What Happens when Shabbat is the Day before Pesach?
This year, Pesach is different from most years – as the day before Pesach is a Shabbat! The last time this happened was 2008, so this is the first time it has happened while I have been your Rabbi! The next time it will occur is 2025, and then after that 2045! This occurrence throws up some important questions which I will answer below.
Q: What happens to searching for the Chametz?
A: This year it will be done on Thursday evening, 2 nights before Pesach
Explanation: Part of the fulfillment of Pesach is to rid our houses of Chametz. After cleaning chametz away we then, usually on the night before Pesach, search for the Chametz. This year however, Friday night 26th March is the night before Pesach, and since the ritual includes lighting and taking round a candle, we search one night earlier, on the Thursday night. This year the ideal time for searching will be from 7.13pm on Thursday 25th March.
Q: By when should one sell, or have destroyed Chametz
A: This year, one should have destroyed or sold Chametz by 11.04am on Friday 26th March.
Explanation: Usually one sells or destroys Chametz by the end of the 5th Jewish hour (splitting the daylight time into 12 units) on the day before Pesach. This year, however, as Shabbat is the day before, we cannot according to Jewish law sell on Shabbat and of course we could not burn Chametz if we were accustomed to doing that. So we destroy Chametz instead on the Friday, and leave over any Chametz that we may wish to consume on Shabbat. We keep the time of destroying chametz uniform with all other years – that is why the time is 11.04am on the Friday.
Q: Can one eat Chametz on Shabbat, 27th March, day before Pesach?
Explanation: One can still eat Chametz specifically left over for Pesach on Shabbat until 10am on the Shabbat morning when we cease from eating Chametz. This means that if we wish to eat Challa at Friday night meal and on Shabbat, firstly all eaten Challa should be flushed down the toilet. Secondly, one needs to eat Shabbat ‘lunch’ with Challa so that the Challa is consumed before 10am.
Q: What should I do if I don’t want to eat any Chametz on Shabbat, erev Pesach?
A: There are other options!
Explanation: The first issue is around using Matza instead of Challa for Shabbat meals. This is a problem from another side, as there is a law not to eat Matza on the day before Pesach so that we come anew to the eating of Matza at the Seder. BUT – this may only apply on the day of erev Pesach, ie this year on Shabbat day. But it would be OK to use Matza on Friday night, March 26th.
Q: So what about Shabbat day – what do I do then?
A: One needs to finish davening and have eaten something before 10am!
Explanation: If Challah is being used for the second meal then all Challah needs to be consumed by 10am. Matza can’t be used as this is the day of erev Pesach. Another option could be what we call ‘Matza Ashira’ or know as egg matzo. Ashkenazim are not allowed to eat egg matzo on Pesach (although children, the elderly, and those unwell can) and this would also extend to Shabbat afternoon. If you did not want to use Challah at all over Shabbat, you could use egg matzo for the second Shabbat meal, as long as you finished before 10am. Another alternative I heard in the name of the late Dayan Lopian, was to use pitta for your Friday night meal, and early Shabbat meal – it is less messy!
We will be starting Synagogue services at the Reading of the Torah at 10.30am on Shabbat March 27th. This will give time for people to daven Shacharit at home if they wish and to have a Shabbat mean before 10am.
Q: There is a concept of having 3 meals on Shabbat and many eat Challa for the third meal – what should we do this year on Shabbat which is day before Pesach?
A: You can have fruit for your third meal.
Explanation: There is an opinion that if you do not have challa or cake, you can fulfil the third meal through eating fruit or other snack foods.