SECTION 431 The Time for the Search of Chametz (1-11)

סימן תלא זְמַן בְּדִיקַת הֶחָמֵץ וּבוֹ י"א סְעִיפִים:

1 A person does not violate the prohibitions against having chametz seen [in his domain] and possessing chametz until the night of the fifteenth of Nissan and onward, as it is written,1 “For seven days, s’or2shall not be found in your homes,” and “S’or of yours shall not be seen throughout your domain for seven days.”3 Before [these] seven days, [by contrast,] one does not violate a prohibition when chametz remains in his home. Nevertheless, one does violate a positive commandment from midday on the fourteenth [of Nissan] and onward during each moment that he fails to obliterate the chametz from existence. [This is derived from] the verse,4 “For seven days, you shall eat matzos;yet, bayom harishon, on the preceding day, you shall obliterate s’or from your homes.” According to the Oral Tradition,5 it was explained that here [the phrase] bayom harishon refers to the fourteenth of Nissan; it is called rishon [in relation] to the seven days of Pesach,6 i.e., it, [the fourteenth of Nissan,] precedes them. The intent of the verse is that “for seven days, you shall eat matzos” and on the day preceding these seven days, “you shall obliterate s’or.7

[Support] for this [interpretation can be derived] from the Torah’s statement,8 “Do not slaughter the blood of the [Paschal] sacrifice over chametz,” [which is understood as meaning,] “Do not slaughter the Paschal sacrifice while chametz still exists.” [Now,] the time for slaughtering the Paschal sacrifice is on the fourteenth of Nissan from midday onward. [Thus,] from this source, [our Sages] derived that the time when chametz must be obliterated is the time when the Paschal sacrifice is to be slaughtered, i.e., from midday on the fourteenth of Nissan onward.

א אַף עַל פִּיא שֶׁאֵין אָדָם עוֹבֵר עַל חֲמֵצוֹ בְּ"בַל יֵרָאֶה" וּ"בַל יִמָּצֵא" אֶלָּא מִלֵּיל ט"ו בְּנִיסָן וָאֵילָךְ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּבב,1 "שִׁבְעַת יָמִים שְׂאֹר2 לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְּבָתֵּיכֶם וְגוֹ' וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה לְךָ שְׂאֹר בְּכָל גְּבֻלְךָ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וְגוֹ'",ג,3 אֲבָל קֹדֶם שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כְּשֶׁשָּׁהָה הֶחָמֵץ בְּבֵיתוֹ,ד מִכָּל מָקוֹם עוֹבֵר עַל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה מֵחֲצוֹת יוֹם י"ד וָאֵילָךְה בְּכָל רֶגַע וְרֶגַע שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְבַעֵר הֶחָמֵץ מִן הָעוֹלָם,ו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרז,4 "שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ, אַךְ בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן תַּשְׁבִּיתוּ שְּׂאֹר מִבָּתֵּיכֶם וְגוֹ'", וּמִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה5 לָמְדוּח שֶׁיּוֹם רִאשׁוֹן זֶה הוּא י"ד בְּנִיסָן, וְנִקְרָא רִאשׁוֹן לְשִׁבְעַת יְמֵי הַפֶּסַח,6 כְּלוֹמַר קֹדֶם לָהֶם, וְכַוָּנַת הַכָּתוּב לוֹמַר: "שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ", וּבַיּוֹם שֶׁקֹּדֶם "שִׁבְעַת יָמִים" – "תַּשְׁבִּיתוּ שְּׂאֹר וְגוֹ'".7

רְאָיָה לְדָבָר זֶהט מִמַּה שֶּׁאָמְרָה תּוֹרָה:י,8 "לֹא תִשְׁחַט עַל חָמֵץ דַּם זִבְחִי", כְּלוֹמַר "לֹא תִשְׁחַט" אֶת הַפֶּסַח וַעֲדַיִן חָמֵץ קַיָּם, וּזְמַן שְׁחִיטַת הַפֶּסַח הוּא בְּי"ד מֵחֲצוֹת הַיּוֹם וּלְמַעְלָה, מִכָּאן אַתָּה לָמֵד שֶׁזְּמַן הַשְׁבָּתַת הֶחָמֵץ הוּא בִּזְמַן שְׁחִיטַת הַפֶּסַח, דְּהַיְנוּ מֵחֲצוֹת יוֹם י"ד וּלְמַעְלָה:יא

