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Where is one obligated to clean for Chametz?
The general rule:
One must check and search for Chametz in all areas where there is suspicion and doubt that perhaps Chametz was brought into it [even] coincidently. Thus, one must check all areas in which there is suspicion that perhaps while eating Chametz one entered into that area, even if one is positive that he never actually ate Chametz there. 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, 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 into there.
Cleaning areas that one plans to sell to a gentile through Mechiras Chametz:
It is disputed amongst Poskim as to whether one must clean out Chametz from areas [i.e. rooms, closets etc] which one plans to include in the sale to a gentile which will take place on the 14th of Nisan. Practically, the custom is to be lenient in this matter and there is thus no obligation to clean the rooms or closets and cabinets that one will sell/rent to the gentile and not use/enter during Pesach. Some however are particular to sell the Chametz on the 13th, in order to avoid this dispute. See Chapter 4 Halacha 2 in Q&A for a full analysis on this subject! See Halacha 1 in Q&A regarding why nevertheless one must clean his home for Chametz if included in the Mechira document is all the unknown Chametz in one’s home.
If one is living in the house of a gentile for Pesach, does he have to clean the gentile’s house for Chametz?
If the gentile is the owner/master of the home then he is to simply nullify and disown his Chametz, and let the gentile know that he may take it all for himself. However, if the Jew has his own room within the home, then certainly he is obligated to clean his personal room. Although it is seemingly permitted to live in the home of a gentile throughout Pesach even though the gentile will have Chametz in the home, nevertheless, it is best to avoid doing so.
List of areas based on above rule:
Checking all rooms of the house and attic: Based on the above, all the rooms of the house and the attic need to be checked according to Halacha [i.e. at night using the light of a candle], even if one is positive that he has never eaten Chametz in them before. [This applies especially today when it is common to snack in various rooms of a home.]
Checking storage rooms: Storage rooms which contain foods and other items used during a meal need to be checked. However, those storage rooms of which it is not common for one to enter in middle of a meal, do not need to be checked unless one knows for certain that one has entered Chametz into them.
House with children: By a home that contains children/toddlers, one must check all areas that the child is able to reach, as perhaps the child has hidden some Chametz there.
Do holes and cracks in the floor need to be checked? Holes or cracks in a floor need to be checked even in a house without children.
All areas where one ate or brought Chametz into any time since the last Pesach, must be cleaned and checked. Even if one is certain that he never ate Chametz in the area, nonetheless, if it is common for one to get up while eating/snacking and enter into the area to retrieve something, then it is required to be checked.
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 book case have to be checked?
Yes, as it is common to take a book to read while snacking or eating. Those shelves which contain books that have not been used the past year by anyone in the home, do not need to be checked if they are above the reach of children.
Do books/Sefarim need to be checked?
Some Poskim rule books do not need to be checked. Other Poskim rule they are required to be checked. [Practically, those who have a tradition to do so, are to continue with their custom.]
Does 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 not to enter food into it. If one is not particular, then it must be checked.
|Item or Area||Obligated to clean||Not obligated|
|Bathroom||Ö If have kids must check.||Ö No need to check if no kids|
|Books||Ö No need to check. However, some are stringent.|
|Bookcase||Ö Must be checked|
|Bird cage||Ö Must be cleaned|
|Briefcase||Ö Must be checked|
|Car||Clean and Check car. No need to unscrew the benches. Remove floor mats.|
|Computer||Ö No need to undo keyboard to check|
|Computer bag||Ö Clean and check|
|Couch||Ö Must remove the cushions but no need to unscrew.|
|Desk||Ö Clean and check|
|Table||Ö Must be cleaned and checked. No need to undo screws to remove Chametz from cracks and crevices.|
|Files||Ö Possibly need check between the folders and in box.|
|Chair||Ö Must be cleaned and checked. No need to undo screws to remove Chametz from cracks and crevices.|
|Kitchen Cabinets||Ö Clean and check|
|Medicine cabinet||Ö May be owned. Chametz vitamins are to be sold|
|Microwave||Ö Clean and check|
|Oven||Ö Clean and check|
|Phone cover||Ö Undo phone cover to check for Chametz under|
|Bedroom||Ö Clean and check|
|Suitcase||Depends. If did not use throughout year, no need to check.|
|Refrigerator||Ö Cleaned and checked|
 Admur 433:13-17
 Admur 433:13
 Areas which one is Biblically obligated to check-Contains Kezayis of Chametz: Biblically, [i.e. when doing the Bedika because he has not nullified his Chametz] he is only obligated to search for Chametz in areas which one frequently eats or stores Chametz in throughout the year. This includes ones living room, kitchen and the bedrooms which one eats Chametz in throughout the year, and it is therefore impossible that a kezayis of Chametz has not crumbled and fallen into those areas, of which one Biblically transgresses baal yiraeh and baal yimatzeh throughout all the days of Pesach even if they are not visible to him. However, the other rooms which one does not commonly use Chametz in them frequently throughout the year, and it is thus probable that a kezayis of Chametz has not remained in them, are not Biblically required to be checked even if one did not nullify his Chametz. [Admur 433:12] The reason for this is because Biblically we do not suspect for such a doubtful situation of Chametz being present, [as perhaps Chametz was never entered into there, and perhaps even if it was it was all removed, and even if some Chametz did remain, perhaps it occurred many days before Pesach and it has spoiled by now and is no longer edible for a dog]. Thus, being that Biblically we follow the rule that we do not assume for bad, and rather assume that it is clean of Chametz, therefore, these areas do not Biblically have to be checked. [Admur 433:25]
The areas which must be searched Rabbinically-Any area with suspicion of even a crumb of Chametz: Rabbinically, even if one has nullified all his Chametz, one must check and search for Chametz in all areas where there is [even] suspicion and doubt that perhaps Chametz was brought into it by chance. [Admur 433:13] The reason for this is because due to the stringency of the Chametz prohibition, the sages suspected for even a case that there is doubt of Chametz, and they therefore enacted the Mitzvah of Bedika. Thus, it makes no difference if there is only one doubt involved or many doubts involved, as either way they suspected for all doubts of Chametz. [Admur 433:25]
 This applies even if there are many doubts involved to be lenient, such as perhaps Chametz was never entered into there, and perhaps even if it was, it was all removed, and even if some Chametz did remain perhaps it occurred many days before Pesach and it has spoiled by now and is no longer edible for a dog. [Admur 433:25] See previous footnote!
