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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Laws of Pesach

When Sabbath Precedes Passover

Ordinarily, after burning the chametz, there is no more chametz in the house. However, when the day before Passover falls on Sabbath, we must observe the commandment to eat three Sabbath meals, and the first two of these meals must consist of bread.
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1. Searching and Destroying Chametz
2. The Fast of the Firstborn
3. Sabbath Meals: Problem and Solutions
4. The Prevalent Custom: Eating Chametz
5. The Chametz Deadline
6. Second Option: Boiled Matzah
7. Third Option: Matzah Ashirah ("Egg Matzah")
8. False Teeth
9. Preparing Before Sabbath for the Festival
10. The Third Sabbath Meal

Searching and Destroying Chametz
Ordinarily, we search for and destroy our "chametz" (leavened foods) on the fourteenth of Nisan—the day before Passover. When, however, the fourteenth of Nisan falls on the Sabbath, we perform our search (reciting the preliminary blessing as usual) on the evening of the thirteenth of Nisan (i.e., Thursday night). After the search, we nullify any chametz which we may have failed to spot, and this is done just like on every other year. The next morning, we burn the chametz which was found in our search. It is best to burn it by the sixth hour of the day, like we do every year, for if we burn the chametz later than this, observers might receive a mistaken impression and begin to burn chametz at a late hour even under ordinary circumstances when the fourteenth of Nisan does not fall on a Sabbath.

The Fast of the Firstborn
Ordinarily, the Fast of the Firstborn is observed on the fourteenth of Nisan. When, however, the fourteenth of Nisan falls on Sabbath, the fast is moved to Thursday, the twelfth of Nisan (Shulchan Arukh and Rema 470:2).

Today, nearly all firstborn males participate in a celebrative completion of a Talmudic tractate, and because on such occasions there is an obligation to eat, as soon as one does eat, the obligation to fast is nullified. And though other fasts may not be nullified in this manner, the Fast of the Firstborn is an exception because it is an especially minor fast. Other fasts were instituted by the Sages, while the Fast of the Firstborn is a custom that was introduced by the firstborn themselves. It was, then, never instituted as a binding fast, and it is therefore permissible to nullify such a fast by participating in a religious celebration, like the completion of a Talmudic tractate.

Sabbath Meals: Problem and Solutions
Ordinarily, after burning the chametz, there is no more chametz in the house. However, when the day before Passover falls on Sabbath, we must observe the commandment to eat three Sabbath meals, and the first two of these meals must consist of bread.

Were it possible to eat matzah on the day before Passover, we would surely use matzah for the Sabbath meals in order to avoid the problem of chametz. However, the Sages forbade the consumption matzah on the day before Passover in order that the matzah be eaten with desire while fulfilling the commandment on Seder Night. Therefore, we must on the one hand find a way to fulfill the commandment of eating three Sabbath meals, while on the other hand ensuring that no crumbs come into contact with Passover utensils or food.

There exist three principle solutions to this problem: (a) to eat chametz carefully during the first two meals and clean up afterwards, (b) to fulfill our obligation by eating boiled matzah, and in this manner to avoid any problems of chametz, or (c) to fulfill our obligation by eating matzah ashirah (matzah made with wine, juice, eggs, or honey in place of water) making sure to consume the volume of four eggs of such matzah at each meal.

The Prevalent Custom: Eating Chametz
The most widely accepted custom is to leave over enough bread for the first two meals, and then clean up well afterwards. Some prefer to eat pita bread on this occasion (because it tends to be less crumby), yet prepare kosher-for-Passover foods in Passover cooking utensils. If one wishes to eat Passover foods with the chametz, one must very carefully pour the food from the Passover cooking utensils into disposable utensils.

Many people are accustomed to dividing the second meal into two parts and eating each part in a different place. They begin by eating chametz in one location and then continue the meal in a second location which is kosher for Passover.

This is how they do it: they recite the Sabbath evening kiddush in a designated room or on a porch and there they begin eating the challah or pita with customary spreads and condiments in honor of the Sabbath—making sure that chametz crumbs do not become scattered. Having finished the bread, they shake off their clothes and rinse out their mouths and then relocate, eating the continuation of the meal at the kosher-for-Passover dining table. There they eat foods which are kosher for Passover in Passover utensils, and there they recite the Grace after Meals.

In the morning they again recite kiddush and eat bread in a location which is not meant for eating during Passover. After eating bread, they shake their clothes free of crumbs and rinse all of the chametz out of their mouths, and then they gather up all of the crumbs and foods that were with the chametz and flush them down the toilet, and in this manner they "destroy" the chametz completely.

If disposable utensils were used, they must be placed in a plastic bag and thrown into the garbage bin by the road. If ordinary chametz utensils were used, they must be washed and stored away with the rest of the chametz utensils.

In order to make destroying the chametz easier, people are careful to plan the Sabbath meals in such a way that it be easy to gather the remaining chametz and dispose of it. However, one need not economize too much when it comes to bread, for at any rate it is possible to throw whatever is left into the toilet or even into an ownerless domain, like a public garbage bin by the side of the street. By throwing the chametz away in this manner one does not violate the prohibition against destroying things of value ("bal tashchit"), for this very act is itself the obligation—to destroy the chametz. After disposing of all remaining chametz, one reads the statement of chametz nullification, and this completes the process of destroying the chametz altogether. After this, participants relocate to the kosher-for-Passover table, where they eat food which is kosher for Passover on Passover utensils and recite the Grace after Meals.

The Chametz Deadline
According to the Torah, it is forbidden to eat chametz after midday on the fourteenth of Nisan, and in order to distance people from transgression, the Sages forbade eating chametz even two hours earlier than this. Hence, it is permissible to eat chametz until the end of the fourth hour of the day (a day, according to Jewish law, being made up of twelve equal hours).

There are two opinions regarding from which hour we begin counting these hours. According to Trumat HaDeshen ("Zman Magen Avraham"), we calculate these times from dawn, i.e., from the first sign of light in the eastern sky. On the other hand, according to the Vilna Gaon and most authorities, we calculate these times from the actual sunrise. With regard to the deadline hour for consuming chametz on the fourteenth of Nisan, the law follows the lenient opinion. Therefore, the deadline for eating chametz this year is 10:25 am, and those who wish to act stringently in accordance with Terumat HaDeshen should finish eating by 9:56 or 9:59 am.

Second Option: Boiled Matzah
A second option is to boil whole matzot in soup before Sabbath. The taste which enters the matzah renders it unacceptable for fulfilling the obligation of matzah, and according to many early authorities it is no longer regarded as matzah which is forbidden to eat on the day before Passover. If the volume of an olive of this matzah remains intact it is still considered bread and we recite the "HaMotzie" blessing over it. Hence, it is possible to use such matzah to fulfill the obligatory Sabbath meals.

The advantage in this custom is that it is possible to eat the entire meal in one location; the disadvantage is that there are opinions (the Vilna Gaon, for example) that even this kind of matzah is forbidden to eat on the day before Passover. Moreover, in the eyes of those who consider matzah sheruyah ("Gebrukt"; matzah which has come into contact with water) chametz, this boiled matzah is also chametz. In addition, this option is somewhat demanding—boiling the matzo, keeping them intact, serving them.

Third Option: Matzah Ashirah ("Egg Matzah")
Our third option is to eat matzah ashirah (i.e., matzah made from flour which has been kneaded with fruit juice, wine, milk, or honey in place of water), for, according to most opinions, there is no reason to fear leavening in the case of matzah ashirah. The advantage in this case is that it is permissible to eat all of the meals in one location without having to worry about chametz. The disadvantage is that there are opinions that one must make sure to eat the volume of four eggs of matzah ashirah, for if this is not the case, one cannot bless "HaMotzie" over it (one can only bless "Mezonot") and hence the Sabbath meal obligation cannot be fulfilled. Another disadvantage is that according to Ashkenazi custom matzah ashirah may not be eaten on Passover because of various apprehensions, and, according to a number of authorities, its prohibition begins at the same time as the prohibition of chametz. According to Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, matzah ashirah in our day even involves a possible violation of the Torah, and it is even forbidden for Sefardic Jews to consume it. According to this opinion, one must be just as careful with the crumbs of matzah ashirah as one is with actual chametz.

False Teeth
According to Jewish Law, one need not clean false teeth of chametz (through ritual purging, "hag'alah") just as one need not clean them between meat and milk. The reason for this is that food does not enter the mouth at a high enough temperature (i.e., "yad soledet bo") for the teeth to absorb its taste. Therefore, whether one has false teeth or real teeth, after eating chametz it is enough to brush one's teeth and rinse out one's mouth. One who fears that his gums might bleed as a result of brushing should eat fruit or some other food and wash his mouth. This will act to rid the mouth of remaining chametz.

There are some who act stringently, purging their false teeth in boiling water before Passover. Those who follow this approach must do so before Sabbath, and they must also make sure not to eat hot chametz foods on the Sabbath.

The Third Sabbath Meal
Those who follow the lenient path of eating boiled matzah or matzah ashirah at the first two meals, eat these foods for the third Sabbath meal as well. Those who follow the more stringent path, avoiding boiled matzah on the day before Passover and refraining from matzah ashirah on Passover because of possible chametz—they instead eat meat, fish, fruit, and other condiments at the third meal (Shulchan Arukh 444:1). It is also permissible to eat matzah balls for the third meal, but some are stringent and avoid this as well because they will not eat matzah sheruyah ("Gebrukt"; matzah which has come into contact with water) on Passover.

Preparing Before Sabbath for the Festival
One should prepare everything one needs for Seder Night before the onset of Sabbath: cook the foods, prepare the charoset, the bitter herbs, the roasted bone, and then freeze or refrigerate them. One must also wait until the departure of the Sabbath before taking these foods out of the refrigerator, for it is forbidden to make preparations on Sabbath for the Festival. If one did not prepare the food and the Seder Plate before the Sabbath, they are to be prepared after Sabbath. Ideally, however, one should avoid such an arrangement in order to prevent delaying the Seder.

It is similarly forbidden to arrange the table on Sabbath in preparation for the Festival. Rather, it must be set after Sabbath's departure. One should prepare two sets of candles before Sabbath—one for the Sabbath and one for the Festival—for it is forbidden to melt and stick candles to candle holders on the Festival. If this was not done prior to the Sabbath, it is permissible to stick the candles into the holders without melting them. Today, however, we have disposable candles, and such candles can be lit after the onset of Passover.

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