QUESTION: The Mishnah states that on Erev Pesach, one may not eat from close
to Minchah time until it gets dark. The Gemara cites a similar Beraisa which
says that this applies (according to Rebbi Yehudah) to Erev Shabbos and Erev
Yom Tov as well. The Beraisa, though, leaves out the words "until it gets
dark." Is there a difference between the Halachah of not eating on Erev
Pesach and the Halachah of not eating on Erev Shabbos? If so, why is there a
(a) TOSFOS writes that with regard to Erev Pesach, there is a special
requirement that Matzah must be eaten at the time of the Korban Pesach
(after nightfall). When it comes to Shabbos, though, a person is permitted
to recite Kiddush and begin the meal even before nightfall. This is also the
approach of the ROSH.
HALACHAH: On Erev Pesach, one must wait until it gets dark before he even
recites Kidush at the beginning of the Seder. The TERUMAS HA'DESHEN (137)
says that the reason is because the four cups of wine, which include he cup
of Kidush, represent the Ge'ulah which we celebrate Pesach night, and since
the Ge'ulah occurred after nightfall, the Seder must wait until that time as
well. (Shulchan Aruch OC 472)
(b) The BACH (beginning of OC 472) cites the MAHARAL (Gevuros Hashem, ch.
48) who writes that on Shabbos, although one may begin his meal before
nightfall, *part* of his meal must still be eaten after nightfall. The
reason for this requirement is because the source for eating three meals on
Shabbos comes from the a verse (Shemos 16:25) which mentions the word
"Ha'Yom" ("the day") three times (Shabbos 117b), and before nightfall it
cannot be called the *day* of Shabbos. Therefore, at least part of the meal
must be eaten on Shabbos itself.
(c) TOSFOS (DH Ad) cites RABEINU YEHUDAH who quotes the opinion of the
Yerushalmi that says that Erev Shabbos and Erev Pesach are the same; just as
one may not eat until it gets dark on Erev Pesach, so, too, one may not eat
on Erev Shabbos until it gets dark. The Beraisa which discusses Erev Shabbos
should also say "Ad she'Techshach" ("until it gets dark"), because the same
Halachah applies there. The reason one may not eat on Erev Shabbos until it
gets dark is presumably because one cannot fulfill the Mitzvah of declaring
the sanctity of Shabbos ("Zachor Es Yom ha'Shabbos") when the day of Shabbos
has not yet entered.
Regarding Shabbos, the SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 267:2) writes that one may begin
his Shabbos meal before nightfall, as long as he begins *after* the time of
Plag ha'Minchah (1 1/4 hours before nightfall). The MISHNAH BERURAH mentions
the BACH who cites the MAHARAL (the second opinion mentioned above), that if
one eats his Shabbos meal prior to nightfall, he should eat a k'Zayis of
bread after Shabbos actually starts (nightfall).
However, the Mishnah Berurah raises another question. The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC
233) writes that a half-hour before nightfall, one is not permitted to eat
because it is near to the time of Keri'as Shema (and if he begins to eat, he
might get involved in his meal and forget about Keri'as Shema). Therefore,
if one does recite Kidush and begin the Shabbos meal early, he must begin at
least a half hour before nightfall (but, again, after Plag ha'Minchah). The
Mishnah Berurah cites the dissenting opinion of the TAZ (OC 233 and 271) who
argues and allows a person to start eating even within a half-hour of
nightfall, if he has already recited Keri'as Shema. This is based on the
opinion cited by TOSFOS (Berachos 2a) that one may say Keri'as Shema even
before nightfall (see Insights to Berachos 2a).
(However, the Mishnah Berurah (in BI'UR HALACHAH 271:1 and Sha'ar ha'Tziyon
267:1) points out that the Heter of the Taz might not be applicable today.
It only applies to people who have a Minhag to always Daven Ma'ariv early.
Since we always Daven Ma'ariv after Sheki'ah, there is no Heter to recite
Keri'as Shema early on Friday eve and begin the Shabbos meal early.)