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A Responsum Regarding Erev Pesach Which Falls on Shabbat1

Question: Erev Pesach this year falls on Shabbat. How should one go about preparing for the festival and for the Shabbat meals?

Responsum:

I) The Essential Laws
The situation posed here is a relatively rare one; Erev Pesach fell on a Shabbat only eleven times in the 20th century, and will do so again in 2005, 2008, 2021 and 2025.3 Below are the essential laws:

1. Fast of the firstborn: According to one opinion cited by R. Yosef Karo, because the fast is postponed, it is postponed altogether and therefore, according to the Sefardic custom, there is no need to fast at all. On the other hand, according to the Rema (R. Moshe Isserles), the fast is moved up to the preceding Thursday and therefore the Ashkenazi custom is to have a siyyum massekhet4 on Thursday, the 12th of Nissan, so that the firstborn may participate in the festive occasion and eat (Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 470:2; R. Ovadia Yosef, p. 273; R. Alfred Cohen, p. 127).

2. Searching for hametz (leavened bread): The search for hametz is done on Thursday evening, on the eve of the 13th of Nissan, and thehametz is burned on Friday morning (Orah Hayyim 444:1). While it is true that the hametz may be burned all day long – because Friday is not Erev Pesach – it is preferable to burn it before the end of the fifth hour of the day (11:16 a.m.), as is the case every year, so that one does not err the following year (Orah Hayyim 444:2 and R. Ovadia Yosef, p. 273).

3. The Shabbat meals: This is the main problem when Erev Pesach falls on Shabbat. On the one hand, according to Rabbi Levi in the Talmud Yerushalmi, matzah may not be eaten on Passover Eve in order to eat the matzat mitzvah (the matzah that we are commanded to eat on the night of the Seder) with a hearty appetite (Yerushalmi Pesahim 10:1, fol. 37b) and the great halakhic authorities ruled accordingly (Rambam, Laws ofhametz and Matzah 6:12, and Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 471:2 in the Rema). On the other hand, it is difficult to keep challot for hamotzi in the home on Shabbat after all the hametz has been removed. Furthermore, hametz may not be eaten on Shabbat morning – which is Erev Pesach – after the fourth hour of the day (9:53 a.m.).

Indeed, such a situation is mentioned in the Mishnah (Pesahim 3:6 = folio 49a), the Tosefta (Pesahim 3:9, 11, ed. Lieberman, pp. 153-154) and in the Babylonian Talmud (Pesahim 49a, 13a, 20b). But those sources are not sufficiently clear5 and, as a result, five different solutions to this problem have developed.

II) Five Methods Which Have Evolved Throughout the Generations

1. R. Yitzhak ibn Giyyat (Spain, d. 1089) apparently ignored the above-mentioned Yerushalmi and ruled that regular matzah should be eaten at the Shabbat meals. He is cited as follows in Sha'arei Teshuva, No. 93:

Rabbeinu Yitzhak ibn Giyyat wrote: the custom in Lucena was to burn [all hametz] before Shabbat, to bake matzah on Friday and eat it on Shabbat… and after Shabbat, they bake matzah and use it to fulfill the mitzvah.6
R. Yitzhak ibn Giyyat does not give a source for his opinion, but the Rishonim [=early halakhic authorities] already noted the above-mentioned Tosefta: “When the fourteenth falls on Shabbat, [all hametz] is burned before Shabbat and he bakes matzah for himself on Erev Shabbat”. Some of the Rishonim explained that he bakes matzat mitzvah for himself on Erev Shabbat for the Seder on Saturday night.7 However, R. Yitzhak ibn Giyyat, R. Efraim of Kala Hammad, the Rivevan and R. Aharon Hacohen of Lunel explained that he bakes matzah for himself on Erev Shabbat in order to eat it on Shabbat.8 Nevertheless, their opinion has all but disappeared over the generations,9 apparently because there were other interpretations of the Tosefta and because their opinion was contrary to the above-mentioned Yerushalmi.

