7. Summary: What Can Be Eaten on Erev Pesaĥ

As we have learned, the Torah prohibits eating ĥametz after midday on the fourteenth of Nisan, and the Sages extended the prohibition by two hours as a safeguard. Hence, one may eat ĥametz on Erev Pesaĥ until the end of the fourth seasonal hour (i.e., the first third of the day). There are, as is evident from Jewish calendars, two approaches to calculating these hours. According to Magen Avraham, we begin calculating them from dawn; according to the Vilna Gaon, from sunrise. Ideally, one should be stringent and calculate the onset of the prohibition according to Magen Avraham. However, when necessary, since the prohibition against eating ĥametz after the fourth hour is rabbinic, one may be lenient and finish one’s ĥametz meal by the end of the fourth hour according to Gra’s calculation (see above 3:6).[8]

After four hours, a problem arises for those who customarily refrain from eating kitniyot on Pesaĥ: what can one eat to satisfy his hunger? Ĥametz and kitniyot are forbidden, and even matza is rabbinically forbidden on the fourteenth of Nisan. We have seen that even matza meal-based cakes and cookies are subject to dispute among poskim. In practice, since this disagreement pertains to a rabbinic prohibition, one may be lenient, though stringency is commendable. According to all opinions, one may eat matza balls.

Egg matza (or matza ashira, which includes matza kneaded with oil, wine, or any other fruit juice) may be eaten on Erev Pesaĥ and Pesaĥ according to Shulĥan Arukh, but according to the custom of Rema it is forbidden (SA 461:1-4). Nowadays, serious concerns have arisen about the way matza ashira is produced, and according to most poskim, even Sephardic Jews must refrain from matza ashira, even on Erev Pesaĥ after midday (see above 8:1).

Even those whose custom it is to eat matza ashira (when produced in a completely halakhic way) may eat it only until the end of the ninth seasonal hour of the day. With the onset of the tenth hour, three hours before the beginning of the holiday, the Sages forbid eating any sort of baked goods, so that one’s appetite is whet for the matza and festive meal of the Seder. If one is hungry during these hours, he may eat fruit, vegetables, meat, or fish, as long as he is careful to eat a small amount so that he will be hungry in the evening. If one is so sensitive that if he eats meat or some other food in the afternoon he will not be hungry at night, he must plan his meals on Erev Pesaĥ so that he has an appetite when he eats the matza that evening (SA 471:1-2).

[8]. The end of the fourth hour according to MA’s calculation is c. twenty-four minutes before that of Gra. Many people make mistakes in this area.

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