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How does a Saturday night Passover Seder differ from other Passover Seders?

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Question: How does a Saturday night Passover Seder differ from other Passover Seders?

Answer: This year Passover will begin on Saturday night, April 19, 2008. Because of this calendar irregularity, we must make a few adjustments in our observance of both Passover and of Shabbat. Below is a brief list of some of the adjustments that we make. Please be sure to discuss these with your own rabbi.

Fast of the First Born
The fast of the first born is moved up to Thursday.

Search for Chametz
Finish turning your house over for Passover by Thursday night. The search for chametz is pushed up to Thursday night; the burning of chametz and the declaration that anything left over is null and void occurs on Friday morning. But as noted below, you must have in mind the chametz that you will (possibly) use on Shabbat.

Lechem Mishna on Shabbat
On Shabbat you still have an obligation to have lechem mishna -- which is traditionally two challahs, or two challah rolls at least. Since one's house should already be turned over for Passover, we have to make an adjustment. Ordinarily, during the rest of the year, we could substitute matzah for bread, but our custom is to not eat matzah for the month preceding Passover so that we won't tire of it before Passover. Those who are strict will put out paper plates and utensils and bring out two small challah rolls for each person. You make hamotzei on the challah and carefully collect the remaining crumbs from the chametz-dik paper utensils and table cloth, and sweep the floor, and then deposit all of the crumbs into the toilet. After the meal the paper utensils should be taken out to the curb (off of your property, but not in your garbage can that you intend to keep) or given to a neighbor. You'll do the same for the second meal of the day Saturday morning, which will be explained. BUT -- many poskim hold that you may use egg matzah for lechem mishna when Passover immediately follows Shabbat. Normally, we don't consider egg matzah lechem mishna. But here we make a rare exception. This is a much easier solution, and permits you to take out your Pessach dishes and not use paper.

Kosher Matzah
WHEN BUYING EGG MATZAH, OR ANY MATZAH, MAKE SURE THAT IT IS KOSHER FOR PASSOVER!!!! The matzah makers have lately been making various "flavors" of matzah that are not to be used for Passover, and are clearly marked as such. Make sure you check the packaging.

Shabbat Prayers and Meals
On Saturday morning, you will need to daven early so that you may eat your second Shabbat meal before the third hour of daylight (check with your rabbi when this is in your area). After eating the lechem mishna (egg matzah or challah rolls, see above), bench (say the blessing after meals) and then take a break or a short walk. When you return, make hamotzei on your egg matzah or challah rolls for the third meal (seudah selishit, also known as shalosh seudos). Then eat a full meal. In the afternoon you may eat anything, meat, fish, etc., but you should not eat either challah or egg matzah after the fourth hour (some say the third hour).

Pre-Seder Rest
The good news is that you'll have time to rest before the Seder (which will start after Shabbat is over, which is late this year because of the leap year addition of an additional month of Adar). So you shouldn't be exhausted as in most years, which is a very good thing since the reciting of the story of the Exodus is more important than any of the cleaning and the other rituals. Because of the late start, however, you will have a little less time to wrap up the seder. You should finish no later than 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. (ask your rabbi for the exact time, if you're prone to long seders).

Enjoy this rare experience
Having Shabbat on the day before Passover is relatively rare. Although we experienced it as recently as 2005, we will not have a first seder on Saturday night again until 2021, followed by one in 2025. After that, we’ll have to wait until 2045 for a Saturday night seder, by which time I may be dead.

For more information on these issues, go to the Star K's Guide.

Have a good and kosher Passover!

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