Matza purchasing guidelines-What are 18 minute from the table Matzas?

Understanding 18 minutes from table Matzos versus 18 minutes from kneading Matzos:

Some Matzah bakeries offer two different types of Matzah, one being 18 minutes from the table and the second being 18 minutes from the kneading. The 18 minutes from kneading Matzas are traditionally more expensive. To the unaware, this matter seems puzzling as how can the Matzah bakery sell Matzas that have passed 18 minutes? The explanation is as follows: From the letter of the law so long as 18 consecutive minutes did not pass without the dough being worked on then it is not Chametz, even if many hours pass by.[1] Furthermore, when one works on the dough, the 18 minutes restart. For example, if after the dough was mixed with water it remained 17 minutes without work, and it was then worked on, then the 18 minutes restart.[2] This is the meaning of “18 minutes from the table” Matzas, as these Matzas have had a total of 18 minutes pass from the time of kneading with water, although have not had 18 minutes pass from the time of rolling the dough on the table, and are hence not Chametz. Nevertheless, the custom of all Jewry for some generations is to only eat Matzas that did not pass 18 minutes total from the time of it being kneaded with water even though the dough is being worked on in the interim.[3] This is the meaning of the “18 minutes from the kneading” Matzas, as these Matzas did not pass 18 minutes from the time water was added until they were baked. Practically, one should try to purchase only the 18 minutes from kneading Matzah, as was the old age custom, however in a time of need one may purchase the 18 minutes from table Matzas.   

 

Background-Working on the dough:[4]

Working on the dough prevents it from becoming Chametz. This applies even if one were to work on the dough for the entire day. In order for the dough to become Chametz, it must remain a full 18/24 minutes without being worked on at all in that time. If one worked on the dough even one time within the 18/24 minutes, it undoes the partial leavening that occurred prior to the kneading, and the dough then requires another full 18/24 minutes, without being worked on, in order to leaven and become Chametz.[5] Thus, even if in total the dough remained many hours without being worked on, if it was worked on every 17/23 minutes, and never remained a consecutive 18/24 minutes without being kneaded, it does not become Chametz.

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[1] Admur 459:9; Michaber 459:2; Pesachim 48b

[2] Admur ibid; M”A 459:4; Terumos Hadeshen 123

Other opinions: Some Poskim suspect that perhaps the total amount of 18/24 minutes without working on the dough does make the dough become Chametz, even it never remained a consecutive 18/24 minutes without being worked on. [Rama 459:2; Maharil 51; Aruch Hashulchan 459:7; See M”B 459:16] Furthermore, some Poskim rule that the working on the Matzah does not interrupt the 18 minutes, and hence all Matzas must be baked within 18 minutes of the start of kneading. [Bach 459 in name of Riaz[

[3] See Aruch Hashulchan 459:7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 459:2

The reason: To suspect for the stringent opinions above, that Matzha becomes Chametz after 18 minutes even if work was done to it in the interim. [Poskim ibid]

[4] Admur 459:9; Michaber 459:2; Pesachim 48b; See Aruch Hashulchan 459:7

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the working on the Matzah does not interrupt the 18 minutes, and hence all Matzas must be baked within 18 minutes of the start of kneading. [Bach 459 in name of Riaz[

[5] Admur ibid; M”A 459:4; Terumos Hadeshen 123

Other opinions: Some Poskim suspect that perhaps the total amount of 18/24 minutes without working on the dough does make the dough become Chametz, even it never remained a consecutive 18/24 minutes without being worked on. [Rama 459:2; Maharil 51; Aruch Hashulchan 459:7; See M”B 459:16]

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