Erev Pesach occurring on Shabbat holds special virtue, for out of the sanctity of Shabbat the idea of Pesach can be understood in deeper way * The Fast of the Firstborn is moved up to Thursday, and the accepted custom is to attend the meal of a siyyum, and thus, not have to fast * The solution to Shabbat meals: eat bread outside, and then continue the meal inside with food and utensils kosher for Pesach * Se’udat Shlishit is fulfilled with various fruits, or meat and fish, and should be eaten before three hours after midday
This year we are privileged to enter Chag Pesach (the Passover holiday) straight from the kedusha (sanctity) of Shabbat, and indeed, this is something special, for out of the sanctity of Shabbat, the idea of Pesach can be comprehended in a deeper way. At the same time, it is important to familiarize ourselves with the special halachot for this year.
Bedikat Chametz and Biur Chametz
The time of bedikat chametz (search for chametz) each year is on the night of the 14th of Nisan, and when the 14th of Nisan falls on Shabbat, bedikat chametz with a bracha is moved forward to the night of the 13th of Nisan. After the search, chametz not found in the search is nullified as in any other year. On the following day, Friday, chametz that was found, is burned. It is best to burn it by the sixth seasonal hour of the day like in any other year, so that people will not mistakenly come to think it may be burnt in other years at a later time (SA 444:1-2).
Unlike other years, however, the formal declaration of bitul chametz is not said immediately after biur chametz (disposing of chametz), since bread must be left for the first two meals of Shabbat.
Ta’anit Bekhorot (The Fast of the Firstborn)
Every year Ta’anit Bekhorot is on the 14th of Nisan, but when it falls on Shabbat, the fast is moved forward to Thursday, the 12th of Nisan (SA and Rema 470:2).
Today, almost all bekhorim usually participate in a siyyum masechet (the celebration of the end of a Tractate) instead of fasting. Although for the rest of the fasts there is absolutely no heter (halachic permit) to eat by way of holding a siyyum masechet, for Ta’anit Bekhorot, the siyyum benefits all the participants because it is a Minor Fast. The other fasts were instituted by our Sages, whereas Ta’anit Bekhorot is a minhag (custom) practiced by the firstborn, but was not fixed as an obligatory fast, and can therefore be broken by the joy of a mitzvah, such as participation in a siyyum masechet.
The Problem of Shabbat Meals on Erev Pesach that Falls on Shabbat
Every year after biur chametz, no chametz remains in the house, but this year we must fulfill the mitzvah of three Shabbat meals, the first two of which it is obligatory to eat bread with lechem mishneh.
If it were permissible to eat matzah on the eve of Pesach, so as not to enter into a problematic situation because of the chametz, we would eat matzah at Shabbat meals. However, our Sages forbade eating matzah on Erev Pesach, so we would cherish eating it at the Seder. Therefore, we must find a way to fulfill the mitzvah of the Shabbat meals, but on the other hand, be careful to make sure that chametz crumbs do not come into contact with the Pesach utensils and food.
In order not to make things difficult with chametz foods, the common custom is to cook kosher for Pesach food for Shabbat, start the meal with Kiddush and eating bread with a salad spread or a bit of fish in one of the rooms of the house that is not intended for eating on Pesach, or on a balcony. After eating the bread, one’s hands, clothes and the floor should be cleaned of chametz remnants and thrown into the garbage. After this, move over to the regular place for the meal that is already kosher for Pesach, and there, eat the kosher for Pesach food on Pesach utensils. At the place where the meal is finished, Birkat HaMazone is said.
Biur Chametz In the Middle of the Morning Meal
Like the se’udah (meal) in the evening, in the morning, Kiddush and eating bread should be done in a place that is not intended for eating on Pesach. In the morning, however, the time for biur chametz arrives. Therefore, before continuing to eat the kosher for Pesach food in kosher for Pesach utensils, one must shake his clothes well, brush his teeth from all remains of chametz, thoroughly clean the place where chametz was eaten from all chametz crumbs, and gather up all the remaining chametz remnants in order to remove and destroy it from the home. If only a very small amount of chametz remains, it can be removed and destroyed by throwing it in the toilet, and flushing it down. If a lot of chametz is left over, it should be thrown in the public trash bin, and it is correct to damage the chametz with soap beforehand. However, even if the chametz is not damaged, when thrown in the public bin, this constitutes biur, since the bin is filthy, and any food thrown in it is already considered disgusting and unfit for eating (Peninei Halakha: Pesach 5: 5).
The chametz utensils: If one ate on disposable utensils, they should also be gathered up in a bag and thrown in the public trash. If regular chametz dishes were used, they should be washed and put away with the other chametz dishes.
After biur chametz from the home is done, the bitul chametz (declaration of nullification of chametz) should be said, thus fulfilling the nullification of the chametz completely, eradicating in deed and thought.
Final Time of Eating Chametz and its Elimination
From the Torah, it is forbidden to eat chametz from midday on the fourteenth of Nisan, and in order to distance a person from transgressing, our Sages forbade eating chametz two hours beforehand, thus, it is permissible to eat chametz until the end of the fourth seasonal hour of the day.
As known, there are two opinions about how to calculate these hours. According to Trumat Ha-Deshen, (commonly referred to as ‘zeman Magen Avraham’), the hours are calculated from amud ha-shachar, i.e., from the first light in the east, and in the opinion of the Gra (Gaon of Vilna) and the majority of poskim, the hours are calculated from sunrise. Since this law is d’rabanan (rabbinical), the halakha goes according to the lenient opinion. Therefore, sof zeman achilat chametz (final time to eat chametz) this year is 10:40. Those who wish to be machmir (stringent) and follow the method of Magen Avraham, should finish eating chametz by 10:15.
