It is a positive commandment from the Torah to destroy chametz before the time it becomes forbidden to be eaten, as [Exodus 12:15] states: "On the first day, destroy leaven from your homes." On the basis of the oral tradition, it is derived that "the first day" refers to the day of the fourteenth.
Proof of this matter is the verse from the Torah [Exodus 34:25]: "Do not slaughter the blood of My sacrifice with chametz," i.e., Do not slaughter the Pesach sacrifice while chametz exists [in your possession]. The slaughter of the Pesach sacrifice was on the fourteenth after midday.
What is the destruction to which the Torah refers? to nullify chametz within his heart and to consider it as dust, and to resolve within his heart that he possesses no chametz at all: all the chametz in his possession being as dust and as a thing of no value whatsoever.
According to the Sages' decree, [the mitzvah involves] searching for chametz in hidden places and in any holes [within one's house], seeking it and removing it from all of one's domain.
Similarly, according to the Sages' decree, we must search [with the intent to] destroy chametz by candlelight, at night, at the beginning of the night of the fourteenth [of Nisan]. [They instituted the search at that time] because all people are at home at night, and the light of the candle is good for searching.
A study session should not be fixed for the end of the thirteenth of Nisan. Similarly, a wise man should not begin to study at this time, lest he become involved, and thus be prevented from searching for chametz at the beginning of the time.
We do not search [for chametz] by the light of the moon, the light of the sun, or the light of a torch; only by the light of a candle. To what does this apply? to the holes and hidden places. However, for a porch which has much light, searching it by the light of the sun is sufficient.
The middle of a courtyard does not need to be searched, because birds are found there, and they eat all the chametz which falls there.
A hole in the middle of [the wall of] the house between a person and his colleague [should be searched by both individuals], each searching to the extent his hand reaches. [Afterwards,] each must nullify in his heart [any chametz in] the remaining portion.
[This applies to a hole in a wall separating two Jewish homes.] However, a hole between [the home of] a Jew and a gentile should not be searched at all, lest the gentile fear that the Jew is casting spells against him. All that is necessary for him to do is to nullify it within his heart.
Any place where chametz is not brought in does not need to be searched.
The upper and lower holes [in the wall] of a house, the roof of a balcony, a cow stall, chicken coop, hayloft, wine cellars or storage rooms for oil when supplies are not taken from them [in the midst of a meal], and storage rooms for large fish, need not be searched unless one brought chametz into them.
In contrast, storage rooms for beer, storage rooms for wine from which supplies are taken [in the midst of a meal], storage rooms for salt, candles, small fish, wood, and brine, the middle holes in a wall, and all similar places must be searched, for chametz is usually brought into them. However, if a person knows that he did not bring chametz into these places, they do not have to be searched.
When searching a wine cellar, [all that is necessary to] search are the two outer rows--i.e., the highest row and the one below it.
We do not suspect that a weasel dragged chametz into a place where it is not usually brought. Were we to suspect [that chametz would be taken] from house to house, we would also have to suspect [that chametz might be taken] from city to city. There is no end to the matter.
A person who checked on the night of the fourteenth and placed ten loaves of chametz [on the side] and [later] found [only] nine must suspect [that chametz is present in his home,] and [hence], must search a second time, for definitely it was taken by a weasel or mouse.
Similarly, a person who saw a mouse enter the house with chametz in its mouth after he searched [for chametz] must search a second time. [This applies] even if he found crumbs in the middle of the house; we do not necessarily presume that it already ate the bread in this place and that these are its crumbs. Rather, we suspect that it left the bread in a hole or window, and that these crumbs were [originally] located there. Hence, he must search again.
If he does not find anything, he must search through the entire house. If he found the bread that the mouse took when he entered, he need not search [further].
[A person who] saw an infant enter an already checked house with bread in his hand, followed him inside and discovered crumbs, need not search [again]. We may confidently assume that he ate the bread and that these crumbs fell from him while eating. Infants generally crumble food while eating, though mice do not.
