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Pesach which Falls on Shabbat

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon

This year, the first night of Pesach falls out on Shabbat. The following special issues arise:

Why do we eat matza on Shabbat (as opposed to lulav, megilla, and shofar, which are canceled on Shabbat);
Do we say "Viyhi No'am" on Motza'ei Shabbat Ha-gadol;
Preparing salt water;
Preparing charoset;
Preparing the shank bone;
Shabbat evening prayers.
When Rosh Ha-shana falls out on Shabbat, we do not blow the shofar (Rosh Ha-shana 29b); on Shabbat Sukkot we do not take the lulav and etrog (Sukka 42b); and we do not read Megillat Esther on Purim that falls out on Shabbat (Megilla 4b). Rav Yosef Shaul Natanson zt"l (Sho'el U-meishiv, 4th ed., 1:5) was asked why the same should not apply to matza. Why is Pesach different than these other nights?
Rabba in the gemara explains that the reason behind these decrees is, "Lest he take it (the lulav, megilla, or shofar) in his hand to an expert [and thereby transgress the prohibition against hotza'a: transferring an object on Shabbat from the private to the public domain] to learn how to use it" (Sukka 42b). At first glance the problem does not arise - what expertise is required in eating a piece of matza? However, Rashi explains, "To Learn: how to shake it (the lulav) or RECITE ITS BLESSING." The same problem should apply to Pesach - we should be worried about someone taking his matza to a rabbi in order to learn its laws and thereby transgressing the laws of Shabbat!
A number of answers are offered by the Acharonim:
A. THE NETZIV (Ha'amek She'eila, Vayakhel, She'ilta DePurim, section 21) answers simply that we are not worried about someone leaving his house at night. The other mitzvot mentioned above apply during the day, when people normally leave their homes. (The main mitzva of megilla is during the day.)
B. HARAV ZVI PESACH FRANK (Mikra'ei Kodesh, Pesach Part 2, 13:2) quotes Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham Diskin's answer. The quantity of matza required is the size of an olive, whereas the minimum for transgressing the biblical prohibition of carrying is larger, the size of a date or a fig (see Rambam, Hilkhot Shabbat 18:1). Therefore no rabbinic decree was enacted, since there was no danger of transgressing hotza'a on a biblical level.
Rav Frank himself rejects this answer. The quantities relevant for transgressing the prohibition of carrying on Shabbat are not fixed, but subjectively based on SIGNIFICANCE. True, in general the quantity of food that would obligate one for carrying on Shabbat is the size of a date or fig. If, though, one would have a good reason to consider a smaller quantity as significant, one would also transgress by carrying that smaller quantity. Thus we see (Shabbat 76b) that if one carries the amount of wine concentrate it takes to produce a revi'it (i.e. the amount for kiddush), he thereby violates the prohibition of carrying. Likewise, on Pesach night a ke-zayit would be considered significant enough to transgress the prohibition against carrying.
C. We could just simply say that there are not many halakhot one needs to know about matza once it is made. The production of matza requires expertise, but eating it does not. The lulav, megilla, and shofar require expertise in the performance of the mitzva.
D. Another simple way of resolving this problem: Granted, there are enough relevant halakhot that might lead one to go to a rav for instruction on the Seder night. Still, one would not have to take the matza with him! To know how to blow shofar, shake a lulav, or read a megilla one would need to take the object; here there is no such need.
This question arises in two other areas. The Ritva (Sukka 42a) asks why one is able to perform a circumcision on Shabbat - why aren't we afraid that one will carry the knife? The Minchat Chinukh (mitzva 9) asks why we are able to blow shofar on a normal Rosh Ha-shana - shouldn't it be included under the rabbinic decree prohibiting playing musical instruments on Shabbat and holidays?
Each of these questions is given a local answer. The Ritva answers that since the berit mila procedure itself involves transgressing Shabbat (and yet the Torah still commands us to perform it on the eighth day, even if it is Shabbat), the rabbis did not enact a prohibition due to the possibility of Shabbat being transgressed in another way. The Minchat Chinukh answers the second question: why do we not prohibit blowing the shofar under the category of playing musical instruments on holidays. The sages, he says, would not make a decree that would TOTALLY ANNUL a mitzva. The concern about carrying a shofar applies only when Rosh Ha-shana falls on Shabbat, but this problem comes up every year.
My father-in-law, Rav Eliyahu Blumenzweig, suggested a way of resolving both of these problems, the Ritva's and the Minchat Chinukh's, at once. He notes that the decree against taking the lulav, blowing the shofar, and reading the megilla on Shabbat only applies when a holiday falls on Shabbat. Yom Tov is much more active than Shabbat and there is a danger that, with all the excitement, the Shabbat side of the day with its extra prohibitions, including carrying, will be forgotten. However, this fear applies only to Yom Tov (which falls on Shabbat); the Halakha does not have a general concern that someone will forget the holiness of Shabbat and desecrate it in order to perform another mitzva. Transgressing a normal Shabbat in order to carry a mila knife was never a worry (the Ritva's question); neither was transgressing a normal Yom Tov through blowing a shofar (the Minchat Chinukh's question). The decree was based on a concern that people would forget the Shabbat aspect of a Yom Tov which falls on Shabbat.
In our case, Pesach falling on Shabbat, we are forced to rely on one of the answers listed above in order to understand why the sages did not decree against eating matza on Shabbat. [For a detailed discussion of this issue, see responsa Chazon Ovadia (part 1, vol. 2, section 31).]
The Tur (OC 295) quotes Rav Sar Shalom who lays down the guiding principle for when to say "Viyhi No'am" on motza'ei Shabbat and when not to:
"We only say 'Viyhi No'am' when motza'ei Shabbat leads into a weekday (not a Yom Tov), but not on motza'ei Yom Tov or even when a Yom Tov or Yom Kippur falls out in the middle of the week. When there are not six working days (yemei ha-ma'aseh) following a Shabbat, we do not say 'Viyhi No'am.' Because is says 'the works of our hands' ('ma'aseh yadeinu') twice, we only say it when there are six working (non-holy, 'chol') days following the Shabbat."
According to this, only when there are six working days do we say "Viyhi No'am." The Tur adds that the Ashkenazic custom is not to say "Ve-ata Kadosh" when "Viyhi No'am" is not recited. The Rema (OC 195) agrees with this.
It follows that when Pesach falls out on Shabbat, we should say "Viyhi No'am" on the preceding Shabbat. Nevertheless, the Tashbetz (257) and others say not to. The reason behind this is the prohibition against doing work on the afternoon before Pesach. Even though there are differing customs with regards to Erev Pesach morning, it is agreed by all that afternoon work is prohibited. The Tosafot (Pesachim 50a) quote a Yerushalmi which sees this as a biblical prohibition.
The Peri Megadim (OC 295, Mishbetzot Zahav, note 2) and the Levush (268) write that we should still say "Viyhi No'am," because the prohibition against work is only rabbinic (see the Peri Chadash OC 268:1), and, according to all, it is permissible to do work necessary for Yom Tov preparations.
Even later halakhic authorities differ on whether to say "Viyhi No'am" or not to. The Mishna Berura (OC 295:3) writes that it should be said, while Rav Tukeczinski's "Luach Eretz Yisrael" and the Tzitz Eliezer (13:36) say not to.
The mishna (Shabbat 73a) lists salting and tanning among the thirty-nine types of work forbidden on Shabbat. The gemara (75b) explains that salting is part of the tanning process and that they are really to be counted as one category (and the gemara introduces another category to reach to sum of 39). Anything that prepares leather for use is considered part of tanning, "me'abed" (see Shulchan Arukh and the Mishna Berura's comments - OC 327:4). This is why polishing shoes is prohibited on Shabbat (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilkhata 15:37).
Does the "me'abed" apply to food? According to Rabba bar Rav Huna, one who salts meat transgresses the prohibition against salting. Rava argues that salting does not apply to food, "Ein ibbud be-okhlin." Rav Ashi explains that even Rabba bar Rav Huna prohibits only excessive salting done for preservation.
