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In Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 432:2 the Rama says that the Minhag is to place bread in such a place that the searcher can find it. Both the Be'er Hataiv and the Mishna Berura say that according to the Arizal you should place 10 pieces and it is a Sod Godol.

http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14165&st=&pgnum=6

I am looking for a reason as to why we hide 10 pieces? Why not 7? Why not 15?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 5 down vote accepted

R' Shlomo Alkabetz writes that it is hinted at by the Gemara's expression about "one who leaves ten [pieces of chametz]..." (Pesachim 10a, bottom).

(Cited in Shaar Hakollel 48:3)

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And why did the Gemara pick the number of 10? –  Gershon Gold Mar 27 '11 at 21:43
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On a simple level, it's a common number for Talmudic hypotheticals. Another example (cited in the same sugya) is the case of "nine stores selling kosher meat and one selling non-kosher." –  Alex Mar 28 '11 at 2:24

The Rav of our Young israel Shul holds that nothing is to be hidden for Bedekah lest the child who hid it does not remember where he put it and it then coud not be found. Our rav holds that you just make the Bracha and just do a proper search, which in his opinion will take at least a couple of hours.

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Why does a child need to hide the pieces? Why can't the adult who hides them jot down where they are? –  msh210 Mar 28 '11 at 21:07
    
Good point, I will have to ask our Rav that. Of the top of my head, I guess it is possible that the paper would get lost or become illegible and the adult forget where it was hidden. I know that's alot to happen, but it's called Bekikas chometz, searching, not finding. –  Ken Mar 28 '11 at 21:31
    
I think Ken means to say that a child might take one of the hidden pieces and move it and then not remember where he put it. –  Gershon Gold Mar 28 '11 at 22:48
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If observing a custom takes extra diligence, that's no reason to drop it. The Rema records this as a valid custom, and M"B comments that one should take precautions. M"B did not advise against it. –  Barry Mar 29 '11 at 16:57
    
Why can't an adult hide them? How long prior to the search are they being hidden that the paper might get lost? –  Seth J Apr 5 '12 at 8:24

See Taame Haminhagim 484–5.

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Summary please? –  Double AA Apr 2 '12 at 16:43
    
@DoubleAA, nope! I don't understand it. –  msh210 Apr 2 '12 at 18:29
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@DoubleAA, I'll try. The first paragraph states that there are 10 levels of angels (the list is taken from Rambam, Hil. Yesodei Hatorah 2:7), and correspondingly 10 levels of tum'ah; so we put out 10 pieces of chametz and destroy them, symbolizing the destruction of those 10 types of tum'ah. The second paragraph says that the 10 pieces correspond to the 10 makkos (as in rwh's answer), and the 10 expressions of the destruction that Hashem will visit on the oppressors of the Jewish people - and parallel to that, the 10 levels of holiness in Eretz Yisrael (Kelim 1:6ff). –  Alex Apr 9 '12 at 17:15

There is a kabbalic concept known as the "ten crowns of impurity". Thus we lay down ten pieces of chametz to represent those ten crowns. See R. Zev Wolf haLevi of Zitomir, Ohr haMeir (vaYikra: Pesach), quoting Arizal in Pri Etz Chaim (Mitzvos, end of ch. 4).

(It is well known that the removal of chametz from our homes symbolizes the removal of the Evil Inclination from within us, and our tradition frequently refers to the E"I as the "yeast in the dough". The candle of Bedikas Chametz symbolizes the searching of the soul for traces of spiritual chametz. See e.g. Yalkut Zapania 567 and Zohar Parshat Bo.)

For another source for this custom, see Tzitz Eliezer (9:17:9).

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I heard from Rabbi Menachem Lerner in Lakewood that the Sefer Matamim brings in the name of the Bais Aharon that we hide ten pieces of bread as a Zecher for the Aseres Bnei Haman. Since on the 13th of Nissan was when the king's scribes were called to write the Gezeira against the Jews.

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But we do bedika (on most years) on the 14th of Nissan, not the 13th. –  Double AA Apr 2 '12 at 16:43

10 because there were 10 plagues.

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A source would be nice, but why the downvote? –  Seth J Apr 2 '12 at 21:21
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rwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhwhy, thanks for the answer (for which, as @SethJ noted, a source would be nice) and welcome to the site. I hope you stick around and enjoy it. (Preferably with an easier-to-read username.) Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  msh210 Apr 2 '12 at 22:04
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@SethJ: for a source, see msh210's answer and my comment on it. –  Alex Apr 9 '12 at 17:15

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