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Matzah Shruyah/Gebrochts:[1]

What is Gebrochts and what Halachic issue does it pose?[2]

Gebrochts, or Matzah Shruya, refers to Matzah that comes to contact with water, or a water-based liquid, either through cooking it with water or by dipping it in water and the like. Ideally, baked Matzah dough cannot become Chametz even if it is mixed with water and remains with it for a very long time, as once the Matzah is baked, its leavening property is destroyed.[3] Nevertheless, this only applies to flour that is mixed with water and then baked, in which case its leavening capability has ceased. However, flour which has not mixed with water, is possibly capable of leavening upon contacting water, even if the flour is baked.[4] This is what created the worry of Gebrochts, or in other words, dipping Matzah in water. In previous times, until approximately the year 1750-1780[5], the Matzahs were kneaded very slowly and thoroughly, thus not allowing any flour to remain unmixed with the water, and therefore the worry of Gebrochts did not apply. This is why this stringency was not mentioned in any previous Poskim. However, starting approximately the year 1750-1780, the widespread custom amongst Jews, who are holy, became to tremendously hasten the kneading of the flour with the water, mixing it very quickly in order to diminish the amount of time that the dough can rise. This is considered a holy act and Hiddur Mitzvah. Nonetheless, the disadvantage of this custom is that the flour is not mixed very well and is thus probable that a slight amount of flour remains on the Matzah, which has never met water. This can be veritably witnessed by anyone truthfully examining the Matzos, that there are a lot of Matzahs that retain a small amount of flour on top of the dough. Accordingly, dipping the “new generation” Matzos in water may pose an issue of Chametz and enters into the dispute in Poskim explained next.

The background ruling in Poskim:

Background-Dispute in Poskim regarding mixing baked flour in water:[6] Some Poskim[7] rule it is forbidden to mix baked or roasted flour with water, as perhaps the flour was not properly baked and it will become Chametz. Other Poskim[8] rule it is permitted to mix baked or roasted flour with water.[9] Practically, initially we are stringent[10], although Bedieved, if one mixed such flour with water, it is permitted in benefit, and may be owned until after Pesach.[11] However, one is to be stringent even Bedieved not to eat it.[12]

Background-Dispute in Poskim regarding flour left on Matzah: Some Poskim[13] rule that even according to the stringent opinion above, we do not suspect that a minute amount of flour that remains on top of the dough was not roasted well [and hence there is no reason to avoid Gebrochts even according to the stringent opinion]. Other Poskim[14], however, rule that according to the stringent opinion we suspect even for a minute amount of flour left on top of the dough that it may become Chametz if mixed with water [and hence there is reason to avoid eating Gebrochts by today’s Matzahs].

Kneidlach:[15] Matzah balls, known as Kneidlach, is made from ground Matzah and is defined as merely Taaruvos Chametz even if were to suspect that it contains unroasted flour mixed within. This would be subject to the debate in Poskim regarding the status of Yaveish Belach, and is not as severe as the law of dipping a piece of Matzah in soup.

 

Summary:

Some Poskim rule that Matzahs that have flour remain on the dough, may not be mixed with water due to a Biblical suspicion of Chametz. Other Poskim rule there is no room for worry.

The Final Halacha & Minhag:

The final ruling:[16] According to the letter of the law, there is not a complete and clear prohibition against eating flour tainted Matzah that is cooked in water.[17] Nevertheless, one who is stringent is blessed, and is not considered to be a wondrous person who is doing a stringency without reason/basis, as in truth there is a great reason behind this stringency, as it is a possible Biblical prohibition of Chametz.[18] Nonetheless, one is not to protest against those who are lenient, as they have upon whom to rely.[19] Practically, however, according to the ruling of the Arizal that one is to be stringent on Pesach to follow all the stringencies, then it is obvious that one is to be stringent.[20] [This stringency is said to have been innovated by the Maggid of Mezritch[21], and is mentioned in Poskim who lived in the generation of the Maggid, as well as in later Poskim.[22]]

The custom today: Many Jews, particularly Chassidim, are accustomed not to eat Gebrochts on Pesach. The Chabad custom is to avoid eating Gebrochts on Pesach and we are very particular in this matter.[23] Dipping the Matzah in liquid if eating right away:[24] Those who do not eat Gebrochts are accustomed not to dip the Matzah in soup and the like even if one plans to eat it right away.

