Pesach Review Crash Course-Cleaning for Pesach-Summary of laws:
*For full details and sources-see our corresponding Sefer and/or website!
- Introduction-Din versus Minhag: Cleaning the home for Chametz is known to be one of the more strenuous jobs that falls upon the household in preparation for Pesach. Many are unaware that there exist areas where one is not obligated at all to clean or check for Chametz, and in certain cases, one may even initially allow visible Chametz to remain in its space throughout Pesach. These laws will clarify all of one’s obligations in terms of where one is required to clean and search for Chametz, and when can even visible Chametz be allowed to remain in its place. Despite the above, as brought in Halacha 10, the Jewish people are holy and go above and beyond the letter of the law and clean the entire home from Chametz, even from areas where one is not obligated to clean. Nonetheless, it is worthy to make note of the statement said in the name of the Rebbe that “Dust is not Chametz and the children are not the Karban Pesach.” It is important that the Pesach experience be one of fun and joy, which will bring good memories to all involved. Thus, one should not be overly scrupulous when the matter is not Halachically required, in expense of the sanity or good will of oneself or others. Certainly, if one only has a limited amount of time available to clean the home, they must first make emphasis to clean that which contains a Halachic requirement, and only later, if time remains, to do things which are considered Chumras or extras on the list.
- A Chassidic perspective-The Holiness of the Job: We can learn from the following story, the great holiness involved in cleaning for Pesach: It occurred one year on Rosh Hashanah, after Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchiv blew the Shofar, that he exclaimed “Sweet Father, if the angels which were created from the Shofar blowing of Levi Yitzchak the son of Sara are weak, let the holy and healthy angels which were created from the hard work and toil of your people before Pesach, in which they scrubbed, smoothened and Kashered in honor of Pesach and for Hiddur Mitzvah; let those angels come and appease you.”
- One must check and search for Chametz in all areas where there is even suspicion and doubt that perhaps Chametz was brought into it [even] coincidently. This includes even if one is positive that he never actually ate Chametz in that area, but it is common to enter the area while eating, such as to retrieve an item from the area. It goes without saying that all areas which one recalls entering Chametz into even one time during the year, must be checked. Those places which one does not ever remember entering Chametz into them, and it is not common for him to enter the area with food, do not need to be checked. However, in homes that there are children, one needs to search for Chametz in all areas that the child can reach, even if one knows that he personally never entered Chametz there.
- Crumbs of Chametz? One must search for even a crumb of Chametz and destroy it as the Sages decreed against owning even less than a Kezayis of Chametz, lest one come to own a Kezayis. This applies even if one has already nullified his Chametz, or plans to nullify it before Pesach. If however the Chametz is dirty and one has already nullified his Chametz, or plans to do so before the 6th hour, then if the Chametz is less than the size of a Kezayis, one is not required to search for this Chametz or destroy it.
- Does a bedroom need to be checked if one does not ever recall entering Chametz into it? Even if one never recalls entering Chametz into his room, if it is common for one to enter there to get something in middle of a Chametz meal or snack, then it is required to be checked.
- What areas must be checked in a home with children? When there are children in one’s home, all areas which can be entered and reached by the child, must be checked. This applies even if one is positive that he himself never entered Chametz there and it is uncommon to enter there while eating or snacking.
- Do clothing closets have to be checked? Even if one never recalls entering Chametz into his room, if it is common for one to enter there to get something in middle of a Chametz meal or snack, then it is required to be checked. If it is uncommon to do so, and one never recalls entering food there, it does not need to be checked.
- Does a bookcase have to be checked? Yes, as it is common to take a book to read while snacking or eating. Those shelves which one knows that its books have not been used the past year by anyone in his home do not need to be checked if they are above the reach of children.
- Do books need to be checked? Some Poskim rule books do not need to be checked. Others rule they are required to be checked. The Rebbe was not particular to clean his Sefarim. However, do not place them on any eating table during Pesach, even if they were checked.
- Do Tallis and Tefillin bags need to be checked? The inner bags do not have to be checked unless one specifically remembers placing Chametz in them. The outer bag also does not need to be checked if one is particular against entering food into it. If one is not particular, then it must be checked.