SECTION 432 The Laws Pertaining to the Blessing [Recited Over] the Search For Chametz (1-12)

סימן תלב דִּין בִּרְכַּת בְּדִיקַת הֶחָמֵץ וּבוֹ י"ב סְעִיפִים:

1 Before beginning to search [for chametz, one] must recite a blessing,1 just as one recites a blessing over all the [other] mitzvos of Rabbinic origin.2

What blessing should [the person] recite? “Blessed are You, G‑d, our L‑rd, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the [mitzvah of] obliterating chametz.” True, he is not obliterating the chametz at this time. Nevertheless, since immediately after the search, he nullifies and declares ownerless all the chametz that remains in his home that he did not find in this search,3 this nullification is considered as the obliteration of the chametz of which he is unaware, [i.e., the chametz] that he did not find in his search, as required by law. [With regard to] the chametz of which [the person] is aware, he should hide it away4 until the next day when he will partake of it until the fifth hour, [at which time] he will obliterate the remainder of [this chametz] from existence.5

A blessing is not recited over this obliteration [of the chametz] on the day of the fourteenth [of Nissan], nor over its nullification on the night of the fourteenth [of Nissan].6 [Instead, the obliteration and nullification of the chametz] are covered by the blessing recited over the search [for chametz], for [the search] serves as the beginning of [the process of] obliterating [the chametz]. Therefore, the blessing “concerning the obliteration of chametz” is recited over [all] these [acts at the outset].7

א קֹדֶםא שֶׁיַּתְחִיל לִבְדֹּק צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ,ב,1 כְּמוֹ שֶׁמְּבָרְכִין עַל כָּל מִצְוֹת מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים.ג,2 וּמַה הוּא מְבָרֵךְ? "בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ".ד,1 וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה זוֹ אֵינוֹ מְבַעֲרוֹ עֲדַיִן,ה מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁלְּאַחַר הַבְּדִיקָה מִיָּד הוּא מְבַטֵּלו וּמַפְקִיר כָּל הֶחָמֵץ שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר בְּבֵיתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מְצָאוֹ בִּבְדִיקָה זוֹ,ז,3 הֲרֵי בִּטּוּל זֶה נִקְרָא בִּעוּרח כְּדִינוֹ לְחָמֵץ שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָדוּעַ לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא מְצָאוֹ בַּבְּדִיקָה. וְהֶחָמֵץ הַיָּדוּעַ לוֹ הוּא מַצְנִיעוֹ4 עַד לְמָחָר, שֶׁיֹּאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ עַד שָׁעָה ה', וְהַמּוֹתָר מְבַעֲרוֹ מִן הָעוֹלָם.ט,5 וּבִעוּר זֶה שֶׁבְּיוֹם י"ד וּבִטּוּל זֶה שֶׁבְּלֵיל י"ד, אֵין מְבָרְכִין עֲלֵיהֶם כְּלוּם,6 וְהֵן נִפְטָרִין בִּבְרָכָה שֶׁבֵּרַךְ עַל הַבְּדִיקָה שֶׁהִיא תְּחִלַּת הַבִּעוּר, לְפִיכָךְ מְבָרְכִין עֲלֵיהֶם "עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ":י,7

2 Why does the blessing not [highlight] the search for chametz, [the act] that [the person] is about to immediately perform? Because the search is not the ultimate purpose of the mitzvah,8 [as reflected by the fact that] one who searched and did not obliterate the chametz he found in his search is not [considered to have] done anything.9 Similarly, if one did not nullify his chametz after the search, the mitzvah of obliterating chametz has yet to be completed.10

ב וְלָמָּה אֵין מְבָרְכִין "עַל בְּדִיקַת חָמֵץ" שֶׁהוּא מַתְחִיל בָּהּ מִיָּד? לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הַבְּדִיקָה תַּכְלִית הַמִּצְוָה,יא,8 שֶׁהֲרֵי מִי שֶׁבָּדַק וְלֹא בִּעֵר אֶת הֶחָמֵץ שֶׁמָּצָא בַּבְּדִיקָה לֹא עָשָׂה וְלֹא כְּלוּם.יב,9 וְכֵן אִם לֹא בִּטֵּל חֲמֵצוֹ אַחַר הַבְּדִיקָה, עֲדַיִן לֹא נִגְמְרָה מִצְוַת בִּעוּר חָמֵץ:יג,10