2 What is meant by the term “obliteration” that the Torah uses? That one should obliterate and destroy chametz from existence entirely to the extent that no one could ever be able to benefit from it, [following the guidelines] to be explained in sec. 445[:4-7]. If, however, [one] desires to nullify [his possession of the chametz] and declare it ownerless, that is not effective at all.9

When does the above apply? After the time when it is forbidden to eat [chametz] or benefit from it according to Scriptural Law, i.e., from midday on the fourteenth [of Nissan] and onward, for then one who eats or benefits from chametz violates a prohibition,10 as it is written,11 “You shall not eat chametz with it,” i.e., together with the Paschal sacrifice. [Now,] the verse is not warning [us] not to eat chametz at the time the Paschal sacrifice is being eaten, i.e., the night of the fifteenth [of Nissan], for the command was already given,12 “No chametz shall be eaten.” Rather, [the verse] is warning [us] not to eat chametz at the time when the Paschal sacrifice is slaughtered, i.e., from midday on the fourteenth [of Nissan] onward.

Our Sages received [the tradition] that the prohibition of chametz on the fourteenth [of Nissan after midday] resembles its prohibition all seven days of Pesach. According to Scriptural Law, throughout these seven days it is even prohibited to benefit from [chametz], as [implied by the verse], “No chametz shall be eaten.”13 [The manner in which the word יֵאָכֵל, “shall be eaten,” is vocalized implies that] it is not permitted [to derive any benefit] from [chametz] that would enable one to eat, [i.e.,] even [to eat] something that is permitted. [The intent is that] it [is not] permitted to benefit [from the chametz], for any benefit [ultimately] leads to eating, for one can buy food with the money he [receives from the sale of his chametz]. Similarly, from midday on the fourteenth [of Nissan] onward, it is even forbidden to benefit [from chametz]. Since [the owner] is forbidden to benefit from [the chametz], he has no rights over it and it does not belong to him at all.14 Therefore, [after midday on the fourteenth of Nissan, one] may not nullify [the chametz] and declare it ownerless. Nevertheless, before the time the prohibition against benefiting from [chametz] takes effect, [the person] is permitted to nullify [the chametz] and declare it ownerless.15

[Once the person does so,] according to Scriptural Law,16 he is permitted to keep [chametz that he nullified and declared ownerless] with him in his house during all the days of Pesach. [The rationale is that] according to Scriptural Law, [the person] only violates the prohibitions against having [chametz] seen or found [in his domain] when he [sees or finds chametz that he] possesses17that he has not declared ownerless, as [implied by] the verse,18Chametz of yours shall not be seen,” i.e., your chametz may not be seen, but [one] may see chametz belonging to others19 or [chametz] which is ownerless.20

ב וּמַה הִיא הַשְׁבָּתָה זוֹ שֶׁאָמְרָה תּוֹרָה?יב הוּא שֶׁיַּשְׁבִּית וִיבַעֵר הֶחָמֵץ מִן הָעוֹלָםיג לְגַמְרֵי עַד שֶׁשּׁוּם אָדָם לֹא יוּכַל עוֹד לֵהָנוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ, וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תמ"ה.יד אֲבָל אִם רוֹצֶה לְבַטְּלוֹ וּלְהַפְקִירוֹ – אֵין זֶה מוֹעִיל כְּלוּם.טו,9

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? לְאַחַר שֶׁהִגִּיעַ זְמַן אִסּוּרטז אֲכִילָתוֹ וַהֲנָאָתוֹ מִן הַתּוֹרָה,יז דְּהַיְנוּ מֵחֲצוֹת הַיּוֹם י"ד וּלְמַעְלָה, שֶׁהָאוֹכֵל אוֹ הַנֶּהֱנֶה אָז מִן הֶחָמֵץ עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַעֲשֶׂה,יח,10 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַריט,11 "לֹא תֹאכַל עָלָיו חָמֵץ", כְּלוֹמַר עַל קָרְבַּן הַפֶּסַח. וְלֹא בָּא הַכָּתוּב לְהַזְהִיר שֶׁלֹּא לֶאֱכֹל חָמֵץ בִּשְׁעַת אֲכִילַת הַפֶּסַח, דְּהַיְנוּ בְּלֵיל ט"ו, שֶׁהֲרֵי כְּבָר נֶאֱמַרכ,12 "וְלֹא יֵאָכֵל חָמֵץ", אֶלָּא בָּא לְהַזְהִיר שֶׁלֹּא לֶאֱכֹל חָמֵץ בִּשְׁעַת שְׁחִיטַת הַפֶּסַח,כא דְּהַיְנוּ מֵחֲצוֹת יוֹם י"ד וּלְמַעְלָה.

