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The time and date-Immediately upon nightfall of the 14th:
The Bedika is to be performed on the night of the 14th of Nissan. One is to begin the Bedika immediately after nightfall [i.e. Tzeis Hakochavim] of the 14th, [after Davening Maariv, as will be explained].
The sages instituted that the Bedika is to be done immediately after nightfall of the 14th.
What does one do if he is at work, or has a Job which requires him to work, past nightfall?
Ideally, one should arrange to be home by nightfall in order for him to do the Bedika himself. However, if this is not possible, then one should appoint a Shliach to do the Bedika as soon as nightfall begins, rather than delay the Bedika until he arrives home.
Appointing one’s wife or kids to do the Bedika in such a situation: One may appoint his wife, and children above the age of 13, to begin the Bedika in the above a situation.
Leaving one area unchecked for the husband: Some suggests that one can ask the Shliach to leave out one room from being checked, and not include it in the blessing. In this way, when the owner returns home, he can check that room with a blessing, and hence have the advantage of fulfilling the Mitzvah himself.
Sparks of Kabala:
The mystical reason for why we begin checking for Chametz on the night of the 14th is because a child below age 13 only has a Yetzer Hara. When he begins his 14th year he now has his Yetzer Tov. [Similarly, on the night of the 14th we are able to properly begin the refinement of our animal soul.]
May one choose to perform the Bedika on a night prior to the night of the 14th?
If one desires, he may precede and perform the Bedika prior to the night of the 14th, on any night that he chooses. All the Bedika laws are to be followed, including checking after nightfall with a candle. However, a blessing is not said upon doing a search prior to the night of the 14th. Likewise, he must make sure not to enter any more Chametz into the rooms that he checked. Although one is allowed to precede and check his entire house prior to the night of the 14th, nevertheless, one should leave at least one room unchecked in order so it can be checked on the night of the 14th with a blessing. Practically, even if one checked all of the areas on a night prior to the 14th, and did not leave anything else to be checked, he must nevertheless recheck at least one room on the night of the 14th without a blessing.
Based on the above allowance, one can use the following advice to lessen the burden of checking everything on the night of the 14th: After cleaning an individual item, such as a drawer, shelf, cabinet, fridge, room, and the like, one is to check the item that night using a flash light or room light, and intend to perform the Bedika on it at this time. One is then not required to recheck this item on the night of the 14th. See Halacha 2!
Checked during daytime:
Lechatchilah, prior to the night of the 14th, one may not perform a Bedika during the daytime, whether he is using sunlight or a candle. If one transgressed and checked during the day before the night of the 14th, then if the area was under direct sunlight [i.e. opposite an open window or open roof-See D!], it must be rechecked at night. This applies even if one made the room dark and checked it with a candle.
One who forgot to check for Chametz on the night of the 14th:
Remembered on Erev Pesach, or on Yom Tov/Chol Hamoed: One who transgressed, or forgot, and did not check his home, or a certain area of his home, for Chametz on the night of the 14th, then he is obligated to check it for Chametz on the day of the 14th, or as soon as he remembers anytime during Pesach, whether day or night. This obligation applies even on Yom Tov and even on the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora; he must search for the Chametz on Yom Tov as soon as he remembers [although any found Chametz is simply to be covered until after Yom Tov, as will be explained]. However, on Shabbos one does not check at all [those areas that require light and rather checks immediately after Shabbos]. This obligation to check applies even if he already nullified his Chametz before Pesach, and he is thus no longer obligated to Biblically destroy it. [This obligation applies even if one sold his Chametz to a gentile before Pesach.]
Saying a blessing: If one did not check [at all] on the night of the 14th, then before beginning the search on the day of the 14th, one says the blessing of “Al Biur Chametz.” [However, if he already said a blessing and checked on the night of the 14th, and simply forgot to check a certain area, then a blessing is not recited.] Likewise, if he forgot to perform the Bedika on the day of the 14th, then prior to searching upon remembering during Pesach [Yom Tov/Chol Hamoed] he is obligated to say the blessing of “Al Biur Chametz.” This applies even if he already nullified his Chametz before Pesach, and he is thus no longer obligated to Biblically destroy it. [This, however, only applies if one did not sell his Chametz to a gentile through Mechiras Chametz. If, however, one performed Mechiras Chametz, then one is not to say a blessing prior to the search, if it is after the 6th hour on Erev Pesach.]
