Bedikas Chometz: Search for Dough Like a Pro

Before Pesach, a person is obligated to perform bedikas chometz, a search of his house and possessions, to ensure that he does not own any chometz. The bedikah should be conducted at the beginning of the night of the 14th of Nissan, immediately after tzeis hakochavim.1 If he did not do so, the bedikah can be done all night. Bedieved, if he did not perform the bedikah that night he should do it on the day of the 14th of Nissan.2

If he will not be home on the night of the 14th of Nissan, he should appoint another adult to perform the bedikah on his behalf.3 If he leaves his house within thirty days of Pesach, and is not planning to return and conduct a bedikah or have someone else perform a bedikah for him, then he should do bedikas chometz without reciting a brocha at night before he leaves.4

If he leaves his house more than thirty days beforehand (i.e., the 14th of Adar or earlier) and is not planning to return for Pesach, he does not need to perform bedikas chometz and may rely on the bittul that he recites on erev Pesach at the time of chometz burning. However, he should remove or sell any known chometz in the house. If he plans to return home on Pesach and will not have someone else perform a bedikah for him, he must perform bedikas chometz before he leaves.5

There is no need to check areas containing chometz which will be sold to a non-Jew before Pesach.6 If a person is home on the night of the 14th of Nissan but is planning to leave for the duration of Pesach, he may arrange to sell the chometz in all the rooms of his house – except one – to a non-Jew and check that room to fulfill the mitzva of bedikas chometz.7 (If it is his custom not to sell chometz gommur, then he should make sure that there is no chometz gommur in the other rooms). If guests will be staying in the house during Pesach and will be using some of the rooms, those rooms must be checked for chometz.

Guests who arrive before the night of the 14th of Nissan are obligated to check for chometz. If the owner of the house does not want them searching his house, he can perform a bedikah on the house himself and leave one area for the guests to be bodek. People staying at a hotel for Pesach should perform a bedikah on their room. If they arrive on the day of the 14th of Nissan, a bedikah should be done at that time. A brocha is not recited over the bedikah of a hotel room.8

One should not begin any melacha within half an hour before tzeis hakochavim on the night of bedikas chometz. He should not eat a beitzah or more of bread, cake or cookies at that time; he may eat other food. He may learn Torah but should arrange for a shomer or set an alarm to ensure that he stops for bedikas chometz. At tzeis hakochavim, he should stop whatever he is doing, no longer eat any food, and conduct the bedikah.9 He could daven maariv before the bedikah, although if he always davens at a specific later time he can perform the bedikah first and daven at that time.10

When performing bedikas chometz, one should search his house for any edible crumbs of chometz.11 Meikar hadin, it is not necessary to clean one’s house from small soiled particles of chometz which will not come into contact with food on Pesach.12 Nevertheless, many are stringent and attempt to rid their house of all chometz.13 It is not necessary to check books and sefarim for chometz, although those which will be brought to the table on Pesach should be cleaned to ensure that they do not contain crumbs which could fall into one’s food.14

The bedikah should be conducted by the light of a candle with a single wick.15 Some have the custom to turn off the house lights during the bedikah;16 others leave them on, using both the house lights and a candle to conduct the search.17 The prevailing custom is for ten pieces of bread to be placed in different areas of the house before the bedikah18 (although some do not have this minhag).19 Some people take care that each piece is smaller than a kezayis,20 and it is a good idea to wrap them up in order to ensure that no crumbs are left behind. The person conducting the bedikah could position the pieces of bread, but it is customary for another member of the household to do so.21 One may use a flashlight to aid in the search.22

For the purposes of this article, we will assume that the reader is familiar with the process of bedikas chometz. Among other areas, one should remember to check clothing pockets, handbags, strollers, car seats, children’s knapsacks, pet cages, fish tanks, pet and fish food, cars and garages. One should ensure that vacuum bags containing chometz are discarded and that garbage cans are cleaned. Areas which were thoroughly cleaned beforehand do not need to be scrutinized at the time of bedikas chometz.23 For example, clothing pockets which were cleaned well and checked beforehand do not need to be rechecked during bedikas chometz.24 However, the person conducting the bedikah should inquire and verify that all the pockets were, in fact, cleaned.25 One should remove or sell all chometz at his workplace. If he owns the workplace, he should perform bedikas chometz, preferably on the night of the 14th of Nissan.

One is not obligated to move a heavy piece of furniture to check behind it for chometz.26 However, if it is known that chometz is present it is customary to remove it if possible.27 One is not obligated to check areas of the house into which chometz is never brought. However, those areas do need to be checked if children live in the house and could reach them.28

One should not speak between the brocha and the beginning of the bedikah. During the bedikah, one should only speak about things related to the search. If one did speak about non-related matters after starting the bedikah he does not repeat the brocha.29 If he goes to the bathroom during the bedikah, he may recite Asher Yotzar.30 At the conclusion of the bedikah, Kol Chamira should be recited.


The following abbreviations have been used: M.B – Mishna Berura, S.A. – Orach Chayim.