3 Why is the blessing Shehechiyanu not recited before the search? [Seemingly, the blessing of Shehechiyanu should be required since this] is a mitzvah that is fulfilled [only] from time to time.11 Because this mitzvah is performed for the sake of the festival [of Pesach], i.e., to prepare [the person’s] house [for the festival by] obliterating chametz from it, for the sake of the festival. Therefore, it is covered by the blessing of Shehechiyanu recited on the festival [together with the] Kiddush at night.12

ג וְלָמָּה אֵין מְבָרְכִין "שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ" קֹדֶם הַבְּדִיקָה, וַהֲרֵי הִיא מִצְוָה הַבָּאָה מִזְּמַן לִזְמַן?יד,11 לְפִי שֶׁמִּצְוָה זוֹ הִיא לְצֹרֶךְ הָרֶגֶל, לְתַקֵּן הַבַּיִת וּלְבַעֵר הֶחָמֵץ מִתּוֹכוֹ לְצֹרֶךְ הַמּוֹעֵד, לְפִיכָךְ הִיא נִפְטֶרֶת בְּבִרְכַּת "שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ" שֶׁמְּבָרְכִין בָּרֶגֶל בְּקִדּוּשׁ לַיְלָה:טו,12

4 If one [uses the wording], “…Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to obliterate chametz,” [when] reciting the blessing, [instead of reciting the words “…commanded us concerning the obliteration of the chametz,”]13 he [nevertheless] fulfills his obligation, and is not required to recite another blessing.

Similar laws apply regarding other mitzvos over which a blessing should be recited with the wording “concerning [the… of…,]” for example, “concerning the eating of matzah,” or “concerning the eating of maror.14 If one recited a blessing over [matzah or maror] using [the word] “to,” [i.e.,] “to eat matzah,” or “to eat maror,” he fulfills his obligation.

Similarly, [with regard to] the mitzvos over which a blessing is recited using [the word] “to,” [e.g.,] “to affix a mezuzah”[or] “to recite the Hallel,” if one recited the blessing using [the word “concerning”, e.g.] “concerning the affixing of a mezuzah” [or] “concerning the recitation of Hallel,” he fulfills his obligation. Nevertheless, as an initial preference, one should recite the blessing for every mitzvah using [the wording] ordained by the Sages. The rationale for the variations [in the wording] for the blessings over the mitzvos is explained by the scholars of the earlier generations; consult their works.15

ד אִם בֵּרַךְ "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְבַעֵר חָמֵץ"13 – יָצָא, וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ.טז וְכֵן כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה בִּשְׁאָר מִצְוֹת שֶׁמְּבָרְכִין עֲלֵיהֶם בִּלְשׁוֹן "עַל", כְּמוֹ "עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה",יז "עַל אֲכִילַת מָרוֹר",יח,14 אִם בֵּרַךְ עֲלֵיהֶן בְּלָמֶ"ד, "לֶאֱכֹל מַצָּה", "לֶאֱכֹל מָרוֹר" – יָצָא.

וְכֵן כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁמְּבָרְכִין עֲלֵיהֶן בְּלָמֶ"ד, "לִקְבֹּעַ מְזוּזָה", "לִקְרֹא אֶת הַלֵּל", אִם בֵּרַךְ בִּלְשׁוֹן "עַל קְבִיעַת מְזוּזָה", "עַל קְרִיאַת הַלֵּל" – יָצָא.

אֲבָל לְכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְ עַל כָּל מִצְוָה בְּרָכָה שֶׁתִּקְּנוּ לָהּ חֲכָמִים. וְטַעַם שִׁנּוּי הַנֻּסְחָאוֹת בְּבִרְכַּת הַמִּצְוֹת הוּא מְבֹאָר בָּרִאשׁוֹנִים,יט עַיֵּן שָׁם:15

5 [The following laws apply] if one forgot to recite the blessing before beginning the search [for chametz]: If he remembers before he totally completed the search, i.e., there remained one place, or one corner, or even one hole for him to search (and there are grounds for concern that there is chametz in that hole [that is at least] the size of an olive;16 see sec. 446[:3]),17 [the person] is obligated to recite a blessing before he completes this search.