How to check-sunlight or candle: [Although when checking for Chametz prior to the night of the 14th, one may never check during the daytime, on the day of the 14th and onwards, when must check whenever he remembers, even during the day. The following will discuss if sunlight may be used for this checking.] When checking during the daytime, such as on Erev Pesach [the day of the 14th] he remembered that he did not check a certain area for Chametz, then all areas that are directly opposite sunlight [i.e. the sky], such as areas that are directly opposite an open window, or areas that are directly under an open roof, may be checked using sunlight. This applies even if the sky is cloudy, and the sun cannot be seen. However, all other areas that are not opposite or under sunlight, must be checked with a candle, just as is done on the night of the 14th.
What to do with the Chametz: If one found Chametz during his search [then if he did not sell his Chametz to a gentile, and it is Chol Hamoed] he is to immediately destroy the Chametz from the world as explained in Chapter 3 Halacha 6B]. [If one sold his Chametz to a gentile before Pesach, as is accustomed today for all Jewry to do through the Rav of their community, then they found Chametz is to be moved with a broom to an area sold to the gentile, as explained in Chapter 3 Halacha 9A.] If one found Chametz on [Shabbos or] Yom Tov, one may not move the Chametz [being that it is Muktzah] and is rather to cover it with a vessel until Yom Tov is over, and then immediately destroy it [or if he sold his Chametz, to move it with a broom to the area sold to the gentile].
Nullifying the Chametz: If one is performing the Bedika on the day of the 14th prior to the 6th hour of the day, then after the Bedika, one is to nullify his Chametz.
Forgot to check and it is now after Pesach: One who transgressed, or forgot, and did not check his home, or a certain area of his home, for Chametz, and it is now after Pesach, then [if he did not sell his Chametz to a gentile before Pesach] he needs to search for the Chametz after Pesach [as soon as he remembers]. One is to search for the Chametz with a candle, although no blessing is recited prior to the search. Any Chametz that is found is to be destroyed. [Accordingly, a Jew who becomes observant/Baal Teshuvah after Pesach, is to be instructed to search his home for any Chametz that was owned from before the previous Pesach, and have it destroyed.]
Summary of C-D:
Checking during daytime: Lechatchilah, one may never check during the day, unless it is past the night of the 14th and he did not check, in which case he checks on the day of the 14th. If one transgressed and checked during the day before the night of the 14th, then all areas which may not be checked with sunlight [i.e. all areas in a four-walled roofed room that are not opposite an open window] must be rechecked at night, even if he checked them with a candle in a dark room. However, when checking on the day of the 14th, or on Yom Tov or Chol Hamoed, all areas can be checked with a candle, and all areas that are opposite sunlight [under open roof, opposite open window] may be checked with the sunlight even on a cloudy day.
Forgot to check: One who did not check for Chametz on the night of the 14th must do so when he remembers, whether on Erev Pesach, Yom Tov or Chol Hamoed. On Shabbos, one waits to search until after Shabbos. On Yom Tov, any Chametz that is found is to be covered until after Yom Tov. If one did not sell his Chametz to a gentile, one recites a blessing prior to beginning the search. If one did not perform the search, and it is already after Pesach, the search is to be performed after Pesach without a blessing.
 Admur 431:5
The reason it is done on the night of the 14th versus the day: From the letter of the law it would have been proper to set the time for the search for the day of the 14th, at the beginning of the 6th hour, in order so that by the end of the 6th hour everyone’s search is finished, and they can then burn their Chametz at the beginning of the 7th hour, as is Biblically required. However, since during the day, majority of people are not found in their houses and are rather out at work in the marketplace and streets, and when the 6th hour arrives it is very likely that they will forget the obligation to search [their homes], therefore, the Sages instituted the time for checking at the night of the 14th, as at night all people are found in their homes. [Admur ibid]
 Admur 431:6 “The sages instituted that immediately at nightfall/Tzeis Hakochavim, when there is still some daylight around, one must begin to check.” Gra; Taz; Peri Chadash
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule there is no Rabbinical obligation to check immediately at night, and rather the time of checking is throughout the entire night. [Magen Avraham 431:8; Michaber 431:2; Tur; See M”B 431:1] Nevertheless, even in their opinion, one should check immediately at night since he may come to forget to do so if he pushes it off. [See M”B 431:1 and 431:10. See also 431:6 and Biur Halacha there and M“B 431:11] The difference in Halachic ramifications between the two opinions is that according to those which hold that the time begins immediately at night one may not eat at all or do anything at all once the night begins, even if he appoints a person to remind him. However, according to those who hold that the time for Bedika is throughout the entire night, then one may eat a little at night before Bedika, and may even eat a full meal, if he appoints a person to remind him. [See Piskeiy Teshuvah 431] Another difference is regarding if one needs to stop learning by nightfall if one began learning in a permitted way.