Most Rishonim (for example, Rambam, Hilkhot Shabbat 11:5) rule in accordance with Rava on a biblical level. They do argue, though, about the permissibility on a rabbinic level of salting food (heavily, according to Rava, or lightly, according to Rabba bar Rav Huna): Rabbeinu Chananel and Rabbeinu Yerucham believe it is permitted, but Tosafot believe that there is a rabbinic prohibition.
PREPARING SALT WATER is the subject of a separate talmudic discussion. The mishna (Shabbat 108a) says that it is permissible to prepare salt water and dip one's bread in it. The gemara explains that "One may not make a lot of salt water, but may prepare small amounts." The gemara later adds that even small quantities of salt water are prohibited if they are strong - defined as a solution of two-thirds salt, one-third water.
The Shulchan Arukh (OC 321:2) rules that it is permissible to make a small amount of weak salt water, but that it is rabbinically prohibited to prepare even a small quantity of strong (two-thirds salt) solution.
Therefore the Hagahot Maimoniot (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 8:3, quoting the Sefer Ha-teruma) says that one should make sure to prepare salt water for the Seder before Shabbat, but that if he forgot, he should make only a small amount. The Mishna Berura (OC 473:21) therefore writes:
"If [Pesach] falls out on Shabbat, salt water should be prepared before, not during Shabbat. If he did not prepare in advance, and he has no vinegar for dipping, he should prepare a small amount of salt water."
What constitutes "a small amount?" This can be interpreted in two ways: enough to transfer the salty flavor to the karpas vegetable; or the larger amount needed to dip the entire vegetable in salt water. One can be lenient and prepare the larger amount, as long as he does it differently than he usually would, e.g. add the salt before the water (see Kitzur Shulchan Arukh 118:4).
The authorities argue about whether one should prepare salt water before the Seder night even in normal years when Pesach does not fall out on Shabbat. The Mishna Berura we quoted above implies that it is permissible to prepare salt water on a regular Yom Tov; Pesach falling out on Shabbat is an exception. The Misgeret Ha-shulchan (on the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh 118:4) states this explicitly. However, the Chayei Adam and the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh himself rule that the same restrictions apply to a normal Yom Tov: the salt water should be prepared before the Seder night every year. This is the advisable practice.
Two problems arise in preparing charoset on Shabbat: A. grinding (techina); B. kneading (lisha). The charoset should therefore be prepared before Shabbat.
IF IT WAS NOT PREPARED IN ADVANCE: Although this issue is complex, we will lay down the basic principles.
A. In order to avoid the prohibition against grinding, the fruit and nuts of the charoset should be cut into slightly large pieces.
B. Whether the charoset can be mixed together into its normally thick texture is dependent on a dispute in the Rishonim about whether even a thick mixture ("belila ava") can be prepared in an ABNORMAL WAY on Shabbat. The Shulchan Arukh (OC 321:16) quotes both opinions.
OPINION I says that it is even permissible to prepare a thick mixture if done in an abnormal way.
OPINION II says that making a thick mixture is always prohibited, even if made abnormally. Only making a thin mixture was permitted if done in an abnormal way.
Based on the above:
According to OPINION II, charoset can be made on Shabbat as a THIN mixture if it is done abnormally. The Mishna Berura, based on the Rema, rules that two types of changes should be made:
a. the order of adding the ingredients should be altered, so the wine should be added before the nuts (because it is normally done the opposite way);
b. the way the ingredients are mixed should be altered. According to the Chazon Ish (OC 58:5, 58:14), if one alters the order of adding the ingredients then he can stir normally with a spoon.
According to OPINION I, even a thick mixture can be made, as long as two alterations (order and method) are made. The Mishna Berura writes (321:68):
"When Pesach falls on Shabbat and one forgot to put the liquid in the charoset, according to the first opinion it is permissible to add the liquid on Shabbat. He should not stir it with a utensil but rather with his finger. According to the second opinion, this is also prohibited unless he makes it as a thick mixture."
The Mishna Berura quotes both opinions but does not come to a conclusion. Therefore, practically, taking the stringent approach would dictate making the charoset as a thin mixture in an abnormal way (at least in the order of adding the ingredients, but preferably also changing the method of mixing). If one wanted to make thick charoset (the ideal consistency - see the Sha'ar Ha-tziun 321:86) while altering the order and method of preparation, he could rely on the lenient opinion.
If one prepared it with liquid before Shabbat but wants to add more liquid on Shabbat, this is permissible. (This is relatively common when one tries to come up with the right consistency.) The Mishna Berura (OC 321:65) writes:
"If one put some liquid in before Shabbat, it is permissible according to everyone to add to it on Shabbat. This is not true if only a few drops were added before Shabbat, because that does not deem it mixed ('megubal')."
NOTE: Even on a normal Pesach it is preferable to prepare the charoset before Yom Tov: a) so as not to hold up the Seder; and b) because we do not grind (on Yom Tov) something that could have been ground before Yom Tov. However, if he forgot to grind it before Yom Tov, he can grind it even using a grinding utensil, as long as it is done irregularly. The grinder can be held in one's hand, or it can be ground on the tablecloth and not on a plate, etc. It can be mixed normally on Yom Tov.
It is, of course, prohibited to roast it on Shabbat if one forgot to beforehand. If one has some cooked meat available, that can also serve as a reminder of the Pesach sacrifice. Using uncooked meat, though, might involve a muktzeh problem - see Shulchan Arukh OC 308:31, Mishna Berura OC 308:125, and Shemirat Shabbat Ke-hilkhata chap. 11, note 20 quoting Ha-gaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l.
The gemara (Shabbat 24b) says that reciting "Magen Avot" (also called "Me'ein Sheva" because it condenses the seven blessing Shabbat evening amida) was decreed because of "danger." Rashi explains that at the time of the gemara, their synagogues were not in the villages, and during the weekdays they would pray Ma'ariv at home. On Shabbat evening they would come to the synagogue. In order to prevent latecomers from being dangerously left alone, they decreed that "Magen Avot" should be added in order to lengthen the communal prayer service (and allow latecomers to catch up and leave with everyone).
Two opinions exist in the Rishonim about whether "Magen Avot" should be said on Pesach that falls on Shabbat.
I. The Ritva (Rosh Ha-shana 11b s.v. Laila Ha-meshumar) writes:
"'[Pesach is] a night protected from dangers:' The Tosafot say that when Pesach falls on Shabbat, the chazan fthe evening prayer should not say the 'Me'ein Sheva' of the normal Shabbat evening service, because it was decreed because of danger and this night is specially protected from dangers."
The Meiri (Pesachim 109b) makes a similar comment.
II. The Shibolei Ha-leket (219) and the Avudraham (Pesach Prayers) say that the original decree did not allow for such an exception ("lo pelug") and that it should be said anyway. The responsa Yaskil Avdi (vol. 6, p. 297) writes that this must be our custom because we continue to say "Magen Avot" nowadays despite the fact that our synagogues are situated in inhabited areas. Just as we do not see our present lack of danger as a cause to stop saying it, so when Shabbat night falls on Pesach it should still be said.
The Ritva quoted above is sensitive to this problem. He writes:
"Even though we do not now worry about danger because our synagogues are situated in inhabited areas, and we say 'Magen Avot' on other Shabbatot, we should follow our fathers' custom. Where they would have said it, we say it; and where they would not have, we do not."
When Pesach night would fall on Shabbat our ancestors would say "Magen Avot" and therefore we continue to.
Practically, the "Luach Eretz Yisrael" writes that even though we say "Vayekhulu" this year, we do not say "Magen Avot." Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 2:25, and Yechaveh Da'at 1:13) rules likewise not to say it.
This custom is only several hundred years old. There are those who do not say "Shalom Aleikhem" whenever Yom Tov falls on Shabbat (see Mateh Efraim 583:1). Even among those who believe we should say it on a normal Yom Tov falling on Shabbat, some claim that we should leave it out on Shabbat-Pesach in order to say kiddush of the Seder as early as possible (Rav Pe'alim, end of part 1). The "Luach Eretz Yisrael" writes that we should say it.
Based on what we wrote earlier, it would make sense to recite "Shalom Aleikhem" in order to make sure Shabbat is not overshadowed by Pesach. But in the interests of starting the Seder as soon as possible, perhaps it would be best to recite each verse only once.
Translated by Rav Eliezer Kwass