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Shabbat Parashat Tzav 5772

Ask the Rabbi: Preparations for Seder Night on Shabbat

Rav Daniel Mann

There are two relatively minor changes that are worthwhile discussing. (We understand that you are not referring to the more obviously different rules for cooking and reheating on Shabbat, as opposed to the significantly more lenient rules for Yom Tov.)

Preparing the saltwater for dipping the karpas – One is not allowed to make large quantities of saltwater on Shabbat for soaking vegetables (Shabbat 108a; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 321:2). This is because making such saltwater was part of the process that was done to store vegetables for the long term, which is in turn similar to ibbud ha’or (tanning hides). It is permitted to make small quantities to put into food or to dip one’s bread or the like into, provided one does not use double the volume of salt compared to the water (ibid.; see Mishna Berura 321:11).

Based on the above, several poskim (Taz 473:3; Chok Yaakov 473:13; Mishna Berura 473:21) say that when seder night falls on Friday night, one should prepare the saltwater beforehand. The Magen Avraham does not understand why this is necessary, considering that we are presumably only making a small quantity to use for the seder. The (partial) answer is apparently as the Misgeret Hashulchan (on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 118:4) says: one is not always careful to make only the necessary amount. If one did not prepare in advance, there are different opinions as to whether it is better to dip the karpas in vinegar or to be careful to make a particularly small quantity of saltwater.

Our discussion, on the uniqueness of Pesach falling on Shabbat, assumes that it is permitted to prepare saltwater on Yom Tov, despite the fact that ibbud, which is the overall issue, is forbidden on Yom Tov. This indeed is the assumption of most classical poskim (see Misgeret Hashulchan, ibid.). However, the Chayei Adam (130:19) and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (118:4) say that one should prepare the saltwater before Yom Tov even in a regular year. While one might be tempted to say it is just a good suggestion to save time for the seder, they seem to view it as a halachic requirement, as they say that if one has to make the saltwater on Yom Tov, he should switch the normal order and put in the water first followed by the salt.

In summary, then, one cannot really say it is forbidden to make saltwater for the seder on Shabbat. Additionally, some prefer making the saltwater before Yom Tov every year to expedite matters and maybe for halachic reasons. However, the impetus to prepare in advance when the seder is on Shabbat is greater.

Adding wine to the charoset – The minhag is to put (additional?) wine in the charoset soon before using it at the seder (Rama, Orach Chayim 473:5). While the mixing in of the wine may be under the category of lash (kneading), this is forbidden only on Shabbat but permitted on Yom Tov (Orach Chayim 506). When the seder falls out on Shabbat, adding the wine could be a problem. Therefore, the Mishna Berura (321:68) says one should put in the wine before Shabbat. Regarding a case where he forgot to do so, one has to add the wine in a manner that does not violate lash. One possibility is to change the order of mixing together, by putting the wine on the bottom, adding the charoset on top, and mixing them together either by finger or by shaking the utensil that holds them. The Mishna Berura points out that one of the opinions in the Shulchan Aruch requires that the mixture be watery. This raises issues with the fact that we want the charoset to be thick like mortar (see Sha’ar Hatziyun 321:86). This is another reason why one would want to avoid the issue and simply prepare the charoset before Shabbat.

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