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    Erev Pesach

    The search for leaven, by Bernard Picart

    Everyone should be busy on Erev Pesach, helping to prepare for the festival, domestically, spiritually and intellectually.

    As well as ensuring that the house is ready and the food is prepared, it is important to have a preliminary look at the Haggadah and be equipped with interesting questions and explanations to liven up the Seder and colour the discussion around the table.

    Since chametz must be removed early in the morning, breakfast should not take too long. On Erev Pesach we do not eat foods that are elements of the Seder such as grated apples or nuts, which are part of the charoset, or drink wine.

    In order to create anticipation before Pesach there is an interval between matzah eaten at other times and the matzah eaten for the sake of the mitzvah on Pesach. Hence some refrain from matzah from Purim onwards; others use Rosh Chodesh Nisan as the cut-off point. On Erev Pesach itself it is law, not just custom, that one should not eat matzah.

    Certain prayers are omitted during Shacharit, such as Psalm 100 (Mizmor L’Todah). In the Temple this Psalm accompanied the thanks-offering, which included ten chametz loaves of bread, which would be inappropriate on Erev Pesach.

    Since the first born Israelites were spared the slaying of the first born which was one of the plagues in Egypt, Erev Pesach is the Fast of the First Born. However, there is a way of overriding the fast if one attends a siyyum (the celebration of the completion of a rabbinic text).

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