Parshat Ki Tisa / Parshat Parah
Erev Pesach on Shabbat
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In the Torah portion of Ki Tisa we find verses about Shabbat and verses about Pesach (Exodus 31:12 – 18 and 34:18). As such, it seems appropriate to write about the upcoming convergence of Erev Pesach which falls out on Shabbat. These two dates converge approximately only once every ten years. Even in Talmudic times, there was some confusion about the laws relating to Pesach sacrifice on such a day (see Pesachim 66a). This article will, with G-d’s help, clarify some of the unique laws that apply to this day. It is primarily based on the Shulchan Aruch Harav and the Mishnah Berurah, Siman 444, as well as on other commentaries as noted below.
Fast of the Firstborn
When Erev Pesach falls on Shabbat, the fast of the firstborn, normally observed on Erev Pesach, is observed on the previous Thursday (12 Nissan which is March 25 this year). This fast does not override Shabbat, so rather than fast on Friday, which is problematic for various reasons (see Shulchan Aruch Harav 249:12), we fast on Thursday.
In practice, most firstborns do not fast on Erev Pesach but instead participate in a Se’udat Mitzvah (Mitzvah feast) such a siyum masecheta (completion of a Tractate of Talmud) and break their fast at that point. As such, this year they should do this on Thursday, March 25.
The Halacha discusses the question of whether a firstborn who is fasting may eat before the checking of the chametz (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 270:7). Since nowadays most firstborns do not complete this fast as mentioned above, I am not addressing this issue here.
A firstborn child whose bar mitzvah is on the 13th or 14th of Nissan of this year should fast (or participate in a mitzvah meal) on Thursday, the 12 Nissan (Likutei Sichot vol. 17, page 70).
Checking for Chametz
Normally, the checking for leavened food (bedikat chametz) is done with a candle on the evening of the 14th of Nissan (see Shulchan Aruch Harav 431) while the burning of the chametz that is discovered takes place the next morning (see ibid 445). But when Erev Pesach coincides with Shabbat, it is impossible to do either of these on that day: One cannot check for chametz on Friday night as candles are muktzah (forbidden to move), and it is forbidden to burn chametz (or anything else) on Shabbat.
In addition, the bedikat chametz) may not be done during the day of Friday as this examination must take place at night when candlelight is most effective. As such, the bedikat chametz must be done on the Thursday night before Pesach (March 25). The blessing should be recited before the bedikah as usual and, after the search is complete, one should nullify any chametz they did not find.
It is noteworthy that ordinarily one who does the bedikat chametz early for whatever reason, does not say a blessing at that time. (This would apply if one is leaving town several days before Pesach and wants to do the bedikah before they leave.) This is because when doing the bedikah early, one does not nullify chametz at that time nor do they burn chametz the next morning. When Erev Pesach coincides with Shabbat, however, one does say the blessing even though this checking takes place one night early. The reason for this is that in this case the chametz is nullified following the checking and is burned on the next day. As such this is considered a “complete” bedikah (note 2 in the Dirshu Mishnah Berurah, 244 based on Mishnah Berurah 136:4).
Keep It Safe
After the search, all chametz that was found (i.e., the 10 pieces that one should hide for the checking plus whatever chametz one found) should be kept in a safe place to ensure that it is not brought back into the rest of the house. The same is true of any chametz that one is saving to eat on Friday and Shabbat morning.
Burning the Chametz
The chametz should be burned on Friday. It is preferable to burn the chametz before midday as one does on a regular Erev Pesach. The reason for this is that if we were to burn it at a later time, one may mistakenly do that in subsequent years.
We do not nullify any remaining chametz after the burning as we do on a regular year since we still need that chametz for the (Friday) and Shabbat meals. Instead, the second nullification is recited on Shabbat morning.
Sale of Chametz
The sale of chametz should take place this year on Friday as it is forbidden to do business transactions on Shabbat. The sale of chametz should stipulate that the food needed for the Shabbat meals is not included in the sale or that the sale is not effective until the last time to eat chametz on Shabbat morning (Piskei Teshuvot 444:17). If possible this sale should be arranged before the end of the fifth hour of the day (ibid).
How much to Leave Over?
One should leave over only as much chametz as one will need to eat (on Friday afternoon and) for the first two Shabbat meals. (We will discuss the third meal next week, G-d willing.)
One should kasher all the utensils one will need for Pesach before Shabbat as it is forbidden to kasher on Shabbat. Some say that it is best to kasher before the end of the 5th hour of the day on Friday just as one should preferably do on a regular Erev Pesach (see Piskei Teshuvot 444:9). One who did not finish his kashering in the morning may do it any time before Shabbat.
Normally, one may not do certain types of labor on Erev Pesach after midday (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 468). Some suggest that the same should apply on the Friday before Erev Pesach which coincides with Shabbat (Biur Halacha D.H. Mechatzot, on 468:1) as one of the reasons that work is forbidden is to allow for people to have time to burn the chametz and bake the matzah. This reason applies to this Friday as well. (See O.C. 458 that it is best to bake the matzah for the seder on the afternoon of Erev Pesach).
Others say that one may do work on this Friday as one would do on any other Friday (Chok Yaakov 468:1) as the main reason that work is forbidden on Erev Pesach is in honor of the Pesach sacrifice. And when Erev Pesach coincided with Shabbat during the Temple era, this sacrifice took place on Shabbat, not on Friday. This view is accepted by most authorities (Piskei Teshuvot 444, note 69).
(See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 251 as to the limitations of doing work on Fridays in general. See also Biur Halacha D.H. Mistaprin on 251:2 that the Vilna Gaon was of the opinion that one should not take a haircut within three hours preceding Shabbat.)
What to Cook and Eat?
The most practical way to go about preparing food for this Shabbat is to prepare food that is kosher for Pesach in Pesach utensils, for if one were to prepare food that is not kosher for Pesach, it will cause a difficulty in terms of how to wash those utensils on Shabbat.
Since the meal must begin with eating two hamotzie, loaves it seems that the best option is to begin the meal with challah, clean the area well (or move to a different area), and then eat the rest of the meal on Pesach dishes. This arrangement requires further discussion, which we will get to next week, G-d willing.
Eating Matzah on This Shabbat
It is forbidden to eat matzah on Erev Pesach as it would lessen our appetite for it on the Seder night (Jerusalem Talmud, Pesachim 10:1 and Shulchan Aruch HaRav 471:4).
Some say that this law applies only to the day of Erev Pesach (Mishnah Berurah 471:12) while others say this law begins on the night preceding Erev Pesach (implication of Magen Avraham 471:5). It is best to be strict (Igrot Moshe O.C. 1:155).
Many Ashekanzim refrain from eating matzah from Rosh Chodesh Nissan (Mishnah Berurah 471:12). The Chabad custom is to refrain from eating matzah for 30 days before Pesach (Igrot Kodesh 8:2572).
Sefardim are not particular to refrain before Erev Pesach. (But see Kaf HaChaim 471:22 that the custom of Constantinople was to refrain from Rosh Chodesh.)
In any case, it is clear that one may not fulfill one’s Shabbat meals by eating regular matzah. This leaves us with two options: egg matzah or regular challah.
It is permissible to eat egg matzah on Erev Pesach in the morning. Eating such matzah does not diminish one’s appetite for the Mitzvah of matzoh that one will partake of at the seder as this kind of matzah is not fit for the seder.
The Ashkenazi custom is to refrain from eating egg matzah on Pesach and on Erev Pesach from the last time one is allowed to eat chametz and on, for fear that this matzah is more susceptible to becoming chametz (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 462:7).
Sefardim are are particular about this (Kaf HaChaim 462:41).
One who does not want to eat chametz on this Shabbat due to the complications involved may fulfill his Shabbat meals by eating egg matzah (Igrot Moshe O.C. 1:175).
Some say that one may wash and say hamotzie on a standard amount of egg matzah (ibid) as they consider that when eating such “bread” for the sake of a meal, it gets the status of “bread.”
Others say that one can only say hamotzie if he plans on eating the size of four eggs worth of such matzah and will be full (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 188:10 and Seder Birchos HaNehenin 2:2-3). (The other dishes eaten during the meal can contribute to the “fullness.”) This is approximately 2 and one third egg matzot.
To be continued next week with G-d’s help!
Wishing You a Shabbat Shalom Umevorach!