The Search For...No, Not Spock, Chametz
Tonight is the night before Pesach, and the night we search for chametz throughout the entire house, in every single crevice to make sure no chametz is left, as per the halacha and per what the Torah says. Somewhere along the line, people started putting out 10 pieces of bread, so that the bracha we make (as with basically every other mitzvah, we say a bracha) wouldn't be a bracha levatala, a wasteful bracha.
I have seen though, that over time, this particular mitzvah, the searching for the chametz, has been warped. Instead of looking through everything, some people only look for those 10 pieces of bread. I was once in my step father's house on the night of Bedikas Chametz, and he literally finished in 3 minutes. He found all of the pieces of bread, and that's it. Do you know how long it takes to properly search everything in a regular house? It should take at least an hour (at the very least, more than 3 minutes). To look in every draw, every cabinet, every couch cushion, every space behind all the beds, everything. People are bound to find chametz during the bedika -- even though they're sure they cleaned it already.
Just think, because of 10 little pieces of bread, I bet thousands of people throughout the years have lived through a Pesach with chametz. Wouldn't it have been better to not put out those 10 little pieces of bread?
I'll tell y'all a little secret though, a source, to not put them out. The Vilna Gaon says that one shouldn't put out those pieces of bread. But what about the bracha levatala you ask?
Well, what's the mitzvah called? ........ Yes, it's called BEDIKAS chametz (the SEARCH for chametz) not METZI'AS chametz (the FINDING of chametz). We're supposed to make sure that there isn't anymore chametz, not to find it. The bracha levatala would be if you said the bracha, then went and watched tv. That's a bracha levatala. Not when you searched but didn't find anything. Does that make sense? You didn't find chametz, and therefore it's an aveira? Please.
Besides, let's say you hid the pieces. Or better, you let your young boy or girl of 4 or 5 years old hide them. A pretty good idea, teaching them about the mitzva and all, while having fun at the same time. I actually like that (kind of like having the kids steal the afikomen. Keeping them up, learning about Pesach. To digress, I heard on Shabbos that Lubavitch don't have their kids steal the afikomen. They don't want to teach them to steal and become thieves). But picture, they're kids hiding things from you, maybe they will try a little extra hard to put it in a really good place to make sure you looked everywhere? Well, what if it was too good of a place and you couldn't find it? What if no one could find it? Not only did you make a bracha levatala (according to the custom, right? I mean, why else 10? Doesn't that mean less than 10 would be a bracha levatala?), but now you KNOW there's chametz in your house over Pesach! And it's not just a crumb, that maybe you be say isn't anything. It's a substantial piece, not small. That's a huge problem. Not only is there chametz in your house over Pesach, but you know about it.
So, for those of you who haven't done Bedikas Chametz yet, please, do the bedika (baseball...?) the way it outta' be.