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Thought for the Day: Safeik d'Rabanan l'Kula, Except B'dika

We all go more than a little nuts before Pesach (more than usual, I mean).  It's not entirely our own fault, Chazal added some fuel to this fire.  The Torah requires that we not have chameitz during Pesach; in fact, it demands that we destroy any chameitz that we have (that's why we like to specifically leave over chameitz and burn it before the Torah takes it away from us; but that's another story).  Chazal have required us to fulfill this requirement by doing two things before Pesach: bikur/bi'ur (search/check  and destroy any chameitz in our environs) and bitul (nullification of any chameitz in our environs).  Mi'di'oraisa, either would be enough, but Chazal required both.

Bikur/bi'ur is required because Chazal were nervous that you might not be wholeheartedly sincere in your declaration that all that beer and cake in the fridge/pantry is ownerless (uh-huh... sure you meant it).  Bitul is required in case you missed something in your search and destroy mission; since you thought you destroyed it, your bitul was sincere.  Classic belts and suspenders.

Of course, required is required; m'di'oraisa or mi'd'raban.  In this case, though, one or the other -- bi'ur or bitul -- is required mi'di'oraisa; once that decision is made, the other get knocked down to d'rabanan.  Still, required is required; m'di'oraisa or mi'd'raban -- except when it comes to cases of uncertainty.  If one is left in a case of uncertainty, if it is before the 6th hour on erev Pesach, then one can m'vatel whatever might be the source of uncertainty and... voila -- safeik d'rabanan l'kula, problem solved; but if it is after the 6th hour, by which time the Torah has rendered the chameitz forbidden completely, and so the erstwhile owner can no longer m'vatel it (there is no value to nullify) and... voila -- safeik di'oraisa l'chumra, biur required!

One case in which we do not say "safeik d'rabanan l'kula" is when the safeik would require a new b'dika.  For example, a rat grabs a roll and zips into that house you just checked.  You run after him, but only find some crumbs.  Since rats (unlike children) are not messy eaters, one must assume that those crumbs came from "the world" (probably junior, the messy eater) and so one must do a new b'dika.  Another case would be where one had gathered 10 donuts for the morning last hurrah, but in the morning there are only nine donuts!  Aaargh... one must go looking for that errant donut.  Why?  Just m'vatel it, knocking the issue down to a d'rabanan and be done with it.

Since the requirement for a b'dika is actually built on the situation of uncertainty, this is not a case of safeik d'rabanan; this is instead precisely the case in which Chazal required the b'dika in the first place.  Happy hunting!

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