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Why the Spoon and Feather?

Why the Spoon and Feather?

The tools used for the search of chametz—leavened foods

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Question:

When searching for leavened foods, chametz, on the night before Passover we carry a candle, a spoon and a feather. I understand that the purpose of the candle is so that we can see the bread, but is there a good reason for the spoon and feather?

Answer:

There are reasons for both the spoon and the feather.

We search with a wooden spoon so that we can burn it later. We read in the Code of Jewish Law1 that if one does not find any leavened foods during his search, he should burn the vessel with which he searched.2

This can be easily accomplished with a wooden spoon. Even nowadays, when we put out ten pieces of bread (so we always find something leavened), there is still significance to burning the bread specifically in a wood-fueled fire.3

The feather serves a practical purpose. We can use it to sweep up any crumbly bits of leavened food that we may encounter.

Please see Chametz’s Final Moments.

FOOTNOTES
1.

Gloss of the Rema (Rabbi Moshe Isserles) to Orach Chaim 445:3, quoting the Maharil (Rabbi Yaakov Moelin).

2.

Making a bonfire in spite of the absence of leaven serves two purposes: 1) He will retain the habit of burning his leaven and will not forget to burn it in future years when he will have leaven remaining. 2) Burning the vessel will help him remember to declare his leaven null and ownerless, as is normally done when it is burning (see Shulchan Aruch Harav ad loc).

3.

Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss, Responsa Minchat Yitzchak 2:53.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
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Discussion (3)
April 11, 2011
feather
Marc - there is always some good in sticking to the old ways if possible...

by the way I heard a beautiful idea about the candle - why is it also burned when it never touched the chometz? The answer is because we used it to look for something 'negative' and once it has served its purpose we should not have it around any longer.
Tamar
NY, USA
April 9, 2011
Really
No matther what tool you use to sweep up crumbs, we can all agree that some of them get stuck in the hose, bristles, teeth, or strands, yes?

The feather, unlike a broom or brush or vacuum, is disposable. Which is good, because it goes into the paper bag holding the chometz, spoon, and candle which goes into the fire.

Thereby we can truly eliminate every last crumb of chometz from our possession.
RF
Mason, OH
April 8, 2011
Really?
The feather is to be used to sweep the crumbs? I can think of much better tools for that purpose. Perhaps back in the day it was necessary, but nowadays??
Marc Weiss
Placerville, CA
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