Shabbat Parashat Acharei Mot | 5768
When and What to Eat when Erev Pesach Falls on Shabbat
Ask the Rabbi
Question: What do you suggest we do on Erev Pesach this year, which is on Shabbat, regarding when and what to eat?
Answer: People must determine the most practical solutions among the valid solutions to the challenges of Erev Pesach on Shabbat, according to the halachic possibilities their rabbis present. One practical assumption is that people will use only Pesachdik and/or disposable utensils, keeping remaining chametz separate. Some form of bread is needed for the first two Shabbat meals and is preferred for seuda shlishit (Shulchan Aruch, OC 291:5), which should be held in the afternoon (ibid.:2). Since the prohibition to eat chametz begins after “four hours” (around two hours before halachic midday- consult a local calendar) something must give. Let’s take a meal-by-meal look.
Friday night meal - Halachically, almost anything goes. Those who don’t want to worry about keeping 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, often called “egg matza,” is an alternative.
Shabbat morning meal - If one finishes eating the chametz part of the meal by the end of the 4th hour, accomplished by davening early, matters are halachically simple. (How to get rid of crumbs or leftovers by the end of the 5th hour is 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 and are permitted to eat it 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 Yechave Da’at I, 91).
Seuda shlishit (ss)- Two preferred opinions about how normally to perform ss 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 another solution: divide the morning meal into two so that one can fulfill ss on challah or matza ashira at that time. He requires a break between the two meals to avoid a problem of an unnecessary beracha, but he does not say how long it should be. Opinions range from a few minutes to half an hour; some suggest 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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