One Passover Tradition You Probably Don't Do Anymore, But Should

Posted by Proud Jews on

Passover is coming soon. Have you done Be'Dikat Chametz?

Have you even heard of Be'Dikat Chametz?

Be'Dikat Chametz is the act of ridding your house (or apartment) of chametz, or unleavened bread, the night before the Passover seder (Sunday night, April 9, 2017).

It's a mild version of spring cleaning.

So why do we recommend you do it?

Three reasons.

1. Puts You in the Mood for Passover 

You're going to go a full week without bread!

This simple act makes sure your body and mind are prepped and ready for the ordeal that awaits you. 

2. Cleanliness Is Next To...

The act of Be'Dikat Chametz signals to God your intent to make sure your house is ready for Passover.

In other words: if God tells you the chametz has gotta go, might as well get it over with! God doesn't like procrastinators.

3. Family Bonding

Done right, Be'Dikat Chametz is fun for kids - especially if you give them treats for every crumb they find.

We know from experience because we're parents of young kids. They get to run around a dark house with flashlights (trust us, they love it) and get rewarded when they're done! 

Read more about the rules below and you'll understand why.  

The Rules

As with all Jewish traditions, there are rules about how to do it.

First, you "seed" the house with 10 pieces of chametz. For us, with our little kids, that means dropping a few cheerios and waffle crumbs here or there.

Next, you say the prayer:

Prayer for Bedikat Chametz

(Credit Aish.com)

Then, you turn the lights off. Everybody in your house takes a feather and a candle (!) and sweeps out any crumbs into a small pile for each room.

Digression for parents -- if you have young children, don't let them hold candles. Instead, use a flashlight. As we said earlier, they LOVE it.

Once you have your piles, collect all the crumbs into a bag. Our mothers used vacuum cleaners as the "bags" for collecting crumbs. Jewish mothers!

The last thing you do is toss the crumbs and prepare for MATZAH!

The History

We don't know how this tradition got started.

Probably, it was part of the preparation for Biyur Chametz ("Burning of Leavened Bread") as directed by the Talmud. For Biyur Chametz, all residents of the community collected their chametz and put it into a big pit, then burnt it all up in a big fire.

Many Jewish communities have replaced Biyur Chametz with food drives or other collections of chametz that are then given to charities or special causes.

But the Be'Dikat Chametz tradition still endures.

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