If he does not find any crumbs, he must check [again].
Nine piles of matzah and one of chametz were placed [aside]. A mouse came and took [something from one of the piles] and entered a house that had been checked. If we do not know whether it took either chametz or matzah, the house must be checked [again], for every instance where [a doubt arises and the presence of both the permitted and forbidden substances] is fixed, [is judged] as if they were present in equal amounts.
There were two piles: one of chametz and one of matzah, and two houses: one that had been searched and one that had not been searched. Two mice came; one took chametz and one took matzah [and they entered the houses] without our knowing which house the mouse holding the chametz entered...
Similarly, there were two houses which had been checked, with one pile of chametz before them. A mouse took [from the pile and entered a house]. However, we do not know which house he entered...
or we saw which one he entered, a person followed him, checked [for chametz], and did not find anything...
or he checked and found bread...
Similarly, when there were nine piles of matzah and one of chametz, and a loaf became separated from the piles, and we do not know whether it was chametz or matzah: If a mouse took the loaf that became separated and entered the house that had been checked:
In all of these cases, there is no need to check a second time, because the presence of the forbidden substance is not fixed.
A person who placed chametz in one corner and discovered it in another...
or who put aside nine loaves and found ten...
or a mouse came and took the chametz, and there is a doubt whether he entered this house or not...
In all these cases, he must search [the house again].
A mouse entered a house with a loaf in its mouth. Afterwards, a mouse left there with a loaf in its mouth; we presume that the same mouse who entered originally was the one which ultimately left, and [the owner] need not search [again]. If the first mouse which entered was black and the one which left was white, he must search [again].
If a mouse entered with a loaf in its mouth and a weasel left there with a loaf in its mouth, he must search [again]. If a weasel left there with a mouse and a loaf in its mouth, he does not have to search [again]. [We may presume] that this is the loaf which was in the mouse's mouth.
If a snake enters a hole with a loaf in its mouth, there is no obligation to bring a snakecharmer to remove it.
When chametz is [discovered] on a very high beam, [the owner] is obligated to bring a ladder and remove it, for it might fall from the beam. If chametz is in a pit, [the owner] is not obligated to bring it up. All that is necessary is for him to nullify [ownership over it] in his heart.
A block of yeast which was designated to be used as a seat: If its surface was coated with mortar, it is [considered as] destroyed and we are permitted to keep it [on Pesach].
The dough in the cracks of a kneading trough: If a size of an olive [of dough] exists in one place, one is obligated to destroy [the dough under all circumstances]. Should there be less than that amount: If it serves to reinforce the broken pieces of the kneading trough or to plug a hole, it is [considered] negligible because of its minimal size. If not, one is obligated to destroy it.
Two [quantities of dough, each] half the size of an olive were found in separate places, and a string of dough connects them: We check whether the [pieces of] dough themselves are lifted up when the string of dough is picked up. If they are, one is obligated to destroy [them]. If not, one is not obligated to destroy [them].
To what does the above apply? to [pieces of dough stuck to] a kneading trough. However, [if a similar situation is discovered] within a house, one is obligated to destroy [the dough] even if, when the [connecting] thread [of dough] is lifted up, the pieces of dough are not raised up with it. [This stringency was instituted] because the [smaller portions] may sometimes be brought together.
If half of an olive size [of dough] was found in a house and another half in the second storey;
or if half of the size of an olive was found in a house and another half in [the adjoining] porch;
or if half of the size of an olive was found in a room and another half in an inner room;
Since these portions of dough which are less than the size of an olive are found stuck to the walls, beams, or floors [of the house], one is not obligated to destroy them. All that is necessary is to nullify them in one's heart.
A person who rents out a house on the fourteenth [of Nisan]: Behold, [the tenant may operate] under the presumption that it has been searched and he need not search.
[Furthermore,] even if we must assume that the person who rented out the house did not search [it], should a woman or a minor say: "We have searched it," they are believed, for everyone's statements are accepted with regard to the destruction of chametz.
