burning bread

How to Burn Your Hametz Before Passover

It's customary to burn any remaining leavened products in your possession the morning before Passover.

On the morning before Passover, many synagogues will have what look like small bonfires burning in their driveways. This is the ritual known as biur hametz, the burning of leavened products.

Traditionally, this is the last step in a multi-stage process of ridding one’s house of all leavened products that begins days, if not weeks, prior to Passover. The process often begins with a thorough Passover house cleaning and the quarantine of any hametz that will not be removed to a specific location. Many Jews have the custom of selling any hametz they do not discard to a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday.

Searching for the Last Hametz

Once the house has been thoroughly cleaned of hametz, there is a final search called bedikat hametz (checking for hametz). This is done the night before the holiday, traditionally by candlelight. Many have a tradition of searching the house with feathers and wooden spoons and sweeping the hametz into the spoons with the feathers. This can be a fun activity with children and parents will often intentionally hide ten pieces of hametz around the house for kids to find.

Before searching for the final hametz, the following blessing is recited:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל בִּעוּר חָמֵץ

Baruch ata Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al bi’ur hametz.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with commandments and commanded us to destroy hametz.

Once all the hametz has been collected, it is put in a safe place for the night to burn the following morning.

Burning the Hametz

The morning following the final search for leaven (the 14th of Nisan), any hametz that was turned up during the search is burned. The hametz is burned by mid-morning (check with your local rabbi for exact time). Synagogues often light fires that their congregants can use to do the burning, but some people do it themselves.

Once the burning is complete, it is customary to make the following declaration which declares any hametz which may have been missed in the search process null and void:

כָּל־חֲמִירָא וַחֲמִיעָא דְּאִכָּא בִרְשׁוּתִי דְּלָא חֲמִתֵּהּ וּדְלָא בַעֲרִתֵּהּ לִבְטִיל וְלֶהֱוֵי כְּעַפְרָא דְאַרְעָא

Kol chamira v’chamiya d’ika virshuti d’la chamitae u’d’la va’aritei livtil vlehevei k’afra d’ara.

May all hametz or leaven that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have removed it or not, be annulled and deemed like the dust of the earth.

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