If, however, [the person] remembers after he totally completed the search, he should not recite a blessing at all. [The rationale is that] the blessing for all the mitzvos must be recited before performing them.18 After having completed the performance [of the mitzvah], how can [one] recite a blessing [that speaks of being] commanded to perform this-and-this mitzvah when he is no [longer] doing anything [related to the mitzvah,] since he has already performed [the mitzvah]?19

There is an authority who maintains that even so, [in this instance, one] should recite a blessing on the following day, at the end of the fifth hour, when he burns the chametz that he found during the search.20 [The rationale is that] burning this [chametz] is the fundamental act of obliterating the chametz,21 and it would be fitting to recite a blessing over it. [Generally, a separate blessing is not recited only because the act of burning chametz] was already covered by the blessing over the obliteration of chametz recited at the time of the search.22 [Hence,] this person who did not recite a blessing at the time of the search must recite a blessing at the time [he] burns [his chametz]. Weight should be given to [this opinion and] the blessing should be recited without mentioning G‑d’s name and His sovereignty.23

ה אִם שָׁכַח לְבָרֵךְ קֹדֶם הַתְחָלַת הַבְּדִיקָה, אִם נִזְכַּר קֹדֶם שֶׁגָּמַר אֶת הַבְּדִיקָה לְגַמְרֵי,כ דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁנִּשְׁאַר לוֹ עֲדַיִן לִבְדֹּק מָקוֹם אֶחָד, אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ זָוִית אַחַת, וַאֲפִלּוּ חוֹר אֶחָד (אִם הוּא בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָחֹשׁ שֶׁמָּא יֵשׁ שָׁם בַּחוֹר כְּזַיִת חָמֵץ16 עַיֵּן סִימָן תמ"וכא,17) – חַיָּב לְבָרֵךְ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּגְמֹר בְּדִיקָה זוֹ. אֲבָל אִם נִזְכַּר לְאַחַר שֶׁגָּמַר בְּדִיקָתוֹ לְגַמְרֵי – לֹא יְבָרֵךְ כְּלוּם,כב שֶׁכָּל הַמִּצְוֹת מְבָרְכִין עֲלֵיהֶם עוֹבֵר לַעֲשִׂיָּתָן,כג,18 אֲבָל לְאַחַר גְּמַר עֲשִׂיָּתָן הֵיאַךְ יְבָרֵךְ "וְצִוָּנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת מִצְוָה פְּלוֹנִית", וְאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה כְּלוּם,כד שֶׁכְּבָר עָשָׂה.19

(א) וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרכה שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי כֵן יְבָרֵךְ לְמָחָר בְּסוֹף שָׁעָה ה'כו כְּשֶׁשּׂוֹרֵף אֶת הֶחָמֵץ שֶׁמָּצָא בַּבְּדִיקָה,20 שֶׁהֲרֵי שְׂרֵפָה זוֹ עִקַּר בִּעוּר חָמֵץ,21 וְהָיָה רָאוּי לְבָרֵךְ עָלֶיהָ, אֶלָּא שֶׁפּוֹטְרִין אוֹתָהּ בְּבִרְכַּת "עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ" שֶׁמְּבָרְכִין בִּשְׁעַת בְּדִיקָה,כז,22 וְזֶה שֶׁלֹּא בֵּרַךְ בִּשְׁעַת בְּדִיקָה – צָרִיךְ לְבָרֵךְכח בִּשְׁעַת הַשְּׂרֵפָה. וְיֵשׁ לָחֹשׁכט לְבָרֵךְ אוֹתָהּ בְּלֹא שֵׁם וּמַלְכוּת:ל,23

6 It is forbidden to interrupt [the search for chametz] by speaking at all between the recitation of the blessing and the beginning of the search, just as it is forbidden to interrupt [during the performance of] any mitzvah between the recitation of the blessing over the mitzvah and the beginning of its observance.24

As an initial preference, [it is desirable to] be careful not to speak at all [during the search], even with regard to matters necessary for the search,25 unless it concerns a matter that were it not spoken about, it would be impossible [for the person] to begin to search.26 If, however, [after reciting the blessing,] one transgressed and spoke about matters concerning the search, even if it would have been possible for him to search without making this statement, it is not necessary for him to repeat the blessing. If, however, he spoke about something that did not concern the search at all, he must repeat the blessing.27

ו אָסוּר לְהַפְסִיק בְּשׁוּם דִּבּוּר בֵּין הַבְּרָכָה לִתְחִלַּת הַבְּדִיקָה,לא כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁאָסוּר לְהַפְסִיק בִּשְׁאָר כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת בֵּין הַבְּרָכָה לִתְחִלַּת עֲשִׂיַּת הַמִּצְוֹת.לב,24 וּלְכַתְּחִלָּה יִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא יְדַבֵּר בֵּינְתַיִם כְּלָל, אֲפִלּוּ מֵעִנְיְנֵי צָרְכֵי הַבְּדִיקָה,לג,25 אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הוּא בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לְהַתְחִיל לִבְדֹּק אִם לֹא יָשִׂיחַ.לד,26 אֲבָל אִם עָבַר וְשָׂח בֵּינְתַיִם בְּצָרְכֵי הַבְּדִיקָה אֵין צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ, אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה אֶפְשָׁר לִבְדֹּק בְּלֹא שִׂיחָה זוֹ.לה אֲבָל אִם שָׂח בֵּינְתַיִם שִׂיחָה שֶׁאֵינָהּ מֵעִנְיַן הַבְּדִיקָה כְּלָל – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ:לו,27

7 When does the above apply? When one spoke before he began to search. If, however, one spoke after beginning his search, there is no need to recite another blessing, since he already began [the fulfillment of] the mitzvah over which he recited the blessing. (See sec. 592[:7]).28 Similarly, if one goes from room to room and from building to building while searching, his passage [from room to room and from building to building] in the midst [of the observance] of the mitzvah is not considered an interruption that requires him to recite another blessing,29 just as speaking in the midst of [the observance of another] mitzvah is not considered an interruption.

Nevertheless, as an initial preference, one should not speak at all in the midst of the search, not even words of Torah. [One should] only [speak] about matters concerning the actual search. [The rationale is that] there are authorities who maintain that even one who speaks in the midst of [the observance of] a mitzvah is considered [as having made] an interruption, and is required to recite another blessing when he completes the mitzvah. [This situation] is not comparable to one who talks in the middle of his meal while sitting in a sukkah, in which instance, he is not required to recite the blessing leishev basukkah again.30 [The rationale why an additional blessing is not required is that a person] is not required to continue sitting [in the sukkah] after speaking. If he no longer desires to eat, and does not [desire] to sit in the sukkah, he may [leave the sukkah]. With regard to the search for chametz, by contrast, [the person] is obligated to complete the search after speaking, for he is obligated to search all the places into which he brings chametz. Were he to have forgotten to recite a blessing at the beginning of the search, he would be obligated to recite the blessing [as soon as he remembers, before] completing his search. Therefore, in this instance as well, he is obligated to recite another blessing since he made an interruption [by speaking] after reciting the first blessing. Similar laws apply [when one makes an interruption by speaking while performing] other mitzvos that are obligations from which a person cannot absolve himself [of his requirement to perform] them.31

ז בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? כְּשֶׁשָּׂח קֹדֶם שֶׁהִתְחִיל לִבְדֹּק, אֲבָל אִם שָׂח לְאַחַר שֶׁהִתְחִיל לִבְדֹּק אֵין צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ,לז כֵּיוָן שֶׁכְּבָר הִתְחִיל בַּמִּצְוָה שֶׁבֵּרַךְ עָלֶיהָלח (עַיֵּן סִימָן תקצ"בלט,28). וְכֵן אִם הוֹלֵךְ וּבוֹדֵק מֵחֶדֶר לְחֶדֶר וּמִבַּיִת לְבַיִת – אֵין הֲלִיכָה זוֹ שֶׁבְּאֶמְצַע מִצְוָה חֲשׁוּבָה הֶפְסֵק לְהַצְרִיכוֹ לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ,29 כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵין הַשִּׂיחָה שֶׁבְּאֶמְצַע מִצְוָה חֲשׁוּבָה הֶפְסֵק.מ

