Bedikat Chametz, the search for chametz takes place tonight, Tuesday night. The home is thoroughly searched for any remaining chametz. The chametz found is then set aside to be burned in the morning. Biur Chametz, the destruction of the chametz, is the final step of pre-Passover preparations.

Why is the chametz burned? Burning is considered the ideal means of disposing of chametz. The Mishna cites Rabbi Judah, who said, “There is no removal of chametz except by burning.” The sages, however, maintain, “He [a person may] also crumble and throw it to the wind or cast it into the sea” (Pesachim 21a).

In most years, on the morning before the seder, chametz may be eaten until the fourth halachic hour of the day.* Biur Chametz takes place before the end of the fifth halachic hour of the day.* In larger Jewish communities, there is frequently a designated location for Biur Chametz, often in conjunction with, and, at times, overseen by, the local fire department.

All of the chametz thrown into the fire is burned so completely that even a dog would not eat it. While burning is the ideal way to destroy the chametz, those who are unable to do so due to timing or other limitations, may pour a chemical disinfectant such as cleaning fluid on the chametz, so all of it becomes unfit to be consumed even by a dog. Chametz may also be flushed down the toilet.

Normally, after all the chametz has been destroyed, a proclamation of renouncing ownership is recited, fulfilling the Biblical mitzvah of getting rid of the chametz:

“Any chametz or leaven product that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have observed it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be considered null and ownerless as the dust of the earth.”

*The length of a halachic hour of the day is calculated by dividing the actual daylight hours from sunrise to sunset by 12.

NOTE: As with all Treats dealing with halacha (points of Jewish law), questions should be addressed to the local rabbi for practical application.

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