Opinion of M”B: Regarding the view of the M”B, in 431:1 he writes that one must only check at the beginning of the night because he may come to forget. On the other hand, in 431:14 he writes that the main mitzvah is to check at the beginning of the night. It seems from here that the M“B rules like Admur.]
 Admur 431:5
The reason it is done after nightfall: Ideally, it would have been proper to institute and set the time of the Bedika to be done immediately upon ones arriving home [after work], towards the evening [of the 14th], as at that point the person is free from any activity [and thus will remember to check]. When a person is at home [and allowed to push off the Bedika from being done immediately] there is suspicion that perhaps he will eat and drink, or sleep, or do work, or learn Torah if he is a Torah scholar, and due to this he will come to forget the obligation to search. Nevertheless, this was not instituted, as one is required to check for Chametz in the holes and cracks, which is not possible to do without a candle, as the verse states “At that time I will search Jerusalem with candles etc…”, and from this verse the sages supported the fact that the light of a candle is good to be used for searching Chametz. Now, being that a candle does not shine well at day but rather at night, therefore the sages delayed the time of checking until the time that the candle shines, which is at nightfall/Tzeis Hakochavim. [Admur ibid]
Other opinions-Do Bedika by Bein Hashmashos: Some Poskim write that it should be done “not literally at the night of the 14th but close to the entrance of the night of the 14th” [Magen Avraham in 431:1 and 5] This means that one is to begin checking by Bein Hashmashos, prior to nightfall. [M”A 431:5; Peri Megadim ibid in 2nd explanation; Beir Heiytiv 431 brings that one is to check from before nightfall, when there is still light. The Mishneh Berura brings the Raavad who also supports this opinion on the basis of the wording “one is to check on the light of the 14th”, although the Mishneh Berurah himself holds one is to check from nightfall. The Gra would do the Bedika before nighttime and then stop in order to daven Maariv.]
Chabad custom: The Rebbe Rayatz would do the Bedika between Mincha and Maariv, thus implying that it was done at Bein Hashmashos, before night. [Shaarei Halacha Uminhag 2:191] Practically though, our custom is to always Daven Maariv by nightfall and only then do the Bedika.
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 431:5
 M”A 431:5 rules that when one needs to daven Maariv by nightfall, such as it will be difficult to gather a Minyan later on, then one is to appoint a Shliach to already begin the Bedika at the time of his prayer; Vetzaruch Iyun as to why Admur omitted this ruling of the M”A ibid; Furthermore, in 470:7 Admur rules that when the fast of the first born is pushed up to Thursday the 13th, which is Erev Bedikas Chametz, then a Bechor may choose to eat a little prior to performing the Bedika or alternatively appoint an emissary to perform the Bedika while he eats. From here it seems that in a time of need one may choose to delay the Bedika. Vetzaruch Iyun!
The reason: Although by delaying the Bedika there is an advantage in that one will be doing the Mitzvah himself, nevertheless, by doing so he has nullified the Takana of the sages to do the Bedika immediately upon nightfall, which is of greater importance than him doing the Bedika himself, being that doing a Mitzvah oneself over a Shliach is a mere Hiddur and not an actual obligation. [Seemingly however this reason would only be in accordance to those Poskim who hold that the Mitzvah of Bedika is immediately upon nightfall, as explained above. However according to the dissenting opinion, one can simply appoint a Shomer to remind him to do the Bedika himself later on. However, see the next reason.] Alternatively, even if one were to be allowed to initially check later on, nevertheless, one should appoint a messenger to check now as it is better to do a Mitzvah earlier with less hiddur than to delay it even if it will be with greater Hiddur. [Admur 25:4]
 Aruch Hashulchan 437:7; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:214
The reason: Although we rule that one is not initially to appoint a woman to perform the Bedika. [432:10] Nevertheless, the Poskim write that today the women do search properly, unlike back in the time of the Shulchan Aruch. [Aruch Hashulchan ibid] Furthermore, perhaps it is better in this situation to appoint one’s wife to do the Bedika, rather than delay it until he comes home, as the avoiding of appointing women is not required from the letter of the law, while doing the Bedika immediately is required.
 Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:214; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Shalah Hakadosh Bo
 Admur 433:7
 The reason: As this search is not being done on the main time that was instituted by the Sages, as the Sages instituted for the search to be done on the night of the 14th. [436:1]
 Background-Other opinions: Even if one checked all of the areas on a night prior to the 14th, and did not leave over anything to be checked, one must nevertheless recheck at least one room [with a blessing] on the night of the 14th. The reason for this is because since on this night the Bedika obligation begins for all Jews which have not yet checked their homes, therefore in order to not differentiate a Jew from the rest of Klal Yisrael, the obligation also applies for those that have already checked. However, there are opinions who argue that one does not need to recheck anything being that he has already checked according to Halacha all of his property with a candle at night. [The main Halacha is like the former opinion and] one [thus] must recheck at least one room on the night of the 14th, [however] one should [also] suspect for the latter opinion and thus when rechecking it he should do so without saying the blessing. [Admur ibid]
If the ten pieces of bread are distributed: Seemingly, if another person places out pieces of bread to be looked for, as is the custom, then one may say a blessing upon searching for them. See Q&A below
 Directive of Rebbe Rashab to Rav Yaakov Landau, in story ibid; So I received from several Rabbanei Anash, that they themselves are accustomed to do so in order to lessen the burden of needing to recheck everything on the night of the 14th. [Heard from Rav S.Z. Labkowski as well as many other Rabbanim that so they do in their own home.]
 Admur 433:5 “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.”
The reason: The reason for this is because the sages obligated the search to be done specifically at night when people are found in their homes, and thus if one were to check during the day he is nullifying the sages decree. [Admur ibid]
 Admur 433:5-6
Background and explanation: If one went ahead and checked during the day on the 13th, or another time of the year [prior to the 13th], then those areas that are allowed to be checked with sunlight on the day of the 14th [as explained in C] , such as an achsadra, do not have to be rechecked at night and one has fulfilled his obligation, if one was careful not to enter Chametz anymore into those areas. [Admur 433:5] However, [an area which on the day of the 14th sunlight may not be used for checking, such as by] a four walled roofed room [by areas not directly opposite a window, then], if one transgressed and checked them with a candle on the day of the 13th [or on a previous day], then he must recheck the area at night, being that candle light does not shine well during the day. This applies even to a dark room [such as that it has no windows to the outside, or that all of its windows are shuttered closed and is thus completely dark to the point] that its darkness is the same by day and night, nevertheless one needs to repeat the search on the night of the 14th, as the shine of a candle during the day even in a dark room is not the same as it shines during the night. [Admur 433:6]
 Admur 433:1 and 435:1 regarding the 14th; 435:2-3 regarding the rest of Pesach
 Admur 435:2-3
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one is not to search at all for the Chametz on Yom Tov, and should rather wait to do so at night. [Opinion in M”B 435:3]
 Admur 435:3
The reason: The reason for this is because one needs to check with candle light, and on Shabbos it is forbidden to carry around a candle. [Admur ibid]
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that if one remembered on Shabbos then one should search for the Chametz on Shabbos, and he may have a gentile carry a candle for him into the rooms that need to be checked. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 444:1]
Areas that have sunlight or electricity: Those areas which may be checked with sunlight, as well as those areas that have electric lights that are on, should be checked on Shabbos, as soon as one remembers. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 444:1]
 The reason: Although since we suspect for coming to eat it, ideally once Pesach has arrived we should specifically not allow one to search for Chametz even if he did not do so beforehand, due to concern that he may find Chametz and eat it. Nevertheless, we require him to search, as during the time that one is searching for the Chametz we do not suspect that one will forget and come to eat it, as his entire purpose in searching for it is to destroy from the world, so how will one forget about the prohibition and come to eat it. [Admur 435:2]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 435; As it is forbidden to allow even a gentiles Chametz to remain openly visible in one’s home, lest one accidently come to eat it. See Chapter 5 Halacha 5!
