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Shabbos Erev Pesach

by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

Copyright © 2008 Rabbi Doniel Neustadt. Reprinted with permission of the author

This year, erev Pesach falls on Shabbos. While our lack of familiarity with observing erev Pesach on Shabbos may catch us off guard and cause some confusion, with the proper planning and know-how it need not be a difficult Shabbos to keep. Indeed, it actually gives us an opportunity to be well-rested for the Seder and to be able to fulfill the mitzvos of Pesach in a more alert and dignified manner. In the following essay we will discuss some of the frequently asked questions that deal with the special halachos of erev Pesach which falls on Shabbos.

Question: Why do we burn and sell the chametz by the 6th hour on Friday morning when it is actually permitted to eat chametz until Shabbos morning?

Discussion: Although Friday is not really erev Pesach, in certain respects we act as if it really is erev Pesach. This is done in order to avoid confusion in subsequent years when erev Pesach does not fall on Shabbos. Thus any chametz which will not be consumed before Pesach is burned or sold1 no later than the time that would have been the deadline had this day truly been erev Pesach.2

Concerning other halachos, we do not treat Friday as erev Pesach. Thus:

Question: When should the maror and the other Seder items be prepared?

Discussion: All Seder preparations should be done on Friday, since it is prohibited to prepare anything4 for the Seder on Shabbos. While technically the preparations may be done after Shabbos ends and before the Seder begins, this is not a good idea since it unnecessarily delays an already late start for the Seder.5 Thus the horseradish, charoses, shank bone, roasted egg and salt water should all be prepared on Friday.6

The romaine lettuce should also be washed and checked on Friday. Care must be taken, however, not to leave the lettuce soaking in water, as lettuce that was soaked in water for twenty-four hours may no longer be used for maror.7

Question: How do we discard the chametz crumbs on Shabbos?

Discussion: Leftover crumbs on the table, dishes or floor should be swept,8 gathered together and then flushed down the toilet. Larger pieces of bread may be crumbled9 and then flushed.

If the Sanitation Department will not pick up the garbage before the time that one may no longer own chametz, do not place chametz in the trash cans or garbage bags which are left outside in order to be collected by the Sanitation Department.

If the floor needs to be swept, make sure that no chametz crumbs remain on the broom. Since it is extremely difficult to adequately clean a broom on Shabbos, it is advisable to clean the broom as much as possible and then put away the broom with the chametz items which have been sold to a non-Jew.

Question: Some people use chametz rolls for lechem mishneh on this Shabbos, and then serve the rest of the meal with kosher-for-Passover foods. Which dishes should be used during those meals?

Discussion: The recommended method is to use disposable (paper or plastic) dishes when any chametz is being eaten. After the chametz is gone, the rest of the meal may be served on Pesach dishes.

Question: In order to rid one’s teeth of chametz, is it permitted to brush them on Shabbos, with or without toothpaste?

Discussion: The consensus of contemporary poskim is that it is forbidden to use toothpaste on Shabbos.10 Their main concern is that applying toothpaste to the teeth or the brush could result in a transgression of the prohibited Shabbos Labor of Memareich, Smoothing.

Brushing without toothpaste is permitted,11 provided that the following conditions are met:

Question: Many people do not want to have any chametz in their home on Shabbos. Instead, they use egg matzah16 for lechem mishneh at both the Friday night and the Shabbos morning meals, and recite ha-motzi over the egg matzah. Is this permitted?

Discussion: Yes, it is.17 In fact, this is the preferred method for homes with little children who may scatter chametz crumbs around the house. This is also recommended for hotels, for large gatherings where Shabbos meals are being served, or for anyone who feels more secure with having no chametz in the house on Shabbos.

Although usually the proper blessing over egg matzah is mezonos, when egg matzah is eaten during a full-course meal and substitutes for bread, ha-motzi is recited.18 One should eat at least a k'zayis19 (about 1 fl. oz.) of egg matzah for each meal in addition to the other foods served at the meal.

One should finish eating the egg matzah before sof zeman achilas chametz, the time that chametz can no longer be eaten.20 The other foods served at the meal may be eaten later.

Question: When is seudah shelishis, the third Shabbos meal, eaten on this Shabbos?

