This year, due to the restrictions in place to battle the Coronavirus, many will not be able to head outside to burn their chometz in the traditional manner. People who are in isolation or those who generally rely on communal fires will need to find an alternative way to fulfill the obligation of destroying one’s chametz on the morning before Passover.

So what are we to do?

First, a little background: Is there even an actual obligation to burn chametz before Passover?

There is discussion regarding the general obligation to obliterate chametz. One opinion is that this is an active obligation. Meaning that there is an obligation to actively destroy chametz before Passover, one must seek after chametz in-order to destroy it. There are others who believe that you only need to destroy the chametz if you happen to own chametz and have no other way of getting rid of it (i.e you cannot sell it). If, however, you have made sure that there is no chametz in your possession, then you have already fulfilled your obligation to ‘destroy’ chametz. 1

If this is not a standalone, active, obligation, but a passive one, then, seemingly, you should simply be able to sell any chametz in your possession and be done with it. No need to scramble for a way to destroy it.

The Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, in his Shulchan Aruch, brings both these opinions, concluding:

With regard to the actual law, one may follow the second, more lenient opinion. Those who wish to be stringent should be stringent themselves, they should not impose this stringency on others.2

It seems clear from the Alter Rebbe, that according to the strict letter of the law, there is no absolute need to search out chametz in-order to destroy it.3 However, with that being said, if there is no great difficulty involved, one should do one's best to actually destroy some chametz in-order to satisfy both opinions.

Indeed, it has become the tradition to build a fire on the eve of Pesach and to burn the 10 pieces which were found the night before, together with the spoon and feather. A declaration of “kol chamira” (nullifying and disowning all leaven) is recited. Additionally, many have the custom to burn their lulav used on Sukkot in this fire.

Fortunately, there are easy solutions. Even though the tradition is indeed to actually burn the chametz, burning the chametz is not imperative, you may destroy the chametz through other means, thus fulfilling this directive of our sages.4

In a pinch, it is sufficient to simply destroy an olive-sized amount,5 not all 10 pieces found the night before. All other chamatz should be sold. However, since there are kabbalistic reasons to destroy specifically 10 pieces this can be accomplished by destroying 10 very small pieces of chametz. A simple way to destroy your chametz at home without a fire, is to simply crumble it and flush it in the toilet. After this is done, recite the “kol chamira” after exiting the bathroom.