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Friday, March 12, 2010

What is the Breslev custom for matza?

Q: Do you eat only shemura matza throughout Pesah or only at the Seder? What is the Breslev or Sefardi custom?

A: An answer from our friend Rabbi Siegel:

Shalom, Nissim!

There is no such thing as a Breslover custom. Rabbeinu kept his customs secret, so as not to make them the main thing instead of his teachings (as unfortunately happens in many groups).

Some of the Gedolei Breslov throughout the generations had particular customs which were adopted by their students. Some are Ukrainian Jewish customs which happened to be observed in the area.

Sepharadi customs vary. Some eat only Shemura all Pesach. Some only for the Seder.

The Chashash of the BaCH that we can't rely on dough that has stood unbaked more than 18 minutes, even though it was constantly kneaded, was never accepted by Sepharadim.

The Matzot Peshutot are completely kosher according to Maran, even for the seder, but shemura is preferable. (Even peshutot are shemura mishe'at techinah, which is sufficient according to Maran; but he prefers shemurah mishe'at ketzira l'chatchilah.)

I use peshutot except for the sedarim.

Whether machine shemurah or hand shemurah is preferable, is a machloket for the last hundred years. I use hand shemura for the sedarim. If they were unavailable I would use machine shemurah. If these, too, were unavailable, I would use peshutot (with a berachah) even for the sedarim.

I hope this helps,

Yaakov Siegel

click on "Comments" to see more on what is shemura, and questions regarding machine and peshuta...

2 comments:

nissim said...

more from Reb Siegel:

For matzat mitzvah, there is a requirement of Shemurah. However, there are three opinions as to the what this means:

1. That the matza must be guarded from Chimutz only from the time that we put water into the flour. According to this, you could buy flour off the shelf at the supermarket and make Matzat Mitzvah with it. This view is accepted by Maran if there is no other choice, but rejected by Rama. This may not be valid today, as all commercial wheat is washed, and therefore probably chametz. I say probably, since the sources say that originally wheat for matza was also washed, but this stopped in the days of the geonim, for fear that the wheat would not be dried quickly enough.

2. That the matza must be guarded only from the time that the wheat is ground into flour. This view is accepted l'chatchilah by Maran. However, the same problem with the washing of commercial wheat pertains here.

3. That the matza must be guarded from the time the wheat is cut. This is seen as a hiddur by Maran and most Rishonim. There are a few who see it as a requirement. Our shemurah is made this way.

What is the status of our matza peshutah? It is between 2 and 3, as the guarding is done like 2, but provisions are made to be certain it was not washed or did not otherwise get wet, albeit not with an actual witness.

There are two additional questions:

1. There is a machloket about machine matzot. Since they are made automatically, there is a problem with liShmah; similar to the question of machine tzitzit, etc. However, most authorities hold that the liShmah with matza is in the guarding from chimutz, not the actual kneading and baking. Others argue that the no-stick machinery is far better than the bowls and rollers used in hand matza, and therefore more "Chametz Proof". I personally use hand shemurah for the seder, but regard it as a hiddur.

2. There is a machloket about matza peshutah. The gemarra and all Rishonim say that the 18 minutes required for dough to become chametz only applies when the dough is at rest. As long as it is being kneaded, no chimutz can occur, "even all day". In matza peshutah, the machines are constantly working, with the dough constantly being kneaded. According to the BaCH, we are not sufficiently expert on this, and the matza must be baked within 18 minutes of adding water to the flour. Most Ashkenazi authorities accept this at least l'chatchilah, most Sepharadi authorities reject this. The machine 18 minute matzot are made just like the peshutot, except the machines are stopped and cleaned every 18 minutes.

nissim said...

Besides all the above, we must remember that Chazal only required shemurah (by any definition!) for the seder. Otherwise, we may eat "Batzrkam Shel Nochrim". According to most commentators, this means if we see a gentile with dough, we may check to see if it is chametz yet, and if not, bake it for non-seder Passover use. The Rambam adds that we must know that it was made with suitable water (mayim shelanu). Although we would not do this, as we are not expert in telling if dough has begun to ferment, still, it shows us the mind set of Chazal on this issue. This is the meaning of Matza She'einah Shemurah!

We must bear in mind the well known story of Rabbenu, that one year he thought "What doesn't have a she'elah of chametz? Everything does! So I"ll go outside the city and sit for 8 days by a stream as it comes out from the groung. I"ll drink water and eat nothing for 8 days!" Then he thought about it and rewasoned "Is this what the Torah means by 'vesamachta bechagecha'? Forget it. Do what is in the Shulchan Aruch and nothing more!" Rabbenu also said about Gebrachs that if one has the minhag in one's family then keep it, but otherwise one should not take it upon oneself.

There are some who contend that there is the fulfillment of a d'oraita whenever one eats matza during Pesach (this is not the accepted view). Therefore, according to this view, one should have shemurah for the entire holiday. However, even if this view is correct, our peshutot qualify as shemurah according to nearly all opinions.

May the merit of the Nachal Nove'a Mekor Chochmah stand with us and with all Israel for a chag kasher vesameach, and to merit the Ge'ulah Sheleimah V'Amitit sppedily!

Yaakov Siegel