By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
Guess what won’t happen between 2026 and 2044?
If you haven’t guessed it yet, here is a hint: It happens approximately once every 9 years.
Hint #2. It can occur as frequently as every 3 years and as infrequently as every 20 years.
Last hint: Aside from this year, 2021, it will next happen in four years—2025—and then we skip another 20 years until 2045. Then 2048, 2052, another 20 years until 2072, 2075, 2079, and then another 20 years until 2099.
Answer: Erev Pesach falling on Shabbos, of course. When this happens, things can get a little complicated.
Four Opinions Of The Tannaim. Perhaps it is because of the infrequency of it all that there is a four-way debate among the Tannaim as to what to do when erev Pesach falls on Shabbos. We pasken like Rabbi Elazar ben Yehudah of Bartusa (Pesachim 13a), and not like the other three—Rabbi Meir, the chachamim, or Rabbi Elazar ben Tzaddok. We also pasken like the Rambam’s understanding of Rabbi Elazar ben Yehudah, even though there are at least five other views in the Rishonim.
Who Was Rabbi Elazar Ben Yehudah? Rabbi Elazar ben Yehudah was a friend of Rabbi Akiva, a student of Rabbi Yehoshua, and he used to give almost all of his money to the gabbaim of tzedakah if it was a worthy cause. Where was Bartusa? No one really knows, actually. Chanoch Albeck conjectures in his commentary to the Mishnah (Avos 3:7) that it was in the Galil, but there is no evidence pointing to this.
You are not allowed to prepare on Shabbos for yom tov—even if it is not an actual melachah. (See S.A. O.C. 513:1 and M.B.) You should rather make as many preparations as you can on Friday and not delay things to do the prepwork on motzaei Shabbos—the night of the Seder—for a number of reasons, among which are zerizim makdimim l’mitzvos and so that the children will be up to participating.
1. A z’roah, which commemorates the Korban Pesach, should be roasted before Shabbos. Remember, we do not eat roasted meat on Pesach night, so if one has forgotten to roast it before Shabbos and one did not eat it on the first day of Pesach, then one may have violated the prohibition of only prepping for food that will be consumed on yom tov. If he forgot to do so on Shabbos, he should do so motzaei Shabbos and eat it for the first yom tov day meal. He should prepare the second z’roah on the second night and eat it on the day of the second day of yom tov.
2. Prepare a roasted egg for the Seder plate. If he did not roast the egg on Friday, he should do so motzaei Shabbos and eat it sometime during the first evening or day. The second night he should roast one again and eat it either in the night or the day.
3. Checking enough marror lettuce to make sure that they are entirely bug-free. Make sure that you have enough for everyone coming to the Seder for two nights’ worth. If real horseradish is used, the custom is to grind it so that the bitterness will dissipate a bit. This is done on Friday and covered. [The Vilna Gaon ate it straight.] If one did not check the marror on Friday, he should do so motzaei Shabbos in a way that borer is not violated—i.e. take some leaf off. Vinegar or salt water may not be used because that kills the thrips.
4. Enough charoses should be prepared on Friday for both nights. If he did not grind the charoses on Friday, he should do so on motzaei Shabbos with a shinui, differently.
5. The salt water should be prepared on Friday. If the saltwater was not prepared on Friday, there is a debate whether a shinui is required when doing so on motzaei Shabbos.
6. The Seder plate should be prepared and refrigerated on Friday.
7. The wine bottles should be opened and properly sealed or hidden if there are nochrim around.
8. The Haggadahs should be at the home where the Seder will take place. If one does not have enough Haggados at the place where the Seder will be held, it is permitted to take during the day time if one will use it on Shabbos.
9. People should be warned not to say on Shabbos: “I am going to sleep so that I will be rested for the Seder.” It is recommended, however, that they do rest.
10. Debug the karpas vegetable (celery often has bugs) in sufficient amounts for everyone coming to the two Sedarim. The karpas vegetable represents the tears that Klal Yisrael shed during their slavery in Mitzrayim. If one did not check the karpas on Friday, he should do so motzaei Shabbos in a way that borer is not violated—i.e. take some leaf off. Vinegar or salt water may not be used because that kills the thrips.
1. The bedikah is done on the night of the 13th of Nissan during such a year, not on the 14th. It is done immediately after tzeis ha’kochavim on Thursday night because there is still some light and that is when Chazal enacted the time for the bedikah.
2. One is not permitted to begin any possibly engaging activity within a half hour before the bedikah, lest he become engaged in it and forget to search for chametz. Prior to this time, it is permitted and one can continue until it is time to search for chametz.
3. Once the time for the bedikah has arrived, he must stop everything and begin the bedikah immediately.
4. As far as learning goes, there is a debate as to whether it is permitted to learn during the half-hour before the time of the bedikah. If, however, a guard or shomer is appointed to remind him, it is permitted according to all views, provided that he stop at the time of the bedikah. All this is unless it is a form of learning called “pilpul” which is overwhelmingly engaging.
5. One may not sit down to eat within a half hour of the time of the bedikah, but tasting is permitted.
6. When one makes the bedikah on Thursday night, the 13th, he does not do a bitul chametz on the next day. This is because he must eat what he has for Shabbos. If he failed to perform the bedikah on Thursday night, he does so in the daytime with a berachah and a candle. All the prohibitions that apply at night apply in the daytime as well. If he did not do it during the day, he does so on the night of Shabbos, but without a candle. A berachah is not recited, even though some hold that one does recite a blessing.
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