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם לְכַתְּחִלָּה אֵין לְהָשִׂיחַ שׁוּם שִׂיחָה בְּאֶמְצַע הַבְּדִיקָהמא אֲפִלּוּ בְּדִבְרֵי תּוֹרָה,מב, כִּי אִם מֵעִנְיְנֵי צָרְכֵי הַבְּדִיקָה, לְפִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ אוֹמְרִיםמג שֶׁאַף הַמֵּשִׂיחַ בְּאֶמְצַע הַמִּצְוָה הֲרֵי זֶה הֶפְסֵק וְצָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ כְּשֶׁיִּגְמֹר הַמִּצְוָה. וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה לְמֵשִׂיחַ בְּאֶמְצַע סְעוּדָתוֹ כְּשֶׁיּוֹשֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ "לֵישֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה",מד,30 לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֻכְרָח בִּישִׁיבָה זוֹ שֶׁלְּאַחַר הַשִּׂיחָה, שֶׁאִם יִרְצֶה שֶׁלֹּא לֶאֱכֹל עוֹד וְשֶׁלֹּא לֵישֵׁב בַּסֻּכָּה הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ, אֲבָל בִּבְדִיקַת חָמֵץ מֻכְרָח הוּא לִגְמֹר אֶת הַבְּדִיקָה שֶׁלְּאַחַר הַשִּׂיחָה, שֶׁחַיָּב לִבְדֹּק בְּכָל הַמְּקוֹמוֹת שֶׁמַּכְנִיסִין בָּהֶן חָמֵץ, וְאִלּוּ הָיָה שׁוֹכֵחַ לְבָרֵךְ בִּתְחִלַּת בְּדִיקָתוֹ הָיָה חַיָּב לְבָרֵךְ בִּגְמַר בְּדִיקָתוֹ,מה לָכֵן גַּם עַכְשָׁו חַיָּב לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִפְסִיק בְּשִׂיחָה אַחַר בְּרָכָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה,מו וְכֵן כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה בִּשְׁאָר כָּל מִצְוֹת שֶׁהֵן חוֹבָה וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְאָדָם לִפְטֹר אֶת עַצְמוֹ מֵהֶן:מז,31

8 The obligation to search [for chametz] is incumbent upon the householder. This obligation does not at all fall on the members of his household whom he provides with sustenance, since the chametz is not theirs.32 ([There is, however, an exception: an instance] when [the householder] is not at home, as will be explained in sec. 436[:3].)33

If, however, the head of the household desires to make the members of his household agents [to perform this] mitzvah – that they perform the search – he has the license to do so. [In that instance, the members of the household] should recite the blessing “to obliterate chametz”[before searching].34

Nevertheless, it is proper for [the head of the household] to conduct the search himself, for [there is a general principle that] applies to all the mitzvos: It is a greater mitzvah for one [to perform a mitzvah] himself than [to entrust its observance] to an agent.35 If searching in all the rooms and in all the places [that must be searched involves too much of] an effort for [the householder], he should [at least] search one place or one corner himself.36 At the time he recites the blessing over his search, [the householder] should have [all the] members of his household [who are taking part in the search] stand near him. [The householder should] have in mind to fulfill the obligation [of the members of his household to recite a blessing for their search] with his blessing. [The members of the household] should respond Amen to [the householder’s] blessing37 and have in mind to fulfill their obligation with his blessing.38 [Afterwards, the members of the household] should spread out, each person searching his [designated] place. [Those participating in the search] should take care that immediately after hearing the blessing, they should begin searching39 in the rooms that are close to the building where they heard the blessing. They should not, however, immediately go to another house to search, because walking from house to house is considered as an interruption between the blessing and the beginning of the observance of the mitzvah, as explained in sec. 8[:22]. Consult that source.40

ח חוֹבַת הַבְּדִיקָה הִיא עַל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת, אֲבָל בְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ הָאוֹכְלִים מִשֶּׁלּוֹ אֵין חִיּוּב הַבְּדִיקָה חָל עֲלֵיהֶם כְּלָלמח (אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן אֵין הָאִישׁ בְּבֵיתוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר סִימָן תל"ומט,33), כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין הֶחָמֵץ שֶׁלָּהֶם.נ,32

אֲבָל אִם בַּעַל הַבַּיִת רוֹצֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ שְׁלוּחִים לִדְבַר מִצְוָה שֶׁיִּבְדְּקוּ הֵם – הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ,נא וִיבָרְכוּ הֵם בִּרְכַּת "עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ".נב,34

