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What happens when Passover begins on Saturday Night?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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The 24 hours before Passover are very hectic. On the night before we search for the Chametz, and in the morning we must close up and burn the remaining Chametz. That is followed by the frantic preparations for the Seder, and let's not forget the Fast of the firstborn.

None of the above may be done during the 24 hours of Shabbat. Theoretically we should simply get rid of all Chametz before Shabbat begins, however, we still need Challah for Shabbat.1  So when Passover begins on Saturday night we need to implement some innovative Jewish thinking.

Ridding of the Chamtez:

Ideally, the house should be clean and ready for Passover by Thursday night, which is when we will search for Chametz following the same procedures of any year although we are doing it a day earlier.

The burning of the Chametz is done Friday morning during the fifth Halachic hour after sunrise. However, the Kol Chamira2 is not said (until tomorrow), and unlike other years one may still eat Chametz for another 24 hours. One should be careful though not to eat Chametz in places that are already cleaned for Passover, or use things that have been sold to the non-Jew.

That sale will take place by midday on Friday but does not include food you set aside for the next 24 hours. All that food must therefore be eaten or completely destroyed by Saturday morning. It is advisable not to keep any Chametz (aside for the Challah loaves you need for the Shabbat meals) past the burning of the Chametz on Friday.

Shabbat meals (and Services):

There are various ways to go about this, and we suggest keeping it simple: prepare Kosher for Passover Shabbat meals! The only Chametz food you should have is Challah loaves, and just enough for everyone to have a piece Friday night and Shabbat morning.3 Eat the Challah over a tissue, and flush the tissue and crumbs down the toilet.

At the onset of the sixth Halachic hour on Saturday morning all Chametz must be gone. You must therefore conclude the Challah part of your Shabbat morning meal by the onset of the fifth Halachic hour, at which point you begin getting rid of any remaining Chametz. Flush the tissue and any crumbs down the toilet and nullify any unknown of Chametz with the Kol Chamira prayer.

Because of this early deadline to the (Challah part of the) Shabbat meal, Saturday services that morning are held earlier than usual.

Seder Preparations:

Whatever can be prepared and cooked before Shabbat (which is just about everything) should be done before Shabbat. The Seder table, plate, and all other preparations you were not able to do before Shabbat, may not be done until Shabbat is over on Saturday night, as it is forbidden to prepare on Shabbat for after Shabbat.

Fast of the Firstborn:

The Fast of the Firstborn is observed on Thursday. It is forbidden to fast on Shabbat, and when a Fast does not naturally fall on Friday we don't set it for that day, in order to prevent us from entering Shabbat fasting.

Note: the above is merely a general overview of these laws. For a more detailed examination or if you have any questions consult with your local Halachic authority.

Footnotes

  • 1. In order to preserve the excitement for the Matzah at the Seder we don't eat Matzah on the day before Passover. Some people actually dont' eat Matzah for up to a month before Passover.
  • 2. Here is an English translation of the second Kol Chamira prayer: All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have observed it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.
  • 3. You must have at least two whole Challas at each meal, but the "whole Challah" can be any size you want.

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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Chametz
Any leavened product which is produced from wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats. This includes bread, cake, cereals, crackers, biscuits, yeast, pasta and whisky. It is forbidden for a Jew to possess or consume Chametz throughout Passover.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Seder
Festive meal eaten on the first two nights of the holiday of Passover (In Israel, the Seder is observed only the first night of the holiday). Seder highlights include: reading the story of the Exodus, eating Matzah and bitter herbs, and drinking four cups of wine.
Challah
A loaf of bread. Usually refers to: 1) The section of dough separated and given to the priest (today that section is burnt). 2) The sweetened, soft bread customarily consumed at the Sabbath meals.