וְקִבְּלוּ חֲכָמִיםכב,10 שֶׁאִסּוּר חָמֵץ בְּי"ד דּוֹמֶה לְאִסּוּרוֹ כָּל ז' יְמֵי הַפֶּסַח,כג שֶׁכְּשֵׁם שֶׁכָּל ז' יְמֵי הַפֶּסַח הוּא אָסוּר אֲפִלּוּ בַּהֲנָאָה מִן הַתּוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר13 "וְלֹא יֵאָכֵל", כְּלוֹמַר לֹא יְהֵא בּוֹ הֶתֵּר הַמֵּבִיא לִידֵי שׁוּם אֲכִילָה,כד אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁל הֶתֵּר, דְּהַיְנוּ הֶתֵּר הֲנָאָה, שֶׁסְּתָם הֲנָאָה בָּאָה לִידֵי אֲכִילָה, שֶׁלּוֹקֵחַ בְּדָמִים מַאֲכָלכה – כָּךְ מֵחֲצוֹת יוֹם י"ד וּלְמַעְלָה הוּא אָסוּר אֲפִלּוּ בַּהֲנָאָה,כו וְכֵיוָן שֶׁאָסוּר לוֹ לֵהָנוֹת מִמֶּנּוּכז הֲרֵי אֵין לוֹ שׁוּם זְכוּת בּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ כְּלָל,כח,14 וּלְפִיכָךְ אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְבַטְּלוֹכט וּלְהַפְקִירוֹ.ל אֲבָל קֹדֶם שֶׁהִגִּיעַ זְמַן אִסּוּר הֲנָאָתוֹ, יָכוֹל הוּא לְבַטְּלוֹ וּלְהַפְקִירוֹ,לא,15

וּמֻתָּר לוֹ מִן הַתּוֹרָה16 לְהַשְׁהוֹתוֹ עִמּוֹ בַּבַּיִת כָּל יְמֵי הַפֶּסַח, שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר מִן הַתּוֹרָה בְּ"בַל יֵרָאֶה" וּ"בַל יִמָּצֵא" אֶלָּא עַל חָמֵץ שֶׁלּוֹלב,17 שֶׁלֹּא הִפְקִירוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרלג,18 "וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה לְךָ", שֶׁלְּךָ אִי אַתָּה רוֹאֶה, אֲבָל אַתָּה רוֹאֶה שֶׁל אֲחֵרִיםלד,19 וְשֶׁל הֶפְקֵר:לה,20

3 Nevertheless, the Sages21 decreed that [merely] nullifying chametz and declaring it ownerless is not effective at all for chametz even [if one does so] be- fore the time it becomes forbidden to benefit from [chametz].22 Instead, it is necessary [for the person] to search for [chametz] in hidden places and holes (if it is common for [him to place chametz] there throughout the year, as will be explained in sec. 433[:12-13]), and to check [for chametz, and] to remove it from his entire domain, following the instructions regarding [the chametz] to be outlined in sec. 445.23

ג אֲבָל חֲכָמִים21 גָּזְרוּלו שֶׁאֵין בִּטּוּל וְהֶפְקֵר מוֹעִיל כְּלוּםלז לֶחָמֵץ אַף קֹדֶם שֶׁהִגִּיעַ זְמַן אִסּוּר הֲנָאָתוֹ,22 אֶלָּא הוּא צָרִיךְ לְחַפֵּשׂ אַחֲרָיו בַּמַּחֲבוֹאוֹת וּבַחוֹרִים (אִם דֶּרֶךְ לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ שָׁם כָּל הַשָּׁנָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תל"גלח) וְלִבְדֹּק23 וּלְהוֹצִיאוֹ מִכָּל גְּבוּלוֹלט וְלַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ כַּמִּשְׁפָּט שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תמ"ה:23