2. The second method is based on Pesahim 13a: “As it is taught [in a beraita]: when the fourteenth falls on Shabbat, [all hametz] is burned before Shabbat… and some of the…food is left over for two meals that should be eaten before the fourth hour [on Shabbat]…” (and cf. ibid., 49a and 20b). Indeed, this is how the great halakhic authorities ruled (Otzar Ha'geonim to Pesahim, pp. 65-67; Rambam, Laws ofhametz and Matzah 3:3; and Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 444:1). R. Yosef Karo adds that for seudah shlishit (the third Shabbat meal), matzah ashirah (i.e., enriched matzah or “egg matzah” as it is now called)10 should be used, provided that seudah shlishit is eaten before the tenth hour of the day so that one will have an appetite to eat matzah at the Seder. Likewise, the hametz must be nullified by reciting “Kol hamira v'hami'a” (the Aramic formula for nullifying hametz) on Shabbat morning at the end of the fifth hour (11:15 a.m.), just as it is done every year (Orah Hayyim 444:4, 6).

This method has been in practice for generations, but it causes discomfort. Below is a description of it by R. Hayyim David Halevy, who is actually one of its proponents:
And this is our custom: on Friday, the 13th of Nissan, all of the hametz is burned and all of the utensils used for hametz are concealed as if it was the 14th of Nissan, and all of the cooking for Shabbat is done using Pesach utensils. A small amount of hametz is left over, preferably pitas or rolls that do not make crumbs, and immediately after kiddush [on Friday night], they crowd around a designated corner on a separate table, eat the amount of bread required at a Shabbat meal with vegetable salad and the like, shake out their clothes very well and remove the tablecloth and the table and then they sit down at the main Shabbat table and eat kosher [for Pesach] foods on kosher [for Pesach] dishes and recite birkat hamazon at the conclusion of the meal.

On the following morning, immediately after the services, they eat as described above in a special corner, etc., a regular and full breakfast using disposable plates and cutlery and say birkat hamazon. Afterwards, they destroy the hametz by throwing it in a public place and then recite the normal nullification. In the afternoon, minhah is recited at an early hour (minhah gedolah) and then they eat…seudah shlishit [=the third Shabbat meal], with meat and fish [without bread or matzah]. (Aseh Lekha Rav, Vol. 5, pp. 363-364, and cf. Mekor Hayyim Hashalem, Vol. 4, pp. 76-77).
However, R. Eliyahu Hazzan, when he served as Chief Rabbi of Tripoli, Libya, already noted the difficulties in this method:
This year, 5636 [=1876], Erev Pesach falls on Shabbat and my soul is so anguished over the prohibitions which occurred this Shabbat due to the eating of hametz, because they could not be extremely careful about the crumbs and sweeping the house and the like, and in addition, the joy of Shabbat Hagadol is prevented because they will eat between the stove and the oven and the like; also because on Shabbat they pray at a late hour and we have to worry that the time for nullifying the hametz will pass, God forbid…
It is therefore desirable to seek another method to the problem.

3. Indeed, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef proposed another solution. He suggested using
matzah that has been cooked in chicken or meat soup as follows: after the soup has been cooked, remove it from the burner and, while the soup is still hot enough to burn the hand, put several matzot, enough for one's needs, in the soup one after the other in such a way that the matzah fully absorbs the taste of the soup, and then it can be used to fulfill the mitzvah of three meals. It is best not to remove the matzot from the soup until it cools off so that the matzot can be removed whole and not fall apart in the soup, so that they can be broken on Shabbat and used for ha'motzi and birkat hamazon… Similarly, he may fry the matzot in oil…
He goes on to say that on Friday night it is permissible to use regular matzah because the prohibition in the Yerushalmi of eating matzah on Erev Pesach does not apply to the night of the 14th (R. Ovadia Yosef, p. 279).

Indeed, from a halakhic perspective, his method is valid, but from a practical point of view, it is hard to accept, because presumably most of the people will not want to engage in the complicated process described above.

