The Shabbat preceding Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol (the Great Shabbat), because of the great miracle that occured that day.
On Shabbat Hagadol, after minchah, we recite the Haggadah from “We were slaves” to “to atone for all our sins”; for that day marks the beginning of the redemption and its miracles.
It is customary to put pieces of hard bread in various places some time before the search, so that the one who searches will find them.
According to the Kabbalah, one should place 10 pieces.
Before starting the search, the following blessing is recited:
Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the removal of chametz.
One is to search by candlelight in all hidden places, even cracks in the floor.
One is not to speak between the blessing and the beginning of the search, even concerning the search itself.
Throughout the search one should not speak about anything that is not relevant to the search.
Members of the household should stand nearby to hear the blessing, with each one then searching his own place without speaking in between.
Take heed to search first in the room nearest the place where the blessing was heard, and not to go to another room immediately after the blessing.
After the search one must be careful that the chametz retained to be eaten or to be burnt in the morning, be put in a safe place, so that it not be carried about and thereby crumbled and spread by children or rodents.
After the search one must also nullify [the chametz he may have overlooked] and say:
All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, which I have neither seen nor removed, and about which I am unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.
On the fourteenth of Nissan; in the fifth hour of the day, one should make a special fire and burn the chametz and nullify it.
For the nullification of the daytime say:
All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have observed it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.
The ten pieces are to be burnt, and the following is said during the burning of the chametz:
May it be Your will, L-rd, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that just as I remove the chametz from my house and from my possession, so shall You remove all the extraneous forces.
Remove the spirit of impurity from the earth, remove our evil inclination from us, and grant us a heart of flesh to serve You in truth.
Make all the sitra achara, all the kelipot, and all wickedness be consumed in smoke, and remove the dominion of evil from the earth. Remove with a spirit of destruction and a spirit of judgment all that distress the Shekhina, just as You destroyed Egypt and its idols in those days, at this time. Amen, Selah.
“We offer the words of our lips in place of the sacrifice of bullocks.”
The Minchah prayer is instead of the daily afternoon offering, and in the time of the Beit Hamikdash the Pesach offering was sacrificed after the daily afternoon offering. Thus it is appropriate to study the order of the Pesach offering after Minchah, and say the following:
The Pesach offering is brought from yearling male lambs or goats, and slaughtered anywhere in the Temple court only after midday of the fourteenth of Nissan, after the slaughtering of the daily afternoon offering and after the afternoon cleaning of the cups of the menorah.
One should not slaughter the Pesach offering while chametz is in his possession. If he slaughtered it before the daily afternoon offering, it is acceptable, provided that someone stir the blood of the Pesach offering so that it will not congeal until the blood of the daily afternoon offering will have been sprinkled, and then the blood of the Pesach offering is sprinkled once toward the base of the altar.
How is it done? The shochet slaughters it, and the first Kohen at the head of the line receives it and hands it over to his colleague, and his colleague to his colleague, and the Kohen nearest the altar sprinkles it once toward the base of the altar.
He returns the empty vessel to his colleague, and his colleague to his colleague, receiving first the full vessel and then returning the empty one.
There were rows of silver vessels and rows of golden vessels, and the vessels did not have flat bottoms, lest they set them down and the blood become congealed.
Afterwards they hung the Pesach offering, flayed it completely, tore it open, cleansed its bowels until the wastes were removed.
They took out the parts offered on the altar, namely, the fat that is on the entrails, the lobe of the liver, the two kidneys with the fat on them, and the tail up to the backbone, and placed them in a ritual vessel.
The Kohen then salted them and burned them upon the altar, each one individually.
The slaughtering, the sprinkling of its blood, the cleansing of its bowels and the burning of its fat override the Shabbat, but other things pertaining to it do not override the Shabbat.
Likewise, if [the fourteenth of Nissan] falls on Shabbat, the Pesach offerings are not carried home, but one group remains with their Pesach offerings on the Temple mount, the second group sits in the chel [an area just outside the Temple court], and the third stands in its place [in the courtyard].
After nightfall they go to their places and roast the Pesach offering.
The Pesach offering was slaughtered in three groups, each group consisting of no less than thirty men.
The first group entered, the Temple court was filled, they closed [its doors], and while they were slaughtering it and offering its parts on the altar, they [the Levi’im] recited the Hallel; if they finished [Hallel] before all sacrificed, they repeated it, and if they repeated it [and were not finished yet], they recited it a third time.
Each time Hallel was recited, [the Kohanim] sounded three blasts of the trumpet: tekiah, teruah, tekiah.
When the offering was ended, they opened the doors of the Temple court, the first group went out and the second entered, and they closed the doors of the Temple court.
When they finished, they opened the doors, the second group went out and the third entered.
The procedure of each group was the same.
After they all had left, they washed the Temple court, even on Shabbat, of the filth of the blood.
How was the washing done? A water duct passed through the Temple court and had an outlet from the court.
When they wished to wash the floor, they shut the outlet and the stream overflowed its sides until the water rose and flooded the [floor] all around and all the blood and dirt of the court were gathered to it.
Then they opened the outlet, everything flowed out and the floor was completely clean; this is the honor of the Temple.
If the Pesach offering was found to be unfit, one did not fulfill his obligation until he brings another one.
This is a very brief description of the order of the Pesach offering. The G-d-fearing person should recite it in its proper time, that its recital shall be regarded in place of its offering.
One should be concerned about the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, and plead before G-d, the Creator of the universe, that He rebuild it speedily in our days; Amen.
Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the [Shabbos and] Yom Tov Light.
Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.
Prepare a ke’arah (tray) on the table, with three matzot one on the other: first the Yisrael, on it the Levi and on it the Kohen.