4 Our Sages required [that we search for and obliterate chametz] for two reasons:

a) Nullification and deeming something as ownerless is dependent on a person’s thoughts; [one] must deem [the object] ownerless with a full heart and remove [all thoughts of it from] his heart. [Now,] since not all people are of the same mind, it is possible that someone will be lax concerning this matter and will not declare [his chametz] ownerless with a full heart, and will not take [his thoughts of it] out of his heart entirely. Therefore, [the Sages] declared that nullifying and declaring chametz ownerless is not at all effective unless [the owner] removes the chametz from his entire domain (see sec. 445[:1]).

b) A person is accustomed to [partaking of] chametz throughout the entire year, and because this is his common pattern, it is likely that [the person] will forget its prohibition and partake of [the chametz] if it is located in his domain on Pesach.24 Therefore, [the Sages] required [the person] to search for [chametz] and remove it from his entire domain before the arrival of the time [the chametz] becomes forbidden to be eaten.

ד וּמִפְּנֵי ב' דְּבָרִים נִזְקְקוּ חֲכָמִים לְכָךְ.מ הָא', לְפִי שֶׁהַבִּטּוּל וְהַהֶפְקֵר תָּלוּי בְּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם, שֶׁיַּפְקִירֶנּוּ בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם וְיוֹצִיאֶנּוּ מִלִּבּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי, וּלְפִי שֶׁאֵין דַּעַת כָּל בְּנֵי אָדָם שָׁוִין, וְאֶפְשָׁר מִי שֶׁיָּקֵל בַּדָּבָר וְלֹא יַפְקִירֶנּוּ בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם וְלֹא יוֹצִיאֶנּוּ מִלִּבּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי,מא לְפִיכָךְ גָּזְרוּ שֶׁאֵין בִּטּוּל וְהֶפְקֵר מוֹעִיל כְּלוּם עַד שֶׁיּוֹצִיא אֶת הֶחָמֵץ מִכָּל גְּבוּלוֹ (עַיֵּן סִימָן תמ"המב).

הַב', לְפִי שֶׁהָאָדָם רָגִיל בְּכָל הַשָּׁנָה בְּחָמֵץ, וּמֵחֲמַת רְגִילוּתוֹ קָרוֹב הוּא לְשִׁכְחָה, שֶׁיִּשְׁכַּח אֶת אִסּוּרוֹ וְיֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּמג אִם יִהְיֶה מֻנָּח בִּגְבוּלוֹ בְּפֶסַח,24 לְפִיכָךְ הִצְרִיכוּ לְחַפֵּשׂ אַחֲרָיו וְלִבְדֹּק וּלְהוֹצִיאוֹ מִכָּל גְּבוּלוֹ קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ זְמַן אִסּוּר אֲכִילָתוֹ:

5 According [to the prevailing principles of Torah] Law, it would have been appropriate to establish the time for this search on the fourteenth of Nissan at the beginning of the sixth hour,25 so that everyone would complete his search by the end of the sixth hour, and destroy the chametz at the beginning of the seventh hour, as is the Scriptural requirement, as will be explained in sec. 445[:1]. Nevertheless, since most people are not at home during the day, but are occupied with their businesses in the marketplaces and thoroughfares, when the sixth hour, [i.e., the time for the search,] arrives, it is likely that they will forget the obligation to search [for chametz].26 The Sages therefore ordained the time for the search as the night of the fourteenth [of Nissan],27 for everyone is home at night.

However, even when one is home [at night], there is reason for concern that [the person] will become involved in eating, drinking, sleeping, working, or Torah study if he is a scholar, and as a result, [he will] forget the obligation to search [for chametz]. Therefore, it would have been appropriate to establish the time for the search immediately when a person enters his house close to the evening, since [the person] is then free from all [his other] occupations.

Nevertheless, [the Sages postponed the time for the search slightly,] because one must search for chametz in holes and cracks, and [carrying out] such a search [effectively] is only possible [when the search is conducted] by the light of a candle,28 as [alluded to by the verse],29 “At that time, I will search Jerusalem with candles.” The Sages saw this verse as support [for the concept] that the light of a candle is desirable for the search for chametz, and a candle does not illuminate and shine well during the day, only at night.30 Therefore, [the Sages] delayed the time for the search until the time when a candle will shine [effectively], i.e., [right after] the appearance of the stars,31 {when there is still a certain amount of daylight}.32

