DISPOSAL OF CHAMETZ
When the 14th of Nissan falls out on Shabbat – since it is impossible to search for and burn the chametz on the 14th itself – the halacha states that “Bedikat Chametz” (the search for chametz) is performed with a blessing on Thursday night, the 13th of Nissan. Immediately after the Thursday night search, “bitul” – or verbal nullification of the chametz – is recited, as it is each year. The next morning, Friday, the chametz is burned by the sixth (halachic) hour into the day. In a typical year, the requirement to burn the chametz by the sixth hour is mandatory, since, after that time, owning or receiving benefit from chametz is forbidden. Of course, this year, when Pesach begins only on Motza’ey Shabbat – Saturday night – chametz may be owned and consumed not only on Friday afternoon, but several hours into Shabbat morning. However, so as not to err in other years, the sages required that this year, too, chametz found during the search be burned by the sixth hour on Friday.
Following the burning of the chametz, enough food is left over for the first two meals on Shabbat. If it were to be permissible to eat matzah on Erev Pesach (i.e. the day preceding Pesach) in order to avoid confronting problems of chametz – we would certainly consume matzot during the Shabbat meals. However, since it is forbidden to eat matzah on Erev Pesach (to ensure that we eat the Matzot of Mitzvah Pesach night with a hearty appetite) we are compelled to set aside bread to eat with our first two Shabbat meals.
The first Sabbath meal takes place Friday night, and the second – Shabbat morning; it must be finished by the end of the fourth halachic hour. (Local calendars must be consulted for the exact time) To ensure that meals are completed on time, Shabbat prayers must be held earlier than usual. After the second meal, all of the chametz crumbs that have remained on the dishes and tablecloth must be collected. Since it is of course forbidden to burn chametz on the Sabbath, the crumbs and remains must be flushed down the toilet.
Next, one should do “bitul” – verbal nullification of the chametz – once again; this must be done by the end of the fifth halachic hour. For people accustomed to “kasher” their false teeth, this should be done before Shabbat, and no hot chametz food should be consumed using them on Erev Pesach. For those accustomed to settle for brushing alone, the false teeth should be brushed thoroughly after the second Shabbat meal.
During Seuda Shlishit – the third Shabbat meal – according to Sephardic custom, “matzah ashira” – or egg matzah – is often consumed. Its blessing is “mezonot,” and when, for Sephardim, circumstances make it impossible to consume bread, egg matzah may be consumed during Seuda Shlishit. For Ashkenazic Jews who do not consume egg matzah – fish or meat, or fruit may be consumed during this meal. It is also permissible for Ashkenazim to consume hamburgers cooked with matzah meal at this time. At any rate, it is wise not to eat too much so that one may eat the Matzah of Mitzvah with a hearty appetite.
The fast of the first-born is held early this year, on Thursday – the 12th of Nissan – from sunrise until nightfall. Most people today attend a siyum (completion of a tractate of Talmud study) and the accompanying meal, thereby exempting themselves from the fast.
It is proper to prepare the seder supplies by Friday afternoon: all of the food should already be cooked in advance, and the charoset dip, bitter herbs, shankbone, etc, should be “ready to go” for the seder. Some of these foods can be placed in the refrigerator, others in the freezer, and then brought out Saturday night for the seder. (It is forbidden to start working with the food on Shabbat, since it is halachically forbidden to prepare on Shabbat for Yom Tov) Enough candles must be set up on Friday afternoon for both Shabbat and Yom Tov, since is forbidden to melt the bottoms of the candles in order to place them in the candelabras on Yom Tov. If one has not prepared the candles in advance, it is permissible to stick the candles into the candelabras, but without melting the candles.