Frequently Asked Questions
This year, 2001 / 5761, Pesach begins on a Saturday night. This creates a whole slew of questions, some more obvious than others. When do you prepare the Seder? When do you burn the Chametz? The last time this occurred was 1994/5754, and so the answers don't come readily to mind. The next time is not too far away, though - 2005/5765 - so store this in a safe place!
Here is a primer on Pesach 2001, handling some of the issues which arise. Of course, please call me (401-729-4583) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions which this FAQ does not clarify.
Section 1: When is our Chametz sold?
Chametz is sold with a sale which takes effect before midday of the day before Pesach.
This year's problem:
We cannot sell our Chametz in the normal manner, since we don't arrange sales on Shabbat. The sale can't take effect on Friday, either, or we would run into a different problem - we may need to add Chametz and utensils to the sold area in the course of Shabbat, as we finish our meals.
Therefore, the language of the sale should include the following: "The sale will be effective on Friday afternoon, April 6th, at 4 PM (for example), and will include all Chametz which is in the designated area as of 11:30 AM on Saturday morning, April 7th."
This way, we may add put Chametz into the "sold" area on Shabbat, but the sale occurs, technically, before Shabbat.
Section 2: When do we search for Chametz?
We search for Chametz on the night before Pesach.
This year's problem:
We cannot conduct the search on Friday night, though, since the search involves moving a light from room to room in conducting the search.
We cannot cunduct the search on Friday; the sages interpreted biblical verses to indicate that the search should be conducted by candlelight, which is most effective at night.
As a result, we search on Thursday night, April 5th, when the stars emerge, at 7:52 PM.
Section 3: When do we burn Chametz?
We burn our Chametz on the day before Pesach, before the 6th hour of the day. "Hours" are determined by dividing the time between sunrise and sunset into twelve equal parts; each part is an "hour."
This year's problem:
We cannot burn Chametz on Shabbat.
Technically, one may destroy Chametz by other means, which may be performed on Shabbat, but there is a need to preserve the practice of burning Chametz, specifically.
To preserve the practice of burning Chametz, we burn our Chametz on Friday, April 6th, at the normal time - before 11:31 AM.
On Shabbat, after we finish eating Chametz, we dispose of the remaining Chametz in the manner recorded in Section 7.
Section 4: When do we say "Kol Chamira," annulling our ownership of Chametz?
In an ordinary year, we recite one version of the "Kol Chamira" paragraph when searching for Chametz at night, and a second version when burning the Chametz on the next morning. (Both versions may be found in the standard Artscroll Siddur, page 655.) The language we use at night allows us to save some Chametz to use at breakfast. The language we use when we burn the Chametz states that we annul our ownership of all Chametz.
This year's problem:
We cannot recite the second version of "Kol Chamira" when burning our Chametz, because we are keeping some Chametz for use on Shabbat.
We do not recite "Kol Chamira" when burning our Chametz. We recite the first version when we search for Chametz, on Thursday night. We recite the second version of "Kol Chamira" on Shabbat morning, before 11:31 AM, after having disposed of Chametz as described in Section 7.
Section 5: When do the first-born sons fast?
The first-born sons fast on the day before Pesach, commemorating the fact that they were saved from the plague of the first-born in Egypt.
This year's problem:
We do not fast on Shabbat. We do not fast on Friday, either, since fasting would cause people to enter Shabbat in discomfort.
The fast is conducted on Thursday. Attendance at a celebration honoring a Mitzvah exempts one from fasting. The popular method is to attend a "Siyum" celebrating completion of a course of Torah study.
Section 6: How do we serve Chametz food on Shabbat, April 7th?
Utensils which are used with Chametz may not be washed on Shabbat. Rinsing them of Chametz is an act of preparation for Pesach, and one may not prepare for Pesach on Shabbat.
Therefore, one should use paper and plastic utensils, and dispose of them in the manner described in Section 7.
One who is eating Chametz should eat at a table which will not be used for food on Pesach. The standards for cleaning a surface which will not come into contact with food on Pesach are relatively lax; one need only clean off all visible Chametz, and the job is done.
Alternatively, prepare the table for Pesach before Shabbat and cover it with a disposable plastic cover. After the meal, dispose of the tablecloth in the manner described in Section 7. (If you are using this method, please remember to place the candlesticks somewhere other than the table before lighting the Shabbat candles.)
All hot foods should be prepared as Pesach foods, with Pesach utensils, which should be kept apart from the Chametz and from Chametz utensils.
Section 7: What do we do with Chametz which remains after the Shabbat meals?
The Chametz which remains may be disposed of in one of four ways:
Please note that the options for disposal also apply to utensils used with Chametz.
- Give the Chametz to someone who is not Jewish, who will remove it for himself.
- Very small quantities may be flushed down the toilet.
- One may dispose of Chametz in a trash can or bag, assuming that he declares the can or bag "ownerless," he leaves it outside his property, and he will not be going near it during Pesach.
- Large amounts may be put into the "sold" area, before 11:31 AM.
We wash out our mouths and dental apparatus in the same way we do every year, but we don't use non-liquid toothpaste. One whose gums bleed when flossed should not use dental floss.
Section 8: Does Chametz become Muktzeh on Shabbat afternoon?
Actual Chametz becomes Muktzeh at 11:32 AM, when one is no longer allowed to benefit from it.
If you find Chametz after 11:32 AM:
- Find a Gentile who will dispose of it, or
- Cover it with a vessel until Chol haMoed, and dispose of the Chametz on Chol haMoed.
Section 9: When do we eat Seudah Shlishit (the 3rd Shabbat meal)?
We are faced with competing mandates governing our Shabbat meals:
A. On the one hand, many authorities rule that the third meal of Shabbat must be bread-based, like the first two meals.
B. On the other hand, the third meal is ideally eaten on Shabbat afternoon, at which time Chametz is forbidden!
Eating Matzah at our meals involves a problem, too - we may not eat Matzah on the day before Pesach, lest that diminish our appetite for Matzah at the Seder.
Arrange an early Shacharit service, and then eat lunch as breakfast. Finish the Chametz "lunch" before 10:13 AM. During the afternoon (after 1:21 PM), eat a third meal of fish, meat, matzah balls or fruit.
It is important to be careful not to eat this third meal so close to Pesach that it diminishes your appetite for the Seder.
Obviously, this solution does not satisfy the view that the 3rd meal must be bread-based. Those who wish to go all out and satisfy this view, as well, should split their "lunch" into two parts, reciting the "blessing after meals" and then taking a twenty minute break before starting to eat again.
Section 10: May we make any preparations on Shabbat for the Seder?
One may not prepare on Shabbat for events occurring after Shabbat. One may nap with the intent that this will help him at the Seder, though, because that is a normal part of Shabbat activity. One should not state that his purpose is to prepare for that night.
After Shabbat is over (8:03 PM), one may prepare for the Seder.
Before beginning the preparations, one should recite the Maariv prayer or recite this abbreviated version of Havdalah, in Hebrew or English: Baruch haMavdil Bein Kodesh leChol (Blessed is the One who distinguishes between the sacred and the mundane).
The full Havdalah is recited during the Seder, as will be described in Section 11.
Section 11: How does one make Havdalah on Pesach night?
Havdalah is recited as part of Kiddush, at the Seder, before the "Shehechiyyanu" blessing. The Shabbat candles are used for the Havdalah candle.
Some people remove two Shabbat candles from the candlesticks and place them side-by-side, to simulate a multi-wicked Havdalah candle. Others simply leave the candles in the candlesticks. People should follow their normal custom.
Section 12: How does one light candles for Pesach night?
When Yom Tov begins on a Saturday night, we wait to light candles until Shabbat is over (8:03 PM). Even then, we light from an existing flame. We light a 24-hour candle before Shabbat, which we then use as the fuel for the Yom Tov candles. We also light a second 24-hour candle on the first day of Yom Tov, and use that candle as the fuel to light candles on the second night of Yom Tov, after the first day has ended (8:04 PM).
For your information: I used a number of resources in writing this, but one exceptional resource was R' Shimon Eider's "Halachos of Pesach," published by Feldheim. I highly recommend this encyclopedic work.
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