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם נָכוֹן הַדָּבָר שֶׁיִּבְדֹּק הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ,נג שֶׁכֵּן הוּא בְּכָל הַמִּצְוֹת "מִצְוָה בּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִבִּשְׁלוּחוֹ".נד,35 וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִטְרֹחַ בְּעַצְמוֹ לִבְדֹּק בְּכָל הַחֲדָרִים וּבְכָל הַמְּקוֹמוֹת, יִבְדֹּק הוּא חֶדֶר אֶחָד אוֹ זָוִית אַחַת,36 וְיַעֲמִיד מִבְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ אֶצְלוֹ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁמְּבָרֵךְ עַל בְּדִיקָתוֹ וִיכַוֵּן לְהוֹצִיאָם בְּבִרְכָתוֹ, וְהֵם יַעֲנוּ "אָמֵן"נה אַחַר בִּרְכָתוֹ37 וְיִתְכַּוְּנוּ לָצֵאת בְּבִרְכָתוֹ,נו,38 וְיִתְפַּזְּרוּ לִבְדֹּק אִישׁ אִישׁ לִמְקוֹמוֹ.נז וְיִזָּהֲרוּ שֶׁמִּיָּד אַחַר שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ הַבְּרָכָהנח יַתְחִילוּ לִבְדֹּק39 בַּחֲדָרִים הַסְּמוּכִים לַבַּיִת שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ הַבְּרָכָה בְּתוֹכוֹ, אֲבָל לֹא יֵלְכוּ מִיָּד לְבַיִת אַחֵר לִבְדֹּק, לְפִי שֶׁהַהֲלִיכָה מִבַּיִת לְבַיִת חֲשׁוּבָה הֶפְסֵק בֵּין הַבְּרָכָה לִתְחִלַּת עֲשִׂיַּת הַמִּצְוָה,נט כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ח'ס עַיֵּן שָׁם:40

9 All the above applies as an initial preference. After the fact, however, if [the people conducting the search] transgressed41 and made an interruption between hearing the blessing and beginning the search, or even if they did not hear the blessing from the owner of the home at all, they are not required to recite a blessing over the search. [The rationale is that] they themselves are not obligated [to conduct] this search,42 [rather,] they are searching only to absolve the householder of his obligation. [Also,] the householder himself would not be required to recite another blessing were he to search the places where the members of his household search, since he already recited a blessing.43 Therefore, the members of his household who are acting as the agents [of the head of the household] are also not obligated to recite a blessing. Nevertheless, as an initial preference, [the members of the household] should not search [for chametz] without listening to the [householder’s] blessing. [The rationale is that the members of the household] are performing a mitzvah, and one should not perform a mitzvah without [reciting or hearing] a blessing beforehand.

ט וְכָל זֶה לְכַתְּחִלָּה, אֲבָל בְּדִיעֲבַד שֶׁעָבְרוּ41 וְהִפְסִיקוּ בֵּין שְׁמִיעַת הַבְּרָכָה לִתְחִלַּת הַבְּדִיקָה, אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ לֹא שָׁמְעוּ כְּלָל אֶת הַבְּרָכָה מִבַּעַל הַבַּיִת, אֵינָן צְרִיכִים לְבָרֵךְ עַל בְּדִיקָתָם, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהֵם עַצְמָם אֵינָם חַיָּבִים בִּבְדִיקָה זוֹ,42 וְאֵינָן בּוֹדְקִין אֶלָּא כְּדֵי לִפְטֹר אֶת בַּעַל הַבַּיִת מֵחִיּוּבוֹ, (ב) וְכֵיוָן שֶׁבַּעַל הַבַּיִת בְּעַצְמוֹ אִם הָיָה בּוֹדֵק גַּם אוֹתָן הַמְּקוֹמוֹת שֶׁבְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ בּוֹדְקִין לֹא הָיָה מְחֻיָּב לַחֲזֹר וּלְבָרֵךְ עַל אוֹתָן הַמְּקוֹמוֹת כֵּיוָן שֶׁכְּבָר בֵּרַךְ פַּעַם אַחַת,סא,43 לְפִיכָךְ גַּם בְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ שֶׁעוֹשִׂים שְׁלִיחוּתוֹ אֵינָם חַיָּבִין לְבָרֵךְ.סב

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם לְכַתְּחִלָּה אֵין לָהֶם לִבְדֹּק בְּלֹא שְׁמִיעַת הַבְּרָכָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי הֵם עוֹשִׂים מִצְוָה, וְאֵין לַעֲשׂוֹת מִצְוָה בְּלֹא בְּרָכָה לְפָנֶיהָ:סג

