June 14, 2024
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Seudah Shelishit on Erev Pesach That Falls on Shabbat: Practical Solutions for Sephardim and Ashkenazim

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 291:1) urges exercising great care regarding seudah shelishit, the third meal of Shabbat. The Shulchan Aruch follows the Rishonim, who require bread for seudah shelishit (Orach Chaim 291:5) and lechem mishneh at this meal (Orach Chaim 291:4). Rav Ovadia Yosef’s family reports that he always emphasized the importance of seudah shelishit. Every Shabbat he went out of his way to eat bread and have lechem mishneh at his third meal.

However, properly observing this mitzvah is challenging on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat. Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 291:2; following the Rambam Hilchot Shabbat 30:10) rules that this meal is eaten only in the afternoon (after six and a half halachic hours have passed). Yet, at this time, eating chametz is strictly forbidden, as is eating matzah.

Ashkenazic Solutions

The Rama (Orach Chaim 291:5 and 444:1) notes that matzah ashira (such as egg matzah) is not an option for Ashkenazic Jews except in a particular need. Therefore, he states that Ashkenazic Jews this Shabbat should rely on the Rishonim who believe that one fulfills the mitzvah to eat seudah shelishit with fish, fruit and meat. Of course, one should not overindulge in these items to save one’s appetite for the Seder.

Mishna Berura (444:8), however, cites Acharonim (including the Vilna Gaon), who advise splitting the early morning Shabbat meals into two portions. One would recite Hamotzi and Birkat Hamazon at both meals.

The Mishna Berura emphasizes that one must create a halachic interruption (hefsek, such as a walk outside) between the two meals. Otherwise, the Hamotzi and Birkat Hamazon recited at the second meal would constitute a bracha she’eina tzericha, an unnecessary bracha. It is essential to complete both meals before the end of the fourth halachic hour of the day.

Although the Shulchan Aruch rules that one does not fulfill the mitzva of seudah shelishit before six and a half halachic hours of the day, the Mishna Berura explains that some Rishonim disagree. Hence, it is proper to fulfill the mitzva of seudah shelishit with bread in the early morning, satisfying these opinions. One also eats fish, fruit and meat for seudah shelishit after six and a half halachic hours of the day to satisfy the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling. Many Ashkenazic Jews follow this practice.

Sephardic Solutions

Sephardic Jews, following the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch, are permitted to eat matzah ashira on Pesach. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch instructs Sephardic Jews to eat matzah ashira for seudah shelishit on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat. However, Sephardic Jews recite Borei Minei Mezonot on matzah ashira even when eating it in the context of a full meal, unless 226 grams (or possibly 176 grams) of egg matzah is consumed. In addition, the matzah ashira may not be eaten once the tenth halachic hour of the day has begun in order to save our appetite for the Seder.

If the matza ashira is not eaten before this time, seudah shelishit would be fulfilled with fish, fruit and meat. Rav Ovadia Yosef does not urge Sephardic Jews to split their morning meal into two sections since the pillars of Sephardic halacha, the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, require seudah shelishit to be eaten in the afternoon.


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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