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following article is reprinted with permission from Star-K, Copyright 2006 Orthodox Jewish Council, Vaad Hakashrus
The Busiest Day of the Year: The Laws of Erev Pesach
Rabbi Dovid Heber, Star-K Kashrus Administrator
Erev Pesach is one of the busiest and most unique days of
the year. With every hour comes another set of halachos.
Many halachic times, including the time for searching for
chometz and the latest time for eating chometz, are well
known. However, many halachos of Erev Pesach are often
confusing and not commonly understood. The purpose of
this article is to elucidate some of the less known laws of
Note: These halachos apply to Erev Pesach that occurs on aweekday.
If Erev Pesach occurs on Shabbos, special halachos apply to both Friday (13th of Nissan) and Shabbos (Erev Pesach).(For a complete discussion, see A Guide to Shabbos Erev Pesach.)
- Searching for Chometz - The opening line of Meseches
Pesachim states that one should search for chometz on the
night of the 14th (i.e. the night before Pesach). This should
begin immediately after nightfall (50 minutes after sunset
for this application).
- Eating Chometz - One may eat chometz until the end of
the "4th halachic hour" of the day. There are different
opinions in calculating the length of the day and halachic
hour. Ideally, one should use the following calculation:
One may eat chometz until the end of 1/3 of the "day". For
this application the "day" begins 72 minutes before sunrise
and ends approximately 50 minutes after sunset (in Baltimore and New York).
- Burning and Selling Chometz - Chometz must be
disposed of by burning or selling it before the end of the
"5th halachic hour" - 5/12 of the day. Kol Chamira is recited
following the burning - before the end of the 5th halachic
One should be aware of the following:
- Once Kol Chamira is recited by the head of the
household, no chometz may be eaten by anyone at
home. For example, if the father burns the chometz
and recites Kol Chamira at 8:30 a.m., he and his family
(even if they are at home) may no longer eat chometz.
Everything must be put away by that time.
- Be cognizant of the latest times. All times apply to
chometz eaten at any location. One year, the gentile
owner of a doughnut shop told the Star-K he saw
individuals eating doughnuts in their cars after the
latest time for eating chometz! Also, chometz should
not be burned at the last second. This is true whether
one burns chometz outside his home or at a public
biur chometz (e.g. Glen Ave. firehouse in Baltimore).
- Chometz in the Mail - If one receives chometz in the
mail or with the newspaper on Erev Pesach (after the 5th
halachic hour) or on Pesach, one should not assume
ownership of the item but rather leave the chometz outside.
If mail is delivered through a mail slot into one's home,
have intent not to acquire the chometz (i.e. do not take legal
possession) and kick it or push it outside with a stick to
avoid handling it. If it is still around after Pesach, one may
assume ownership at that time, and use it, provided that the
sender is a gentile.
- Kashering on Erev Pesach - Ideally, all kashering
should be completed by the end of the 4th halachic hour. If
one forgot to kasher before this time, he may kasher the
vessel until candlelighting time on Erev Pesach with the
following condition: The vessel did not come in contact
with anything hot (whether Kosher L'Pesach or not) within
the past 24 hours. In the event the vessel came in contact
with something hot within the last 24 hours, or if one
requires kashering of a chometz vessel on Pesach, a Rav
should be consulted.
- Finding Chometz on Erev Pesach - There is a well
known halacha that states if one finds chometz on Chol
Hamoed or on Erev Pesach after the 5th hour, one should
immediately burn it. On Yom Tov, one should cover the
chometz (because it is muktza) and burn it after Yom Tov.
This halacha only applies if one did not sell his chometz to
a gentile. However, if one sells chometz to a gentile, this
sale includes all chometz, wherever it may be found.
Therefore, if one discovers pretzels in a drawer or bagel
chips in a coat pocket on Pesach, one may not burn this
chometz as it belongs to the gentile to whom the Rav sold
the chometz! Rather, one should store the item with the
"locked up" chometz sold to the gentile.
It may be eaten
after Pesach when the chometz is purchased back.
II Eating on Erev Pesach & Preparing For the
- One may not eat even Kosher for Passover matzoh all
day Erev Pesach. This prohibition begins at dawn (72
minutes before sunrise). There are many individuals who
have the custom of not eating matzoh from Rosh Chodesh
Nissan or even from Purim. A child under the age of six
may eat matzoh even on Erev Pesach.
Products containing matzoh meal that are baked (e.g.
matzoh meal cake) may not be eaten all day Erev Pesach.
Kosher for Passover matzoh meal products that are cooked
(e.g. knaidlach) may be eaten until the beginning of the 10th
halachic hour of the day - three halachic hours before
who does not eat gebrochts on Pesach, may only eat
knaidlach and other cooked matzoh meal products until the
latest time for eating chometz. He may not eat baked matzoh
meal products all day.
Matzoh made with fruit juice, including Kosher for
Passover egg matzohs, grape matzohs, chocolate matzohs
and Passover Tam Tams, etc. may be eaten until the end
of the 4th halachic hour (same as the latest time for
eating chometz). The sick or elderly who cannot eat
regular matzoh and have consulted with their Rav may
eat Pesach egg matzohs anytime on Erev Pesach and
Pesach. However, even such an individual can not fulfill
the obligation of eating matzoh at the seder with these
Meat, fish, salad, cheese, eggs, horseradish, fruits,
vegetables, and potato starch cakes may be eaten until
sunset. However, one should not fill up with these items
to ensure a hearty appetite at the seder. One may drink
wine or grape juice on Erev Pesach in quantities that will
not affect his appetite at night.
- All first born males (whether from the father or
mother) must fast on Erev Pesach. A father must fast in
place of his first born child who is between the age of
thirty days and bar mitzvah. The custom is to end the fast early
by partaking in a siyum. First born girls do not fast, and
a mother does not fast for her first born son (under bar
mitzvah when the husband is a b'chor) if her husband or
son attends a siyum.