[During the interval] between the time the person comes home and the time for the search [for chametz], i.e., the appearance of the stars – this interval being about half an hour33 – [the Sages] prohibited [the person] to eat34 or to study, [i.e., he may not] even [study] one chapter.35 Even though [the person] could finish [studying] that chapter before the appearance of the stars, nevertheless, there is concern that perhaps because of his focus on his studies, he will forget the obligation to search [for chametz] and study more, or perhaps while studying, [his contemplation of the subject matter] will shed new light on it, and he will linger in his contemplation for a while after the appearance of the stars.36

Similarly, within this half an hour, [the Sages] prohibited performing all the activities that [one is] forbidden to perform before [reciting] the Afternoon Service or [before reciting] the Evening Service, as explained in sec. 232 and sec. 235.37 A person who forgot to search [for chametz] on the night of the fourteenth [of Nissan] and remembered on the day of the fourteenth [of Nissan, is obligated to conduct the search upon remembering. Such a person] is forbidden to carry out any of the [abovementioned] activities until he searches [for chametz].38

ה וּזְמַן בְּדִיקָה זוֹ מִן הַדִּין הָיָה רָאוּי לְקָבְעָהּ בְּיוֹם י"ד בִּתְחִלַּת שָׁעָה שִׁשִּׁית,מד,25 כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּשְׁלִים כָּל אֶחָד בְּדִיקָתוֹ בְּסוֹף שָׁעָה שִׁשִּׁית, וִיבַעֵר הֶחָמֵץ בִּתְחִלַּת שָׁעָה שְׁבִיעִית כַּמִּשְׁפָּט הָאָמוּר בַּתּוֹרָה, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תמ"ה.מה

אֶלָּא לְפִי שֶׁבַּיּוֹם רֹב בְּנֵי אָדָם אֵינָם מְצוּיִים בְּבָתֵּיהֶם, אֶלָּא טְרוּדִין בְּעִסְקֵיהֶם בַּשְּׁוָקִיםמו וּבָרְחוֹבוֹת, וּכְשֶׁתַּגִּיעַ שָׁעָה שִׁשִּׁית קָרוֹב הַדָּבָר שֶׁיִּשְׁכְּחוּמז חוֹבַת הַבְּדִיקָה,26 לְפִיכָךְ תִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים זְמַן הַבְּדִיקָה בְּלֵיל י"ד,27 שֶׁבַּלַּיְלָה כָּל אָדָם מָצוּי בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ.מח,25

אֶלָּא שֶׁאַף בְּעוֹדוֹ בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ יֵשׁ לָחֹשׁ שֶׁמָּא יִתְעַסֵּק בַּאֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה וְשֵׁנָה אוֹ בִּמְלָאכָה, אוֹ בְּתוֹרָה אִם הוּא תַּלְמִיד חָכָם, וְעַל יְדֵי כֵן יִשְׁכַּח חוֹבַת הַבְּדִיקָה, לְפִיכָךְ הָיָה רָאוּי לְתַקֵּן וְלִקְבֹּעַ זְמַן הַבְּדִיקָה תֵּכֶף וּמִיָּד בִּכְנִיסַת הָאָדָם לְתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ סָמוּךְ לָעֶרֶב,מט שֶׁבְּרֶגַע זוֹ הוּא פָּנוּי מִכָּל עֲסָקִים.

אֶלָּא לְפִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְחַפֵּשׂ אַחֲרָיו בַּחוֹרִים וּבַסְּדָקִים, וְחִפּוּשׂ זֶה אִי אֶפְשָׁר אֶלָּא לְאוֹר הַנֵּר,נ,28 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרנא,29 "בָּעֵת הַהִיא אֲחַפֵּשׂ אֶת יְרוּשָׁלִַיִם בַּנֵּרוֹת וְגוֹ'", מִכָּאן סָמְכוּ חֲכָמִיםנב שֶׁאוֹר הַנֵּר יָפֶה לִבְדִיקַת חָמֵץ, וְאֵין הַנֵּר מֵאִיר וּמַבְהִיק יָפֶה בַּיּוֹם כִּי אִם בַּלַּיְלָה,נג לְפִיכָךְ אֵחֲרוּ זְמַן הַבְּדִיקָה עַד זְמַן הַבְהָקַת הַנֵּר,נד דְּהַיְנוּ צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִיםנה,31 [כְּשֶׁיֵּשׁנו עֲדַיִן אוֹר הַיּוֹם קְצָתנז].32

