Laws & Customs for Pesach
5780/2020

With special instructions for the unique situation we find ourselves in this year.  

  SHABBAT HAGADOL – April 4

  • 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.

  PRE-PESACH EVENTS

  • Bedikat Chametz – Checking for Chametz - Tuesday evening, April 7 

  • We check for any last bits of Chametz around the house on Tuesday evening, April 7. 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 Wednesday 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 7:56 PM. 

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

    It must be noted that after 11:52 AM on Wednesday, April 8, chametz can no longer be sold.

     
  • Fast of the Firstborn – Erev Pesach, Wednesday, April 8.
     
  • 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, 4:38 AM. 

    NOTE: Because of the Corona virus, we will not be gathering in Shul to hear a Siyum. It is strongly suggested that those that need to fast make their own Siyum on a short tractate of Mishnah. Pirkei Avos is a good option. Learn the first 5 chapters here . (The sixth chapter is Braitah, not Mishnah and does not need to be learned for the Siyum.)
     
  • Last Time to Eat Chometz – Erev Pesach, Wednesday, April 8

    One must complete eating all Chometz before 10:46 AM on Wednesday, April 8. The Chametz does not have to be burned for another (halachic) hour. See next paragraph.
     
  • Biur Chometz – Burning the Chometz - Erev Pesach, Wednesday, April 8

    The chametz that was found during Bedikat Chametz should be burned Wednesday morning, April 8, before the fifth hour of the day has passed (before 11:52 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.
     
  • Also, by this time, any cabinets or cupboards containing Chometz that will be sold to a non-Jew by the Rabbi, must be closed and sealed. 

    NOTE: Ony the small ten pieces that were found during the bedikah need to be burned. Any other chametz in the house can be put away in the cabinets that will be sealed and sold to the non-Jew.

    In addition, since there will be no public places to gather and burn the chametz, if it is difficult to find an outdoor space to burn your chametz, it may be disposed of by being flushed away.

  PRE-PESACH SEDER PREPARATIONS

  • We must make an Eruv Tavshillin on Wednesday, April 8, Erev Pesach (the eve of Pesach). This allows us to make all necessary preparations on Friday, the second day of Pesach, April 10, for Shabbat (the third day of Pesach) which follows immediately afterwards. However, unlike a regular Friday afternoon, it is important to make sure that all foods prepared for Shabbat be totally cooked and edible well before Shabbat begins.

    The Eruv consists of a matzah, and a cooked food, such as meat, fish, or an unpeeled hard-boiled egg. For details of the procedure and the appropriate Brachah that should be made, consult the siddur (Tehillat Hashem page 327) or see 
    here.

  • We should make every effort to make sure 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, the horseradish must be ground. Prepared horseradish with vinegar and other additional ingredients is not acceptable for the Seder. Buy a fresh horseradish root and grind it in a food processor before Pesach 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.

 

THE SEDERS

  • One must be careful not to start the Seder until after nightfall. The first Seder begins on Wednesday night, April 8 should not start until 7:57 PM. The second Seder on Thursday night, April 9, should not begin until after 8:11 PM.

  • 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, 12:57 AM.  

  ADDITIONAL POINTS 

  • 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 9:40 AM.

  • We begin saying Morid HaTal at Mussaf on the first day of Pesach, Thursday, April 9. We say VeTein Brachah in the 9th Brachah of Shemoneh Esrei, beginning with Ma’ariv on the Motzaei Shabbat, Shabbat night, April 11.

  • All preparations for the second Seder, including setting the table, must be done after nightfall, on Thursday night, April 9, after 8:11 PM. This includes lighting the Yom Tov candles for the second night of Yom Tov. Candles must be lit from a pre-existing flame. 

  • We begin counting the Omer at Ma’ariv on the second night of Pesach, Thursday night, April 9, 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. 

  • Yizkor - Say Yizkor for loved at home on the last day of Pesach, Thursday, April 16. Unlike Kaddish, Yizkor may be recited at home. For more abour Yizkor at home see  here .  

    See the Yizkor prayer  here  and print it out before the holiday (on Tuesday afternoon, April 14)

  • It is customary to remain awake the entire night of Shevi’i Shel Pesach, Tuesday night, April 14 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 14 & 15, nor when we light the candles on those days. 

  • 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!