4. The fourth method was suggested by R. Ya'akov Bezalel Zolti, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, in 1981. He maintains that the Yerushalmi is only opposed to eating matzah on Erev Pesach if that matzah could be eaten at the Seder. Egg matzah may be eaten on Erev Pesach because it may not be used at the Seder. Similarly, if before baking regular matzah for Pesach, we state explicitly that it is for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvah of eating matzah at the Seder, then it may be eaten on Erev Pesach. He further states that he and Rabbi Elyashiv actually arranged for such matzot to be baked in 1981.

This method is not convincing for two reasons. First of all, it is very ingenious, but ignores the plain meaning of Rabbi Levi's words in the Yerushalmi. Rabbi Levi is opposed to eating matzah on Erev Pesach because it ruins the taste of the matzah at the Seder. Changing our intent when we bake the matzah will not address Rabbi Levi's concern. Secondly, even if some rabbi arranges to bake such special matzah, most Jews will not have access to it.

5. The fifth method is the simplest and preferred. It is cited by R. Vidal de Toulousa in the Maggid Mishneh (on Laws of Hametz and Matzah 3:3, near the end) and it was even suggested by R. Yosef Karo, who rejected it for technical reasons alone:
And it should not be said that one should destroy [all hametz] before Shabbat and leave nothing and on Shabbat eat matzah ashirah [egg matzah]; since not every person is able to make egg matzah for all three meals, therefore the rabbis did not insist on this (Beit Yosef on Orah Hayyim, paragraph 444, catchword: umah shekatav v'khen hinhig Rashi).
In other words, if it were possible for every person to make egg matzah, R. Yosef Karo would have agreed to this, because egg matzah is neither hametz nor matzat mitzvah which can be used at the Seder, and therefore it may be eaten on Erev Pesach (Responsa of the Ribash, No. 402 and Noda B'Yehudah, Orah Hayyim, No. 21).

Indeed this was the custom in Izmir, Turkey in the 19th century according to the testimony of Rabbi Haim Palache. He favored the practice, because, if hametz remained, it would be difficult to get rid of the crumbs and a person would also not be able to eat calmly at a carefully laid table with a clean tablecloth and the hametz foods would be cold (Responsa Lev Haim, II, No. 88). This was also the practice followed by the above-mentioned R. Eliyahu Hazzan. He refrained from “imposing on the people to make egg matzah”, but he did disclose his practice to several scholars in the hope that “perhaps in so doing, the custom will work its way into practice”. This was also the practice of R. Yosef b. Walid (Sefer Shemo Yosef, No. 136). Rabbi Moshe Feinstein also preferred this solution in a responsum written in 5714 (1954). He wrote:
Therefore it is good for those who do not wish to leave hametz [in their house] on Shabbat out of concern for possible obstacles that may arise from this, to fulfill the mitzvah of the two Shabbat meals using egg matzah… (R. Moshe Feinstein, p. 274).
He cites the above-mentioned Beit Yosef and explains:
We have seen that it would be appropriate to enact and institute the practice of destroying all hametz before Shabbat… and to fulfill the mitzvah of the Shabbat meals using egg matzahand therefore those who are able and want to take the trouble to bake egg matzah for the two Shabbat meals, that is preferable…
This approach of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was well-received by various halakhic authorities, such as my grandfather, Rabbi Mordechai Ya'akov Golinkin z”l, who was the Av Beit Din of Massachusetts for many years; my father and teacher, Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l; Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Rabbi Alfred Cohen, Rabbi Kassel Abelson and others.11

As for seudah shlishit, it is of course possible to be stringent like the Rema and to eat only fruit or meat and fish. However, here too one may be lenient and use egg matzah because that is what R. Yosef Karo (Orah Hayyim 444:1) ruled in accordance with the custom of Rabbeinu Tam.12 Rabbi Yehezkel Landau (1713-1793) ruled in the Noda B'Yehudah (Orah Hayyim, No. 21) “that it is permissible to eat [egg matzah on Erev Pesach] all day if there is a small need, even if it is not for a sick or elderly person”. Therefore, it is permissible to eat egg matzah even at seudah shlishit.

