the seven days were required to elevate the avodah to the required level of holiness, but once elevated, the kedusha was powerful enough to permeate mundane places as well.

Seven is nature eight is above nature and elevates nature.

Although Shabbos is the seventh day, the world receives two portions on Friday, which equals seven. Shabbos is above nature and elevates it so that mundane actions such as eating and drinking are also holy.


For a printed version, click here.




One may receive and distribute these weekly shiurim by calling or writing: Office 99 Rechov Bayit Vegan, Yerushalayim,
Phone Numbers:U.S. and Canada 732-370-3344 Israel 972-3-616-6340
 South Africa
078 1655 242 England 44-020-8731-6666 Australia 61-296835626 Switzerland 01141430288
e-mail:, or, weekly sponsorships are available as well. 

If you would like to send a question to Rav Ostroff, you can write to him at

Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.