10 When a person desires to appoint an agent to search for chametz, he may even appoint a bondman, a woman, or a minor [provided he or she is] of [sufficient] intellectual capacity44 and is able to search according to all the requirements for the search that will be explained in sec. 433. [The rationale is that] anyone is qualified [to perform] the search for chametz, and everyone’s word is accepted with regard to this search.45 There is no suspicion that [one who conducts the search] will be lazy and not search thoroughly and then lie and say he did search thoroughly. [The reason such suspicions are not entertained is that] the search for chametz is merely a Rabbinic requirement, for according to Scriptural Law, the nullification [of chametz] alone is sufficient, as explained in sec. 431[:2]. Therefore, the Sages relied [on such individuals].46 [It was the Sages] who said [that it was necessary] to search, and they [also] said that [the word of such individuals] is accepted with regard to the search.47

(True, in an instance where it has been established that a Rabbinic prohibition exists, the word of a minor is not accepted if he states that he corrected the prohibition, as will be explained in Yoreh Deah, sec. 127.48 In this instance as well, it is established that the prohibited substance is present, for the house is filled with chametz the entire year. Nevertheless, the word of a minor is accepted if he says that he obliterated chametz from the home, since it is within his capacity to do so. [We follow the principle] that whenever a matter is within [a minor’s] capacity to perform [an act properly], his word is accepted if he says that he performed it, as explained in Yoreh Deah, loc. cit., and sec. 120.49 Consult those sources.)

Nevertheless, the optimum manner [of fulfilling the mitzvah is], as an initial preference, not to rely on anyone other than free men who have reached the age of bar mitzvah, i.e., they are more than thirteen years of age, [to carry out the search. The rationale is that] conducting the search as required by law involves much exertion and there is room to suspect that [others] will be lazy and not search thoroughly.50

י כְּשֶׁהוּא רוֹצֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלִיחַ לִבְדִיקַת חָמֵץ, יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת אֲפִלּוּ עֶבֶד אוֹ אִשָּׁה, אוֹ קָטָןסד שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ דַּעַתסה,44 וִיכֹלֶת לִבְדֹּק כְּכָל מִשְׁפְּטֵי הַבְּדִיקָה שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֲרוּ בְּסִימָן תל"ג, שֶׁהַכֹּל כְּשֵׁרִים לִבְדִיקַת חָמֵץ,סו וְהַכֹּל נֶאֱמָנִים עַל הַבְּדִיקָה,סז,45 וְאֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא יִתְעַצְּלוּ לִבְדֹּק יָפֶה וִישַׁקְּרוּ לוֹמַר "יָפֶה בָּדַקְנוּ",סח דְּכֵיוָן שֶׁבְּדִיקַת חָמֵץ אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, שֶׁמִּן הַתּוֹרָה דַּי בְּבִטּוּל בִּלְבַד כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תל"א,סט לְפִיכָךְ הֶאֱמִינוּם חֲכָמִים,ע,46 וְהֵם אָמְרוּ לִבְדֹּק וְהֵם אָמְרוּ שֶׁהַלָּלוּ נֶאֱמָנִים עַל הַבְּדִיקָה.עא,47

(וְאַף עַל גַּב דְּכָל הֵיכָא דְּאִתְחַזַּק אִסּוּרָא דְּרַבָּנָן אֵין הַקָּטָןעב נֶאֱמָן לוֹמַר "תִּקַּנְתִּי הָאִסּוּר", כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה סִימָן קכ"ז,עג,48 וְהָכָא נַמִּי אִתְחַזַּק אִסּוּרָא, שֶׁהַבַּיִת הוּא מָלֵא חָמֵץ כָּל הַשָּׁנָה, אֲפִלּוּ הָכִי נֶאֱמָן הַקָּטָן לוֹמַר "בִּעַרְתִּי הֶחָמֵץ מִן הַבַּיִת", הוֹאִיל וְהָיָה בְּיָדוֹ לְבַעֵר,עד וְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁהָיָה בְּיָדוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ נֶאֱמָן לוֹמַר שֶׁעֲשָׂאָהּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּיוֹרֶה דֵּעָה שָׁם וּבְסִימָן ק"כעה,49 עַיֵּן שָׁם).

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם מִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָרעו שֶׁלֹּא לִסְמֹךְ לְכַתְּחִלָּה בִּבְדִיקָתוֹ אֶלָּא עַל אֲנָשִׁים בְּנֵי חוֹרִין שֶׁהִגִּיעוּ לִכְלַל הַמִּצְוֹת, דְּהַיְנוּ מִי"ג שָׁנָה וָאֵילָךְ,עז לְפִי שֶׁהַבְּדִיקָה כְּהִלְכָתָהּ יֵשׁ בָּהּ טֹרַח גָּדוֹל,עח וְיֵשׁ לָחֹשׁ שֶׁמָּא יִתְעַצְּלוּ וְלֹא יִבְדְּקוּ יָפֶה:50

11 Those who follow the custom of placing small pieces of chametz51 in several places [around the house] before the search52 should be careful to place firm pieces of chametz that do not crumble, lest a small amount [of chametz] crumble and some [traces of chametz] remain in the house during Pesach.53 [People following this custom] should also be careful that mice or children not drag away pieces [of the chametz placed around the house before the search] following the guidelines to be explained in sec. 434[:1-2].

According to the letter of the law, it is not at all necessary to place these pieces [of chametz around the home] before searching, for even if one will search and not find any chametz in his search, he will not have recited a blessing in vain. [The rationale is that] the mitzvah is to search for chametz and to seek it out; perhaps [the person] will find some. Even if he does not find [anything], it is of no consequence, for he has fulfilled the mitzvah as ordained. Nevertheless, the custom of placing [these pieces of chametz] has become widespread, and the custom of the Jewish people [should be followed, for a Jewish custom] is [comparable to] Torah Law.54

יא הַנּוֹהֲגִים לְהַנִּיחַ פְּתִיתֵי חָמֵץ51 בַּבַּיִת בְּכַמָּה מְקוֹמוֹת קֹדֶם בְּדִיקַת הַבּוֹדֵק,עט,52 יִזָּהֲרוּ לְהַנִּיחַ חָמֵץ קָשֶׁה שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְפָּרֵר, שֶׁמָּא יִתְפָּרֵר מִמֶּנּוּ מְעַט וְיִשָּׁאֵר מִמֶּנּוּפ בַּבַּיִת בְּפֶסַח.53 וְגַם יִזָּהֲרוּ לְשָׁמְרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִגְרְרוּ מִמֶּנּוּ עַכְבָּרִים אוֹ קְטַנִּים,פא וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תל"ד.פב

וּמֵעִקַּר הַדִּין אֵין צָרִיךְ כְּלָל לְהַנִּיחַ פְּתִיתִים הַלָּלוּ קֹדֶם בְּדִיקָה, שֶׁאַף אִם יִבְדֹּק הַבּוֹדֵק וְלֹא יִמְצָא שׁוּם חָמֵץ בִּבְדִיקָתוֹ, אַף עַל פִּי כֵן לֹא בֵּרַךְ לְבַטָּלָה, שֶׁכָּךְ הַמִּצְוָה לִבְדֹּק הֶחָמֵץ וּלְחַפֵּשׂ אַחֲרָיו שֶׁמָּא יִמְצָא מִמֶּנּוּ מְאוּמָה, וְאִם לֹא מָצָא אֵין בְּכָךְ כְּלוּם, וּכְבָר קִיֵּם הַמִּצְוָה כְּתִקּוּנָהּ.פג אֲבָל כְּבָר נִתְפַּשֵּׁט הַמִּנְהָג לְהַנִּיחָן,פד וּמִנְהָגָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל תּוֹרָה הִיא:פה,54

12 There are those who are careful to wash their hands before searching [for chametz]. Even though one who washes his hands [ritually] in a situation where the Sages did not ordain [to do so] is considered haughty,55 nevertheless, [in this instance, washing one’s hands is in place] because the search for chametz comes [as part of the preparations] for the purity of the festival, as stated above.56 Hence, it is an important mitzvah and it is fitting that it be [conducted in a state of] cleanliness.

יב יֵשׁ מֵהַמְדַקְדְּקִים לִטֹּל יְדֵיהֶם קֹדֶם הַבְּדִיקָה.פו וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַנּוֹטֵל יָדָיו בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁלֹּא תִּקְּנוּ הַחֲכָמִים הֲרֵי זֶה מִגַּסֵּי הָרוּחַ,פז,55 מִכָּל מָקוֹם מֵאַחַר שֶׁבְּדִיקַת חָמֵץ הִיא בָּאָה לְטָהֳרַת הָרֶגֶל כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,פח,56 אִם כֵּן מִצְוָה חֲשׁוּבָה הִיא, וּרְאוּיָה לִהְיוֹת בִּנְקִיּוּת.פט