Sof zeman biur chametz (final time of elimination of chametz) is at 11:41, and for those who wish to be machmir, until 11:29.
What to Eat at Se’udah Shlishit (Third Meal)
Although ideally one should eat bread at Se’udah Shlishit, on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat, we cannot do so, as it is forbidden to eat chametz already two hours before midday, and matzah is forbidden to be eaten all day. Thus, Se’udah Shlishit is fulfilled by eating meat, fish, or various kinds of fruit (SA 444:1).
When to Eat Se’udah Shlishit
Se’udah Shlishit is eaten half an hour after midday – 13:15.
Le–chatḥila (ideally), on Shabbat that leads into Yom Tov, one should have Se’uda Shlishit relatively early – more than three hours before the end of the day, in order to enter Yom Tov with an appetite. If one did not manage to do so, Se’uda Shlishit should still be eaten, even if it is close to Yom Tov. However, one should eat minimally, in order to have an appetite for the Yom Tov meal (Rema 529:1; MB ad loc. 8).
Eating Mezzanot Kosher for Pesach at Se’udah Shlishit
One who wishes to eat mezzanot at Se’udah Shlishit may eat kneidlach cooked from matzah flour. As far as cake baked from matzah flour is concerned, the poskim differ. Some say that since it is made from matzah flour, just as it is forbidden to eat matzah on Erev Pesach, cake made from matzah flour is also forbidden (Gra, Rabbi Kook, Chazon Ish). On the other hand, some permit it since the cake no longer resembles matzah in form, and its blessing is ‘Mezzanot’ and not Ha-Motzi (so it appears from the words of Rema 471:2, and MB 19-20). Since the law is d’rabanan, whoever wishes to, may be lenient.
“Matzah ashira” (“rich matzah” – colloquially known in English as “egg matzah”) is made from flour kneaded with fruit juice. In principle, matzah ashira is not chametz. Sephardic Jews are accustomed to eat it, while Ashkenazi Jews refrain from eating it due to various concerns. Today, however, doubts have been raised about the kashrut of matzah ashira produced in factories, as it was discovered that water is mixed in, and thus, concern of leavening exists. Therefore, many poskim today are machmir in this issue for Sephardic Jews as well (Peninei Halakha: Pesach 8: 1).
Not to Prepare from Shabbat to Yom Tov
When Yom Tov begins as Shabbat departs on Saturday night, we must take care not to prepare on Shabbat for Yom Tov. Shabbat is meant to be holy and restful, not a day to prepare for another day. Making efforts on Shabbat in order to prepare for a weekday or Yom Tov is an affront to its honor (see Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 22:15-16).
Therefore, washing dirty dishes on Shabbat in order to use them on Yom Tov is forbidden. Only after Shabbat may they be washed for Yom Tov use. It is also prohibited to clean the table on Shabbat to honor Yom Tov; however, it is permitted to clean it so that it looks nice on Shabbat, even though it will also be helpful to have the table clean for Yom Tov.
One may sleep on Shabbat in order to gather strength in preparation for Seder night, but le-chatchilla, it is preferable not to say explicitly that this is the purpose of sleep. However, there is no prohibition to do so, since the main prohibition is to talk on Shabbat about something that is forbidden to do on Shabbat. Nor is there in this speech that much harm to the honor of Shabbat, since it is for the purpose of a mitzvah.
One who leaves for synagogue while it is still Shabbat may take a machzor (holiday prayer book) with him. He should look at its contents a bit on Shabbat, so that his taking it will have served a purpose on Shabbat.
Preparations for Seder Night Food
In order not to delay the Seder, it is correct to prepare everything needed for Seder night from Friday: cook the food, prepare the charoset, the maror, and zero’ah, and put them in the refrigerator. After Shabbat is over take them out of the refrigerator, because it is forbidden to prepare from Shabbat to Yom Tov.
Contemporary poskim disagree about whether one may remove food from a freezer on Shabbat to be used for a Yom Tov meal. As a practical matter, under extenuating circumstances, such as if waiting until after Shabbat will cause anguish and a considerable delay to the beginning of the Yom Tov meal, food may be removed on Shabbat. However, absent such necessity, one should be stringent and not remove food from a freezer on Shabbat for use on Yom Tov (Peninei Halakha: Moadim 2: 12).
It is forbidden to light the Yom Tov candles before tzeit ha-kochavim, rather, one should wait until after Shabbat has departed, then the woman should say “Baruch ha-mavdil bein kodesh le-kodesh” (“Blessed is He who distinguishes between holy and holy”), and light the candles.
Since it is forbidden to light a new fire on Yom Tov, it is necessary to prepare a candle before Shabbat that will light for more than twenty-four hours, from which one may light candles on Yom Tov. If they were not prepared, one should take fire from neighbors to light the Yom Tov candles.
One may force the candles into the candlesticks even though this may shave off a bit of the candles. There is no prohibition of Meḥatekh (cutting), because the shaving is done with a shinui (in an irregular manner). It is also permitted to use a knife to remove wax left in the candlestick, if it is getting in the way of putting in the new candles. Similarly, if one uses tea lights or votive candles, he may pry the little metal discs left over from the previous night out of the glass cup. If one uses floating wicks, they may be inserted into the cork disks that hold them. However, one using candles may not melt the bottoms to make them stay in the candlestick, as this is a derivative of Memaḥek (smoothing). Similarly, it is forbidden to cut the bottoms or sand them in order to stick the candles into the candlesticks, because this is a violation of Meḥatekh (Peninei Halakha: Moadim 2:3).
This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.