When Pesach Starts on Saturday Night – A Law Review by Rabbi Stewart Weiss

When Erev Pesach (14 Nisan) occurs on Shabbat, there are numerous Halachot that differ from other years. This overview is meant as a guide to those Halachot. For specific questions, consult your Rav. Chag Kasher V’Sameach!

  1. The Fast of the First-Born, normally held on Erev Pesach, is instead held on Thursday (12 Nisan) for those fasting. Of course, it is customary to attend a Siyum B’Chorim on that day in order to be exempted from fasting.
  1. Bedikat (the search for) Chametz is done immediately after dark (6:35 pm Ra’anana time) on Thursday night, with the appropriate Bracha. After Bedika, the Bitul (nullification) is said, in both Aramaic and whatever language one understands. It can be found in Machzorim & most siddurim.
  1. Biur (the burning of) Chametz takes place on Friday morning, preferably by 11:32 am (one who forgot may technically burn the Chametz all day). No bitul declaration is made after burning as in other years. This declaration will be made on Shabbat morning by 11:32 am.
  1. Mechirat (the sale of) Chametz should be completed by Thursday, although the sale contract permits use of the Chametz until the prohibition of eating Chametz begins on Shabbat morning.
  1. One may bake Challa on Friday, but must be sure to Mafrish (separate and burn) the Challa dough before Shabbat. (Of course, if the house is made kosher l’Pesach by Friday – as we strongly advise – then this would not apply!)
  1. Those who do not refrain from eating Matza from Rosh Chodesh Nisan may eat Matza on Friday, but regular Matza may not be eaten on Shabbat.

Note: While kitniyot products may be eaten on Shabbat, Erev Pesach, it is our custom (at least for adults) not to do so.

  1. In order to eat the prescribed 3 meals on Shabbat, some have the custom to rise early for Tefila on Shabbat; wash and eat Challa (“Lechem Mishna”), and conclude no later than 10:15 am. As for Seuda Shlisheit, one may either A) Say Birkat Hamazon, wash and make another Motzi before 10:15 am or B) Simply eat Seudat Shlisheit in the afternoon with meat, fish or fruit (and not bread).

One’s house should be kashered for Pesach by Friday, eating kosher l’Pesach meals throughout Shabbat. If Challa is eaten Friday night or Shabbat morning, it should be kept in a separate area on throw-away dishes or napkins which are disposed of after eating. If one is eating Challa at a separate table, one should recite Kiddush there as well, and have in mind to continue the meal at the main table. Birkat Hamazon may be said at the main table.

In place of Challah, one may eat Matza Ashira for the Motzi. Matza Ashira may also be used for Seuda Shlisheit, provided this Matza is eaten by 12:30 pm on Shabbat (others permit it to be eaten until 3:45 pm). It may NOT be used to fulfill the Mitzva of Matza at the Seder, and preferably should be eaten on Pesach only for those who cannot digest regular matza.

8) Kashering for Pesach may be done all day Friday until candle lighting (6:36 pm in Ra’anana). No kashering may be done on Shabbat.

9) By 11:30 am on Shabbat morning, the final Bitul declaration should be made, wherever one happens to be.


Because one may not prepare for YomTov during Shabbat, and in order to start the Seder without delay, there are a number of items which should be prepared before Shabbat.

1) The Z’roah (shankbone) and egg for the Seder plate should be roasted before Shabbat.

2) The Charoset should be ground before Shabbat. If one forgot, it may be prepared on Motzei Shabbat with a shinui (deviation, such as using the left-hand).

3) When using Chazeret (horseradish root) for Maror (note: bottled horseradish is not suitable for the Mitzva of Maror) one may wait until after Shabbat to grind the root, in order to maintain its potency. One may also grind the root before Shabbat and then keep it covered and refrigerated until the Seder.

When using Romaine lettuce for Maror, it is preferable, through not required, to examine the lettuce for any bugs before Shabbat. If one does prepare the lettuce Friday, the leaves should not be soaked in water over Shabbat.

4) Salt water may be prepared either before or after Shabbat.

5) The Seder table may not be set during Shabbat. After dark, one can say “Baruch hamavdil bein kodesh l’kodesh” & begin cooking & preparing for YomTov (& light YomTov candles).

6) It is customary to read the Haggada on Shabbat from “Avadim Hayinu” to “L’Chaper.”

7) It is customary for children (and a good idea for adults, too!) to sleep on Erev Pesach so as to be awake for all the Seder.

8) The Havdala paragraph (“V’Todiyanu“) is added to the Kiddush at the Seder.

9) The Afikoman should be eaten by 12:40 am on Motzei Shabbat.

This entry was posted in Community, Events, Holidays, Learning, Pesach, Torah. Bookmark the permalink.