 Admur 433:14
 Admur 433:17
 However, if one plans to make regular use of the item/room during Pesach, in which case it cannot be included in the sale. See Halacha 1 in Q&A!
 See Admur 436:20
 From the letter of the law it is permitted to do so, as one does not own the Chametz anymore [as explained in Admur 436:20] and in such a great case of Hefker to the gentile, there is not even a Rabbinical obligation to clean the home [as explained in Admur ibid]. Furthermore, although even the Chametz of a gentile must be placed behind a Mechitza lest he come to eat it [Admur 440:5], this is only required in one’s own home, when the gentile is not there. However, when living in a gentile’s home, in presence of the gentile, we do not suspect that one will eat from his Chametz unless one is eating with him the same table. [See Admur 440:3-4] Nonetheless, this is certainly not an ideal situation, and hence one should do all in his power to make other arrangements for Pesach.
 Admur 433:13
 The reason: The reason for this is because [even though a person may never have eaten in a certain room, nevertheless] at times one gets up in middle of his meal while bread is in his hand and enters into the rooms to do whatever he needs to do, such as the room used to store collaterals that one at times enters into it while in middle of a meal in order to return it to its owner, and there is thus suspicion that perhaps he forgot his bread there or that a crumb of it [no matter the size] fell off. [Admur 433:13]
 Admur 433:15
 The reason: Storage rooms [which contain] wine, beer, salt, cheese, pickled foods, and candles which one uses [by meals or uses to sell], need to be checked, as at times in middle of a meal one finishes his current amount and goes into the storage room to bring more food while the bread is still in his hand. [Admur ibid]
 Such as the storage rooms for wine and beer which he does not use for selling or drinking from, as well as one’s room used to store straw. [Admur 433:14] Similarly rooms which contain items which one does not need to restock from in middle of a meal, such as that one knows how much of it will be needed for the meal, and thus will not need to go restock in middle of the meal, such as storage of oil and the like of which one does not commonly use frequently, and it is not common to restore it in middle of a meal, then one does not need to search these areas. Although if one uses oil for lighting his lamps, then in such a case if one uses the oil from the storage for lighting, then one does need to check it. [Admur 433:16]
 Admur 433:14 and 16
 Admur 433:17 regarding holes
 The reason: As there is suspicion that perhaps some Chametz fell on the floor and rolled into the crack or hole. [Admur ibid]
 See Admur 433:17
 If one stores clothing after having used them, before washing them, in the closet, then if it is at times common for one to enter Chametz into his pockets, not only must he check those pockets, but he possibly must check the entire closet.
 Or Letziyon 1:32 that he did not see this accustomed; Haggadah Chazon Ovadia; Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach; Madrich Eida Hachareidis; Nitei Gavriel footnote 9 and in Teshuvos 1 that from the letter of the it does not need to be checked; Rav Eli Landau related to me that in his father’s home, they were very particular during the year not to place Sefarim near Chametz or on a table with Chametz. They thus did not clean out the Sefarim before Pesach.
The Rebbe’s custom: Rabbi Groner related to me regarding the Sefarim in the Rebbe’s office that “We did not check the seforim in the room, and neither did the Rebbe” However, the Mashbak Chesed Halbershtam related to me that he had the job in the Rebbe’s home to clean all the books that the Rebbe learned from while there was Chametz on the table. “I would take the books to the porch on the third floor and open the books into the air, one page at a time. Each page was cleaned.”
 The reason: As the crumbs of Chametz found in between the binding of a book is certainly less than a Kezayis and it is dirty, and thus may be owned if one does Bittul. [See Admur 442:28, brought in Halacha 2]
 Maaseh Rav of Gra 178; Aruch Hashulchan end of 447 that from Purim and onwards one is to be careful that crumbs do not fall inside; Yeshuos Chochma on Kitzur SHU”A; Chazon Ish 116:18 that they are to be shaken; Orchos Rabbeinu Pesach 21; Shevet Halevi 1:136; Mishneh Halachos 7:64; Piskeiy Teshuvos 431:4; Sefarim brought in Nitei Gavriel footnote 9; Tzanzar Rebbe that so is Minhag of Klal Yisrael of many generations, brought in Nitei Gavriel ibid; Nitei Gavriel concludes in his Teshuvos that the custom is to do so, and hence one is not to be lenient
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