Baal Shem Tov, or Besht — the founder of Chasidism —
A Kavanah for Bedikat Chamets, The Search for Chamets
Here's a kavannah prayer you can use for bedikat chametz (the search for leaven) on the night before Passover, or for bi'ur chametz (the burning of leaven) on the morning before the seder. Scroll to the end for the prayer. May you have a sweet, kosher and liberating Pesach! ~ Reb Duvid
Every year, we read a special formula after searching for and burning any chametz (grain products that could become leavened). The formula goes like this (for bi'ur, burning, add the words in parentheses):
Some people think this is like a magic formula that turns chametz into dust. What it really is is a legal formula through which one renounces ownership of any chametz still in your space or your domain, declaring that it no longer has any value to you.
But is it true that dirt should be the symbol of what is valueless and ownerless? We certainly act like we own the dirt, the soil. Developers take good land, build houses on it, and truck the topsoil away to sell to other people — thereby multiplying profits and multiplying the damage to the earth.
We act like we own the soil, yet at the same time, we act like it has no value, like it can be renewed and replaced at will. We poison the soil’s microbial communities with pesticides, and apply them even more strongly on GMO corn and soy, then we replace the nutrients created by those microbes with petroleum-based fertilizers. We send the soil downstream and into the ocean along with vast quantities of agricultural runoff, creating algal blooms and anoxic dead zones. In that sense we do treat the soil like it is both ownerless and valueless. Yet it can take thousands of years to develop even a few inches of soil.
In fact our lives are almost entirely beholden to the soil. If it is ownerless, it is because it belongs to all of us, or more precisely, as the story of the rabbi deciding between claimants goes, “The land says it doesn’t belong to you or to you, but that you belong to it.”
Like the dirt of the earth, the chametz inside one’s house becomes at Passover what at Burning Man we call “moop” or “matter out of place.” Finding out where it belongs also means finding out that it doesn’t belong to you or me.
So here’s a brief prayer to say after the formula:
May we remember on this day that just as we do not own this chametz, we do not own this Earth. May we recall that Adam, the human, is made of afar min ha’adamah, soil, dirt, and that we belong to the soil. May we cherish the soil that comes from centuries of rocks breaking and life growing and decomposing. We too are "hewn from the rock and dug from the mine" of Abraham and Sarah. And so, may it be Your will, Adonai Eloheinu, that we give truth to Your promise to Abraham, that his progeny would become “like the dirt of the earth, ka`afar ha’aretz” – k`afra d’ar’a – and that, like the soil, we may live to nourish all Life.(based on Gen 13:16 and Isaiah 15:1-2)
Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006