  1. M.B.431:1. Also see Halichos Shlomo(Pesach 5:10) quoting Rav< Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l.
  2. S.A. 433:1 and M.B. 433:2
  3. M.B. 432:8, 436:1. See there and Aruch HaShulchan 437:7 regarding appointing a woman.
  4. S.A. 436:1
  5. S.A. 436:1, M.B. 436:5, Igros Moshe O.C. 4:95.
  6. See M.B. 436:32. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach states that the prevalent custom is to be lenient (Halichos Shlomo Pesach page 101).
  7. Similar to S.A. HaGra”z 433:7 who states that one may be bodek other rooms earlier and leave one room for bedika on the night of the 14th.
  8. Heard from Rav Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, that since the room is cleaned before one’s arrival it could be argued that it is a mokom she’ein machnisin bo chometz. See also https://www.star-k.org/articles/kashrus-kurrents/105/the-travelers-halachic-guide-to-hotels
  9. S.A. 331:2 and M.B. there.
  10. See M.B. 331:8. The Chazon Ish and the Steipler Gaon checked after maariv(Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 2 page 1). Similarly, Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, said that one should daven maariv immediately after tzeis hakochavim and be bodek after that (Shmaiteta De’Moshe – Shemuos Moshe 431:2).
  11. The implication of S.H. 433:33 is that it is unnecessary to check for crumbs, as noted in Halichos Shlomo(Pesachpage 103). However, the Chayei Odom 119:6 states the Chazal necessitated checking even for crumbs, due to the concern that one may come to eat them on Pesach. Rav Elyashiv, zt”l, writes that the custom follows the Chayei Odom(Ashrei Ha’Ish O.C. vol. 3 page 358).
  12. The M.B. 442:33 writes that, according to all opinions, soiled chometz(metunaf ketzas) which is smaller than a kezayis does not need to be disposed of. See also M.B. 444:15.
  13. The Rosh (Pesachim 3:2) writes “Yisroel are kedoshim and scrub away even the smallest amount of chometz”. S.A. 442:6 mentions a custom to scrub the walls, and
  14. The Maaseh Rav #178 states that the Gr”a would check his sefarim for chometz, and this is also the opinion of the Chazon Ish O.C. 116:18. Rav Elyashiv (Ashrei Ha’Ish O.C. vol. 3 page 355) writes that one is not obligated to check sefarim, although one should not place unchecked sefarim on the table on Pesach due to the concern that a crumb of chometz may fall into one’s food. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shmaiteta De’Moshe – Shemuos Moshe 433:3) and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo Pesach 5:6) ruled similarly.
  15. S.A. and Rema 433:1-2.
  16. The sefer Bedikas Chometza U’biyuro page 185 footnote 35 writes the this was the custom of the Brisker Rav. Teshuvos Shevet HaLevi 1:136 writes that he usually checked by the light of a candle only, but he switched on the house lights if it helped with the bedikah.
  17. This was the custom of the Steipler Gaon(Orchos Rabeinu vol. 2 page 2) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shmaiteta De’Moshe – Shemuos Moshe 433:1). Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo Pesach page 110) also held that it is not necessary to turn off the house lights during the bedika. Similarly, Rav Elyashiv (Ashrei Ha’Ish O.C. vol. 3 page 361) held that it is unnecessary to turn off electric lights as they enhance the bedika, but he added that one should not change from the established custom to use a candle as well. See further Hilchos Chag Be’chag, Pesach page 79.
  18. Rema 432:2 and M.B. there and S.H. 432:12. According to Rav Elyashiv (Ashrei Ha’Ish O.C. vol. 3 page 360), nowadays it is halachically necessary to put out pieces of bread.
  19. The Gr”a siman 442 paskens that it is not necessary to put out pieces of bread, and the Chayei Odom 119:22 similarly states that one does not need to concern oneself. S.H. 432:11 writes that according to the Taz it is better not to put out pieces of bread, as they may get lost. The Chazon Ish did not put out pieces of bread (Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 2 page 2), and neither did Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shmaiteta De’Moshe – Shemuos Moshe 432:2).
  20. Shaarei Teshuva, end of siman 432
  21. The Steipler Gaon would place the pieces of bread himself (Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 2 page 2). Rav Elyashiv also did so (Ashrei Ha’IshO.C. vol. 3 page 360). However, custom is that other members of the household place the pieces of bread, as indicated by the Rema 332:2 who states that the custom is to place the bread in various locations for the bodek to find. This also seems clear from the Chok Yaakov 332:14.
  22. According to Rav Elyashiv (Ashrei Ha’Ish vol. 3 page 361) is it permitted to check with a thin flashlight that shines into cracks and crevices well, but one should ideally not change the custom to use a candle unless one is checking an area which is hard to examine with a candle. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo Pesach page 110) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shmaiteta De’Moshe – Shemuos Moshe 433:2) held similarly.
  23. See Aishel Avrohom of Butchatch 434:1 and Maharsham in Daas Torah 433:2.
  24. According to the Chazon Ish, if one has checked pockets well for Pesach and was careful not to put any chometz into them after that, they can be considered a mokom she’ein machnisim bo chometz (Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 2 page 5).
  25. According to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo Pesach 5:1), the obligation to check for chometz on the night of the 14th remains in force even though nowadays we clean the house well beforehand. However, it is not necessary for the bodek to rechecked everything. Rather, he should ascertain that every spot has, in fact, already been cleaned. Rav Elyashiv (Ashrei Ha’Ish vol. 3 pages 335-337) writes similarly.
  26. It can be considered a mokom she’ein machnisim bo chometz.
  27. See S.A. HaGra”z 433:19 that if chometz falls under the floorboards of the house it is not necessary to lift them up in order to clean underneath them, and it is sufficient for him to be mevatel the chometz. Nevertheless, Rav Heinemann says that it is customary, if possible, to clean out the chometz. Furthermore, if it is possible for a dog to dig out the chometzthen it may be necessary meikar hadin to do so, see S.A. 433:8 and S.A. >HaGra”z Kuntres Achron there.
  28. S.A. 433:3 and M.B. 433:19
  29. S.A. 432:1 and M.B. there.
  30. Psak of Rav Elyashiv (Ashrei Ha’Ish vol. 3 page 361).