I am going to family for Pesach. Am I obligated to perform bedikas chometz there?
Min haTorah, one can evade checking for chometz just by nullifying it and considering it worthless (bittul). Chazal, however, obligated the removal of chometz from one’s possession (bedikah), since the nullification may not be wholehearted and also a person may come to eat from chometz lying around his home.1
In discussing a person who leaves his home for Pesach and does not sell his chometz, halacha states that if he leaves more than thirty days beforehand, he need not remove the chometz from his home, and he may simply nullify it before Pesach from wherever he is. If he leaves less than thirty days before Pesach2 (when thehalachos of Pesach are to be studied and begin to set in), he must clean and check his home by candlelight (without a bracha) the night before he leaves or appoint someone to check it in his stead.3
One who closes off his home (or a room) and sells the chometzthere is not obligated to check since that chometz is not his and it’s out of reach.4 However, poskim say that one should not miss fulfilling the rabbinic mitzva of bedikas chometz entirely.5 This can be done in several ways:
(1) To leave out one room from the sale and then clean and check that room. This is ideal if one will be home the night of bedikas chometz.6
(2) To check the space that he is renting for Pesach. This option is preferable when one will be at his destination the night of bedikas chometz. (Parenthetically, one who rents an unchecked room or car during Pesach must also check that space.)
If one is staying with family, some suggest that he rent his room with an actual kinyan (thereby acquiring its chometz7) and check it. Others argue that for the room to be considered his own forbedikas chometz it must be in his unilateral possession for the entire Pesach, and otherwise the rental is possibly a trick (ha’arama).8 One should therefore rent the room for the entire duration of Pesach (even if he only stays in it for the first days).
(3) One who is staying with family or the like, may participate in thebedikas chometz where he is staying, by having the head of household appoint him as a shliach to check any one room. In this case, he should hear the bracha from the head of the household.9This option is least ideal since it isn’t the shliach’s own mitzva, but is a good choice for a bochur to fulfil bedikas chometz.
1. פסחים דף ב ע”א (ר”ן ותוס’ שם). שוע”ר או”ח סי’ תל”א ס”ד.
2. שוע”ר סי’ תכ”ט ס”א.
3. שוע”ר סי’ תל”ו ס”א-ב.
4. אע”פ שהמכירה בפועל ביום י”ד – ראה שו”ת צ”צ או”ח סי’ מ”ז. וע”פ מש”כ שם יוצא שיש מעלה שאת שטר ההרשאה לרב ימלא לפני הבדיקה.
5. ראה שוע”ר סי’ תל”ו סכ”א.
6. ראה פסק”ת סי’ של”ו ס”ב.
7. ראה שו”ת מהרש”ם ח”ג סי’ רצ”א.
8. ראה שבה”ל ח”ד סי’ מ”ד.
9. ראה שוע”ר סימן תל”ב ס”ח ובקו”א שם סק”ב, קו”א סי’ רס”ג סק”ה, וראה ס’ סידור פסח כהלכתו פי”ג ס”ח והע’ 28.
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