Everyone is acceptable to search [for chametz], even women, slaves, and minors. The latter applies only when the minor has sufficient understanding to search.
A person who rents a house to a colleague: If the fourteenth [of Nisan] falls before [the landlord] gave the keys to [the tenant], the landlord is responsible for searching. If the fourteenth falls after the keys have been transferred, the tenant is responsible for checking.
When a person rents out a house under the presumption that it has been searched and [later, the tenant] discovers that it has not been searched, [the tenant] is responsible for searching it and [cannot nullify the transaction by claiming that it was carried out] under false premises. This applies even when it is customary to hire people to search, since, behold, he is performing a mitzvah.
A person who sets out to sea or one who leaves in a caravan within thirty days [of Pesach] is obligated to search [for chametz]. [If he leaves] before thirty days [prior to Pesach], he is not obligated to search. However, if he intends to return before Pesach, he must search before departing, lest he [be delayed and] return Pesach eve at nightfall, when he will have no opportunity to destroy [the chametz]. However, if he does not intend to return, he does not have to search.
Similarly, a person who makes his house a storage room: If he does so within thirty days [of Pesach], he is required to search and then bring in the goods he wants to store. Over thirty days before Pesach: If he intends to remove the goods before Pesach, he is required to search and then bring in the goods he wants to store; if he does not intend to remove the goods before Pesach, he does not have to search.
Chametz U'Matzah - Chapter Three
When a person checks and searches on the night of the fourteenth [of Nisan], he should remove [all] chametz from holes, hidden places, and corners, and gather the entire amount together, putting it in one place until the beginning of the sixth hour and [then,] destroy it. If he desires to destroy it on the night of the fourteenth, he may.
The chametz which was put aside on the night of the fourteenth, so that it can be eaten on the next day until [the end of] the fourth hour, should not be spread out and scattered in every place. Rather, it should be put away in a utensil or in a known corner, and care should be taken concerning it. Otherwise, should some be found lacking, he would have to search for it and check [the house] a second time, for mice might have dragged it away.
When the fourteenth falls on the Sabbath, we search for chametz on the night before Sabbath eve, the night of the thirteenth. We set aside [enough] chametz to eat until [the end of] the fourth hour on the Sabbath day. The remainder should be destroyed before the Sabbath.
If some of the chametz remains on the Sabbath day after the fourth hour, he should nullify it and cover it with a utensil until the conclusion of the first day of the festival, and then destroy it.
A person who has many loaves of bread that were Terumah and must burn them on the Sabbath eve; he should not mix the pure loaves together with the impure loaves and burn them. Rather, he should burn the pure loaves alone, the impure ones alone, and the ones [whose status is] left pending alone.
He should leave a sufficient quantity, but no more than necessary, of the pure loaves to eat until [the conclusion of] the fourth hour on the Sabbath day.
A person who either inadvertently or intentionally did not search on the night of the fourteenth should search on the fourteenth in the morning. If he did not search on the fourteenth in the morning, he should search at the time for destroying [the chametz]. If he did not search at the time for destroying the chametz, he should search in the midst of the festival. If the festival passed without his having searched, he should search after the festival to destroy whatever chametz he might find which [he possessed] during Pesach, since we are prohibited against benefiting [from such chametz].
When a person checks for chametz on the night of the fourteenth, on the day of the fourteenth, and during the festival, he should recite the [following] blessing before he begins to search:
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the destruction of chametz.
He must check and search in all the places where chametz is brought in, as was explained. If he searches after the holiday, he does not recite a blessing.
When he concludes searching, if he searched on the fourteenth at night, or on the fourteenth during the day before the sixth hour, he should nullify all the chametz that remains in his possession that he does not see.
He should say: "All chametz which is in my possession that I have not seen, behold, it is nullified and must be considered as dust."
However, if he searched after the beginning of the sixth hour and onward, he can no longer nullify it, for it is not in his possession, since benefiting from it is forbidden.