III) Conclusion

In conclusion, on Erev Pesach which falls on Shabbat one may not eat regular matzah and it is difficult to eat hametz. As a result, five possible solutions were proposed throughout the generations. In our day, it is preferable to adopt the fifth method. One should search for hametz on Thursday night, burn and nullify the hametz on Friday morning (R. Ovadia Yosef, p. 279) and eat egg matzah at all of the Shabbat meals.

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Notes

1. This is an English translation of a Hebrew responsum written in 5754 (1994) which appeared in the Responsa of the Va'ad Halakhah of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel, Vol. 5 (5752-5754), pp. 109-116; that responsum can be accessed at www.responsafortoday.com. The hours listed here are according to summer time in Jerusalem in 5765. In this version, we have expanded the bibliography and added the approach of Rabbi Zolti. My thanks to Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein of Lima, Peru, who sent me a copy of Rabbi Zolti's article.

2. This responsum is dedicated to the memory of my grandfather Rabbi Mordechai Ya'akov Golinkin z”l (1884-1974) and my father Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l (1913-2003), both of whom wrote responsa on this topic – see the Bibliography below. Readers who wish to receive copies of those responsa should write to Linda Price.

3. 1903, 1910, 1923, 1927, 1930, 1950, 1954, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1994 – see Rabbi Noah Golinkin, p. 6. (All references cited appear below after the notes.)

4. A celebration upon completion of a tractate of Mishnah or Talmud or another classic Jewish work. For the history of this ceremony, see my responsum “On the Siyyum for the Firstborn on Passover Eve,” Et La'asot, No. 1 (Summer 5748), pp. 88-102 (Hebrew).

5. See all the opinions cited by R. Saul Lieberman, pp. 523-526 and by R. Hillel Hyman, pp. 207-210.

6. R. Yitzhak ibn Giyyat's opinion is also cited in the Ra'abad's hassagot to the Ba'al Ha'maor on Pesahim, end of chapter one (and cf. Temim Dei'im, No. 245) and in an abridged version in the Ittur, Hilkhot Bi'ur Hametz, fol. 122a.

7. See R. Saul Lieberman, p. 525, for the Rishonim who interpreted it in this manner.

8. The Ra'abad cited the Tosefta as R. Yitzhak ibn Giyyat's source. R. Efraim ruled this way in practice based on the Tosefta – see the Ittur, Hilkhot Bi'ur Hametz, fol. 121d = Israel Schepansky, Rabbeinu Efraim, Jerusalem, 5736, pp. 231-232. See also the Rivevan on Pesahim in Talpiyot 6 (5715), pp. 585, 590 and Orhot Hayyim, Hilkhot Hametz u'Matzah, end of paragraph 78, fol. 73d. This method is also cited in Sefer Hamikhtam on Pesahim, Sukkah and Mo'ed Kattan, ed. Blau, New York, 5719, pp. 65-66 and in the Maggid Mishneh on Hilkhot Hametz u'Matzah 3:3, near the end. Most of these opinions were cited by R. Lieberman, p. 524.

9. For several Ahronim who rule this way, see R. Zvi Cohen, p. 55.

10. Matzah ashirah is matzah made with fruit juice or eggs instead of water (Orah Hayyim 462:1, 4).

11. See R. Zvi Cohen, pp. 58-60, for other halakhic authorities who felt this way.

12. Rabbeinu Tam's practice is cited with variations in many places including Or Zaru'a, part two, fol. 59d; Tosafot on Pesahim 35b, catchword mei peirot; Tosefot on Pesahim 99b, catchword lo; Orhot Hayyim, Hilkhot Shabbat 63a at the bottom and Hilkhot Hametz u'Matzah, paragraph 79; Tur Orah Hayyim, paragraph 444; Hagahot Maimoniyot on Hilkhot Hametz u'Matzah, chapter 6, note 9 and chapter 3, note 2; Responsa of the Rosh, rule 14, paragraph 5; and a responsum of the Maharam cited in the Responsa of the Rashba Attributed to the Ramban, No. 210.

