“But a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
This responsum is dedicated to the memory of my grandfather Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin z”l (1884-1974) and my father Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l (1913-2003), both of whom wrote responsa on this topic – see the Bibliography and Appendices below
Question: Erev Pesach this year falls on Shabbat. How should one go about preparing for the festival and for the Shabbat meals? (This is an English translation of a Hebrew responsum written in 5754 (1994) which appeared in the Responsa of the Va’ad Halakhah of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel, Vol. 5 (5752-5754), pp. 109-116; that responsum can be accessed at www.responsafortoday.com. In this version, we have expanded the bibliography and added the approach of Rabbi Zolti. My thanks to Rabbi Guillermo Bronstein of Lima, Peru, who sent me a copy of Rabbi Zolti’s article. This version was published on the internet as “Insight Israel” in April 2005 and subsequently appeared in my book Insight Israel: The View from Schechter, second series, The Schechter Institute, Jerusalem, 2006, pp. 97-113. It is being reprinted here in order to help our readers prepare for Pesach).
The situation posed here is a relatively rare one. Erev Pesach fell on a Shabbat only eleven times in the 20 th century as well as in 2005. After this year, it will do so again only in 2021 and 2025 (1903, 1910, 1923, 1927, 1930, 1950, 1954, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1994 – see Rabbi Noah Golinkin below in Appendix B. (All references cited appear below after the notes.)[/note] The essential laws appear below:
Indeed, such a situation is mentioned in the Mishnah (Pesahim 3:6 = folio 49a), the Tosefta (Pesahim 3:9, 11, ed. Lieberman, pp. 153-154) and in the Babylonian Talmud (Pesahim 49a, 13a, 20b). But those sources are not sufficiently clear (See all the opinions cited by R. Saul Lieberman, pp. 523-526 and by R. Hillel Hyman, pp. 207-210). and, as a result, five different solutions to this problem have developed.
Rabbeinu Yitzhak ibn Giyyat wrote: the custom in Lucena was to burn [all hametz ] before Shabbat, to bake matzah on Friday and eat it on Shabbat… and after Shabbat, they bake matzah and use it to fulfill the mitzvah (R. Yitzhak ibn Giyyat’s opinion is also cited in the Ra’abad’s hassagot to the Ba’al Ha’maor on Pesahim, end of chapter one (and cf. Temim Dei’im, No. 245) and in an abridged version in the Ittur, Hilkhot Bi’ur Hametz, fol. 122a).
This method has been in practice for generations, but it causes discomfort. Below is a description of it by R. Hayyim David Halevy, who is actually one of its proponents:
And this is our custom: on Friday, the 13 th of Nissan, all of the hametz is burned and all of the utensils used for hametz are concealed as if it was the 14 th of Nissan, and all of the cooking for Shabbat is done using Pesach utensils. A small amount of hametz is left over, preferably pitas or rolls that do not make crumbs, and immediately after kiddush [on Friday night], they crowd around a designated corner on a separate table, eat the amount of bread required at a Shabbat meal with vegetable salad and the like, shake out their clothes very well and remove the tablecloth and the table and then they sit down at the main Shabbat table and eat kosher [for Pesach] foods on kosher [for Pesach] dishes and recite birkat hamazon at the conclusion of the meal.
On the following morning, immediately after the services, they eat as described above in a special corner, etc., a regular and full breakfast using disposable plates and cutlery and say birkat hamazon. Afterwards, they destroy the hametz by throwing it in a public place and then recite the normal nullification. In the afternoon, minhah is recited at an early hour (minhah gedolah) and then they eat… seudah shlishit [=the third Shabbat meal], with meat and fish [without bread or matzah]. (Aseh Lekha Rav, Vol. 5, pp. 363-364, and cf. Mekor Hayyim Hashalem, Vol. 4, pp. 76-77).
However, R. Eliyahu Hazzan, when he served as Chief Rabbi of Tripoli, Libya, already noted the difficulties in this method:
This year, 5636 [=1876], Erev Pesach falls on Shabbat and my soul is so anguished over the prohibitions which occurred this Shabbat due to the eating of hametz, because they could not be extremely careful about the crumbs and sweeping the house and the like, and in addition, the joy of Shabbat Hagadol is prevented because they will eat between the stove and the oven and the like; also because on Shabbat they pray at a late hour and we have to worry that the time for nullifying the hametz will pass, God forbid…
It is therefore desirable to seek another method to the problem.
matzah that has been cooked in chicken or meat soup as follows: after the soup has been cooked, remove it from the burner and, while the soup is still hot enough to burn the hand, put several matzot, enough for one’s needs, in the soup one after the other in such a way that the matzah fully absorbs the taste of the soup, and then it can be used to fulfill the mitzvah of three meals. It is best not to remove the matzot from the soup until it cools off so that the matzot can be removed whole and not fall apart in the soup, so that they can be broken on Shabbat and used for ha’motzi and birkat hamazon… Similarly, he may fry the matzot in oil…
He goes on to say that on Friday night it is permissible to use regular matzah because the prohibition in the Yerushalmi of eating matzah on Erev Pesach does not apply to the night of the 14 th (R. Ovadia Yosef, p. 279).
Indeed, from a halakhic perspective, his method is valid, but from a practical point of view, it is hard to accept, because presumably most of the people will not want to engage in the complicated process described above.
This method is not convincing for two reasons. First of all, it is very ingenious, but ignores the plain meaning of Rabbi Levi’s words in the Yerushalmi. Rabbi Levi is opposed to eating matzah on Erev Pesach because it ruins the taste of the matzah at the seder. Changing our intent when we bake the matzah will not address Rabbi Levi’s concern. Secondly, even if some rabbi arranges to bake such special matzah, most Jews will not have access to it.
And it should not be said that one should destroy [all hametz] before Shabbat and leave nothing and on Shabbat eat matzah ashirah [egg matzah ]; since not every person is able to make egg matzah for all three meals, therefore the rabbis did not insist on this (Beit Yosef on Orah Hayyim, paragraph 444, catchword: umah shekatav v’khen hinhig Rashi).
In other words, if it were possible for every person to make egg matzah, R. Yosef Karo would have agreed to this, because egg matzah is neither hametz nor matzat mitzvah which can be used at the seder, and therefore it may be eaten on Erev Pesach (Responsa of the Ribash, No. 402 and Noda B’Yehudah, Orah Hayyim, No. 21). Indeed this was the custom in Izmir, Turkey in the 19 th century according to the testimony of Rabbi Haim Palache. He favored the practice, because, if hametz remained, it would be difficult to get rid of the crumbs and a person would also not be able to eat calmly at a carefully laid table with a clean tablecloth and the hametz foods would be cold (Responsa Lev Haim, II, No. 88). This was also the practice followed by the above-mentioned R. Eliyahu Hazzan. He refrained from “imposing on the people to make egg matzah”, but he did disclose his practice to several scholars in the hope that “perhaps in so doing, the custom will work its way into practice”. This was also the practice of R. Yosef b. Walid (Sefer Shemo Yosef, No. 136). Rabbi Moshe Feinstein also preferred this solution in a responsum written in 5714 (1954). He wrote:
Therefore it is good for those who do not wish to leave hametz [in their house] on Shabbat out of concern for possible obstacles that may arise from this, to fulfill the mitzvah of the two Shabbat meals using egg matzah … (R. Moshe Feinstein, p. 274).
He cites the above-mentioned Beit Yosef and explains:
We have seen that it would be appropriate to enact and institute the practice of destroying all hametz before Shabbat… and to fulfill the mitzvah of the Shabbat meals using egg matzah… and therefore those who are able and want to take the trouble to bake egg matzah for the two Shabbat meals, that is preferable…
This approach of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was well-received by various halakhic authorities, such as my grandfather, Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin z”l, who was the Av Beit Din of Massachusetts for many years; my father and teacher, Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l; Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Rabbi Alfred Cohen, Rabbi Kassel Abelson and others (See R. Zvi Cohen, pp. 58-60, for other halakhic authorities who felt this way).
As for seudah shlishit, it is of course possible to be stringent like the Rema and to eat only fruit or meat and fish. However, here too one may be lenient and use egg matzah because that is what R. Yosef Karo (Orah Hayyim 444:1) ruled in accordance with the custom of Rabbeinu Tam ( Rabbeinu Tam’s practice is cited with variations in many places including Or Zaru’a, part two, fol. 59d; Tosafot on Pesahim 35b, catchword mei peirot ; Tosefot on Pesahim 99b, catchword lo ; Orhot Hayyim, Hilkhot Shabbat 63a at the bottom and Hilkhot Hametz u’Matzah, paragraph 79; Tur Orah Hayyim, paragraph 444; Hagahot Maimoniyot on Hilkhot Hametz u’Matzah, chapter 6, note 9 and chapter 3, note 2; Responsa of the Rosh, rule 14, paragraph 5; and a responsum of the Maharam cited in the Responsa of the Rashba Attributed to the Ramban, No. 210). Rabbi Yehezkel Landau (1713-1793) ruled in the Noda B’Yehudah (Orah Hayyim, No. 21) “that it is permissible to eat [egg matzah on Erev Pesach] all day if there is a small need, even if it is not for a sick or elderly person”. Therefore, it is permissible to eat egg matzah even at seudah shlishit.
In conclusion, on Erev Pesach which falls on Shabbat one may not eat regular matzah and it is difficult to eat hametz. As a result, five possible solutions were proposed throughout the generations. In our day, it is preferable to adopt the fifth method. One should search for hametz on Thursday night, burn and nullify the hametz on Friday morning (R. Ovadia Yosef, p. 279) and eat egg matzah at all of the Shabbat meals.
“A Statement on Pesach Observance,” The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, February 6, 1974
A Responsum by Rabbi Mordechai Ya’akov Golinkin z”l
(translated from the Hebrew)
Rabbi M. J. Golinkin, Rabbi of Worcester, Mass.
6 Tahanto Road. previously, Rav Hakolel in Zhitomir
Telephone 754-3972 and Danzig)
B”H, Erev Shabbat Shirah, 5734 [=1974]
To my esteemed colleagues, members of the Rabbinical Council of the state of Massachusetts, shlit”a
Regarding your question concerning the meals on Erev Pesach this year, which falls on Shabbat, in order to avoid various obstacles.
My advice regarding this matter is to set out the two meals, on Friday night and Shabbat morning, using kosher-for-Pesach foods and utensils. And since eating matzah on Erev Pesach is forbidden, as it is written, one who eats matzah on Erev Pesach, etc. (Yerushalmi Pesahim, Chapter 10), this prohibition refers to matzot which enable a person to fulfill the obligation of “and you shall eat matzot at night” (Exodus 12:18). But egg matzah may be eaten on Erev Pesach, and this was the practice of Rabbeinu Tam (Pesahim 35b, Tosafot, catchword mei peirot, and Pesahim 99b, Tosafot, catchword lo).
And so ruled the Noda B’Yehudah in Mahadura Kama, No. 21 in Orah Hayyim; and Sha’arei Teshuva Orah Hayyim, paragraph 444, section 1, cites and agrees with him, apparently. And the practice of taking the strict approach with regard to egg matzah and not allowing it except for the elderly and the ill – this is a stringency for the days of Pesach. But on Erev Pesach, egg matzah is permitted even for the healthy, and not just for the ill and elderly, up until midday. And seudah shlishit can consist of fruits and the like.
Iggerot Moshe, Orah Hayyim, No. 155 regarding the blessings recited over egg matzah at the Shabbat meals, rules that ha’motzi lehem min ha’aretz should be said, followed by birkat hamazon afterward. And his reason is that pat [haba’a b’kisnin] requires the blessing of ha’motzi and birkat hamazon if it is used as the main dish at a fixed meal; and Shabbat meals which require bread – there is nothing more fixed than that. I also saw this opinion in Sha’arei Teshuvah 168 subparagraph 9, cited in the name of a well-known early authority, that the Shabbat meal establishes a meal in the same way that Shabbat determines ma’aser.
In my view, it is worthwhile to explain that the matzah of Pesach is the bread of a poor man, while matzah ashirah [=egg matzah ] is the bread of the wealthy. And on Pesach we say “Like this bread of affliction” – bread which does not contain eggs, oil or honey and the like.
With friendship and respect and good wishes for a full and speedy redemption…
A Responsum by Rabbi Noah Golinkin z”l
which appeared in Beinenu 7/3 (February 1977), pp. 6-9
When the First Seder Occurs on Saturday Night
by Noah Golinkin
This forthcoming Pesach will present an unusual situation for Jewish housewives. The first night of Pesach will occur on Saturday night and that will create some problems. Before presenting the problems, let me make these historical observations.
The Frequency of the Occurrence
And Here Are the Questions
Question One – The Answers
Over what do you make Hamotzi, over Matzah or over Hallah?
Some of the above and other solutions were acceptable in the past, but they would rightly be considered unacceptable today to the partially observant Jewish family and even to the fully observant. Yet the solution is simple. [It is based on the practice of] a great scholar, Rabbenu Tam, who lived 800 years ago. It has been recommended by a famous authority, Rabbi Yehezekel Landau, 200 years ago, and was confirmed [in the nineteenth century by Rabbi Hayyim Mordechai Margaliot].
Egg Matzah has two advantages: It is permitted to be eaten Erev Pesach (precisely because it is not supposed to be eaten on the night of the Seder) and you can make Hamotzi over it when you eat it with a regular meal.
The result: Instead of the Saturday Erev Pesach becoming the greatest of all the many headaches of Pesach preparations, this solution presents the housewife with a gift – a day of Shabbat relaxation before the arrival of the Seder.
Legal Detective Work
In order to meet the needs of our congregation, I consulted a host of the available sources on the subject and found all of them un-satisfactory in the practical terms of contemporary life. Then I wrote an 8-page dissertation to my father, Rabbi Mordecai Golinkin of Worcester, who is head of the Orthodox Rabbinic Court of the Associated Synagogues of Massachusetts. By return mail came the answer: Egg Matzah.
Finding relevant Jewish answers for today from ancient Jewish sources requires profound wisdom and wide-ranging knowledge. From Rabbenu Tam, Rabbi Landau, [Rabbi Margaliot] to the Bet-Din of Massachusetts – what a beautiful intellectual journey.
Discussion of the Sources
The basic source references on using Matzah Ashira on Erev Pesach are contained in the T’shuva of Rabbi Mordecai Golinkin. I wish to add a number of aspects that underlie the T’shuva but haven’t been specifically pointed out.
III. The Noda Biyehudah, No. 21 points out that the basic disagreement about Matzah Ashirah is whether or not to use it on Pesach itself. There is no opinion against eating Matzah Ashirah on Erev Pesach . The Noda Biyehudah concludes that until midday Erev Pesach it is permitted unquestionably to eat Matzah Ashirah . And whoever permits all day, does not do anything improper, as long as there is some need for it (and not just for the old or the sick). The Noda Biyehudah makes it clear that the reason he suggests midday at all is because he is convinced that even the Rema would have permitted Matzah Ashirah until midday.
Observations by Noah Golinkin
III. In my humble opinion I would recommend, as a token of the above concern, to hold services (and consequently the meal) one half-hour earlier than usual and eat a little less elaborately than usual, but otherwise serve everything Pesachdig and hold the service and the meal in a relaxed atmosphere.
Holding Pesachdig meals with Matzah Ashirah is based on very solid traditional sources and yet it is breaking new ground. It would be a psychologically and aesthetically satisfying experience for the observant family. It would also make them see how the tradition is providing interpretations and solutions that respond to our needs. The Noda Biyehudah and [Sha’are Teshuvah] dare to provide a “different” solution that is halachically unimpeachable, sensible, simple and convenient.
Prof. David Golinkin is President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem . Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety. If you wish to abbreviate it, please contact Rabbi Golinkin at mailto:email@example.com. The opinions expressed here are the author’s and in no way reflect an official policy of the Schechter Institute.
David Golinkin is President of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. and President Emeritus of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. For twenty years he served as Chair of the Va’ad Halakhah (Law Committee) of the Rabbinical Assembly which gives halakhic guidance to the Masorti Movement in Israel. He is the founder and director of the Institute of Applied Halakhah at Schechter and also directs the Center for Women in Jewish Law. Rabbi Professor Golinkin made aliyah in 1972, earning a BA in Jewish History and two teaching certificates from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received an MA in Rabbinics and a PhD in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he was also ordained as Rabbi. For a complete bio click here.