June 23, 2024
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June 23, 2024
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Practical Suggestions for Pesach That Falls on Shabbat For Sephardim and Ashkenazim

The conundrum is well-known. We are not permitted to eat chametz on Erev Pesach after the fourth halachic hour of the day (please visit myzmanim.com for specific times in your area), and we are not permitted to eat matzah on Erev Pesach. On a day when we have restrictions regarding eating both chametz and matzah, how are we supposed to fulfill our obligation to eat three meals on Shabbat?!

Background Information

The Mishna (Pesachim 3:6) presents a debate between Rabi Meir and the chachamim whether chametz must be eliminated before Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat. The halacha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 444:1) follows the chachamim that one may eat chametz on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat through the fourth halachic hour of the day.

In regard to the prohibition to eat matzah on Erev Pesach, the Rishonim debate its scope. Ramban rules that matzah is forbidden even on the night of Erev Pesach, while the Rif and the Rambam rule that the prohibition applies only during the day of Erev Pesach. This debate continues to rage until today. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 1:155) prefers satisfying Ramban but Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yechave Da’at 1:91) rules that the prohibition applies only during the day portion of Erev Pesach. Some have a custom to refrain from eating matzah all of Chodesh Nisan (Mishna Berura 471:11) but Rav Ovadia Yosef does not mention this minhag.

A Chametz-Free Erev Pesach: Rav Moshe Feinstein

Many prefer to follow Rabi Meir’s view and eliminate all chametz before Pesach, especially those blessed with small children. Rav Moshe and Rav Ovadia set forth different strategies to fulfill the mitzvah of eating Shabbat meals without chametz.

Rav Moshe (ibid.) advises eating matza ashira (i.e., egg matzah) for the first two Shabbat meals. Ashkenazim must finish the second meal before the fourth halachic hour of the day since they do not eat matza ashira even on Erev Pesach absent great need (Rama Orach Chaim 444:1). Although the bracha on matza ashira is Borei Minei Mezonot when eaten as a snack, if it is eaten as part of a full meal its bracha is Hamotzi (with Birkat HaMazon), in Rav Moshe’s view.

Most interestingly, Rav Pinchus Rappaport (of Brooklyn’s Congregation Zichron Rav Moshe Feinstein) told me that he had the merit of eating the Shabbat morning meal on Erev Pesach at the home of Rav Moshe Feinstein. The Feinsteins served chametz with the early Shabbat morning meal, as seems to be the traditional practice. Rav Rappaport relates that Rav Moshe instructed the guests to take only that much chametz they could finish and leave over no extra chametz. However, one gentleman took more chametz than he could eat and left some over, creating a halachic challenge. This story illustrates that it may be best to eliminate all chametz before Pesach.

A Chametz-Free Erev Pesach: Rav Ovadia Yosef

Matza Ashira is not a practical option for Sephardim to fulfill the mitzvah of eating Shabbat meals. According to Rav Ovadia (based on the rulings of Maran HaChida and many other great Sephardic poskim), one would have to eat 226 grams of egg matzah to recite HaMotzi and Birkat HaMazon. Two hundred twenty-six grams is an extraordinary amount of matzah, the equivalent of eating half of a typical box of matzah!

However, Rav Ovadia presents a solution. He recommends eating Pesach matzah for the Friday night meal since the prohibition to eat matzah, in his view, does not begin until the morning. Although Sephardim recite Borei Minei Mezonot on matzah year-round, when there is no chametz option on or very near Pesach, even Sephardim say Hamotzi.

However, what about the Shabbat morning meal where eating Pesach matzah is not an option? For this, Rav Ovadia presents a clever idea. He notes that one does not fulfill the mitzvah to eat matzah at the Seder with cooked matzah (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 461:4). Since Erev Pesach we may eat matzah ineligible for the Seder, Rav Ovadia recommends cooking the matzah (by placing Pesach matzah in very hot soup) and eating the cooked matzah at the second Shabbat meal. Although cooked matzah is not eligible for the Seder mitzvah, its bracha remains Hamotzi and may be used to fulfill the mitzvah of eating seudot Shabbat.

An Alternative for Sephardic Jews From Rav Shmuel Khoshkerman

Many have noted that while a most interesting approach, Rav Ovadia’s idea may not be practical. Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch, in its discussion of Shabbat meals on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat, does not present serving cooked matzah as an option.

Instead, Rav Koshkermann recommends as follows. He advises making the entire house Pesach-ready before Shabbat. However, a kezayit (27 grams) of bread should be placed in a plastic bag for each adult (children should be given matza ashira) who will join the Shabbat morning meal. They should wash and omit the bracha of Al Netilat Yadayim since Sephardic (and many Ashkenazic) Jews do not recite this bracha unless eating a kebeitza (54 grams) of bread (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 158:2).

Although it is ideal for both Ashkenazim (Mishna Berura 291:2) and Sephardim (Yalkut Yosef Orach Chaim 274:23) to eat a kebeitza of bread at each Shabbat meal, in this circumstance it is best to suffice with the baseline requirement of a kezayit. This minimalist approach avoids complications resulting from leftover chametz.

Each adult takes a bag of chametz, goes to the porch, and eats a kezayit of chametz within the first four halachic hours of the day. Adults rinse out their mouths, recite Bitul Chametz, and then return to the table to finish the rest of the Shabbat morning meal.

Next week, we will, b’ezrat Hashem, discuss options for seudah shelishit for both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat.

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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