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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

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Answer: Rabbi Yosef Caro (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 444:1) rules that on an Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbos, we set aside chametz food for two meals only. At the third meal, which is eaten after Minchah, we are permitted neither chametz nor matzah, so we use matzah ashirah (i.e., matzah whose dough is made with fruit juice or eggs instead of water).

A person cannot fulfill his obligation to eat matzah on Pesach with matzah ashirah according to the Maggid Mishneh (in his commentary to Hilchot Chametz u’Matzah 6:5) and Rema (Orach Chayim 471:2), so it may be eaten on Erev Pesach.

We have to eat this third Shabbos meal, though, before the 10th hour of the day (which is approximately three hours before sunset at this time of the year). The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 444) writes that we can’t eat the meal too close to Yom Tov since we’re obligated to eat a quantity of matzah at the Seder that’s equivalent to what would satiate a hungry person, and we wouldn’t be able to fulfill this obligation if we were full from the third Shabbos meal.

R. Yosef Caro states (ibid. 462:1) that matzah baked exclusively with fruit juice doesn’t turn into chametz (i.e., does not ferment) and may be consumed on Pesach. It can’t, however, be used to fulfill the commandment of eating matzah since the Torah calls matzah “lechem oni” (poor man’s bread) and dough with fruit juice of eggs cannot be classified as such.

As we noted, the Rema considers such matzah generally impermissible on Pesach, but he permits it for the sick and elderly, presumably even for fulfilling the mitzvah of eating matzah on Pesach. How, then, can one use egg matzah for the Shabbos meal?

HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein rules (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim Vol.1, Responsum 155) that using egg matzah for the first two Shabbos meals is preferable to using chametz. If one has small children, using egg matzah is especially wise since one need not worry about challah crumbs being strewn all over the house.

In part I of this article, we translated “tashbitu” as eliminating or disposing. ArtScroll uses the word “nullify,” derived from Targum Onkelos’s Aramaic translation (“tevatlun”). The Gemara (Pesachim 4b) states that bedikat chametz is a Rabbinical decree as the Torah merely requires us to eliminate chametz from our homes as per Exodus 12:15: “Ach bayom harishon tashbitu se’or mi’bateichem.” The Gemara explains that we dispose of chametz with a declaration that nullifies it (bitul).

We can only nullify chametz, however, before the chametz prohibition comes into effect (i.e., chatzot). Afterwards, burning it is required to fulfill the injunctions of “bal ye’ra’eh” and “bal yi’matzei” (based on two verses in Shemot: “Ve’lo ye’ra’eh lecha chametz ve’lo ye’ra’eh lecha se’or bechol gevulecha – No chametz may be seen in your possession, nor may leaven be seen in your possession in all your borders” [13:7] and “Shiv’at yomim se’or lo yi’matzei be’vateichem – For seven days no leaven may be found in your houses” [12:19]). Burning is obviously not possible on Shabbos, though.

Rabbi Yosef Caro (Orach Chayim 444:4-5) writes that when Erev Pesach occurs on Shabbos, we have to make sure that the last chametz meal is eaten an hour before chatzot and that the tablecloth is shaken out and dishes are wiped off and set aside with the chametz utensils stored away for Pesach. If some bread remains after the meal, it should be given to a Gentile. We shouldn’t stipulate that he take it out of the house to the public domain, but we should give it to him with the understanding that he may do with it as he sees fit. Nowadays, we can also dispose of small quantities of chametz by flushing them down the toilet.

As far as burning chametz is concerned, this year we have to burn it a day early, on Friday. Although technically one may burn the chametz at any time before the onset of Shabbos, we customarily burn it before chatzot so that we don’t accidentally burn it later than chatzot during a regular year when Erev Pesach isn’t on Shabbos (Mechaber, ad loc.). We nullify the chametz (bitul) the following day at the regular time after the Shabbos morning meal.

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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.