Laws & Customs for Pesach






  • On the Shabbat preceding the Exodus, the Jews tied lambs to their beds in preparation for the Passover sacrifice. When the Egyptians asked about this, they were told that G‑d would bring about the final plague of the firstborn. The Egyptian firstborn panicked and, fearing for their lives, asked Pharaoh to finally let the Jews go. When Pharaoh refused, a civil war broke out between Pharaoh and the firstborns, causing many Egyptians to die even before the final plague struck. On the Shabbat preceding Passover, we celebrate this miracle.

  • It is a widespread custom among Jews to read the bulk of the Haggadah on the afternoon of Shabbat HaGadol. We start from Avadim Hayinu, right after Ma Nishtana, and read until Lechaper Al Kol Avonoteinu, at the end of Dayeinu and Al Achat Kamah VeChamah.

  • Bedikat Chametz – Checking for Chametz - Sunday evening, April 21 

  • We check for any last bits of Chametz around the house on Sunday evening, April 21. The checking is done with a feather, wooden spoon and a candle. Care should be taken to check the entire house, not merely to pick up the traditional ten pieces of bread. The first Kol Chamirah (printed in most Haggadahs) is said after Bedikat Chametz. It states that any unknown Chametz is null and void. Saying this Kol Chamirah is a key part of the Mitzvah of Biur (getting rid of) Chametz. Any remaining Chametz that will be eaten on Friday morning should be placed in a secure place where children cannot easily get to it and spread Chametz around the house. The bedikah is done after nightfall, at 8:12 PM. 

    NOTE:  By this evening chametz should be sold. The document to appoint the rabbi to sell your chametz is  here .

    It must be noted that after 11:45 AM on  Monday, April 22, chametz can no longer be sold.

  • Fast of the Firstborn – This fast is observed on Erev Pesach, Monday, April 22.  
  • It is customary for all firstborn males (and fathers of first born males who are below Bar Mitzvah) to participate in a Siyum, celebrating the completion of a tractate of the Talmud, so that fasting will not be necessary. Until one hears a Siyum, a firstborn should not eat beginning at dawn on April 22, 4:31 AM. 
  • Finish eating Chametz - Monday April 22 - Erev Pesach 10:36 AM
  • One must complete eating all Chametz before 10:36 AM on Monday, April 22. The Chametz does not have to be burned for another (halachic) hour. See below.
  • Before the burning of the Chametz, all chametz food should be put away in cabinets. The cabinets must be sealed. Similarly, all chametz utensils should be put away at this time. All Chametz items in these cabinets will be sold to the non-Jew by the rabbi. 
  • Biur Chometz – Burning the Chametz - Monday, April 22 - Erev Pesach before 11:45 AM
  • The chametz that was found during Bedikat Chametz should be burned Monday, April 22 before 11:45 AM. The second Kol Chamirah (printed in most Haggadahs) is said after Biur Chametz. It declares that all Chametz – whether known or unknown - is null and void. It should be noted that only the small ten pieces that were found during the bedikah need to be burned. All other chametz can be put away and sold.

A few more things to be done on Erev Pesach, Wednesday, April 5, before Pesach begins

  • We should make every effort to ensure that our families and friends have handmade Shmurah Matzah for (at least) the seder nights. 
  • If one wishes to use horseradish in addition to romaine lettuce for Maror, the bitter herbs, the horseradish must be ground. Prepared horseradish with vinegar is not acceptable for the Seder. Buy a fresh horseradish root and grind it in a food processor before Yom Tov begins.
  • Roast the shankbone (depending on your custom, this can be a chicken neck or wing) on Erev  Pesach.
  • Grind the apples and other ingredients for the charoset on Erev Pesach.
  • Ideally, make the salt water for both Seders before Pesach. 


  • One must be careful not to start the Seder until after nightfall. Nightfall on the first Seder night Monday night April 22 is 8:13 PM. Nightfall on the second Seder night, Tuesday, April 23 is 8:28 PM.

  • In addition, until nightfall (8:28 PM) on Tuesday night, April 23, no preparations can be made for the second Seder. These include warming up food (from a pre-existing flame), setting the table and lighting the Yom Tov candles (from a pre-existing). Before these preparations are made, a verbal Havdallah should be made by saying Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh L'Kodesh, Blessed is he who separates between the holiness (of Shabbat) and the holiness (of Yom Tov.) 

  • Men lean to their left when doing the following Mitzvahs at the seder: while drinking the four cups, while eating the first Matzah, the Korech and the Afikomen.

  • When saying Hamotzie on the Matzah at the Seder, we hold on to all three Matzahs, the top and bottom whole ones as well as the broken middle Matzah. Then, for the next Bracha of “Al Achilat Matzah,” we drop the lower Matzah, which will be used for the Korech sandwich, and hold the top and middle Matzah for that Brachah. When we eat Matzah for the first time, we take some of the middle Matzah and some of the top and eat from both of them together. 

  • Ideally, try to eat at least 1/3 of a whole Shmurah Matzah for the first eating of Matzah as well as the Afikomen. For the Korech sandwich, 1/4 of a Shmurah Matzah suffices.

  • It is the Chabad custom to endeavor to eat the Afikomen of the first Seder before midnight, 12:53 AM.  


  • Don’t forget about the morning Shema. No matter how tired one may be, care must be taken to say the morning Shema in the correct time. The latest time for Shema on the first days of Pesach is 9:27 AM.

  • We begin saying Morid HaTal at Mussaf on the first day of Pesach, Tuesday, April 23. We say VeTein Brachah in the 9th Brachah of Shemoneh Esrei, beginning with Ma’ariv on the Motzaei Yom Tov, Wednesday night, April 24.

  • We begin counting the Omer at Ma’ariv on the second night of Pesach, Tuesday, April 23, before the second seder. (Some people count the Omer at the end of the second Seder, but this is not advisable.)

  • The Chabad custom is not to wear Tefillin on Chol Hamoed.

  • For the simcha of Pesach, a glass of wine should be drunk every day of Pesach, including Chol Hamoed. 

  • It is customary to remain awake the entire night of Shevi’i Shel Pesach, Sunday night, April 28 and study Torah.

  • We don’t say Shehecheyanu in Kiddush on the eve of Shevi’i Shel Pesach or Acharon Shel Pesach (the 7th and 8th days of Pesach), April 28 & 29 nor when we light the candles on those days. 

  • Yizkor - Yizkor is recited on the last day of Pesach, Tuesday, April 30.  

  • Chametz After Pesach - We are not allowed to consume or have benefit from any chametz owned by a Jew on Pesach. Be sure to buy chametz after Pesach from a store owned by non-Jews, or from Jews that have sold their Chametz.


We wish everyone a Kosher and Happy Pesach and may we celebrate this Yom Tov together with Moshiach in the Third Temple!