Thus, a person who does not nullify [his chametz] before the sixth hour and discovers chametz which he:
considered important and [valued] in his heart,
then forgot at the time of the destruction of chametz,
and hence did not destroy,
transgresses [the prohibitions]: "[leaven] shall not be seen" and "[leaven] shall not be found."
Behold, he has neither destroyed nor nullified [his chametz], and nullification at this time would not be effective, for [the chametz] is no longer in his possession. Even so, the Torah considers it as if it were in his possession, to obligate him for [transgression of the commandments:] "[leaven] shall not be seen" and "[leaven] shall not be found."
[Therefore,] he is obligated to destroy it whenever he finds it. If he finds it on the day of a festival, he should cover it with a utensil until the evening, and then destroy it. [If the chametz] was consecrated property, there is no need to cover it with a utensil, for regardless, everyone shies away from its use.
A person who left his house before the time for destroying chametz in order to fulfill a mitzvah or in order to partake of a feast associated with a mitzvah - e.g., a feast associated with betrothal or marriage - and recalls that he possesses chametz at home. If it is possible for him to go back, destroy it, and then return to the fulfillment of the mitzvah, he should return. If not, he should nullify [ownership over the chametz] in his heart.
Should he go out to save from a troop of attackers, from a [flooding] river, from a fire, from [being buried] under fallen objects, all that is necessary is for him to nullify it in his heart. Should he go out for his own purposes and remember that he possesses chametz at home, he must return immediately.
How much [chametz] must be present [to require] him to return? the size of an egg. If there is less than the size of an egg, it is sufficient for him to nullify it in his heart.
A person who put aside a rolled dough at home, [forgot about it,] went out and remembered after he had left [home]: Should he be sitting before his teacher and fear that the dough will become leavened before he can come [home], behold, he may nullify [ownership over the dough] in his heart before it becomes leaven.
However, if [the dough] has already become leavened, his nullification is not at all effective, for he has already violated [the prohibitions]: "[leaven] shall not be seen" and "[leaven] shall not be found." He must destroy it immediately when he returns home.
How must chametz be destroyed? It may be burned; crumbled and tossed to the wind; or thrown into the sea. If the chametz is hard and the sea will not cause it to dissolve speedily, one should crumble it and then throw it into the sea.
If other substances fell upon chametz and it was covered by three handbreadths or more of earth, it is considered as having been destroyed. [Nevertheless,] one must nullify [ownership over] it in one's heart if the sixth hour has not arrived.
A person who gave it to a gentile before the sixth hour need not destroy it.
If one burns it before the sixth hour, he is permitted to benefit from the charcoal that remains during Pesach. However, if he burns it from [the beginning of] the sixth hour and onward, since benefit may not be derived from it, it should not be used as fuel for an oven or range. One may not bake or cook with it.
If one did bake or cook [using the chametz as fuel], it is forbidden to derive benefit from that loaf or that dish. Similarly, it is forbidden to derive benefit from the charcoal that remains from it, because it was burned after benefit from it became forbidden.
Chametz U'Matzah - Chapter Four
The Torah (Exodus 13:7) states: "No chametz shall be seen for you." Perhaps, if it were buried or entrusted to a gentile, he would not transgress the commandment? The Torah (Exodus 12:19) states: "leaven should not be found in your homes," [implying] even if it is buried or entrusted.
Perhaps he would only transgress [the commandment] when chametz is [found] in his house, but if it were outside his house, in a field or in another city, he would not violate [the commandment]? The Torah states (Exodus 13:7): "[No leaven shall be seen for you] in all your territory" - i.e., in all your possessions.
Perhaps a person will be obligated to remove from his property chametz that belongs to a gentile or that was consecrated? The Torah states (ibid.): "No [leaven] shall be seen for you." [We may infer]: You may not see your own [leaven]. However, you may see [leaven] belonging to others or which was consecrated.
[From the above,] you can learn that chametz belonging to a Jew which was left in his possession, even though it is buried, is located in another city, or is entrusted to a gentile, causes him to violate [the commandments]: "[leaven] shall not be seen" and "[leaven] shall not be found."
