Biur and S’mores: Have Fun As You Get Rid of Hametz

Blurry image of a firepit and the words Biur and S’mores: Have Fun As You Get Rid of Hametz

There is lots to do to get ready for Passover. We may ask, where am I going to have Seder? How long or short will it be? Do I go to my parents, or try to have Seder with friends? All important questions. Then there is the process of cleaning our homes of hametz (leavened products).

The Torah commands us not to possess or own leavened products throughout all of Passover.

Jewish Tradition provides many ways to rid ourselves of hametz in preparation for the holiday. The physical actions of cleaning and clearing our homes from hametz can often open our souls to experience Passover deeply.

Below are some traditional and contemporary ways to rid our homes of hametz!

The Day Before – Searching for Hametz:

During Passover, it is a mitzvah, a commandment, a Jewish action, not to possess any hametz (leavened products). There are many ways to do this; some are even fun!

DONATE: Do two Mitzvot at once, get rid of your hametz and feed those in need: Donate un-opened hametz (leavened products) to a Food Pantry; donate to a Jewish food pantry to help clients to have Passover food.

SELL: Symbolically sell your hametz through a local rabbi or through The Rabbinical Assembly.

SEARCH & SAY: On the night before Passover, after cleaning the hametz (leavened products) from our homes we symbolically search for any remaining leavened products. Some individuals place ten bread crumbs so we are sure to find something.

Traditionally we search for the hametz with a feather and candle to illuminate and collect the hametz. To make it contemporary, some like to use a flashlight from their phone and a dust-buster. In Hebrew, this is called Bedikat Hametz – searching for hametz. It is fun for kids and a satisfying ritual for adults. Searching for the few remaining crumbs of hametz and later burning it reminds us that we clean for Passover and that we understand that we will have done enough at some point. We are ready to “leave Egypt.”

We say this blessing before the search:

Blessed are You, Sovereign of the Universe, who sanctifies us by commanding us to remove hametz.
Baruch ata Adoni Elohaynu Melech haOlam, asher kidshanu b’mitz-vo-tav v’tzee vanu al bee-ur hametz.

You can find the Rabbinical Assembly’s one-pager with the blessing in Hebrew here.

The Morning Before Seder – Burning to Get Rid of Hametz:

SIYUM/STUDY: At many synagogues, we come together the morning before Passover to do a short siyum (celebration of the conclusion of learning) so that the First-born among us do not have to fast. After the siyum I like to add some fun activities to get in the Passover spirit!

SELL: We sell your hametz for the duration of Passover in a public ceremony to someone who is not Jewish. Come and watch the sale.

BURN: It is traditional to burn the hametz that one found the night before; this is called Biur Hametz. At my synagogue, we burn our hametz in a fire pit / bonfire! Invite some campfire builders to get in on the action. Encourage people to bring some bread to burn.

Before we burn, we say,

“All hametz in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, and whether I have removed it or not, shall be nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.”

You can find the Rabbinical Assembly’s one-pager with the words in Aramaic here.

Now Comes the Fun! Join together in some festive Passover songs with your community! Get some sticks, get some kosher for Passover marshmallows, and roast them over the burning fire. Eat and enjoy!

Author

  • Rabbi Andi Merow is the rabbi at The Jewish Center of Princeton, NJ. She previously served as a pulpit rabbi in the Philadelphia area. She was ordained at J.T.S.A. in 1997.

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