Bibliography

R. Kassel Abelson, “When Passover Begins on Saturday Night,” December 1993

R. Guillermo Bronstein, Cuando el Seder de Pesaj Cae Motzaei Shabat, Lima, Peru, April 2001; second edition, April 2005

R. Alfred Cohen, “Erev Pesach on Shabbat,” Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, No. XXVI (Fall 1993), pp. 110-120 with additions ibid., No. XXVII (Spring 1994), pp. 123-125

R. Zvi Cohen, Erev Pesach Shehal B'Shabbat U'Purim Hameshulash, new edition, Tel Aviv, 5737, pp. 55-62

R. Moshe Feinstein, Sefer Iggerot Moshe, Orah Hayyim, Part 1, No. 155

R. Gedalia Felder, Yesodei Yeshurun, Vol. 6, New York, 1985, pp. 91-100

R. Mordechai Ya'akov Golinkin, A Responsum Regarding Erev Pesach which Falls on Shabbat, Erev Shabbat Shira 5734

R. Noah Golinkin, “When the First Seder Occurs on Saturday Night,” Beineinu, Vol. VII, No. 3 (February 1977), pp. 6-9

R. Shlomo Goren, Yalkut Dinei Erev Pesach Shehal Lihiyot B'Shabbat Ve'hilkhot U'minhagim Le'hag Hapesach Labayit Ve'lamishpaha, Jerusalem, Nissan 5734, pp. 7-10; and Torat Hashabbat Ve'hamoed, Jerusalem, 5742, pp. 155-167

R. David Greenberger, Erev Pesach Shehal B'Shabbat, Jerusalem, 5730

R. Hayyim David Halevy, Aseh Lekha Rav, vol. 5, pp. 363-364, and Makor Hayyim Hashalem, vol. 4, pp. 76-77

R. Hayyim Hausdorf, Kuntress Davar B'itto, Yaffo-Tel Aviv, 1923

R. Eliyahu Hazzan, Responsa Ta'alumot Halev, Vol. 1, Livorno, 5639, Orah Hayyim section, No. 4

R. Hillel Hyman, Sefer Hilkhot HaRif… al Massekhet Pesach Rishon, Jerusalem, 5750, pp. 207-210

R. Menachem Mendel Kasher, Haggadah Sheleimah, 3rd edition, Jerusalem, 1967, pp. 179-196

R. Yehezkel Landau, Noda B'Yehudah, Mahadura Kama, Orah Hayyim No. 21

R. Saul Lieberman, Tosefta Kifeshuta, Vol. 4, Seder Mo'ed, New York, 5722, pp. 523-526

R. Haim Palache, Responsa Lev Hayyim, Vol. 2, Izmir, 5629, No. 88

“A Statement on Pesach Observance,” The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, February 6, 1974

R. Moshe Sternbruch, Dinei U'minhagei Erev Pesach Shehal B'Shabbat, Jerusalem, 5734

R. Gabriel Tzinner, Nitey GavrielPesach: Hilkhot Erev Pesach Shehal B'Shabbat, Brooklyn, 5754

R. Yosef Walid, Sefer Shemo Yosef, Jerusalem, 5667, paragraph 136

R. Ovadia Yosef, Responsa Yehaveh Da'at, Vol. 1, paragraph 91; and Sefer Hazon Ovadia: Haggadah Shel Pesah, Jerusalem, 1979, pp. 93-96

R. Yitzhak Yosef, Yalkut Yosef, Vol. 5, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 375-378

R. Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad, Ben Ish Hai, Year One, end of Parashat Tzav

R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin, Mahanayim 21 (Erev Pesach 5714), pp. 17-18

R. Ya'akov Bezalel Zolti, Madrikh Kashrut: Pesach 5741, Jerusalem, 5741, pp. 15-23

Prof. David Golinkin is the President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety. If you wish to abbreviate the article, please contact Rabbi Golinkin at: golinklin@schechter.ac.il.

The opinions expressed here are the author’s and in no way reflect an official policy of the Schechter Institute.

 





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