Chametz that either was consecrated or belongs to a gentile, and is located within a Jew's property, even if it was with him at home--behold, this is permitted, for [the chametz] is not his. Even if it belonged to a resident alien under the authority of the Jewish people, we need not force him to remove the chametz from his property on Pesach.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to construct a partition at least ten handbreadths high in front of chametz belonging to a gentile, lest one come to use it. [With regard to chametz] that has been consecrated, this is unnecessary; everyone shies away from consecrated property, lest they infringe on [the prohibition of] מעילה.
A gentile who entrusted his chametz to a Jew: Should the Jew accept the responsibility of paying for the worth of the chametz if it is lost or stolen--behold, he is obligated to destroy it. Since he accepted responsibility for it, it is considered as though it were his.
If he did not accept responsibility for it, he may keep it in his domain and may eat from it after Pesach, for it was in the gentile's possession.
Should a gentile who forces his way upon people entrust his chametz to a Jew: If the Jew knows that if it is lost or stolen, [the gentile] will obligate him to pay for it--forcing and compelling him to pay even though he did not accept responsibility--he is obligated qo destroy it. It is considered as though it were his, for the gentile holds him responsible for it.
A Jew who gives his chametz to a gentile as security for a loan and tells him: "If I do not bring the money between today and such and such a date, you acquire the chametz [retroactively] from the present moment," the chametz is considered as in the gentile's possession and is permitted to be used after Pesach. This applies if the date specified was before Pesach.
However, if he did not tell him: "you acquire the chametz [retroactively] from the present moment," that chametz is considered as an article entrusted to the gentile, and it is forbidden to benefit from it after Pesach.
A Jew and a gentile are traveling together in a ship, and the Jew possesses chametz. When the fifth hour [on the fourteenth of Nisan] arrives--behold, he should sell it to the gentile or give it to him as a present. He may return and buy it back from him after Pesach, as long as he gives it to him as an outright present.
The Jew may tell the gentile: "Rather than buy a manah's worth [of chametz], come and buy two hundred [dinars'] worth [of chametz]... Rather than buy from a gentile, come and buy from a Jew. Perhaps I will need [chametz] and will buy from you after Pesach."
However, he cannot sell or give [chametz] to him on condition. If he does so--behold, he transgresses [the prohibitions]: "[leaven] shall not be seen" and "[leaven] shall not be found."
[A person] who possesses a mixture of chametz transgresses [the prohibitions]: "[leaven] shall not be seen" and "[leaven] shall not be found" because of it; for example: pickle-brine, Babylonian kotach, and Median beer, which are made from flour.
[The same applies] to other similar substances which are eaten. However, a substance which contains a mixture of chametz, but is not fit to be eaten, may be kept on Pesach.
How is [the latter principle] applied? A tanner's trough into which one placed flour and animal hides: Even if this was done one hour before [the time chametz must be] destroyed, one may keep it. If one placed flour [in the trough] without animal hides three days before [the time chametz must be] destroyed, one may keep it, for the [chametz] has surely become spoiled and rotten. Within three days, one is obligated to destroy it.
Similarly, an eye salve, a compress, a plaster, or Tiriac into which chametz was placed may be kept on Pesach, for the nature of the chametz is spoiled.
Bread itself which has become moldy and is no longer fit for consumption by a dog, or a compress that has become spoiled, need not be destroyed.
Clothes which were washed with starch and, similarly, papers which were stuck together with chametz, and other like cases, may be kept on Pesach. Their [possession] does not constitute a [violation of the prohibitions]: "[leaven] shall not be seen" and "[leaven] shall not be found," for they no longer have the form of chametz.
A substance which is not eaten by people, or one which is generally not eaten by people, with which chametz has become mixed-- e.g., Tiriac and the like, though one may keep it [during Pesach], eating it is prohibited until after Pesach. Even though it contains only the smallest amount of chametz, eating it is forbidden.
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