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.

הלכות פסח סיק תלב תלג

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

  • See Taame Haminhagim 484–5. – msh210 Mar 29 '11 at 4:21
  • Summary please? – Double AA Apr 2 '12 at 16:43
  • @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
  • 10 lost tribes? – Clint Eastwood Sep 14 '16 at 13:54

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
  • Do you mean "the custom is hinted at" or "the custom is based on" or "a mnemonic of the custom is"? I can only imagine the latter was intended. – Double AA Sep 14 '16 at 1:51

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).


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.

  • 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

Rama (Rabbi Moses Isserles (O.C. 432:2)) says that it prevents a bracha levatala. However, as to why ten, I have seen that it is used in order to be a significant amount. Chabad says that over and above various kabbalistic or mystical meanings, we use ten because it has become established as the common minhag.

As seen below, the difference between the ח of חמץ and the ה of מצה is the yud that is connecting the two parts of the ה to make it a ח Also note the position of the two letters in the word. The arrogance of the חמץ is replaced by the humbleness of the מצה as shown by the movement of the first letter into the end position. This י is symbolized by the ten pieces of bread that we search for and burn.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi concludes that this is a custom, not halachically mandated—but should still be respected out of deference for its widespread acceptance as a hallowed practice. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav (O.C. 432:11)) Elsewhere,

Rabbi Schneur Zalman writes that searching for—and burning—ten pieces of chametz has kabbalistic significance, as explained in the mystical texts.3

In his glosses to the Haggadah, as part of his discussion on the matter, the Rebbe explains that this custom has another important function: On the morning before Passover we declare nullified and ownerless all chametz “…which I have seen, and which I have not seen...” These ten pieces of bread which we indeed saw and rid ourselves of ensure the complete accuracy of this statement.4

Recently, I came across a beautiful explanation for this custom that I hope you will enjoy as well. The number 10 is signified by the letter yud—the tenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Yud (י) is also the smallest letter.

On Passover we replace our "chametz" with "matzah." The two words contain almost identical letters – albeit in a different order – except that chametz is spelled with a chet, and matzah is written with a hey. The difference between a chet (ח) and a hey (ה) is the almost invisible pen-stroke that connects the foreleg of the letter to its roof—signified by the י, the smallest letter in the alphabet.5

Chametz is pride and conceit. The flat matzah, on the other hand, represents humility. Usually, it is easy to tell the difference. But sometimes things are not so clear and the difference between the two is hard to see—as small as a yud. On the night before Passover, we search our homes and our hearts for the ten pieces of bread—the almost indiscernible bits of pride which we have yet to identify.

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