2a Can Bedikas Chametz be done with a Candle?

by | Nov 29, 2020 | Insights

I know, the question is shocking. You would think I meant  to ask if you can check with a flashlight!

Let’s review part of today’s Daf (Psachim 8).

“Checking for Chametz should not be done with a torch”. The Gemora then shows that torchlight is good light and asks the question, “Why not torchlight?”.

The Gemara brings 4 answers:

  1. A torch is insufficient because it cannot be inserted into holes and crevices.
  2. The light of a torch is insufficient because its light projects backwards.
  3. A torch prevents one from focusing on carrying out a good inspection, because of the fear of causing a fire.
  4. The light of a torch is insufficient because the light of a torch flickers.

The Shulchan Aruch paskens that one may not do a Bedika with a torch. The Acharonim add that if one did already Bedika with a torch, one has not fulfilled his obligation and must check again. See Magen Avraham who deduces that from the words of the Shulchan Aruch himself.

The Shulchan Aruch adds that certain types of candles and oil are also not to be used, because one will not check well with them, due to the fear that they may drip on his belongings. Here the Achronim say that if one did Bedika with one of these candles , he has fulfilled his obligation. However if one performed the Bedika using oil, some Achronim say that he has not fulfilled his obligation and must check again.

In our times I believe it is fair to say that most people are not used to carrying around a candle. I further posit that because of that, most people carry the candle gingerly and are quite focused on their candle.

Therefore, my Rebbe Rav Yitzchok Berkovits Shlit’a does not recommend using a candle for Bedikas Chametz. Since there is something about it that prevents one from doing a Bedika well, it is included in the dictum of the Shulchan Aruch, that one may not use a candle of the sort that drips, since it will distract him from performing a good inspection. Therefore one should not use a candle to complete his Bedika.

It would seem that a candle in our times would be included in the dictum of Chazal, that one may not use a torch, since here too the fear of causing a fire may prevent one from checking well. Were this to be true, then even if one already did a Bedika with a candle, one would need to check again.

Now I can ask the other question; can I do Bedikas Chometz with a flashlight?

The answer is yes, but the reasoning is beyond the purview of this article.