Eating Matzah within 30 days before Pesach

 

Avoiding Matzah:
It is our custom to refrain from eating Matzah for thirty days before Pesach, beginning on Purim.[1] [Others[2] have the custom to avoid eating Matzah from Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Others[3] only abstain from eating Matzah from the night before the Seder, which is the night of the 14th. According to all opinions, it is forbidden to eat Matzah on the day of the 14th of Nissan, Erev Pesach.[4]]

Q&A on eating Matzah within 30 days

According to our custom, may one eat Matzah Kefula or Nefucha within thirty days before Pesach?
No. One is to avoid eating Matzah even if it is possibly Chametz, such as a Kefula or Nefucha.[5] However, there are opinions[6] which allow eating such Matzah until Erev Pesach even for those who avoid Matzah starting thirty days beforehand.

According to our custom, may one eat non-Shmura Matzah within thirty days before Pesach?
No.[7]

According to our custom, may one eat machine made Kosher-for-Pesach Matzah within thirty days before Pesach?
No.[8]

According to our custom, may one eat machine made Chametz Matzah within thirty days before Pesach?
Some Poskim[9] rule that one may eat machine made Chametz Matzahs.[10] Others[11] rule that one is to avoid even machine made Chametz Matzahs.[12] Practically, one may be lenient if one is particular to only eat handmade Matzahs on Pesach, in which case one may eat machine made Chametz Matzahs up until the night of the 14th.[13]

According to our custom, may one eat egg Matzah [Matzah Ashira] within thirty days before Pesach?
Yes. However, this is only allowed if the eggs or other fruit juices added to these Matzos have altered the taste of the Matzah.[14]

According to our custom, may one eat Gebrocks within thirty days before Pesach?
If the Matzah is cooked in liquid, such as Matzah balls, it is allowed to be eaten within the thirty days prior to Pesach. This applies even if the Matzah balls are made from Kosher-for-Pesach Matzah flour.[15]

May one eat Matzah dipped in wine and the like?
See footnote[16].

According to our custom, what is one to do if the only available bread for the Shabbos meal is Matzah?
One may eat the Matzah regularly.[17] One is not required to perform Hataras Nedarim in such a circumstance.[18] This certainly applies to a woman who is in a hospital after childbirth, and the hospital, which is already Kosher for Pesach, is only serving Matzah for bread.[19] If one has time before Shabbos, then one can fry the Matzahs with oil[20], thereby fulfilling both one’s Shabbos obligations and his custom.[21]  

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[1] Igros Kodesh 8/219; See Igros Moshe 1/155 [Appendix]

The reason: Although from the letter of the law it is permitted to eat Matzah prior to Erev Pesach [471/4], nevertheless, some are accustomed to avoid eating Matzah for thirty days beforehand, as the entire reason behind not eating Matzah is in order to avoid experiencing the Mitzvah prior to its proper time, just like one may not have relations with an Arusa until Nessuin takes place. Accordingly, it is proper to avoid eating Matzah starting thirty days beforehand, as is the ruling with all matters relating to Pesach. Nevertheless, the Sages did not desire to establish such a decree due to the difficulty of it being upheld by the public. It was therefore only prohibited on Erev Pesach [Igros Moshe ibid]. Alternatively, we also want the Matzah to contain a novel and thus endearing element to it and thus be new and beloved onto the person. [Likkutei Mahrich, Seder Hanhagas Chodesh Nissan p. 3b]

[2] Shvus Yaakov 471/7 based on Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola 471/3; Beir Heiytiv 471/5; M”B 471/12; Igros Moshe 1/155 writes that many are accustomed like this ruling. Lev Chaim 2/88 writes that it is a mere stringency and not required from the letter of the law.

The reason: They follow the same reasoning explained in the previous custom of avoiding Matzah for thirty days. Nevertheless, they only avoid from Rosh Chodesh, as according to Rav Shimon Ben Gamliel, the Chametz laws relevant to Pesach only being to apply two weeks prior and not thirty days. [Igros Moshe ibid]

Other Opinions: Some Poskim ridicule the custom to avoid eating Matzah before Erev Pesach. Orchos Chaim Spinka in the name of Meoreiy Oar “Oad Lamoed” p. 35b, writes that one should not say that many [Rabim] are accustomed to avoid eating Matzah starting from Rosh Chodesh, but rather one should read Rakim [ignoramuses] are accustomed to avoid eating Matzah before Erev Pesach, as they are arguing on the decree of the Sages which only prohibited on Erev Pesach itself.

[3] M”A 471/6 in name of Ran; So rules Igros Moshe 1/155; Rav Poalim 3/27

[4] 471/4

[5] Based on 471/7, it is forbidden to eat this Matzah on Erev Pesach as perhaps the Nefucha or Kefula is not Chametz. Seemingly, the same would apply regarding our custom to avoid Matzah within thirty days before Pesach. See Chikreiy Minhagim p. 154

[6] Mishnas Yaakov 3/471

[7] As from the letter of the law these Matzahs are Kosher for Pesach.

[8] As from the letter of the law these Matzahs are Kosher for Pesach. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 471 footnote 16]

[9] Mishneh Halachos 6/102; Mishnas Yaakov 3/471

[10] As one is only forbidden from eating Matzahs on Erev Pesach if they are possibly Kosher for Pesach, as is evident from the ruling of Admur ibid regarding eating Kefula and Nefucha on Erev Pesach and regarding the allowance to eat Kneidlach.

[11] Matzas Mitzvah 12 footnote 29; Mikraeiy Kodesh Pesach 2/25; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 471/4; Chikreiy Minhagim p. 151

[12] As although the packaging of these Matzas state they are Chametz, this is not for certain, as it is possible that some of the Matzas were indeed baked within 18 minutes. Furthermore even if the Matzas are Chametz since they have the taste of Matzah they are to be avoided. [See Maharsha Pesachim 99b]

[13] Piskeiy Teshuvos 471 footnote 16 writes that this is the accepted ruling he has received from Rabbanim and Morei Horaah. The reasoning is because the taste of these Matzas is not similar at all to handmade Matzas.

[14] In which case they would be permitted to be eaten even on Erev Pesach. [471/4]

[15] As one cannot fulfill his obligation with cooked Matzah, and the prohibition from eating Matzah on Erev Pesach only applies to Matzah that one can fulfill his obligation with. Hence, cooked Matzah may certainly be eaten within 30 days before Pesach as well. [471/8]

[16] In 461/13, Admur discusses if Matzah dipped in wine and the like is valid for fulfilling the Mitzvah of eating Matzah on the night of Pesach. Admur concludes that one does not fulfill his obligation, and must eat the Matzah again, even for Afikoman. However, if he is sick or old and cannot eat regular Matzah unless dipped in liquid, then he may do so in order to fulfill the Mitzvah, at least in accordance to one opinion. From this it would seem that it is permitted to eat Matzah dipped in fruit juices prior to Pesach. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[17] The reason: Because avoiding Matzah throughout the thirty days is only a custom and is not required from the letter of the law, while eating a meal with bread on Shabbos is required from the letter of the law. One is thus required to break his custom for the sake of fulfilling the Mitzvah of the Shabbos meal. [See Admur 613/19 “There is no custom to allow the prohibited, but rather to prohibit the allowed”.]

[18] The reason: If a circumstance came up which poses a difficulty for one to keep his Chumra, Hiddur, or custom, and if it is unusual to exercise this Hiddur even in such circumstances, then one is not required to perform Hataras Nedarim. [M”A 581/12; Machatzis Hashekel ibid; Degul Merivava ibid and Yoreh Deah 214/1; Rama 568/2; 581/2 [regarding a Bris during Ba”hab or Aseres Yimei Teshuvah]

Opinion of Michaber and Shach: The Michaber 214/1, rules regarding the Hiddur of fasting during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah, that even if one became weak, he is required to do Hataras Nedarim. The Shach 214/2, explains that the reason for this is because only those circumstances that are publicly known not to be included within the Hiddur, such as eating during a Bris Mila during Aseres Yimei Teshuvah, do not require Hataras Nedarim. However, unexpected circumstances are included in the Hiddur and thus require Hataras Nedarim. The Degul Merivava ibid, argues against the Shach’s explanation and says that the Michaber’s (ibid) ruling referred to a case where due to weakness the person wanted to permanently revoke his custom, and for this everyone agrees that Hatara is required.

[19] Rav Cohen, as she may even eat on Yom Kippur.

[20] How much oil is one to use, and does the frying affect the blessing of the Matzah?

If the Matzah is a Kezayis in size when fried: Then regardless of the amount of oil used, even if the Matzah is deep fried it remains Hamotzi. [Seder 2/12]

If the Matzahs are less than a Kezayis in size prior to frying: If the Matzah was less than a Kezayis in size from the start of the frying, then a very minute amount of oil is to be used for the frying, but enough so that the taste of the Matzah changes, for when a very minute amount of oil is used, simply to keep the dough from sticking to the pan, the Matzah remains Hamotzi according to all [Seder 2/11]. If however one uses a larger amount of oil, then there is a dispute as to its blessing, and the main ruling holds that it is Mezonos and Al Hamichyah. [See Seder 2/12-13, that there are two disputes in this matter, one regarding if frying is considered cooking or baking [Seder 2/12], and another as to whether cooking less-than-Kezayis breads makes them Mezonos [Seder 2/13]. Thus, in order to avoid turning the Matzah into Mezonos, one should use a minute amount of oil if the Matzah pieces are less than a Kezayis. However, one must still use enough oil to change the taste of the Matzah so that the Matzah is now considered Matzah Ashira, and one can no longer fulfill his Pesach obligation with it.

If the Matzah started off as a Kezayis, but became less than a Kezayis through the frying: The Matzah is Mezonos unless a very small amount of oil was used (simply so the dough does not stick,) in which case it remains Hamotzi. [See Seder 2/12-13]

[21] As Matzah that is fried and receives the taste of oil becomes Matzah Ashira. It is disputed however, whether Matzah that was fried [not deep fried] is considered cooked or baked. Nevertheless, if it is deep fried, then according to all opinions the matzah is considered cooked and thus invalid (for the Pesach obligation.)

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