- Preparations for the seder including roasting the z'roa
meat, cooking and roasting the egg, mixing the saltwater,
grinding the nuts (and other items) for the charoses,
grating the horseradish, and all necessary b'dikas tolaim
(checking lettuce for bugs), should preferably be done
before Pesach as special restrictions apply to preparing
these items on Yom Tov. If Pesach falls on Shabbos, the
z'roa and baitzah must be prepared before Shabbos.
Additional restrictions apply to the preparations of the
other items on Shabbos.
- If one has a difficult time drinking wine at the seder,
one should mix the wine with grape juice and/or water.
Ideally, this mixture should contain a minimum of four
percent alcohol. Therefore, if the wine has 12% alcohol
content, one makes a mixture consisting of 1/3 wine, 1/3
grape juice and 1/3 water (or 1/3 wine and 2/3 grape
juice - one should refrain from using more than 1/3
water). One must be aware that many wines available
have a lower alcohol content. Therefore, if the wine has
an 8% alcohol content, one makes a mixture consisting of
1/2 wine, 1/4 grape juice and 1/4 water (or 1/2 wine and
1/2 grape juice). Wine with 6% alcohol content requires
2/3 wine and 1/3 grape juice. If one prepares these
mixtures with a measuring cup, it should be done before
Yom Tov. If one may become ill by drinking any wine, one
may drink grape juice.
- One may not say "This meat is for Pesach," as this may
appear as if he is designating meat for the Korbon
Pesach. Rather, one should say "This meat is for Yom
III Work after Chatzos:
During the days of the Beis Hamikdash, the korban
pesach was brought on Erev Pesach after chatzos
(midday). Therefore, various melachos (work activities)
are prohibited during this time. Although there is no Beis
Hamikdash at the time of this writing, the prohibitions
remain intact and are similar to the prohibitions of Chol
Hamoed (with several exceptions). The following is a list
of those melachos that apply to Erev Pesach after chatzos.
- During Chol Hamoed a maasseh hedyot, simple work,
may be performed only if it is l'tzorech hamoed, for the
sake of the holiday. For example, one may fasten a hook
to the wall on Chol Hamoed to hang up a picture to
beautify one's home for Yom Tov. Similarly, one may
assemble an afikomen present tricycle on Chol Hamoed
for a toddler to ride on Chol Hamoed. However, under
normal circumstances, one may not perform a maasseh
hedyot if it is not l'tzorech hamoed. For example, one
may not fix a broken chair that will not be used until after
Pesach. Also, before Pesach one may not plan ahead and postpone a
maasseh hedyot activity for Chol Hamoed even if the
activity is l'tzorech hamoed. These halachos also apply to
Erev Pesach after chatzos.
During Chol Hamoed, in most cases, one may not
perform a maasseh umen, a skilled task requiring a
craftsman, even l'tzorech hamoed. For example,
installing siding or laying bricks are not permissible,
even to beautify the home in honor of Yom Tov.
There are some major exceptions where even a maasseh
umen is permissible on Chol Hamoed: This includes
l'tzorech ochel nefesh (e.g. repairing an oven that broke
and was unable to be fixed before Yom Tov), to avoid
major financial loss (e.g. repair a roof to avoid structural
or flood damage from rain), and in certain cases
l'tzorech haguf (e.g. fix only pair of eyeglasses or repair
the only toilet in the house). These halachos also apply to
Erev Pesach after chatzos.
However, there is one major difference between Chol
Hamoed and Erev Pesach - on Chol Hamoed, one may not
hire a gentile to perform these skilled tasks. On Erev
Pesach it is permissible l'tzorech hamoed. For example, a
major car repair (e.g. rebuilding the transmission) may
be done by a gentile on Erev Pesach, even after chazos if
it is l'tzorech hamoed (e.g. for a Chol Hamoed trip).
Under normal conditions, asking a gentile to perform
such a task on Chol Hamoed is prohibited.
- Laundry, Dry Cleaning, Haircuts & Shaving - In
general, these four activities may not be performed after
chazos on Erev Pesach or on Chol Hamoed. However,
after chazos on Erev Pesach, one may ask a gentile to
perform these tasks l'tzorech hamoed. Therefore, if one
forgot to shave or take a haircut or wash or dry clean
clothing one may ask a gentile to do so for him l'tzorech
hamoed (i.e. go to a gentile barber or dry cleaners).
However, a gentile may not perform these tasks for a Jew
on Chol Hamoed even l'tzorech hamoed.
- Drying clothes in a dryer and ironing
pleats) are classified as a maasseh hedyot and are
permissible on Chol Hamoed and Erev Pesach after
chatzos under the conditions mentioned above (l'tzorech
- It is preferable to clip nails before chazos on Erev
Pesach. B'dieved, this may be done all day. If one clips
nails on Erev Pesach, one may clip nails again on Chol
Hamoed. If one forgot to clip nails on Erev Pesach, he or
she may not clip nails on Chol Hamoed unless it is
l'tzorech mitzvah, (e.g. tevilah).
- Picking up serviced goods (e.g. at the tailor,
shoemaker or dry cleaner) is mutar all day Erev Pesach.
Regarding Chol Hamoed, a Rav should be consulted.
When Erev Pesach occurs on Wednesday,
an Eruv Tavshilin should be prepared.
Some people have the custom of studying the laws and
reciting the order of the Korban Pesach after Mincha on
Erev Pesach. May the next Erev v'Lel Pesach be the busiest
ever, with a new Bais HaMikdash,
v'nochal sham min hazivachim umin hapesachim b'mehaira b'yamainu.
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