Chewing Matzah:[25] Chewing Matzah does not pose an issue of Chametz even according to the stringent opinion and custom, as although one’s saliva is a water based liquid that can technically cause flour to leaven, the Matzah does not remain in one’s mouth enough time for it to become leavened.

 

Summary:

The Chabad custom, as well as the custom of many Chassidim, is not to cook Matzah, or dip it into water, soup and the like.

 

 

Sparks of Chassidus:[26]

The reason we are so particular against wetting the Matzah is because Chametz represents ego/Yeishus and on Pesach we need to avoid ego entirely. Thus, even something which has the ability to become Chametz is avoided, as the ability for it to become filled with ego is also a level of ego.

 

Eating habits followed according to Chabad custom in order to avoid Gebrochts:[27]

Aside for not cooking Matzah, and not dipping it in liquids, the Chabad custom is to be very careful to ensure that the Matzah does not come into contact with liquid, as will be explained:

Covering the Matzahs-Eating in bag: When Matzah is on the table with other foods or drinks, the Matzahs are to be kept covered to prevent water from falling on them, and to prevent Matzah from getting into the food [when one breaks a piece off]. [Due to this, many today are accustomed to eat the Matzahs in a bag. Furthermore, some are careful to not eat Matzah in the same course as other foods, as explained in the Q&A!]

Checking the cups/plates before pouring: Likewise, before pouring food or liquid into a cup or plate one is to check them to make sure they do not contain any Matzah crumbs.

Mayim Achronim: We do not wipe our lips with water during the meal, including by Mayim Achronim.

 

Q&A

May one eat Matzah within the same course as other foods and may one be stringent not to do so?

One may eat Matzah during the meal while eating other foods. This applies even according to Chabad custom.[28] So was the custom of the Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe, who would eat Matzah while eating the soup.[29] The Rebbe Rashab would clean his spoon after each time he removed it from his mouth to wipe off any leftover Matzah crumbs, although this was his personal custom and was not a directive to the public.[30] There never was a custom in Chabad to negate eating Matzah during the other courses, and it was simply not eaten together. Furthermore, one is to be particular to eat Matzah during the other courses, in order for the blessing of Hamotzi said on the Matzah to exempt the other courses of foods from their blessing.[31] Nevertheless, some today are accustomed after Hamotzi to first eat only Matzah, and then clear/change the tablecloth from the Matzah crumbs, and only then bring the other foods. This is especially done in homes with small children, in which it is virtually impossible to guard the Matzah from contacting liquids if it were eaten when other foods are on the table. Nonetheless, as explained above, one should not be particular against eating Matzah afterwards, during the course of the other foods, as this causes those foods to lose their exemption with the blessing of Hamotzi, and they will now require a new blessing.[32] Thus, one is to periodically get up and eat Matzah during the other courses of foods, even if the table was cleared and one no longer brings Matzah to the table.

 

May one enter Matzah into his mouth while chewing on other foods?[33]

Yes. Although, the Chabad Rebbeim were careful in this matter, it was not a directive for the public.

 

May one take a bite off a large piece of Matzah or is one to first break off bite size pieces?[34]

One may take a bite from the Matzah. It is not necessary to first break off a bite size piece.

 

May children eat Gebrochts on Pesach?[35]

The stringency of Gebrochts applies likewise to children. Parents are to educate their children not to eat Gebrochts, and teach them to be careful not to get their Matzah wet, or into their foods. [Nevertheless, in a time of need one may certainly be lenient to feed Gebrochts to children, especially if they are below the age of Chinuch. For example, infants may eat Gebrochts if needed, and doing so takes precedence over feeding them Kitniyos, as explained in Q&A. Likewise, there is no need to be overly careful with small children if they get Matzah crumbs on their food and the like]

 

Practical advice for parents:

Being careful with one’s children that they do not get their Matzah into their food, or serving bowls, can be both stressful and infuriating. This can lead to destroying the proper Yom Tov atmosphere at the table, which certainly was never the intent of our Holy Rebbeim. One should be understanding and not be overly particular with the children in this matter, and as the Rebbe already stressed in earlier years that there is room to be lenient with children regarding Gebrochts. One practical advice that many people follow, is to simply serve Matzah before the other foods, and hence avoid the situation from developing to begin with. Nonetheless, as stated in C, one must be careful to continue eating Matzah periodically also after this point.

Q&A

What is better if needed-to feed a baby Kitniyos or Gebrochts?[36]

It is better to feed the child Gebrochts than to feed him Kitniyos.

 

Eating Matzah with Fruit Juice [fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy]:[37]

It is permitted [and even encouraged[38]] for one to eat Matzah with 100% pure fruit juice which does not contain any water, even according to those who avoid eating Gebrochts.[39] [This applies even according to the Chabad custom, and so was practiced by the Rebbe Rashab.[40] Accordingly, one may eat Matzah with all fruits or vegetables that are dry from water or condensation. Likewise, one may dip Matzah into wine or oil that has no water mixed into its ingredients. However, this only applies with 100% fruit juice, as if the juice contains even a slight amount of water, then it is even more severe than plain water, and the stringency of Gebrochts applies to it even more so.[41] Thus, care must be taken when eating Matzah with fruits, vegetables, and their juices, that they are not wet with water and that there is no condensation on them that may have been created in the fridge. Likewise, one is not to cut them with a wet knife.]

The practical custom: Despite the above, many Chassidim are accustomed not to eat Matzah with any food, even 100% fruit juice.[42] Others however are lenient.[43]

Making/owning Gebrochts:

The entire stringency of Gebrochts is only regarding eating it. It is however permitted to own Gebrochts even according to the stringent opinion.[44] Accordingly, there is no issue with washing one’s floors that contain Matzah crumbs, even though one will come to bring them in contact with water, as one will not come to eat it.

 

Vessels that had Gebrochts on them:[45]

The custom is to not use any vessels on Pesach which had wet Matzah fall on it that Pesach. However, it may be used the next Pesach without Kashering.

Eating Gebrochts on the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora:[46]

On the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora, one who is lenient to eat matzah cooked with water/liquids for the purpose of Yom Tov joy, is not losing out on keeping of the above-mentioned stringencies of the Arizal. [Practically, the Chabad custom is to be particular to eat Gebrochks on the last day of Pesach in the Diaspora.[47]] This can be fulfilled by simply dipping the Matza in liquid that contains water and eat it, although the custom is to cook Kneidlach. One may cook and eat the Gebrochts in his regular Pesach vessels, which will be used next year for Pesach. The vessels do not need to be Kashered next year for Pesach use.[48]

 

The custom of the Rebbeim:[49]

The Chabad Rebbeim were scrupulous on the last day of Pesach to dip their Matzahs in liquids, and eat it with every foods; fish, meat, and especially soup. Even those foods which throughout the year are not normally eaten with bread, they would eat with their Matzah.

 

May one cook Gebrochts on Friday Shevi’i Shel Pesach for the sake of eating it on Shabbos?

Some Poskim[50] rule it is permitted to do so, and so is the custom of some.[51] However, if one treats Gebrochts as if it is forbidden from the letter of the law, then some Poskim[52] rule one may not cook it on Shevi’i Shel Pesach, and so is the custom of others.[53] [Practically, it is best to avoid cooking it on Yom Tov, and rather it is to be cooked on Erev Yom Tov, taking care to designate these utensils only for Gebrochts and not to reuse them anymore that Pesach.]

 

 

Sparks of Chassidus:[54]

The reason we are so particular against wetting the Matzah is because Chametz represents ego/Yeishus and on Pesach we need to avoid ego entirely. However, by the last night of Pesach in the Diaspora we have reached enough refinement to be able to handle, and even refine, a food that could come to ego. Accordingly, one should be particular to eat it, in order to refine and elevate it.

 

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[1] Shut Admur 6 [This letter is unique of its kind, as it is the earliest known publication that deals with the prohibition of Matzah Shruya. The entire letter of Admur was dedicated to explaining the basis behind the stringency.] Admur 459:25-27; 463:3; 471:8; See also: M”A 458:1; 459:16; Shaareiy Teshuvah 460:1 and 10 [Discusses in great length the sides behind the stringency, and those who argue not to be stringent]; Machatzis Hashekel 458:1; M”B 449:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 458:5-8; Otzer Minhagei Chabad-Matzah Shruya

Ruling of Admur in Shulchan Aruch: In various areas in the Shulchan Aruch, Admur rules it is permitted to eat and cook Matzah with water on Pesach. [Admur 463:3; 471:8] However, in 461:2 Admur brings the dispute in Poskim regarding roasted flour and concludes stringently, and in the Shut 6 he explains that in today’s Matzahs this is a matter of worry. Hence, in truth, there is no real contradiction between the ruling of Admur in the Shulchan Aruch and that in his Shut. This is further emphasized in Admur 459:25 who rules one may not dip the dough in flour due to the above dispute.

[2] Shut Admur 6; See also Admur 459:25-27; 463:3

[3] Admur 463:3 based on Rava Pesachim 40b that it is permitted to make Matzah balls, or any other dish one desires with Matzah flour

[4] See dispute below and Admur 459:25-27; 463:3

[5] Admur in the Shut ibid writes “It was not mentioned in the previous Poskim as it was not common at all with their dough, and in the previous generations they would wait a long time in the kneading and rolling until it was well kneaded. However, approximately 20 or more years ago, the custom spread to the Jewish people who are holy to be very quick with the kneading, and it is hence not kneaded well.”

[6] Brought in Shut Admur 6

[7] 1st opinion in Admur 463:2; Peri Chadash 461:2; Beis Yosef 461 in name of Rabbeinu Yerucham 5:5 in name of Tosafos Pesachim 40b; Semak 222

[8] 2nd opinion in Admur 463:2; Rambam 5:3; Rashi Pesachim 40b

[9] The reason: As we do not suspect that roasted flour was not roasted well, and hence it cannot become Chametz. [Admur ibid]

[10] Admur ibid and 459:25; Chok Yaakov 463:4; M”A 459:16; Terumos Hadeshen 124

[11] Admur ibid; Chok Yaakov 463:4; M”A ibid rules leniently Bedieved even regarding eating

[12] See Admur 459:26; See M”A 463:4

[13] Peri Chadash ibid, brought and explained in Admur Shut 6

[14] Maharshdam O.C. 26 and M”A ibid, brought and explained in Admur ibid

[15] Shut of Admur 6 that Taaruvos Chametz is not a Chashash Deoraisa; See Shaareiy Teshuvah 460:10; Michaber Y.D. 104; Admur 466:9-11; Kuntrus Acharon 442:15: Shut Rabbeinu 18; See Piskeiy Admur Yoreh Deah chapter 100; Shach 109:8; “A Semicha Aid for learning the Laws of Taaruvos” Chapter 104:4

[16] Shut of Admur 6

[17] Admur ibid; This is despite the fact that in the introduction to the letter Admur begins “regarding the prohibition of cooking Matzah crumbs”;

The reason: As perhaps we rule like Rashi/Rambam, and perhaps even according to the Semak we do not suspect that the leftover flour was not roasted well. [See Poskim ibid]

[18] The reason: The stringency is done in order to avoid a suspicion of eating flour which was not kneaded into the dough and not roasted properly, which is a Biblical prohibition according to some Rishonim [i.e. Semak and Rabbeinu Yerucham] to eat with water. [Admur ibid] This stringency follows the opinion of the Maharsham, brought in Peri Chadash, who learns that the Semak and Rabbeinu Yerucham are stringent even regarding flour left on top of Matzahs, and certainly one who suspects for his opinion is blessed. [Admur ibid]

[19] Mainly, they rely on the opinion of Rashi and the Rambam. [Admur ibid]

[20] Admur ibid

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule there is no need to be stringent not to mix Matzah with water. [Rambam and Rashi ibid; Chacham Tzevi, brought in Sheilas Yaavetz 2:65; Mur Uketzia 460; Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid rules that by today’s Matzahs there is no need to be stringent]

[21] Yagdil Torah N.Y. 12:10

[22] Admur ibid; Chacham Tzevi, brought in Sheilas Yaavetz 2:65; Mur Uketzia 460 [although there he negates the custom]; Machatzis Hashekel 458:1; Shaareiy Teshuvah 460:1 and 10; M”B 449:4

[23] Sefer Haminhagim p. 79 [English]

[24] See Sefer Haminhagim ibid; To note that the entire discussion in Admur ibid was only with regards to cooking the Matzah!

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule, that according to all, there is no reason to be stringent against dipping the Matzah in soup and the like if one plans to eat it right away, as it needs to delay 18 minutes to become Chametz. [Shaareiy Teshuvah 460:10; See also Admur 463:26 regarding chewing]

[25] Admur 459:26; Shaareiy Teshuvah 460:10

Background: According to the stringency of Gebrochts, one can challenge that it should never be allowed to eat Matzah that has worry of leftover flour, being that saliva is equivalent to water and can hence the Matzah turns into Gebrochts in one’s mouth. Nonetheless, in truth this does not pose a problem as the Matzah does not stay in one’s mouth together with the saliva for more than 18:24 minutes. [Admur ibid] In addition, flour cannot become Chametz when it is being worked on, and hence so long as one is chewing the Matzah there is no worry of the start of fermentation on unkneaded flour that may have remained on the Matzah. Perhaps due to this second reason, it is permitted to dip it in fruit juice, even though water and fruit juice combined in can make flour become Chametz instantly.

[26] See Likkutei Sichos 22 p. 30

[27] Sefer Haminhagim p. 79-80 [English]

[28] So is evident from Sefer Haminhagim ibid

[29] Heard from Rav Eli Landau regarding the Rebbe Rashab and Rav Y.Y. Ofen regarding the Rebbe

[30] Heard from Rav Eli Landau Shlita

[31] See Admur 177:6; Tosafos Brachos 41b; P”M 200 A”A 3; Chazon Ish 32; Piskeiy Teshuvos 177:10

[32] See Admur 177:6; Tosafos Brachos 41b; P”M 200 A”A 3; Chazon Ish 32; Piskeiy Teshuvos 177:10

[33] Heard from Rav Eli Landau Shlita; See Admur 459:26; Shaareiy Teshuvah 460:10

[34] Some are accustomed to only enter bite pieces of Matzah into their mouth at a time, in order to prevent saliva [which is equivalent to water] from coming into contact with the bitten area, and become Gebrochts. Rav Leibel Groner corresponded that he has never witnessed such a custom amongst the Rebbe or Chassidim.

[35] Rebbe in Toras Menachem 5748 3:11 footnote 258 [brought in Shulchan Menachem 2:222] However, see Toras Menachem 3:7 that one may be lenient to feed Gebrochts to children, and only regarding machine Matzah should one be stringent. See Shulchan Menachem ibid that perhaps there it refers to younger children, while in the later Sicha the Rebbe refers to older children.

[36] Heard from Rabbanei Anash [Rav asher Lemel Cohen, Hiskashrus and other Rabbanim]

[37] Shut of Admur 6 “Regarding dipping Matzah in fruit juice, it is obvious that one is not to be stringent against doing so throughout the entire Pesach.”

[38] So is implication of wording of Admur ibid

[39] The reason: As fruit juice does not ferment flour. [See Chapter 2 Halacha 1B]

[40] The Rebbe Rashab would eat his Matzah with 100% wine [Sefer Haminhagim p. 80] and milk. [Sefer Hasichos 5703]

[41] If fruit juice is mixed with water, then it is even more severe of a problem than plain water regarding its ability to ferment. As while plain water takes at least 18 minutes to ferment, water mixed with fruit juice can ferment instantly. See Chapter 2 Halacha 1B!

[42] Heard from Harav Leibel Groner; Harav Eliyahu Landau and Harav Yaakov Shwei

The reason: Perhaps this is due to suspicion that perhaps water has gotten onto the fruit, such as through condensation, or a wet knife, and the like.

[43] Rav Asher Lemel HaCohen are lenient in this and so is the custom of Yerushalmim to eat Matzah brie which is made by frying Matzah in oil; Rav Osdaba ruled leniently to me.

[44] See Admur 463:2; Maaseh Rav that the Rebbe had Kneidlach prepared on Erev Yom Tov for the last day of Pesach; There is no known source for being stringent regarding owning. There are many examples of cases in Hilchos Pesach in where we are stringent regarding eating and not regarding owning. As for the reasons why: It is forbidden to eat even a small amount of Chametz, and eating Chametz carries the penalty of Kareis. Owning, however, is only Biblically prohibited by a Kezayis.

[45] Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 48.

[46] Shut of Admur 6

[47] Sefer Hasichos 5702 p. 105; Hagada of Rebbe by Shulchan Oreich: “We are Mehadeir to dip”; Hisvadyus 5758, page 171; Likkutei Sichos 22 p. 30, printed in Shulchan Menachem 2:354; Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 224-226

[48] Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 224-225 in name of Rav Yaakov Landau who witnessed this done in the house of the Rebbe Rashab.

[49] Hisvadyus 5758, page 171; Likkutei Sichos 22 p. 30

[50] All Poskim who permit cooking Kitniyus; Minchas Yitzchak 7:33; Chazon Ish 49:15-16 [See however Chazon Ish ibid that if this matter is held as forbidden from the letter of the law then it is forbidden to cook on Yom Tov.]; Nitei Gavriel 3 19:9; Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 255; Hiskashrus 39 p. 24 footnote 10; Reb Leibal Groner records that one year in which Shevii Shel Pesach fell on Erev Shabbos the Rebbe stated with dissatisfaction that Kneidlach were not made on Erev Shabbos to be served on Achron Shel Pesach in his home. [Hiskashrus 45 p. 24; Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 225]

[51] The reason: As the refraining of eating Gebrochts on Pesach is merely a stringency and is not forbidden from the letter of the law, and it is thus not truly inedible on Pesach. Therefore, it is permitted to do so even according to those Poskim who rule that one may not cook Kitniyus on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbos in Eretz Yisrael. [Poskim ibid]

[52] Chazon Ish 49:16 that if this matter is held as forbidden from the letter of the law then it is forbidden to cook on Yom Tov just like the Poskim who rule it is forbidden to cook Kitniyus on Yom Tov; Rav Levi Bistritzky in Kovetz Tiferes Limelech and Shut Ara Degalil concludes that according ot Admur one may not cook Gebrochtz on Shevi’i Shel Pesach; Rav Eliyahu Landa Shlita related to me that his father never allowed Gebrochts to be cooked on Shevi’I Shel Pesach even if years such as the above.

[53] The reason: As some Poskim rule one may not cook Kitniyus on Yom Tov for Shabbos and seemingly the same would apply to Gebrochts if it is held as an actual prohibition.

The Chabad custom: Reb Leibal Groner records that one year in which Shevi’i Shel Pesach fell on Erev Shabbos the Rebbe stated with dissatisfaction that Kneidlach were not beforehand to be served on Achron Shel Pesach in his home. [Otzer Minhagei Chabad ibid] It however makes no reference as to when in the Rebbe’s opinion the Kneidlach should have been made, before Yom Tov, or even on Yom Tov itself. Upon asking Rabbi Groner as to when the Gebrochts should be made he replied “If i remember correctly we make the kneidlech on שביעי של פסח. It should be done much before lighting the shabbos candles.” Thus, clearly Rabbi Groner did not receive a clear instruction from this story as to when the Gebrochts should be made, as otherwise there would be no room for his uncertainty. Rabbi Eli Landa told me that in his home they would not cook Gebrochts on Yom Tov for the sake of Shabbos even in such a year.

[54] Likkutei Sichos 22 p. 30

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