“Shoalim ve’dorshim be’hilchot ha’Pesach kodem la’Pesach shloshim yom” (Pesachim 6a), we ask and teach about Pesach during the thirty days which proceed the Pesach,. Two issues are discussed in reference to this Halachic dictum.
The primary question is what does the Halacha of “shoalim ve’dorshim” entail? Are Rabbis meant to go out and actively teach Hilchot Pesach, or is there a more passive responsive meaning to this Halacha. This question is asked primarily in reference to another Halacha “Dorshim be’hilchot hachag ba’chag” the Halachot of the Chag are taught on the Chag (Megilah 32a). If so, what is meant to be done on Yom Tov and what should be done during the thirty days proceeding it. It maybe that on the Chag itself the Rabbis must teach the Halachot of the Chag, while during the time proceeding it they will respond to inquiries about the Chag.
A second question raised is whether this time period of thirty days applies to Pesach specifically or to other Yomim Tovim as well. On the one hand, the phraseology used is “be’hilchot ha’Pesach kodem la’Pesach”, in Hilchot Pesach proceeding Pesach. On the other hand, we have a general Halacha of teaching Halachot of each Moed on the Moed which may be expanded to the thirty days before.
On the question of what “shoalim vedorshim” entails, we find two varying opinions. The Rashba and Ran explain that the intent of the Gemara was not to state that there is a requirement to lecture on the Halachot of Pesach during the thirty days proceeding Pesach. Rather, the intent was to express the validity of questions asked during this period. If one were to ask about the Halachot of Pesach before the thirty day period proceeding the Chag, the answer to his question would not receive priority over answers to other questions. During the thirty days proceeding Pesach, answers to questions pertaining to the Halachot of Pesach are given a priority.
Rashi and other Rishonim understand that there is a requirement to study and teach the Halachot of Pesach during the thirty days proceeding Pesach. As to the seeming conflict between this and the Gemara in Megilah, the Beit Yosef explains that “beChag” in Masechet Megilah means at the time of the chag.
We can find three opinions as to the parameters of the Halacha of Shoalim ve’dorshim. According to the Beit Yosef, only in reference to Pesach is there a Halacha of teaching the Halachot thirty days before the Chag. Since the body of Halachot pertaining to Pesach is so large more time is needed to master it. Contrary to this opinion, the Maharsha shows that according to Rashi the requirement to teach the Halachot of the Chag apply to all three Regalim. This is the view of the Gaon of Vilna in his comments to Shulchan Aruch as well. A third opinion, that of the Chok Yaakov, takes a middle road explaining that while teaching the Halachot of Pesach thirty days before Pesach is a requirement, on other Chagim it is only a custom.
The Halacha “Shoalim ve’dorshim be’hilchot ha’Pesach kodem la’Pesach shloshim yom”, brings about a Halachic ruling in reference to Bdikat Chametz- searching and removing chametz from ones home. The Gemara (Pesachim 6a) discusses the question of whether a person who leaves his home before the night of Bedikat Chametz must do a Bedika (inspection) before leaving. The conclusion to this discussion is that any person leaving more than thirty days before Pesach, need not do a bedika unless his intention is to return to his home on the eve of or during Pesach. In the event that the person does not intend to return, he may suffice with Bitul Chmetz done on the eve of Pesach as is the case with Chametz buried under a collapsed wall or house.
Yet, if a person is leaving his home within thirty days to Pesach, as is often the case today with people who travel to Israel or other places for Pesach, he or she must inspect his or her house and remove the Chametz before leaving. (see Shulchan Aruch OC 436 A-B) The requirement to do the Bedika during the thirty days proceeding Pesach is based on the fact that these days are defined as the time of Bedika, which is deduced from the fact that this is the time intended for the study of Hilchot Pesach.
The Rama writes that when doing the Bedika before the night of the fourteenth, no Beracha is said. The Mishna Berura explains that only on the eve of the fourteenth, when the Chametz will be burned and therefore the Bedika is the first step to the Biur, was there a decree to say a Bracha of Beiur Chametz. Contrary to the Rama, the Bayit Chadash-Bach is of the opinion, that since the thirty days proceeding Pesach are viewed as time for Bedika, a Beracha should be recited anytime the Bedika is done during the thirty days.