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Passover Preparation

בדיקת חמץ

The Search for Hameitz

The formal search for leaven (חמץ בדיקת) is conducted on the night before Pesah. This symbolizes the final removal of leaven from the home. Before the search, it is customary to deposit small pieces of bread (ten pieces, according to kabbalistic lore) in strategic places so that the inspection should have a purpose. It is traditionally carried out by the light of a candle, with a feather and a wooden spoon to collect the hameitz; all this is set aside until morning. If erev Pesah occurs on Shabbat, we search for hameitz on Thursday evening.

Before the search, recite:

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu al biur hameitz.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִיוָּנוּ עַל בֵּיעוּר חָמֵץ

Praised are You Adonai our God, who rules the universe, instilling in us the holiness of mitzvot by commanding us to remove all hameitz.

After the search, recite:

Kol hamira v’hamia d’ika virshuti, d’la hamiteih udla viarteih udla y’dana leih, libateil v’lehevei hefkeir k’afra d’ara

כָּל חֲמִירָא וְחֲמִיעָה דְּאִכָּא בִּרְשׁוּתִי, דְּלָא חֲמִתֵּהּ וּדְלָא בִּעַרְתֵּהּ, לִבָּטֵל וְלֱהֱוֵי כְּעַפְרָא דּאַרְעָא

All hameitz in my possession which I have not seen or removed, or of which I am unaware, is hereby nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.

***

Recitation of this declaration, and a similar one the following day, prevents us from violating the prohibition against hameitz (Exodus 13:7). In the morning, after the last meal of hameitz, leftovers are added to the crumbs gathered the previous night. These are burned or thrown out. This concludes the ritual of banishing hameitz from our dwellings.

Before burning the hameitz, recite:

Kol hamira vahamia d’ika virshuti dahaziteih udla haziteih, dahamiteih udla hamiteih, d’viarteih udla viarteih libateil v’lehevei hefkeir k’afra d’ara.

כָּל חֲמִירָא וְחֲמִיעָה דְּאִכָּא בִּרְשׁוּתִי, דְּחֲמִתֵּהּ דְּלָא חֲמִתֵּהּ, דְּבִּעַרְתֵּהּ וּדְלָא בִּעַרְתֵּהּ, לִבָּטֵל וְלֱהֱוֵי כְּעַפְרָא דּאַרְעָא.

All hameitz in my possession which I have not seen or removed, or of which I am unaware, is hereby nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.

***

During the Passover Seder we ask the Four Questions. So, why IS this night different? Because on this night we experienced our freedom. Because only on this holiday do all of the special observances, mitzvot, apply only at night. On Rosh Hashanah we blow the shofar only during the day. On Sukkot we sit in a Sukkah during the day or night. Only on Passover do so many mitzvot apply only at night. Why is this the only night of the year so brimming with mitzvot? Because on the night of Passover we not only commemorate the moment of our birth, but we express the very meaning of our existence as a people. Our sages tell us, "For the mitzvah is like a candle and the Torah a light."

The purpose of Jewish existence is to be a source of light where otherwise darkness would hold sway. No matter how dark the world around us seems to grow, no matter how dim humankind's future may seem -- the Jewish nation never gives up. Deep inside we all know that things can be different. Deep inside we feel the call to cast a light on a darkened life, or to illuminate a clouded corner of the globe.

As dark as our lives may seem, lost though the world may have become, we still believe in the power of light. To illuminate our lives and our potential. to be a radiant force for all mankind. This is our message and our goal. We will not rest until the dark night again shines like the day.

***

 

What does it mean to be free? "Free" means not having outside control over your actions, thoughts, behavior. There are different levels of freedom: 1) the freedom over physical actions -- where you go, what you do. 2) the freedom over what you think about 3) the freedom to make moral decisions. Deciding whether you are going to have chocolate or vanilla ice cream is not on the same level as deciding whether or not to return a lost wallet.

Moral decisions are a lot more difficult to make than physical ones. With physical decisions where one is enslaved, there is no choice because of physical restraint. With moral decisions it is the conflict between your free will and your body's desire.

Pirke Avot, Ethics of Our Fathers (6 chapters of succinct wisdom found in the back of most siddurim, (prayer books) asks, "Who is the mighty person?" and answers, "He who conquers his passions." The free-est person is the one who controls his passions and his desires in order to make moral decisions.

Freedom is the responsibility
to fill our lives with meaning

May we all experience Pesach in Jerusalem with Moshiach this year, healthy and well, Amen!

Wishing you all, wherever you may be, a Kosher and Happy Pesach and a Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Ovadiah and Esther Tank

Wed, September 30 2020 12 Tishrei 5781