Shabbat Parashat Acharei Mot| 5766
Ask the Rabbi
Question: What do you suggest we do on Erev Pesach this year, which is on Shabbat, regarding when and what to eat?
Answer: Challa, the staple of the first two Shabbat meals, is also preferred for seudah shlishit (Shulchan Aruch, OC 291:5), which should be held in the afternoon (ibid.:2). Since the prohibition to eat chametz begins after “four hours” (around two hours before halachic midday- consult a local calendar) something must give. Among the valid solutions to the challenges of Erev Pesach on Shabbat, people must determine the most practical solutions, as much as their rabbis have to present the halachic possibilities. One practical assumption is that people will use only Pesachdik and/or disposable utensils, keeping remaining chametz separate. Let’s take a meal-by-meal look. Friday night meal - Halachically, almost anything goes. Those who don’t want to worry about keeping chametz around can eat matza according to most poskim. Ifone has the minhag not to eat matza from the beginning of Nisan, matza ashira, often called “egg matza,” is an alternative.Shabbat morning meal - If one finishes eating chametz (not necessarily the whole meal) by the end of the 4th hour, accomplished by davening very early, matters are halachically simple. (How to get rid of crumbs or leftovers by the end of the 5th hour is very solvable, but beyond our present scope.) Matza is desirable for situations when it is hard or nerve-racking to deal with chametz. However, Chazal forbadeeating matza on Erev Pesach, according to most, from the beginning of the morning, so that when we eat it at the seder,it will be clear that it is for the mitzva (see Rambam, Chametz U’matza 6:12). It is permitted to eat matza that cannot be used for the mitzva (Shulchan Aruch 471:2). Matza ashira,whichis kneaded with liquids other than water, is the main example (see Pesachim 35a). If it contains no water, then most Rishonim rule that it cannot become chametz, which could take away the need to rush. Yet there are two issues. Firstly, as Ashkenazim are stringent to treat matza ashira as possible chametz, which is permitted to eat on Pesach only in cases of great need (Rama 462:4), the time issue reawakens. (Some poskim rely on the Noda B’yehuda (I, OC 21) that it is sufficient to be wary of matza ashira no earlier than midday of Erev Pesach). Secondly, matza ashira mayhavea status of pat haba’ah b’kisnin, similar to cake, making it a questionable substitute for challa. (Igrot Moshe OC I, 155 explains that this is not a problem on Shabbat, but still seems to prefer challa when it is convenient. To see Rav O. Yosef’s preferred solution, see Yechave Da’at I, 91).
Seuda shlishit (ss)- We mentioned the two preferred opinions about how to perform ss, which conflict this Shabbat. One is to eat bread at ss. The other is to have ss after midday, at which time chametz and matza are forbidden, and even matza ashira is a problem for Ashkenazim. The Rama (444:1) says that we eat other foods, such as fruit or meat, at this ss. The Mishna Berura (444:8) cites a different solution, of breaking up the morning meal into two, so that one can fulfill ss on challah or matza ashira at that time. He points out that there should be some break between the two meals, to avoid a problem of an unnecessary beracha. However, he does not say how long that should be. Opinions range from a few minutes to half an hour, with some suggesting taking a short walk in between (see Piskei Teshuvot 444:6). One who is not usually careful to have challa at ss throughout the year need not consider this idea. He can eat a normal ss forhim(no bread) in the afternoon, preferably earlier than usual to leave a good appetite for the seder. Even those who are stringent about ss can feel fine about following the Rama over the Mishna Berura’s suggestion, which is somewhat counter-intuitive and not without halachic problems. Sephardim, who can use matza ashira, must do so before 3 hours before sunset (Shulchan Aruch 471:2).
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