 Admur 435:1
 Admur 446:1-2
 Vetzaruch Iyun if one did not remember to check until the last day of Yom Tov, and thus must do the search on Yom Tov, if a blessing should be said before the search, even though the burning of the found Chametz will only be done after Yom Tov.
If one forgot to check only one area: Whenever one checked his home before Pesach and simply forgot to check one area, then if it is a room in which one commonly eats Chametz in, and it was not cleaned at all before Pesach, and there is thus a chance that it contains a Kezayis of Chametz, then a blessing may be said if one did not sell his Chametz before Pesach. [See Admur 432:5; 446:3]
 Admur 435:2
The reason: The reason for why the blessing is required is because nevertheless [even after nullifying the Chametz] one still remains Rabbinically obligated to check and search after it and destroy it completely from the world in order to prevent him from finding Chametz on Pesach and forgetting and coming to eat it. [Admur ibid] Now, although we never say a blessing when the reason for why we need to destroy a food is due to suspicion that one may come to eat it, nevertheless here a blessing is said as there is a Rabbinical prohibition of Baal Yiraeh and Tashbisu on a Kezayis of Chametz or more even if it was nullified, and thus one is required to destroy the Chametz in it of itself and not just because one may come to eat, (although the reason for why the sages decreed that there is a Rabbinical prohibition of Baal Yiraeh is because one may come to eat it.)] [See Admur 435:4; 446:1-3; Kuntrus Acharon 1]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 435:1; Pashut, as the Chametz belongs to a gentile and there is no such Mitzvah to destroy his Chametz. Nonetheless, one is still to search for the Chametz in order to have it placed behind a Mechitza.
 Admur 433:4
Areas opposite a closed glass window: A glass window is considered an interval between the sky and the area of the room, and hence areas opposite a glass window, or glass sunroof cannot be checked with sunlight. [Admur 433:3 regarding sunroof and 433:4 regarding window] However, some suggest that our windows today are very clear and hence one may check using sunlight in areas that opposite a clear glass window. [Daas Torah 433; Piskeiy Teshuvah 433]
A three-walled room: A room which has only three walls, even if it is roofed, [and the area of the fourth wall is open to the sun outside], may be checked even Lechatchilah using sunlight [on the day of the 14th, if he forgot to do so the night before] being that it has a lot of sunlight in the room. This type of room is called an Achsadra. One may use the sunlight to check even on a cloudy day. [Admur 433:2]
A room with many windows: A room which has many open windows, and thus has much light, as is common in Shuls, then if one transgressed and did not check the shul on the night of the 14th, it may be entirely checked on the day of the 14th using sunlight, as its considered like an “Achsadra” which may be checked with sunlight. [Admur 433:37]
 Admur 433:3
 Admur 435:1
 Admur 433:3 regarding under an open roof; Admur 433:4 regarding opposite a window
 Admur 433:1, 3
The reason: As the light of a candle is good for checking and searching in hidden places and holes and cracks [Admur 433:1] while the sunlight that enters the room is [minute as] it only enters through the windows and holes of the room. [Admur 433:2]
 Admur 435:3
 The reason: In order so the Chametz be hidden from ones sight and he thereby not come to eat from it. [Admur ibid]
 Admur 435:1
 Admur 435:4
 The reason: The reason one must search and destroy all Chametz found even after Pesach is because any Chametz which was owned during Pesach is prohibited in benefit, as explained in chapter 448, [and thus we require one to check and search for it] as we suspect that if one were not to check and search for it in order to destroy it, then perhaps he will find it on its own [without searching for it] and he may forget and come to eat it. [Admur ibid]
 The reason: The reason for this is because how can one bless G-d for commanding him to destroy Chametz if he is now eating Chametz. Although one is Rabbinically commanded and obligated to destroy this Chametz that was owned over Pesach this is only in order to prevent him from coming to stumble upon a transgression of eating the Chametz. Meaning, one does not transgress on this Chametz any owning prohibition of Baal Yiraeh, not even a Rabbinical prohibition. Thus, one does not say a blessing on this destruction of the Chametz, just like no blessing is said when one kills birds which have been trampled [and are treifas] even though they are forbidden to be owned because one may come to eat them, as explained in Yorah Deah chapter 57. [Admur ibid]