• August 15, 2022
  • 18 5782, Av
  • פרשת עקב

All About Matza, March 29

All About Matza, March 29

Eating matza is one of the most well-known mitzvot of the seder and Pesach itself, but there are various kinds of matza and various customs about when to eat them. Join this course to learn all about matza including shmura matza, machine-made matza, the difference between the two, and how halacha deals with technology in making matza.

March 29, 2016 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
All About Matza, March 29: Lesson 1
Class description

Hello Everyone, In yesterday’s class we reviewed the halachot of מצה. First I wish to emphasize that matzot whose boxes do not clearly state that they are “Kosher for Passover” are not not kosher for Passover and may not be eaten on Pesach. They are chametz and must be treated as such. We will see why this is so. We began the class by explaining what mkes some breads “chametz” and others “matzah.” From the pasuk in parshat Bo we see that the Torah juxtaposes chametz and matzah: שמות פרק יב (טו) שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ אַךְ בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן תַּשְׁבִּיתוּ שְּׂאֹר מִבָּתֵּיכֶם כִּי כָּל אֹכֵל חָמֵץ וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל מִיּוֹם הָרִאשֹׁן עַד יוֹם הַשְּׁבִעִי: “Chametz” is a process which involves three components: flour, yeast and water[1]. In the days of Chazal microorganisms had not yet been discovered, and the vehicle which introduced yeast to the flour and water mixture was known as “שאור” which we refer to as “sourdough.” The yeast cells consume the sugars in the flour. As they do this they release carbon dioxide gas (CO2). The gas released by the yeast cells inflates the dough causing it rise. When this process becomes visible the dough has become “chametz.” “Matzah” is the bread made from dough which has not undergone the “chametz” process. I would emphasize that dough is judged to be chametz even before it rises. Chazal rule that at earlier stages than rising, the dough has become chametz. Changes in the color or surface texture of the dough are signs that the dough is now chametz even though it has not yet risen. Chazal also said that the process of chametz takes 18 minutes and only occurs when the dough is left to stand. The reason for these rules is clear. It takes a certain amount of time (18 minutes) for enough CO2 gas to accumulate within the dough so that it would visibly change. Also, for the gas to accumulate, the dough must be left alone. As long as the dough is being kneaded, rolled and otherwise manipulated the gasses will escape from the dough and not change the dough’s texture. When matzot are made for Pesach the bakers are careful that the dough not be left to stand for 18 minutes. There is no guarantee that matzot not baked for Pesach are cared for in this manner, therefore non-“Kosher for Passover” matzot may not be eaten on Pesach. Knowing this “18 minute rule” we can understand why some people only buy “18 minute matzot.” Bakeries which produce “18 minute matzot” shut down the production line at the end of every batch of matzot (whose production of course may not lapse for longer than 18 minutes) and completely clean the conveyor belt and other utensils. This is done to assure that not a single speck of unbaked dough may be clinging somewhere in the baking machinery turning into chametz and then perhaps finding its way into the next batch of dough.[2] Do not confuse “18 minute matzhah” with “shmurah matzah.” “18 minute matzah” may not be used to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah at the Seder. “Chametz” is translated as “leavened bread” but this is not really an accurate translation. It is inaccurate because of the distinction which the Halacha makes between water and fruit-juice ( מי פירות ). According to the Halacha , chametz is the product of mixing flour, water and yeast. If fruit juice is substituted for water the dough will rise but it referred to as סירחון and not as chametz.[3] The custom among Sephardic Jews is to eat matzah baked from fruit juice dough ( known as מצה עשירה or “egg matzah”) while Ashkenazi Jews do not.[4] Recently there was an interesting discussion among the Sephardic Poskim regarding מצה עשירה . Chazal discussed the use of fruit juice instead of water. In our times bakers can use “baking soda” to cause dough to rise.[5] The question is whether dough prepared with baking soda can be eaten on Pesach. The former Separdic Chief Rabbi, Rav Bakshi-Doron שליט”א ruled that it is forbidden. He holds that the principle of מי פירות is not totally understood and we may not extend its application to new categories of additives and leavening agents. Rav Ovadiah Yosef זצ”ל took very strong exception to Rav Bakshi-Doron’s view. Chemical leavening agents ( as opposed to yeast which one could describe as a “biological” leavening agent) do not change the flour at all. Chemical leavening agents react with the water component of the dough and release the CO2 gas which causes the dough to rise. The flour is left unchanged. Therefore the dough cannot be viewed as chametz. We the discussed the two types of “matzah shmurah” available today, “hand matzah” and “machine matzah.” There are two issues involved in eating matzah on Pesach. One issue is that since leavened bread may not be eaten we eat matzah. However if a person does not enjoy eating matzah he or she can simply avoid it. The exception would on those meals which must include bread. Those meals are the minimal three meals eaten on Shabbat as well as the meals on the 7th/8th days of Pesach as well as the meal eaten on the first day of Pesach. Since Shabbat and Festival meals must include bread we need to eat matzah at those meals. The other issue involving the eating of matzah is the mitzvah to eat matzah at the Seder. This matzah is a ” mitzvah object” and must be made with the specific intention of using/eating it to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah at the Seder Pesach. This matzah is known as “Shmurah Matzah”- “מצה שמורה” because of the verse in parshat Bo: שמות פרק יב (יז) וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת הַמַּצּוֹת כִּי בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה הוֹצֵאתִי אֶת צִבְאוֹתֵיכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם חֻקַּת עוֹלָם: Because these matzot need to be made with a specific intention they need to be made by mentally competent adult Jews. This is because only mentally competent adults can “transfer” their intentions into the objects which they are making. This intention is known as “לשמה” in the Halachic literature. With the advent of the industrial era machines replaced people. Items which were handmade were now made more quickly and cheaply by machines. This change raised the question if, according to the Halacha, לשמה can be imparted to an object by a person operating a machine. No consensus (as far as I can tell) has arisen to answer this question. One can find tzitzit threads made by hand and by machine. Some people insist on hand spun threads and some permit the use of machine spun threads. Similarly some people will only use hand baked matzot at the Seder and some will use machine baked matzot. Each side presents arguments supporting their view. I hope this shiur was interesting and I thank those who participated. Staurt Fischman

[1] This is an informative web-site on the subject: http://www.thescienceofbreadmaking.com/fermentation.html [2] Here is another helpful site: https://oukosher.org/passover/articles/getting-to-know-your-matzah/ [3] I once read ( but I don’t remember where) an explanation for this ruling. When yeast are presented with flour and water the only source of sugar is in the flour and the yeast eat the flour changing it into chametz. When the yeast are presented with flour and fruit juice they will first use the sugars found in the fruit juice before turning to the flour. Since in this case much of the flour would not have been attacked by the yeast the resulting dough will have a different consistency from the flour and water dough. [4] Except in cases involving the elderly or infirm. [5] http://theydiffer.com/difference-between-yeast-and-baking-powder/ Actually Rav Bakshi-Doron was asked about ammonium carbonate but the principles involved are the same. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_carbonate

Rabbi Dr. Stuart Fischman graduated from Yeshiva University in 1980 and the dental school of Columbia University in 1985. In 1989 he began studying and teaching at Yeshivat Hamivtar and now studies and teaches at Yeshivat Machanaim in Efrat. He has rabbinic ordination from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg.