Articles Relating to Pesach 2021

Pesach 2021 - Why is this year different?
Date Uploaded: 
Wednesday 3rd March 2021

A practical guide to the laws that apply when erev Pesach occurs on Shabbat 

This is an adapted version for 5781/2021 of an article written by Rabbi Philip Ginsbury, M.A in 5768/2008All times below are for LondonPesach 5781/2021 


What happens when, as this year, erev Pesach falls on Shabbat? The prohibition of melacha (prohibited labour) on Shabbat is very strict: to burn the chametz that remains is therefore out of the question, and even the cleaning and tidying of the house is severely restricted. No cooking may be done, nor may we make any preparations for the following day, even to the extent of laying the Seder table. Yet at the same time, the main meals of Friday night and on Shabbat must include lechem mishneh – two whole loaves, rolls, pita breads or the like – over which we say the appropriate blessing. How then is it possible to have two chametz meals on Shabbat, to dispose of any chametz that remains, to effect the change-over from chametz to Pesach utensils, and to prepare the Seder, without coming into conflict either with the laws of Shabbat of those of Pesach? 

The sequence of events described below begins on the Thursday before Pesach (this year March 25th). It is assumed that by this time, as in any ordinary year, our stocks of chametz products will have been run down, the house will have been cleaned of chametz, and that only food sufficient for the last couple of days before Pesach will remain. 

For the sake of convenience, a summary of the arrangements is given at the end, but in order to understand them fully, a more detailed description is now given.

The fast of the First-born (Taanit bechorot) usually takes place on the day before Pesach, but this year it would occur on Shabbat. As fasting is forbidden on Shabbat (except for Yom Kippur) it is brought forward. We do not favour fasting on Friday, the eve of Shabbat either, so we observe it on Thursday instead. 

The Siyyum celebration (conclusion of studying a volume of the Talmud) which releases the first-born from fasting, will therefore take place after the morning service on Thursday. Many of us will not be able to attend shul this year because of the pandemic so you are able to join a siyum online. The United Synagogue will be broadcasting one on its Facebook page. Some local communities will do similarly. 

By Thursday, or Friday at the latest you should already have made arrangements with your rabbi for him to sell your chametz (mechirat chametz). The sale of chametz involves a contract drawn up with a non-Jewish person to purchase items containing chametz such as pasta, whisky etc., the disposal of which would entail financial loss. It is usually done through the rabbi of your synagogue and details will be announced locally as to both online and in-person options where Covid-compliant. (Alternatively, click here to sell your chametz online through KLBD.)  

On Thursday, if not before (no Pesach baking/cooking may be commenced before the kashering of hobs/ovens for Pesach use), one is advised to thoroughly clean and kasher the inside of the oven, and thus make it ready for Pesach. After this of course it may no longer be used for chametz and one should use either Pesach crockery or paper plates etc which can be recycled. 

The search for leaven (Bedikat chametz) which is traditionally performed by means of a candle and a feather, usually takes place on the evening of the day before Pesach. But as this would fall on Friday night, when the use of a candle is forbidden, the ceremony is held instead on Thursday evening, after nightfall. The blessing recited over the search, and the declaration made afterwards annulling any chametz which has not been noticed, can be found at the beginning of the Haggadah or on page 642 of the green siddur. 

26th MARCH

Friday may be considered as erev Pesach, and you should plan the day accordingly. 

After breakfast, the kitchen should be finally prepared as for Pesach: the top of the cooker, if not yet kashered for Pesach, should be kashered and well-covered. 

Working surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and covered. 

A small area should be set aside in or adjacent to the kitchen, completely separate from the rest, where the chametz food and crockery for Friday lunch, and the challot or similar bread for Shabbat can be left. Apart from this, all other chametz utensils should be cleaned and stored away and replaced by Pesach utensils. Any food not containing chametz, but which is not supervised for Pesach, should be similarly stored away. 

The burning of chametz (biur chametz) should take place before 11:04am (in London) as is normally done on Erev Pesach. The declaration (kol chamira) annulling any chametz inadvertently left, however, is omitted, as a quantity of chametz still has to be used, and some may be left over. It is said instead after breakfast on Shabbat. 

