Tonight is the Search for Chometz ( Bidikat Chametza) a time when, after cleaning, a final search is conducted for chometz (foods forbidden on Passsover) after which any crumb, particle, or pasta strand found within the confines of your domicile are to be considered hekfer (ownerless).
There are three methods of chometz removal: Bi’ur– burning, Bittul- nullifying that which you cannot find, and Mechirah- selling your chamtez to a non-Jew for the Passover period.
Traditionally, the search for chametz requires a beeswax candle, a spoon, a feather, and a bag in which to burn any found chametz.
At sundown, search the house- around the baseboards, in the cracks of the couch, crumbs in the flatware drawer, etc. and using the candle as illumination, sweep any crumbs into the spoon with the feather, put into the bag and burn. The prayers are as follows (in English, Hebrew available through links):
Prior to search: Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us concerning the removal of chametz.
After search:All leaven or anything leavened which is in my possession, which I have neither seen nor removed, and about which I am unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.
But first,we should reverse a bit: what is chometz (חָמֵץ / חמץ )?
Chometz refers to the five grains in Biblical Israel. There is debate, but it is commonly thought that they include:
חיטים Ḥittim – durum wheat
שיפון Shippon (shifon) – einkorn
כוסמין Kusmin – emmer
שעורים Se’orim – six row barley
שיבולת שועל Shibbolet shual – two row barley
In addition, many Ashkenazi families choose to refrain from eating kitniyot, translated as small things, that are also thought to ferment. Kitniyot inlcude rice, corn, lentils, beans, and peanuts.
For Ahhkenazi vegetarians this is a mighty tough week.Information on the prayer and practice of Chametz searching can be found at the following sources: