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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra 5781

Ask the Rabbi: Erev Pesach that Falls on Shabbat

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: What do you suggest we do on Erev Pesach this year, which is on Shabbat, regarding when and what to eat?


Answer: Among the valid solutions to the challenges of Erev Pesach on Shabbat, people must determine the most practical solutions, according to the halachic possibilities their rabbis present. One practical assumption is that people will use only Pesachdik and/or disposable utensils, keeping any remaining chametz separate. “Bread” is needed for the first two meals and is preferred for seuda shlishit (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 291:5), which should be held in the afternoon (ibid. 2). Since the prohibition to eat chametz begins four halachic hours into the morning (consult a local calendar), our standard Shabbat practice needs to be changed. Let’s take a meal-by-meal look.

Friday night meal - Those who do not want to keep chametz around can eat matza according to most poskim. If one has the minhag not to eat matza from the beginning of Nisan, matza ashira (known as “egg matza”) is an alternative.

Shabbat morning meal - If one finishes eating chametz (not necessarily the whole meal) by the end of the 4th hour, accomplished by davening very early, matters are halachically simple. (Getting rid of crumbs or leftovers by the end of the 5th hour is solvable and beyond our present scope.) Matza is desirable for situations when it is hard or nerve-racking to deal with chametz. However, Chazal forbade eating matza on Erev Pesach, according to most, from the beginning of the morning, so that when we eat it at the seder, it will be clear that it is for the mitzva (see Rambam, Chametz U’matza 6:12). However, one may eat matza that cannot be used for the mitzva (Shulchan Aruch 471:2), primarily, matza ashira, which is kneaded with liquids other than water (see Pesachim 35a). If it contains no water, most Rishonim rule that it cannot become chametz, and one would seemingly not need to rush.

Yet there are two issues. Firstly, as Ashkenazim are stringent to treat matza ashira as possible chametz, which is permitted to eat on Pesach only in cases of great need (Rama 462:4), the time issue reawakens. (Some poskim rely on the Noda B’yehuda (I, OC 21) that it is sufficient to be wary of matza ashira only after midday of Erev Pesach.) Secondly, matza ashira may have a status of pat haba’ah b’kisnin, similar to cake, making it a questionable substitute for challa. (Igrot Moshe OC I:155 explains that this is not a problem on Shabbat, but still seems to prefer challa when convenient. To see Rav O. Yosef’s preferred solution, see Yechaveh Da’at I, 91).

Seuda shlishit (­=ss) - We mentioned the two preferred opinions about how normally to perform ss, which conflict this Shabbat. One is to eat bread at ss. The other is to have ss after midday, at which time chametz and matza are forbidden, and matza ashira is problematic for Ashkenazim. The Rama (444:1) says that we eat other foods, such as fruit or meat, at this ss. The Mishna Berura (444:8) cites a different solution, of breaking up the morning meal into two, so that one can fulfill ss on challa or matza ashira at that time. He points out that there should be some break between the two meals, to avoid a problem of an unnecessary beracha. However, he does not say how long that should be. Opinions range from a few minutes to half an hour, with some suggesting taking a short walk in between (see Piskei Teshuvot 444:6). One who is not usually careful to have challa at ss throughout the year need not consider this idea. He can eat a normal ss for him (no bread) in the afternoon, preferably earlier than usual to leave a good appetite for the seder. Even those who are stringent about ss may follow the Rama over the Mishna Berura’s suggestion, which is somewhat counter-intuitive and not without halachic problems. Sephardim, who can use matza ashira, must do so before three hours before sunset (Shulchan Aruch, OC 471:2).

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