Shabbat HaGadol: Bread or Matzah?

We are aware of a tradition of not eating matzah just before Pesah. However we already turned over our kitchen and dining area for Pesah. For this Shabbat we were wondering what should we make hamotzi on, and in general how long before Pesah must one refrain from eating matzah?
1. Hazal prohibited the eating of matzah on Erev Pesah, i.e. for one day only. See
Rambam’s MT Hamess uMatzah 6:13 (or 6:12 in certain editions) and Tur and Shulhan
Arukh OH 471, based on an explicit statement in the Talmud Yerushalmi Pesahim 10:1.
2. The Chofetz Haim z’l writes (Mishna B’rura 471:12) that some people have the custom
of not eating matzah from Rosh Hodesh Nisan. As a child I recall hearing of some who did
not eat matzah for a week, two weeks, or even a month before Pesah. I fail to comprehend
these customs, and I recommend that you pay no heed to such practices.
3. With regards to this coming Shabbat, you may use either bread – you can keep it away
from the Pesah utensils etc., or you can eat some bread first, clean up, and then proceed
to the rest of the meal – or matzah.
4. This brings us to another point. When one starts a meal with bread or matzah and then
makes a conscious decision to stop eating bread/matzah and just continue the meal without
bread/massa, one is required to make the relevant brachot on all subsequent foods.
Hamotzi can only potter (exempt from a separate bracha) other foods as long as
one continues to eat bread with said foods. See Tosaphoth Berachot 41b d’h L’ahar and
Shulhan Arukh OH 177:2. This is what we do every Shabbat night: we make hamotzi and
eat bread with the salads and condiments, then we have soup. After the soup, all salads and
condiments are removed from the table together with the bread, at which point the
main course is brought out. With the bread gone, I make the requisite bracha on the
chicken/meat, rice, vegetables, etc.
I wish you a meaningful and enjoyable Pesah. I would like to add that I hope to see you next year at the Beth HaMikdash, but I cannot: I am fully cognizant of the fact that much of Clal Yisrael continues to exist in a coma-like state, to a large degree the result of erroneous Galut based interpretations and preconceptions, which continue to be propagated by many teachers of Torah, and that it will be quite some time until Clal Yisrael emerges from these ideological mists and adopts an authentic and comprehensive Eretz Yisrael based understanding and practice of Torah.
In two hours time, I will be attending a well advertised public enactment of the Korban Pesah, including a mock mizbe’ah, shechita, roasting, etc. Such events are a relatively recent
development and serve to indicate that something positive is underway within our nation. But
it will take time.
10th of Nisan, 5774 Thursday, 10 April 2014
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