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Question: Since Erev Pesach is on Shabbos this year, when does one burn the chametz? Also, can you discuss some of the other Pesach laws unique to Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbos?

M. Aronowitz



Answer: There are many halachot that only apply in a year like this one – when Erev Pesach falls on Shabbos.

On Pesach, we are commanded to eat matzah and not eat chametz; these mitzvot remind us of our miraculous and hurried departure from bondage in Egypt. The Torah (Exodus 12:8) introduces us to the mitzvah of eating matzah in conjunction with the paschal sacrifice (which we have been unable to offer since the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash): “Ve’achlu et habasar balaila hazeh tzeli esh, u’matzot al merorim yochluhu – They shall eat the meat on that night, roasted over the fire, and unleavened bread; they shall eat it with bitter herbs.”

Several verses later, we find an independent command to eat matzah: “Shiv’at yomim matzot tocheilu ach bayom harishon tashbitu se’or mi’bateichem; ki kol ocheil chametz, venich’reta hanefesh ha’hi mi’yisrael, miyom harishon ad yom ha’shevi’i – Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; but on the first day you shall have eliminated the leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.”

The Talmud (Pesachim 5a) notes that a tanna of the school of R. Yishmael taught that “the first day” mentioned in this pasuk refers to the 14th of Nissan, Erev Pesach. R. Nachman bar Yitzchak cites several verses to support the contention that “first” refers to the day before the first day.

Rava, though, deduces that “first day” in this context refers to the 14th of Nissan from Exodus 34:25: “Lo tish’chat al chametz dam zivchi velo yalin laboker zevach chag hapasach – You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the feast of Passover be left until the morning.” Since the paschal sacrifice is brought on Erev Pesach – the 14th of Nissan – it’s obvious that one’s chametz has to be eliminated by that time.

Rashi (ad loc. s.v. “Lo tish’chat al chametz”) writes that since slaughter of the paschal sacrifice started at the seventh hour on Erev Pesach (a uniform time was established for all in order to avoid confusion), chametz has to be disposed of by the sixth hour (i.e., chatzot, noon).

To dispose of chametz in our possession, we must first search for it, and, indeed, the first mishnah in Pesachim (2a) reads: “Or le’arba’a asar bodkin et he’chametz le’or ha’ner – On the evening of the 14th [of Nissan] one searches for chametz by the light of a candle.”

The Gemara (ibid. 7b-8a) states that one may not search by the light of the sun or moon, or by the light of a torch. One may only search by the light of a candle, which, because of its small size, can easily access nooks and crannies.

It’s relatively rare for Erev Pesach to fall on Shabbos; this concurrence only occurs about 12 times every 100 years. It occurred 13 years ago and will occur again four years from now, but after that, it won’t occur again for another 20 years. Here are the years it occurred and will occur in the 21st century as per The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar by Dr. Arthur Spier: 2001, 2005, 2008, 2021, 2025, 2045, 2048, 2052, 2072, 2075, 2079, and 2099.

The Mishnah addresses such a set up (Pesachim 49a): “If the 14th [of Nissan] falls on Shabbos, everything [i.e., chametz] – whether terumah or chullin – must be removed before Shabbos. This is the view of R. Meir. The Sages maintain [it must be removed] at its [usual] time. R. Eliezer b. Tzadok says terumah [must be removed] before Shabbos, but ordinary foods at the usual time.” (Rashi explains that R. Meir’s opinion implicitly allows for setting aside chametz food for two Shabbos meals.)

The Gemara also addresses this topic in great detail in the first chapter of Pesachim (13a). A baraita states: “If the 14th falls on Shabbos, everything [i.e., chametz] must be removed before Shabbos, and terumot – whether defiled, in doubt [i.e., possibly defiled], or clean – are burned. Of the [clean] terumah, food for two meals is left over to eat from until four hours of the day [i.e., after sunrise – that is, for the Friday evening meal and the first meal of Shabbos day]. These are the words of R. Eleazar b. Yehuda of Bartota in the name of R. Yehoshua.

The Sages said to him: Perhaps clean terumot should not be burned in case kohanim will be found who will eat them. He replied: They have already made inquiries and did not find any. They suggested: Perhaps some kohanim spent the night outside the city walls (in an inn, and they may enter the city in the morning). He responded: According to your reasoning, even doubtful terumot should not be burned for Eliyahu might arrive (unexpectedly and resolve its doubtful status) and declare them clean!

To this, they answered: The community of Israel has been assured that Eliyahu won’t come on a Shabbos or festival eve his arrival would interfere with the Shabbos or festival preparations.

Rashi (ad loc. s.v. Mazon shetei se’udot) writes that food for only two Shabbos meals is set aside since. No food is set aside for Shalosh Seudos because eating chametz on Erev Pesach after the time of Minchah (noon and beyond) is forbidden.

(To be continued)


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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.