Key Dates & Information
This year, erev Pesach falls on Shabbat.
With proper planning, it need not be a difficult Shabbat. If anything, it gives us an opportunity to come to the Seder well rested and relaxed, and to fulfill the mitzvot of the evening with more feeling and greater enthusiasm.
It is permitted to eat chametz until Shabbat morning, yet we still burn the chametz searched for on Thursday evening (March 25) early on Friday morning. This is done to avoid confusion in subsequent years when erev Pesach does not fall on Shabbat. Yet, Kol Chamira (a statement of nullification of chametzin our possession), which is normally said while actually burning the chametz, is not said on Friday, but rather on Shabbat morning before the end of the fifth hour. See the zmanim for Pesach here.
Remember, not all chametz will be burned on Friday morning. We will need, and are allowed to consume, chametz (challah) on Shabbat.
Other erev Pesach restrictions, such as omitting Mizmor l’Todahand Laminatzai’ach from shacharit; refraining from doing laundry and taking haircuts after chatzot (midday); and koshering pots and pans after chatzot are all still allowed since Friday is not, in fact, erev Pesach.
This year the custom is for firstborn males to fast on Thursday. Moving the fast to Thursday as opposed to Friday is to avoid starting Shabbat while fasting. Bedikat Chametz (search for chametz,) as mentioned above, is performed Thursday evening. If it is too difficult to fast until after Bedikat Chametz, it is permissible to snack before beginning the bedikah. As in any other year, the firstborn male may participate in a siyum on Thursday, which would exempt him from fasting altogether.
It is preferable that Seder preparations (the shank bone, charoset, maror, roasted egg, saltwater and checking the romaine lettuce) be completed on Friday, since it is prohibited to prepare for the next day on Shabbat (hachana). Even a nap on Shabbat might be considered hachana if the nap is taken with consideration of remaining alert and awake at the Seder.
While it would be permitted to prepare some Seder items on Saturday night, that would undoubtedly delay the start of the Seder. Since so much of the Seder focuses on educating the children and their experience of the Seder with their families, it is important to start the Seder as soon as possible before the children fall asleep.
According to the Vilna Gaon, horseradish should always be grated immediately before the Seder so that it will be sharp. Others say it should be grated before Shabbat and stored in a sealed jar to maintain the sharpness as much as possible. If you forgot to prepare horseradish before Shabbat and would need to grate on yom tov, the grating should preferably be done with a shinui (deviation, such as grating on a paper towel or turning the grater upside down). Romaine lettuce that requires checking for infestation should be checked before Shabbat, since it is a process that shouldn’t be rushed. It is important to drain and/or dry the lettuce very well, since water might accumulate in the storage container, and any parts of the lettuce that soaks in water for more than twenty-four hours may not be used for maror.
If saltwater was not prepared in advance, it can be made on yom tov, though some recommend using a shinui by putting the water in the vessel before the salt. If charoset needs to be prepared before the Seder, the fruit may be grated on yom tov, but the nuts should be prepared with a shinui such as crushing in a bag. No deviation is needed when adding the wine.
The shank bone and egg roasted on yom tov offer a unique set of restrictions. If roasted on yom tov, they must be eaten on that day of yom tov; and, since we refrain from eating roasted meat or chicken at the Seder, the shank bone or egg that was prepared Saturday night must then be eaten at the Sunday daytime meal. In general, we may not prepare food on the first day of yom tov if the intention is to consume it on the second day or after yom tov; therefore, all Seder foods should either be prepared before Shabbat or on each Seder night and consumed that night or, for the shank bone and egg, at the following luncheon meal.
It is permitted and expected that challah and possibly chametz foods will be eaten both on Friday night and at the early start of the Shabbat day meal. Most will prepare kosher for Passover foods and eat on Pesach dishes with the challah being the outstanding chametz. The challah should be cut and eaten over disposable napkins or paper towels separate from the Pesach food and dishes. It is recommended to wash your hands and rinse your mouth after eating the challah and commencing with the meal on Pesach dishes. Crumbs from the challah, dishes, table, or floor should be swept up and flushed down the toilet before the end
of the fifth hour on Shabbat morning. Remember to clean the broom of crumbs afterward.
Larger pieces of chametz may be broken into smaller pieces and flushed as well. Alternatively, large pieces of chametz may be placed in outdoor garbage pails, provided there is an eruv, but the chametz must be rendered inedible by pouring bleach or ammonia over the entire surface of the chametz. These fluids must be designated for that use before Shabbat. Otherwise, they would be muktzah.
It is permitted to brush your teeth with a dry toothbrush that was designated for Shabbat use to rid your mouth of chametz.
If you are hesitant to introduce challah into your kosher for Passover home, you can use kosher for Passover egg matzah for lechem mishnah.Ordinarily, the bracha for egg matzah is Borei minei mezonot. Rav Moshe Feinstein, however, writes in the Igros Moshe that if egg matzah is used for lechem Mishnah for a Shabbat meal, the bracha is haMotzi. It’s important to eat at least a k’baitza (a little more than two ounces) of egg matzah, in addition to other foods that will be served at the meal, to substantiate the meal and justify the haMotzi. However, the egg matzah—like challah—can only be eaten during the time frame that chametz can be consumed.
Now that we’ve covered the before, and most of the during, of this most unique Shabbat, how do we end it? Can we eat a proper seuda shelishit and if so, how? Some poskim hold that seuda shelishit should be eaten after midday, and some hold that bread must be eaten at the meal. Under normal circumstances, on a regular Shabbat, we can eat seuda shelishit on Shabbat afternoon following mincha using lechem Mishnah bread, as we do at the other meals on Shabbat. That fulfills the mitzvah of Shabbat’s third meal in the best possible way – satisfying both requirements of eating bread and eating it after chatzot (midday). Alas, this is not possible when Shabbat occurs on erev Pesach when we; 1) are not permitted to eat chametz — bread or egg matzah beyond four hours into the day, and 2) cannot eat regular matzah at all the entire day.
The first option available to us is to divide the morning meal into two parts. We can recite Kiddush and haMotzi, eat one course and then bentch. After a break of one-half hour, we can wash again, say haMotzi, eat the rest of the meal and bentch. Once again being mindful that the challah or egg matzah that would be used for lechem Mishnah is consumed before the fourth hour.
Alternatively, we can aim to fulfill our seuda shelishit meal with fruits, vegetables, fish or other foods that are permitted after chatzot on erev Pesach.