As no preparations for the Seder may be made on Shabbat, it is a good idea to prepare it and lay the table on Friday, to avoid a long wait after Shabbat goes out. Care should be taken that no chametz is brought near, e.g. if you have a dining room, the Seder table could be laid there, and all meals between now and Shabbat afternoon eaten in the kitchen or, if possible, another adjacent room. 

Shabbat meals must be cooked on Friday and you might it useful if they consisted only of foods permitted for Pesach. The cooking should be done in Pesach utensils. However, two challot should be reserved for use on Friday night and two for Shabbat morning. Where these are unlikely to be finished, small ones should be used instead. Many use Pitta bread, as noted above, since these create less crumbs. It is recommended that these are the only items of actual chametz used for Shabbat meals. 

(An alternative to using challot with all the attendant chametz complications is to use Matza ashiracommonly known as “egg matza” on both Friday night and Shabbat morning. This is a special type of matza made with eggs or fruit juice instead of water. Since it is not real matza it can be eaten on erev Pesach and used for hamotzi in this situation, thus avoiding all the difficulties of using chametz when the home and the rest of the food is pesachdik. (Please note, however, that the Ashkenazi practice is that Matza ashira may neither be consumed on Pesach, nor on erev Pesach after 10.00am, following this year’s timings). 

NB. When making the blessing (Hamotzi) over bread on Friday night and Shabbat morning, it is suggested that the challot should be placed on a small side table, separately from the other food. They should be fully consumed. The family should make sure that no crumbs remain on their hands or clothes, wash their mouths out and then move to the main table for the rest of the meal. 

27th MARCH

The morning service on Shabbat Erev Pesach is held early in order to enable people to return home, make Kiddush and have breakfast before the Hafsakah (the latest time for eating chametz), which this year is at 10.00am. 

For breakfast, after the challot have been eaten, it is suggested that light refreshments be served, e.g. cheese, herring, cake and biscuits (all supervised for Pesach) and fruit. 

Immediately after breakfast the tablecloth is well shaken and stored away with the other chametz utensils. Any bread or other chametz unavoidably left over from the meal should be disposed of carefully. 

Paper plates and cups and plastic cutlery which have been used should be thrown away into recycling. The declaration (Kol chamirah) which was omitted on Friday should now be said (it can be found at the beginning of the Haggadah). By saying it, we finally renounce our ownership over any chametz which we have inadvertently failed to remove. It should be recited before 11.04am. 

Now is the opportunity for you to enjoy a well-earned rest, an opportunity which rarely presents itself on erev Pesach in other years. 

By lunch time on Shabbat the whole house has been converted to Pesach routine and lunch can be enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere. There is one restriction however: matza cannot be eaten, otherwise it would lose its freshness and novelty at the Seder.  

Unusually, for Seudah Shelishit, the third Shabbat meal, which is eaten in the afternoon, it is recommended to eat some light food, such as fish or fruit, since neither matza nor bread can be used. 

Yom Tov candles should not be lit until Shabbat ends at 7.13pm and either Maariv or the phrase ‘baruch havmavdil bein kodesh lekodesh’, which marks Yom Tov apart from Shabbat, have been recited.  

The Seder has finally arrived. The age-old story of the deliverance from Egypt is recounted anew, and again we are told that we must think of ourselves as having been personally involved in that redemption. 

May the effort that we have put into preparing for Pesach this year be amply rewarded by the satisfaction we receive from it. May it imbue us with a sense of renewal, especially at this time of year, when God miraculously renews nature’s cycle. May it inspire us with even greater love for our traditions, loyalty to our faith, and commitments to the ideals and values which Judaism has given to the world, which have ensured our survival, and which have brought us from slavery to freedom. 


British Summer Time begins at 1.00am on Sunday 28th March. Accordingly, second day Yom Tov begins at 8.14pm BST at which time candles may be lit and preparations for the second Seder may commence. (This would be 7.14pm GMT if your clock doesn’t change automatically.) 


If you have any Pesach-related questions, your rabbi will be delighted to advise. 

From all at KLBD and the U
nited Synagogue, we wish you an enjoyable and safe Pesach. Chag Sameach! 

לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה