Fast of the Firstborn - Thursday, March 25
In recognition of the rescue of the Israelite firstborn males from the 10th plague while the Egyptian firstborn males died, a firstborn male of a mother or a father observes [the] Fast of the Firstborn - most years on the eve of Pesah. But this year that day is Shabbat, so the fast moves to Thursday. We do not fast on Shabbat (except on Yom Kippur), nor do we create an intrusion into the beginning of Shabbat by moving the fast to Friday.

If the firstborn male is a minor, the father fasts in his place. However, if the father is also a firstborn, the mother fasts in the child’s place.

Fast of the Firstborn is an individual fast. Unlike a communal fast, it does not introduce public liturgical changes or a special Torah reading.

If possible, hold a siyyum (completion of study of a tractate of rabbinic literature) to exempt those attending from the obligation to fast.

  1. Conduct the siyyum after Shaḥarit.
  2. Conclude the siyyum with the special prayers and expanded kaddish d'rabbanan for this occasion. Texts can be found at the end of a tractate in many editions of the Talmud.
  3. Hold a se’udat mitsvah (festive meal celebrating the performance of a mitsvah , in this case, the siyyum).

As participants in the siyyum, all firstborns present are permitted to eat at the festive meal and during the rest of the day as well.

This year, Rabbi Adam Kligfeld of Temple Beth Am will be hosting a virtual siyyum on Thursday, March 25 at 7:30 AM, and all are welcome to participate.
Search for Hametz - Thursday, March 25
Bedikat hamets takes place this year on Thursday evening before Pesah. Before the search begins, most people distribute token pieces of bread around the home so that the search is successful. (Some wrap the pieces of bread to prevent inadvertent spilling of crumbs.) Search for hamets by the light of a candle (traditionally) or a flashlight. Brush any ḥamets peices you find into a wooden spoon using a feather, or collect the wrapped ḥamets.

The associated blessing and nullification formula appear at the beginning of the haggadah.

  1. Recite the blessing.
  2. Search darkened rooms of the home by the light of a candle or flashlight.
  3. Collect all token pieces of bread and any ḥamets not designated for sale or for consumption in the morning.
  4. Recite the first formula for nullification of ḥamets in a language you understand.
  5. Set aside the ḥamets you found until morning.
Destruction of Hametz - Friday, March 26
Dispose of your hamets during the early part of the daylight hours on the morning after your search. The associated nullification formula appears at the beginning of the haggadah.

  1. Do not recite a blessing.
  2. Destroy the remaining hamets, including the hamets found during the search the previous night. Traditionally, this is accomplished by burning. Other methods are also acceptable (e.g., flushing it down the toilet, crumbling and scattering it to the wind, disposing of it in a public waste receptacle).
  3. Afterward, do not recite the second formula for the nullification of hamets. (This formula is recited Shabbat morning instead.) 
Because you will have disposed of your hametz on Friday but shouldn't eat matza until the Seder, in order to be able to say the blessing over bread on Shabbat, use egg matzah.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or are seeking greater detail.

Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat,


Rabbi David Cantor
Temple Beth Shalom of Long Beach
3635 Elm Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90807

voice: (562) 726-4116