וּבְאוֹתוֹ זְמַן שֶׁבֵּין כְּנִיסַת הָאָדָם לְבֵיתוֹ וּבֵין זְמַן הַבְּדִיקָה, דְּהַיְנוּ צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים,נח (א) וְשִׁעוּר אוֹתוֹ זְמַן שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶם כְּמוֹ חֲצִי שָׁעָה,נט,33 אָסְרוּ לוֹ לֶאֱכֹלס,34 וְלִלְמֹדסא אֲפִלּוּ פֶּרֶק אֶחָד,סב,35 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוּכַל לִגְמֹר הַפֶּרֶקסג קֹדֶם צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים, מִכָּל מָקוֹם יֵשׁ לָחֹשׁ שֶׁמָּא עַל יְדֵי עִיּוּנוֹ בְּלִמּוּדוֹ יִשְׁכַּח חוֹבַת הַבְּדִיקָה וְיִלְמֹד יוֹתֵר, אוֹ שֶׁמָּא יָבוֹא לוֹ עִיּוּן חָדָשׁ בְּלִמּוּדוֹ וְיִשְׁהֶה בְּעִיּוּנוֹ עַד זְמַן מָה לְאַחַר צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִיםסד (כְּשֶׁיֵּשׁ עֲדַיִן אוֹר הַיּוֹם קְצָתסה). 36

וְכֵן אָסְרוּ בַּחֲצִי שָׁעָה זוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֲסוּרִים לַעֲשׂוֹתָם קֹדֶם תְּפִלַּת מִנְחָה אוֹ תְּפִלַּת עַרְבִית,סו כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר סִימָן רל"ב ורל"ה.סז,37

וּמִי שֶׁשָּׁכַח וְלֹא בָּדַק בְּלֵיל אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר וְנִזְכַּר בְּיוֹם אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר, הֲרֵי הוּא אָסוּר בְּכָל הַדְּבָרִים הַלָּלוּ עַד שֶׁיִּבְדֹּק:סח,38

6 Even if [a person] was involved in any of the [above mentioned] activities before the time [to conduct] the search [for chametz] arrived, he is obligated to stop [his activity] when the time [for the search] arrives. [This ruling applies] even when [the person’s] involvement was permitted, i.e., [the person] began his involvement [in the activity] more than half an hour before the appearance of the stars.39 [This applies] even if he was involved in Torah study, for if he does not stop immediately upon nightfall, even though he [will] search [for chametz] afterwards, he will have [nevertheless] nullified the ordinance of the Sages, who ordained that one should search [for chametz] immediately upon the appearance of the stars, when there is still a small amount of daylight.

Even though one has yet to recite the evening Shema, and the recitation of the Shema is a positive commandment of Scriptural origin – moreover, it is observed more frequently [than the search for chametz, i.e., Shema is recited] every day, twice a day, and [there is a general principle that] any [mitzvah observed] more frequently than another [mitzvah] takes precedence over the other [less frequently observed mitzvah]40 – nevertheless, one must search for chametz before reciting the Shema and praying. [The rationale is that the search for chametz] is a mitzvah whose observance has a limited time frame, for if one does not search immediately upon the appearance of the stars, he is [characterized as one] who violated the ordinance of the Sages. With regard to [the recitation of the] Shema, [by contrast,] even though the optimum manner of observing the mitzvah is to recite it at the beginning of the night, [one is not considered to have] violated the ordinance of the Sages41 unless he recites [the Shema] after midnight, as explained in sec. 235.42

ו וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הָיָה עוֹסֵק בְּאֶחָד מִכָּל הַדְּבָרִים הַלָּלוּ קֹדֶם שֶׁהִגִּיעַ זְמַן הַבְּדִיקָה, חַיָּב לְהַפְסִיק כְּשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ זְמַנָּהּ,סט אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה עוֹסֵק בְּהֶתֵּר,ע דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁהִתְחִיל לַעֲסֹק קֹדֶם חֲצִי שָׁעָה לִפְנֵי צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים,עא,39 וַאֲפִלּוּ הוּא עוֹסֵק בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה, שֶׁאִם לֹא יַפְסִיק לִבְדֹּק מִיָּד בִּתְחִלַּת כְּנִיסַת הַלַּיְלָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיִּבְדֹּק אַחַר כָּךְ – הֲרֵי זֶה מְבַטֵּל תַּקָּנַת חֲכָמִים,עב שֶׁתִּקְּנוּ לִבְדֹּק בְּצֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים מִיָּד, כְּשֶׁיֵּשׁ עֲדַיִן אוֹר הַיּוֹם קְצָת.עג

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא קָרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁל עַרְבִית, וּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע הִיא מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה, וְגַם הִיא תְּדִירָה, בְּכָל יוֹם וְיוֹם ב' פְּעָמִים קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע, וְכָל הַתָּדִיר מֵחֲבֵרוֹ קוֹדֵם אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ,עד,40 אַף עַל פִּי כֵן צָרִיךְ לְהַקְדִּים אֶת הַבְּדִיקָה לִפְנֵי קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּתְפִלָּה, לְפִי שֶׁהִיא מִצְוָה עוֹבֶרֶת,עה שֶׁאִם לֹא יִבְדֹּק מִיָּד בְּצֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים – הֲרֵי הוּא נִקְרָא עוֹבֵר עַל תַּקָּנַת חֲכָמִים. אֲבָל בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר לִקְרוֹתָהּ בִּתְחִלַּת הַלַּיְלָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵינוֹ נִקְרָא עוֹבֵר עַל תַּקָּנַת חֲכָמִים41 אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן קוֹרֵא אוֹתָהּ אַחַר חֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן רל"ה:עו,42

7 To whom does the above apply? To one43 who is accustomed to reciting the Shema and the Evening Service in his home throughout the year. By contrast, one who throughout the year is accustomed to reciting [the Evening] Service with [a minyan of ten men] while it is still day,44 but is not praying together with them at this time, should recite the Shema and the Evening Service immediately upon the appearance of the stars and search [for chametz] afterwards. [The rationale is that] since [the person] is not accustomed to reciting the Evening Service at home, there are grounds for concern that as a result of his engrossment and efforts in searching for chametz, he may forget about [the recitation of the] Shema and the Evening Service.

ז בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? בְּמִי43 שֶׁרָגִיל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּתְפִלָּה שֶׁל עַרְבִית כָּל הַשָּׁנָה בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתוֹ. אֲבָל מִי שֶׁרָגִיל לְהִתְפַּלֵּל כָּל הַשָּׁנָה עִם הַצִּבּוּר מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם44 וְעַכְשָׁו לֹא הִתְפַּלֵּל עִמָּהֶם – יִקְרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְיִתְפַּלֵּל מִיָּדעז בְּצֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִבְדֹּק, דְּכֵיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָגִיל כָּל הַשָּׁנָה לְהִתְפַּלֵּל עַרְבִית בְּבֵיתוֹ, יֵשׁ לָחֹשׁ שֶׁמָּא עַל יְדֵי טִרְדָּתוֹ וְהִשְׁתַּדְּלוּתוֹ בִּבְדִיקַת הֶחָמֵץ יִשְׁכַּח עַל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּתְפִלָּה:עח

8 All the above applies with regard to a person who prays individually. When, by contrast, there are ten [men who are accustomed to] reciting the Evening Service at its appointed time, i.e., [with the] the appearance of the stars, they should recite [the Evening Service] immediately upon the appearance of the stars [even on the eve of the fourteenth of Nissan], and then go home to search for chametz. [The rationale is that] if they would go [home and] search [for chametz] before [reciting] the Evening Service, it would be difficult to gather them together afterwards so that they could recite [the Evening Service] together with [a minyan]. Thus, the mitzvah of praying as a community will be nullified entirely because of the search [for chametz that] was [carried out] first. If, by contrast, they recite the [Evening Service] before searching [for chametz], they will not entirely nullify the mitzvah of searching [for chametz].

ח וְכָל זֶה בִּתְפִלַּת יָחִיד, אֲבָל אִם יֵשׁ עֲשָׂרָה שֶׁמִּתְפַּלְּלִים עַרְבִית בִּזְמַנּוֹ, דְּהַיְנוּ צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים, יִתְפַּלְּלוּ מִיָּד בְּצֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים וְאַחַר כָּךְ יֵלְכוּ לְבָתֵּיהֶם לִבְדֹּק הֶחָמֵץ, שֶׁאִם יֵלְכוּ לִבְדֹּק קֹדֶם תְּפִלַּת עַרְבִית יִהְיֶה טֹרַח לְקַבְּצָם אַחַר כָּךְעט לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעֲשָׂרָה, וְתִתְבַּטֵּל מִצְוַת תְּפִלַּת הַצִּבּוּר לְגַמְרֵי מֵחֲמַת הַקְדָּמַת הַבְּדִיקָה, אֲבָל אִם יִתְפַּלְּלוּ בַּעֲשָׂרָה קֹדֶם הַבְּדִיקָה – לֹא תִּתְבַּטֵּל מִצְוַת הַבְּדִיקָה לְגַמְרֵי:

9 Similarly, in places where there are groups [of men] who have a fixed study session to study defined Torah Law45 in the synagogue after the [Evening] Service, they should not nullify their study [session on] this night because of the search for chametz. [The rationale is that] it is possible to search [for chametz] afterwards and thus, the mitzvah of searching [for chametz] will not be nullified entirely.

There are no grounds for concern that they will be drawn into their study to the extent that they will forget the obligation to search [for chametz], for they will ultimately return to their homes to sleep – for they will certainly not sleep in the synagogue – and when each one arrives home, he will remember the obligation to search [for chametz].

ט וְכֵן בִּמְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ חֲבוּרוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם שִׁעוּר קָבוּעַ לִלְמֹד הֲלָכוֹת פְּסוּקוֹת45 בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אַחַר הַתְּפִלָּה, אַל יְבַטְּלוּ לִמּוּדָם בְּלַיְלָה זוֹ מֵחֲמַת בְּדִיקַת חָמֵץ, שֶׁהֲרֵי אֶפְשָׁר לִבְדֹּק אַחַר כָּךְ וְלֹא תִּתְבַּטֵּל מִצְוַת הַבְּדִיקָה לְגַמְרֵי. וְאֵין לָחֹשׁ שֶׁמָּא יִמָּשְׁכוּ בְּלִמּוּדָם עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁכְּחוּ חוֹבַת הַבְּדִיקָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי מֻכְרָחִים הֵם לָבוֹא אֶל בָּתֵּיהֶם לָלוּן, שֶׁבְּוַדַּאי לֹא יָלִינוּ בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת, וּכְשֶׁיָּבֹא כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶם לְבֵיתוֹ יִזְכֹּר חוֹבַת הַבְּדִיקָה:פ

10 When does the above apply? When [the members of the group] are [studying] Torah Law without analytical discussion.46 It is, however, forbidden to occupy oneself in an analytical discussion even in a synagogue,47 for there is concern that one [of the participants] will be so drawn into the analytical discussion that his heart will remain engrossed in that analysis and, [because of his preoccupation with the ideas discussed, the person] will forget about the obligation to search [for chametz] even after returning home.

י בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? כְּשֶׁעוֹסְקִין בִּדְבַר הֲלָכָה בְּלֹא פִּלְפּוּל,46 אֲבָל אָסוּר לַעֲסֹק בְּפִלְפּוּל אֲפִלּוּ בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת,47 שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָחֹשׁ שֶׁמָּא יִמְשֹׁךְ כָּל כָּךְ בְּפִלְפּוּל עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לִבּוֹ טָרוּד בְּאוֹתוֹ פִּלְפּוּל וְיִשְׁכַּח חוֹבַת הַבְּדִיקָה אַף בְּבוֹאוֹ לְבֵיתוֹ:פא

11 If one is sitting and studying48 [individually] before the appearance of the stars, and he tells another person who is not studying49 to remind him [about] the [need to] search [for the chametz,]so that he will cease his studies [when it is time to search for chametz], it is permitted [for him to study,] even within half an hour of the appearance of the stars.50

יא אִם הוּא יוֹשֵׁב וְלוֹמֵד48 קֹדֶם צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים (ב) וְאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹפב שֶׁאֵינוֹ לוֹמֵדפג,49 שֶׁכְּשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ זְמַן הַבְּדִיקָה יַזְכִּיר אוֹתוֹ וְיַפְסִיקוֹ מִלִּמּוּדוֹפד – הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר, אַף אִם הוּא תּוֹךְ חֲצִי שָׁעָה לִפְנֵי צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים.50