- Question: [Tuesday, 13th Nissan 5783]
I’m a little confused regarding how and when my car is to be checked for Chametz. From some rabbis I heard that cleaning it during the day is enough, while other rabbis told me I need to check it at night with the car lights or flashlight. Can I suffice with a daytime cleaning?
While there is no unanimous opinion amongst Rabbanim regarding this matter, the following is the main Halachic approach: The thorough cleaning of the car from Chametz is to take place prior to the night of the 14th. This may take place whether that day, during daytime hours, or any previous night or day. This cleaning however does not substitute the requirement to then check it at night using a candle or flashlight, or the interior lights of the car. This nighttime checking may be done on any night even prior to the night of the 14th. If one did not perform this nighttime checking prior to the night of the 14th, then it is to be performed on the night of the 14th. If one did not perform this check on the night of the 14th, then he is to check his car the next morning on Erev Pesach using the sunlight that comes through the windows.
Explanation: There are two Halachic matters that need to be explored in order to answer this question: 1) The first matter is regarding when the cleaning and checking for Chametz is to take place, and if it may be done prior to the night of the 14th and during daytime, and 2) the second being whether a car is subject to all the bylaws of Bedikas Chametz.
Regarding the first issue: It is a clear ruling in the Talmud and Poskim that: 1) there are two stages involved in cleaning for Chametz the first being the cleaning for the Chametz and the second being the checking for the Chametz after it is cleaned. 2) While the cleaning may take place anytime prior to the night of the fourteenth, even during daytime, the checking must take place at night. 3) Initially, this applies even towards areas which have many windows and can be checked using sunlight. 4) The checking at night may take place any night, even prior to the night of the 14th. 5) If one checked during daytime using sunlight, then Bedieved it is valid if the area receives direct sunlight through windows and the like. If it doesn’t, then one must recheck at night. 6) Pockets of clothing may even initially be checked during daytime.
Based on all this it is understood that although a car may be cleaned during daytime, the car must be checked at nighttime, and so is explicit ruling of many Poskei Doreinu. The checking of a car is not similar to the checking of pockets in this regard [which may take place during daytime] and is rather like any other room of one’s house which must be checked on the night of the 14th. The fact that one may still use his car to purchase Chametz, is no different than the fact that one may use his room to still eat Chametz, in which nonetheless the obligation to check at night remains. There is much more of a chance someone will instinctively place food into his pocket then there is regarding his car. This is unlike those Rabbanim who have ruled that one may even initially check the car during daytime being that it is difficult to check it at night using a candle just like pockets may be checked during daytime due to the difficulty to check it using candles. While due to this reason we can and should encourage cleaning it during daytime the checking must take place at night due to the institution of the Sages. As for pockets, the reason we check them by daytime Admur writes is due to that one will continue using it and not because that there is an intrinsic problem checking it using candles.
As for those who claim that the car may even initially be checked during daytime since it has a lot of windows, they have seemingly forgotten the explicit ruling above which requires all areas to initially be checked at night and explicitly includes even those areas that have many windows and sunlight. Seemingly, they have confused the idea of the fact that Bedieved we validate a check in such an area versus the initial ruling that it should not be done.
Regarding the second issue: Some Poskim question whether items and vessels that are within the home were ever included in the Bedika obligation of the sages, and that perhaps by such items a mere cleaning suffices, and a check at night is only required in the physical home and not in any furniture. Accordingly, they rule that one does not own a home is not the check with a blessing when he checks his car or suitcase and the like. Furthermore, some Rabbanim rule based on this that a car does not require a nighttime checking, and may even initially be cleaned and checked during daytime.
Practically, however, the vast majority of Poskim negate this, as is also the simple implication from Admur and the Poskim, that items in the home also have an obligation of Bedika, and hence the recorded reason that pockets can be checked by daytime is not because they’re not intrinsically obligated to be checked at night but only because it’s possible that one will still put Chametz into them. [This nonetheless does not necessarily argue that also a blessing should be said, as perhaps the blessing itself is only said when checking a home.]
All in all, we have brought the various arguments of those who state that the cleaning and checking of a car may take place during daytime, and explained why one should not rely on this ruling, as it is contrary to the simple ruling in the Poskim, and so agree a vast majority of Poskim that one is to check the car on the night of the 14th or any previous night.
Sources: Poskim who rule to check a car at night: Halichos Shlomo p. 101-102 that many make a mistake in this and think that a simple cleaning of the car during daytime suffices when in truth it must also be checked at night; Poskim who permit a daytime cleaning and checking: Nitei Gavriel 21:1; See regarding the obligation to clean all areas prior to checking at night: Admur 433:39; Rama 433:11; M”B 433:45 [however in Shaar Hatziyon 432:12 he rules differently]; Directive of Rebbe Rashab to Rav Yaakov Landau; Sefer Hakashrus 6:10 footnote 38; Nitei Gavriel p. 135; 136; 161, brought also in Piskeiy Teshuvos 433:8 See regarding performing a Bedika using sunlight: Admur 433:2-6; 36 See regarding that Lechatchilah one may not perform a Bedika during the daytime: Admur 433:5-6 “One may never Lechatchilah check during the day prior to the 14th even those areas that are directly opposite sunlight, such as an achsadra. Rather one is to check them on the night of the 14th with a candle, and even if he wants to precede and check them on the day of the 13th using sunlight, he is not allowed to do so.”; Admur 433:36 regarding a shul; M”B 433:5 See regarding checking the pockets of clothing during daytime: Admur 433:42-43; Ashel Avraham Butchach 433 See regarding not to say a blessing when checking only a car or suitcase: Chok Yaakov 436:17; Beir Heiytv 436:10; Chayeh Adam 119:18; Halichos Shlomo p. 101-102; Mesores Moshe [Feinstein] 1:286; 2:185; Piskeiy Teshuvos 433:7