This article was reprinted with permission from the MK Vaad News & Views, Pesach 5761.
Erev Pesach, the 14th day of the month of Nissan, is the only day that is technically known in the Torah as “Pesach”. The Korban Pesach was sacrificed on Erev Pesach afternoon in the times of the Bais Ha’Mikdash, and the Torah therefore prohibits the owning and eating of Chometz from that time. [In order to avoid mistakes, Chazal prohibited eating Chometz from the end of the fourth hour of the day.] The seven ensuing days are referred to in the Torah as Chag HaMatzos –the Holiday of Matzah, since it is the eating of Matzah that characterizes the holiday. Indeed, in order to demonstrate that the Mitzvah of eating Matzah does not begin until the evening, one is forbidden to eat it on Erev Pesach. [Many have the custom to refrain from eating Matzah from Rosh Chodesh Nissan.] Normally, these two aspects of Erev Pesach – the prohibition of eating both Chometz and Matzah, pose little concern. This year, however, Erev Pesach falls on Shabbos, thus raising a number of interesting issues.
The requirements for the Shabbos before Pesach are no different from any other Shabbos, including the Mitzvah of eating Shalosh Seudos, the third Shabbos meal. Normally, Shalosh Seudos is eaten in the afternoon, and should be a full meal including bread. Fulfilling the Mitzvah of Shalosh Seudos in such a manner on Erev Pesach, however, would pose two problems. First, one should not eat a meal on Erev Pesach after the end of the ninth hour of the day, in order to ensure that one has a good appetite for the Matzah that will be eaten at the Seder. Second, we have already noted that one may not eat Chometz or Matzah on Erev Pesach, further complicating the ability to fulfill the Mitzvah of Shalosh Seudos. Indeed, the use of Chometz for the first two meals of Shabbos (Friday night and Shabbos morning) also poses significant problems, since although one is permitted to eat Chometz until the end of the fourth hour on Shabbos morning, one is forbidden to own or have such Chometz in his possession after the fifth hour. As such, even the first two meals pose a problem as how to best fulfill the requirement of Seudos Shabbos and Lechem Mishnah on Erev Pesach.
To resolve these concerns, a number of approaches have been discussed amongst the Poskim. Some have the custom to eat Chometz on Friday night, and then eat two meals on Shabbos morning before the end of the fourth hour. In this way, the full three Shabbos meals are eaten with bread. Although Seudah Shelishis should be eaten in the afternoon, some opinions allow for it be eaten in the morning, especially on Erev Pesach. If one follows this approach, extreme care must be taken to ensure that no Chometz remains at the end of the time of Issur Chometz, and that all Chometz dishes are cleaned and put away by that time. Others have a custom to eat Seudah Shelishis consisting of meat, fish, or even fruit, relying on those opinions that do not require bread for Seudah Shelishis. These can be eaten until the end of the day, providing one does not diminish his appetite for the Seder Matzah. If one has the custom to eat cooked Matzah on Pesach (“Gebrukts”), then Seudah Shelishis can consist of a Matzah kugel or similar cooked dish. One should not, however, eat baked Matzah products on Erev Pesach. In this case, the meal should be eaten before the end of the ninth hour.
Another solution to this problem centers on the use of a third type of “Matzah”, commonly known as “Egg Matzah”. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 462:1 and 4) rules that Chometz is only created by the fermentation of flour from one of the five species of grain in the presence of water. Fermentation in the presence of all other liquids, such as fruit juices, wine and eggs, cannot become Chometz. [Such fermentation is called Sirchon (rot), and is not forbidden on Pesach.] Matzah that uses only fruit juices and flour is called Matzah Ashira (literally “Rich Matzah”). Although commonly known as Egg Matzah, today it is usually made with apple or grape juice and theoretically may be eaten on Pesach without any concerns of Chometz. On the other hand, the Shulchan Aruch rules that one may not fulfill the Mitzvah of eating Matzah on Pesach with Matzah Ashira. True Matzah is known as Lechem Oni (“Bread of Affliction”), and Matzah Ashira would be considered like a cake. [Other authorities posit another reason for the inability to use Egg Matzah for the Seder. Matzah used to fulfill the Mitzvah at the Seder must be produced with ingredients that have the possibility of becoming Chometz, whereas Egg Matzah, by definition, is not susceptible to such a state (see Ramban Milchamos Pesachim 10b).] Based upon the above considerations, one may eat Egg Matzah on Friday night and Shabbos morning without any concerns of either eating Matzah on Erev Pesach or eating Chometz, and one would not need to worry about Egg Matzah that was left over at the end of the meal. The only Halachik concern with using Egg Matzah for Friday night and Shabbos morning is that it is not true bread, and one may only make Hamotzei on it if he eats a full meal containing it.
Egg Matzah, however, poses another significant concern. Although Egg Matzah is theoretically free of concerns of Chometz, this is only true if absolutely no water is added to the mixture. If some water were added to the fruit juice, however, such a mixture could become Chometz almost immediately. For this reason, the Rama (O.C. ibid., 4) rules that the custom among the Ashkenazim is to refrain from using Egg Matzah on Pesach at all, unless it is necessary for children or the elderly who would have difficulty eating regular Matzah. According to most authorities, this restriction begins at the same time as the prohibition of eating Chometz on Erev Pesach (the end of the fourth hour), which would mean that it could not be used for Shalosh Seudos in the afternoon. However, using it for two meals in the morning would still afford the advantage of not having to worry about Chometz in the house on Erev Pesach. [It is important to note, therefore, that while Egg Matzah is available with a reliable Kosher certification, it is intended only for children, elderly, and the infirm as stated specifically on the package. Egg Matzah also includes “whole wheat Matzah”, “chocolate covered Matzah”, and “Egg Matzah Crackers”, all of which are subject to the same restriction.] In case of need, a Rav should be consulted about the use of any of these products.
The Sefas Emes (Parshas Matos) writes that one should strive to be a Chacham (wise), a Gibor (valiant), and an Ashir (wealthy). He explains that wisdom is to be found in Torah, valor is to be found in conquering one’s temptations, and wealth is measured in Mitzvos and Maasim Tovim (good deeds). As we have seen, while Matzah Ashira may not be part of Pesach observance in regular years, it affords us the opportunity of amassing greater Ashirus this year of Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbos.
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