It is well known that we use the mitzvah of destroying chametz as an opportunity to do general spring cleaning (and perhaps this is the source of "spring cleaning" altogether). What exactly, halachically, do we need to search out? Do we need to look for even the smallest crumbs of chametz?
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Haim 442,7) writes that less than a kezay'it of chametz does not need to be removed for Pesach. However, there are many opinions that this small amount (less than the size of a matchbox) needs to be totally destroyed. In fact the Mishna Brura writes that the Jewish people are so holy that we are particular to get rid of any chametz at all (Sha'ar HaTzion 442, 52). However, all this is only referring to getting rid of chametz that we see or know about – do we have to search and look for crumbs that we don't know are there?
This is a matter of debate amongst the rabbis. There are some who are strict and say that one needs to look for and search out even the smallest crumbs (Chayay Adam 119,6). The proof for this is the obligation in the gemara to search out even in the "cracks and crevices", which would apparently only be big enough for small crumbs. On the other hand, many codifiers rule that one only needs to search out crumbs that are the size of a kezay'it or more (see Igrot Moshe, Orach Haim 1 145). This seems to be borne out by the words of the gemara (Pesachim 6) that one does not have to worry about crumbs as they are nullified automatically.
This argument is apparently dependent on a classic argument between Rashi and Tosafot (found at the beginning of Masechet Pesachim) about the reason for checking for chametz. Rashi says it is so we will not come to break the law of possessing chametz. According to most opinions, one does not break this law with less than a kezay'it. If so, it would follow according to Rashi that we need only search out chametz the size of a kezay'it or more. On the other hand, the Tosafot rules that the reason for searching for chametz is so we won’t come to inadvertently eat it on Pesach. It is forbidden from the Torah to eat any amount of chametz, no matter how small. And so, based on Tosafot, it would make sense that the obligation is to search out even the smallest crumb. (Although, even according to Tosafot's logic, chametz that is so dirty and dusty that people wouldn't be tempted to eat it, would perhaps fall outside the obligation to search for it – see Mishna Brura 442, 33).
In practice, some people are lenient, and some are strict. They both have reliable authorities to rely upon. However, in places where there is a chance that chametz crumbs might fall into food (such as the kitchen), one should make a special effort to search out even the smallest crumbs, so that one doesn't come to eat chametz on Pesach by mistake.שיעורים נוספים ניתן למצוא בקטגוריות הבאות: הלכה
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