Discussion: Scheduling the third meal on this Shabbos is difficult, since the third meal is supposed to be eaten after midday (chatzos). By then, however, we may no longer eat chametz, matzah or egg matzah. Thus, there is no perfect system for the third meal on this Shabbos.21 Instead, the poskim offer two options, neither of which is ideal:

Since both of these options are halachically problematic, some people have the custom of following both procedures, i.e., they split the morning meal, and then eat a meal of “other foods” after one half hour past chatzos.

Points to remember...

1 There are different customs regarding when exactly the chametz is sold this year, since many people eat chametz and use chametz dishes until Shabbos morning.

2 This custom is only l'chatchilah. If the chametz was not burned by this time, it may be burned anytime prior to the onset of Shabbos.

3 See Beiur Halachah 468:1.

4 Even a "verbal preparation," such as stating that the Shabbos nap is for the purpose of being well-rested for the Seder, should be avoided; see Mishnah Berurah 290:4.

5 For the sake of the children, who are a primary focus of the Seder, the Seder should begin as promptly as possible once Shabbos is over.

6 When feasible and practical, even the Seder table should be set on Friday.

7 Mishnah Berurah 473:38.

8 A soft-bristled broom should be used. A carpet sweeper should not be used on Shabbos.

9 Mishnah Berurah 321:30.

10 Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:112; Seridei Eish 2:28; Minchas Yitzchak 3:48; Shevet ha-Levi 5:45; Tzitz Eliezer 7:30. (Although a minority opinion permits using toothpaste — see Ketzos ha-Shulchan (Badei ha-Shulchan 138:31), Yabia Omer 4:28 and Nefesh ha-Rav, pg. 168 — it is generally accepted not to do so.)

11 See Minchas Shlomo 2:35:3. For information on using liquid toothpaste on Shabbos, see Discussion on 28 Adar.

12 Based on Mishnah Berurah 327:10.

13 Minchas Yitzchak 3:50.

14 See Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:112; Shevet ha-Levi 5:45.

15 Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:112.

16 Although egg matzos contain some eggs, the main difference between them and regular matzos is that they are kneaded with either apple cider or grape juice.

17 Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:155. There is, however, a minority view that objects to eating egg matzah on erev Pesach; see Nezer ha-Kodesh 52 and Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 2:211-23 for an explanation of this view. [To partially satisfy this view, it is preferable to use egg matzah which is kneaded with grape juice.]

18 Mishnah Berurah 168:24; Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:56; 3:32; 4:41. See explanation in Pirkei Moed on Pesach (Harav M. Gifter), pgs. 17-19.

19 It is recommended to eat a k'beitzah (about 2 fl. oz.) of egg matzah since, according to some poskim, Al netilas yadayim is only recited over a k'beitzah or more; see Mishnah Berurah 158:10 and Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:41.

20 Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:155, based on Rama 444:1.

21 Indeed, some poskim suggest that (according to the Zohar) there is no mitzvah to eat seudah shelishis at all on this Shabbos, and that none of the following options should be employed; Aruch ha-Shulchan 444:6.

22 The more important Shabbos foods should be served during the first morning meal, as the second Shabbos meal is considered more significant than seudah shelishis.

23 If time allows, a short walk outside between the meals is recommended.

24 When using egg matzah at this meal, other foods must also be served; otherwise ha-motzi and Birkas ha-mazon cannot be recited.

25 Although it is prohibited to eat matzah on erev Pesach, cooked or boiled matzah meal products are permitted according to all of the poskim. Fried matzah meal products, however, should be avoided (see Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 444:1). Baked matzah meal products, such as cakes or cookies, are prohibited; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Erev Pesach Shechal b'Shabbos, pg. 207); Shevet ha-Levi 8:117.

26 For those who eat gebrokts. Some people eat gebrokts on erev Pesach even if they do not do so on Pesach; She'arim Metzuyanim b'Halachah 115:7.

27 Even if they were prepared with matzah meal. A she’hakol is recited over them.

28 When possible, eating matzah balls — whose blessing is mezonos — is preferable to eating meat or fish. Eating meat or fish is preferable to eating fruit; O.C. 291:5.

29 Mishnah Berurah 444:14.

30 Rama 471:2.

31 Igros Chazon Ish 1:188, quoted by Shemiras Shabbos k’Hilchasah 55:14.

32 Magen Avraham 446:2; Shulchan Aruch Harav 446:5-6; Maharsham (Derashah to Shabbos ha-Gadol 76). Mishnah Berurah, however, is not concerned with this; see Beiur Halachah 319:17, s.v. mefazer.

33 Mishnah Berurah 444:3.

34 Mishnah Berurah 299:36.


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