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Updated: Update: 2020.05.25

בְּדִיקַת חָמֵץ

The Bᵊdiq•âh — Not Child's Play

Wax Candle, Feather & Wooden Spoon / Broken Bowl?

By dusk on the eve preceding the 13th of Firstmonth, all of one's properties must be completely devoid of any and all known sᵊōr (and khâ•meitz). To ensure this is so, a final bᵊdiq•âh is conducted, teaching one's children how to conduct the bᵊdiq•âh.

Modern tradition has evolved into a children's game of hunt and seek with a wax candle, a feather and either a wooden spoon or broken bowl. These are millennia after-the-fact—Christian-era—reforms, devoid of modern relevance.

However, the mi•tzᵊwâh is deadly serious (violation incurring kâ•reit of one's nëphësh from Yi•sᵊr•â•eil) that all of one's property must be devoid of sᵊōr (and khâ•meitz) before, and throughout, the 7 days of Khag ha-Matz•ōt.

Examining Historical Reasoning Intimates Today's Applications Wax Candle

"The Mi•shᵊn•âh ( Ma•sëkët Pᵊsâkh•im 1.1) speaks about checking for khâ•meitz 'by the light of [הַנֵּר; an oil-lamp in Mishnaic times in the Middle East—not a millennia later Middle Ages European candle!]'."

Recall that this was 1½ millennia before electric light became available to cities and towns in the 20th century—my mother in America remembered electricity first becoming available in her Central Florida suburb when she was a little girl!

Thus, the discussion orbits being able to see after dark and examine nooks and crannies in common 5th-century C.E., mud & thatch homes lacking electric light—in the Middle East (where candle-making remained relatively unknown until the Middle Ages due to the availability of olive oil); dependent upon torches and oil lamps for light at night. Thus, the discussion focuses upon considerations such as avoiding setting fires in the house with a torch or spilling oil from an oil lamp and catching fire.

Achieving the identical result today requires electric light or, for commemorative effect, a simple small flashlight—certainly not a wax candle that never even existed in their world.

Wooden Spoon

Using a wooden spoon wasn't dreamed up until the Renaissance, and in Germany, not the Middle East.

The shallow reasoning was that "if one did not find any khâ•meitz [which was traditionally burned] during one’s search, one should at least burn the utensil that one used during the search in order to have a 'remembrance of burning'."

A Broken Bowl

The argument for a broken bowl is an even more recent Middle Ages European reform, grafted onto the wooden spoon mindset: those lacking a wooden spoon to burn could use a broken bowl since throwing out a khâ•meitz-"contaminated" broken bowl would be thrown out anyway, since it was broken, without tangible loss. However, it does demonstrate that commemorating burning of khâ•meitz (the basis of the wood spoon) was never an essential element—and that overturning an earlier straying has rabbinic precedent.

The Feather

The feather wasn't even dreamed up until the 17th century C.E., in Europe.

בְּדִיקַת חָמֵץ Today

Each parent needs to personalize, for each of their children, tailored individually, that this is training for their personal future contribution in perpetuating the unending record of the Yᵊtzi•âh.

שְׂאוֹר v חָמֵץ

Thus, the inspection for sᵊōr and khâ•meitz must begin with the distinction between these two terms and relate each term not to a maximum definition of super-sanctimonious ignorant rabbis stuck in the Dark Ages (a definition that unavoidable includes prohibiting breathing the air around us, which always has natural sᵊōr floating around in it), but rather exclusively to the pre-modern routine sourdough-starter sᵊōr as well as all manner of breads & pastries that are permitted to grow khâ•meitz from the natural sᵊōr in the air—but not including other items from toothpaste and toothbrushes, literally from soups to nuts, canned foods, beer, otherwise kâ•sheir wines, etc.

Accordingly, in addition to the prohibition of sᵊōr, during Khag ha-Matz•ōt dough must not be permitted to "rest" or rise (allowing khâ•meitz to grow). Any dough must go directly from mixing and kneading to the pre-heated oven.

Assist Each Child's Participation In Useful בְּדִיקַת חָמֵץ

Advance Preparation: Each Child's Reward For Finding Khâ•meitz

As dusk nears on the eve preceding the 13th of Firstmonth, using a bright flashlight, each child should personally inspect that the parents' clean-up has, indeed, rid the home and property of any trace of sᵊōr and khâ•meitz from all kitchen cabinets, pantry shelves, storage areas, dining area, living room, bedrooms, office or den, car seats, consoles, trunks and glove compartments, grocery bags, backpacks, and everywhere they can think of (typically their greatest contribution, followed by an "oops" moment and further clean-up) where khâ•meitz has likely been eaten during the past year.

As a check on each child's inspecting prowess, a small morsel of bread secured in a sealed sandwich bag should be placed in a non-conspicuous but pertinent place to ensure each child has inspected well. The child's inspection of the premises should have the feeling of a treasure hunt, challenging the child to think of all the places where any bread, pastries and related snacks may have been eaten during the past year. Especially important, each child should be rewarded—prepare the reward ahead of time—upon successfully finding such khâ•meitz.

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