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A Pesach Calendar

A Pesach Calendar

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The dates which follow are based on the Hebrew calendar. Each year, the corresponding dates of the secular calendar will vary. The hours mentioned with regard to the morning of the 14th of Nissan are שעות זמניות, “seasonal hours.” This term refers to one twelfth of the period from the beginning of the day (sunrise) until its conclusion (sunset).1 Thus these times vary from year to year and are dependent on the latitude in which one lives and the date of the solar calendar. For example, if the sun would rise in a particular community at 5:45, and set at 5:33, the conclusion of the fourth seasonal hour would be 9:41 and the conclusion of the fifth seasonal hour 10:40.

The calendar which follows outlines the observance of Pesach in the diaspora. In Eretz Yisrael, only the first and seventh days are observed as holidays, there are five rather than four days of Chol HaMoed, and the entire festival lasts only seven days.


The 15th of Adar

Our Sages have ordained that we begin studying the laws of Pesach from this date in preparation for the holiday. It is also a time when families begin planning for the holiday, e.g., organizing the purchase of matzah and other Pesach necessities, cleaning the home, and the like.


The Shabbos before Pesach

This is referred to as Shabbos HaGadol, “the great Shabbos.” A portion of the Haggadah, beginning from Avadim Hoyinu (“We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt”) until likaper al kol avonoseinu (“to atone for all our sins”) is recited after the afternoon service.


The appearance of three stars on the night
between the 13th and the 14th of Nissan

At this time, we are obligated to conduct the search for chametz.

On the day before the Seder, it is customary not to partake of matzah, maror, or charoses, for they are eaten as part of our Seder obligations. Many follow the custom of refraining from eating matzah from a month before Pesach. This practice is particular relevant when Pesach is celebrated Saturday night. Neither matzah, maror (i.e. neither horseradish or romaine lettuce), or charoses should be eaten on Shabbos.


The conclusion of the fourth hour
of the morning on the 14th of Nissan

From this time onward, it is forbidden to eat chametz.


The conclusion of the fifth hour
of the morning on the 14th of Nissan

From this time onward, it is forbidden to benefit from chametz. Before this time, one should burn the chametz collected in the search and all other chametz in one’s possession that was not sold.


Eighteen minutes before sunset
on the afternoon of the 14th of Nissan

The candles ushering in the Pesach holiday are lit.


The appearance of three stars on the night
between the 14th and the 15th of Nissan

The evening service is held, followed by Hallel. Afterwards, the first Seder is conducted.


The 15th of Nissan

The first day of Pesach, the morning services are held, followed by Hallel, the reading of the Torah, and the Musaf service. From half an hour after noon until sunset, the afternoon service may be held.


The appearance of three stars on the night
between the 15th and the 16th of Nissan

At home, candles are lit at this time. In the synagogue, the evening service is held, followed by Hallel, and Sefiras HaOmer, the Counting of the Omer. Afterwards, the congregants return home to conduct the second Seder.


The 16th of Nissan

The second day of Pesach, the morning services are held, followed by Hallel, the reading of the Torah, and the Musaf service. From half an hour after noon until sunset, the afternoon service may be held.


The appearance of three stars on the night
between the 16th and the 17th of Nissan

The evening service is recited, followed by Sefiras HaOmer, the Counting of the Omer. Afterwards, the Havdalah ceremony is held.


The 17th to the 20th of Nissan

Chol HaMoed, half-Hallel is recited and the Torah is read each day. In the evening service, the Omer is counted.


Eighteen minutes before sunset
on the afternoon of the 20th of Nissan

The candles ushering in the seventh day of Pesach are lit. When this holiday is celebrated on a weekday, unlike candlelighting on the Sabbath, if the candles are not lit before sunset, they may be lit afterwards.


The appearance of three stars on the night
between the 20th and the 21st of Nissan

The evening service is held, followed by Sefiras HaOmer, the Counting of the Omer. In many communities, it is customary to spend the entire night in inspirational gatherings commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea which took place at dawn.


The 21st of Nissan

The seventh day of Pesach. The morning services are held, followed by half-Hallel, the reading of the Torah, and the Musaf service. From half an hour after noon until sunset, the afternoon service may be held.


The appearance of three stars on the night
between the 21st and the 22nd of Nissan

At home, candles are lit at this time. In the synagogue, the evening service is held, followed by Sefiras HaOmer, the Counting of the Omer.


The 22nd of Nissan

The eighth day of Pesach. The morning services are held, followed by half-Hallel, the reading of the Torah, and the Musaf service. From half an hour after noon until sunset, the afternoon service may be held.


In the late afternoon on the 22nd of Nissan

As a foretaste of the Era of the Redemption, the feast of Mashiach is held.


From the appearance of three stars on the night
between the 22nd and the 23rd of Nissan

The evening service is held, followed by Sefiras HaOmer, the Counting of the Omer. Afterwards, Havdalah is recited, concluding the Pesach holiday. The Pesach dishes are put away and chametz which was prepared after the holiday or which had been sold to a gentile may be eaten.


When The 14th Of Nissan Falls On A Sabbath

When the fourteenth of Nissan falls on the Sabbath, the practices regarding the search for and the destruction of chametz differ from those observed when this date falls on a weekday, because it is forbidden to search for or burn chametz on the Sabbath. Instead of the search being held on the night between the 13th and the 14th of Nissan, it is held on Thursday evening, the night between the 12th and the 13th. The chametz found in the search is burnt on Friday morning, the 13th of Nissan, at the same time as it would be burnt in other years.

The accepted custom is that the entire house is prepared for Pesach on Friday, and the Sabbath meals cooked in Pesachdikke pots and pans and served in Pesachdikke dishes. There is one exception. It is forbidden to eat matzah on the day before Pesach, but we are required to eat bread at our evening and morning Sabbath meals. Therefore, two small challos are eaten at the beginning of both the evening and morning meals. Generally, the practice is to eat them in a place slightly removed from the dinner table so that no crumbs will fall on the Pesachdikke dishes.

We are forbidden to eat chametz after the conclusion of the fourth seasonal hour on Sabbath morning. Hence, we must conclude eating the bread of the morning meal by that time. This may require starting the Sabbath morning services earlier in certain communities. Afterwards, before the conclusion of the fifth seasonal hour, the crumbs and any remaining chametz should be disposed of by flushing it down the toilet or similar means.

In the evening, the preparations for the Seder and the Pesach meal should not begin until the appearance of three stars. Before beginning these preparations, the women must recite the phrase Boruch hamavdil beyn kodesh likodesh (Blessed is He who distinguishes between the holy and the holy).

After this time, and after the recitation of this phrase, the women should light candles.

Footnotes
1.
Shulchan Aruch HaRav 443:4. Other authorities interpret “the beginning of the day” as referring to the appearance of the first rays of dawn, and “its conclusion” to the appearance of three stars.
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