Matza Confusion?

You go to the supermarket to buy Matzos and you see mountains of all different kinds ranging from NIS 25 up to NIS 125. It's enough to make one quite giddy. What's the difference between all of them?

Matza "Chametz"

These are identical to Pesach Matza in look and taste but with the word "Chametz" written on the box either at the front or on the side. Do I really have to say that these are Chomeitz Gamor (Actual chomeitz) and should be treated as bread to be eaten or destroyed before Pesach? As a side point, it would seem to me that those who have the minhag not to eat Matza from Rosh Chodesh Nissan, that this would include also not eating even Chomeitz Matza despite the fact that it is obviously not suitable for the mitzvah of Achilas Matza on Leil HaSeder. This is because Chaza"l tell us that the taste of Matza should be fresh in the mouth.

Matza Ashira / Egg Matza / Fruit juice Matza / Sweet Chocolate Matza

This looks exactly like machine Matza but is made with fruit juice instead of water. The halachik definition of Matza is that it must have had the potential to have become chomeitz and that means that it must contain flour and water. Being that Matza Ashira contains no water it cannot be used for the mitzvah of Achilas Matza on Leil HaSeder (at least according to Ashkenazim). Moreover, Ashkenazim do not eat Matza Ashira throughout all the days of Pesach despite the words "Kasher LePesach" on the box. This is because Ashkenazim hold that if one mixes the Matza Ashira with water it might become Chomeitz Gamor on Pesach. Sefardim however hold differently.

If Ashkenazim wish to invite Sefardim to their home during Pesach, it is a good idea in order to avoid embarrassment, to ask them not to bring Matza Ashira which amongst Sefardim is a common gift presented by guests. One should appreciate that the situation is far worse than bringing something containing kitniyos (kitniyot) into an Ashkenazi home as this at least can be eaten by your Sefardi guests or put away until after Pesach. However regarding Matza Ashira, as already mentioned, Ashkenazim hold that this is to be treated as actual Chomeitz!

Most hold that Matza Ashira should be included in the minhag not to eat Matza from Rosh Chodesh Nissan despite the fact that it is technically not Matza (as explained above). Some are however lenient and give it to their young children before Pesach. The reasons given are that it will not turn their Kasher LePesach home treif and that Matza Ashira is sweet and tastes different to regular Matza.

The use of Matza Ashira on Shabbos Erev Pesach

Some use Matza Ashira for Lechem Mishna when Shabbos falls on Erev Pesach rather than using Chomeitz.

The advantages are obvious. If one has young kids then there is a great fear that they will drop Chomeitz in the home just hours before Pesach enters. Having Chomeitz around on Erev Pesach might cause undue stress which leads to a lack of Shalom Bayis. Moreover, if one has left over Chometiz Chometz, it is not easy disposing of this in a halachik manner on Shabbos before the deadline of Biur Chomeitz.

There are however many problems associated with using Matza Ashira for Lechem Mishna on Shabbos Erev Pesach. Some hold that it is sufficiently like Matza to be included in the isur of not eat Matza on Erev Pesach even though technically it is not Matza. Some hold that even if adults can tell the difference, kids cannot and it will spoil the experience of eating Matza for the first time on Leil HaSeder. Moreover, many hold that Matza Ashira is closer to cake with a bracha of Mezonos rather then Pas Lechem. In this case, one would have to eat a huge amount of Matza Ashira in order to be able to say Birkas HaMazon over it. Lema'aseh, (for practical halacha), your local reliable Orthodox Rabbi (LROR) should be consulted.

Machine Matza - Kasher LePesach with a regular teudas hechsher

This Matza is made from Kasher LePesach flour that was supervised (Shemura) from the time it was ground into flour. This is the minimum requirement for Matza which has to be Shemorah – guarded or supervised to be suitable for fulfilling the mitzvah of Achilas Matza on Leil HaSeder.

Most yiras Shomieyim Jews will not use this Matza for fulfilling the Mitzvah on Leil HaSeder and insist on only using Matza whose flour has been guarded from the time of the field harvesting. This is commonly known as Matza Shemura.

Most religious Jews will even avoid eating regular Matza throughout the entire Pesach even though most hold that it is not considered Chomeitz. (There are those however who do consider it Chomeitz Gamor!). The reason for this is that dough gets caught in the machinery and left alone for more than 18 mins. This dough will inevitably become Chomeitz gamor. Moreover, his Chomeitz will inevitably get mixed into the next batch of Matza dough. However, as these Matzos are made before Pesach one can rely on the inyan of Bital BeShishim (one part in 60) and say that this small amount of Chomeitz is nullified. However to rely on this fact leChatchilah (before hand) is very questionable.

It goes without saying that these are the cheapest Matzos to be found bought by the majority of secular Israelis.

Machine Matza "Chai" (18 mins Matza)

They are called Matza "Chai" because the Hebrew word adds up to 18 in gematria as well as the fact that the word "Chai" means "life". These are Matzos made from Kasher LePesach flour, supervised from the grinding only. However, they are made using machines that are stopped every 16 mins and cleaned for loose pieces of dough, stuck in the machinery. This means that no dough will be sitting there for 18 mins to become Chomeitz and then be mixed in with the Matza dough. They usually have a higher teudat hechsher as they are not considered kasher LePesach bedi Avad.

Most yiras Shomayieyim Jews will eat these during Pesach but will buy Matzah Shemurah for fulfilling the mitzvah of Achilas Matza on Leil HaSeder.

Machine Shemora Matza

These are made from kasher LePesach flour, guarded and supervised from the field.
The flour is picked in the heat of the day so that no dew is left on the grain to turn the flour chomeitz. The flour is ground by a machine. The Matza baking process is the same as "Chai" matzos, that is, the machines are cleaned every 16 mins.

Hand Baked Matzos – "Matzot Yad".

It’s a common mistake to call hand baked matzos "Shemorah Matzos" but there are also machine Shemora Matzos as already mentioned above. One should not assume that all hands baked matzos are of equal kashrus level. One cannot even assume that the flour is Shemora. One should check the hechsher of hand baked matzos as well as machine.

Amongst those that have a Chareidi Badatz hechshir there are two kinds.

Matzos RASHA"M and RASH"I. RASHA"M are made from machine ground flour whereas RASH"I are made from hand ground flour. Obviously RASH"I cost considerably more than RASHA"M. Prices can vary from NIS 85 a kilo to hundreds of shekels a kilo.

I have noticed that this year that hand baked Matza is readily available in supermarkets in single kilo boxes. One has a a hechshir from the Rishon LeTzion (around NIS 95), the other is Badat"z Eidas Chareidis (around NIS 117).

Some are machmir (strict) and insist on eating matza Shemorah all the days of Pesach (either machine or Hand baked).

There is a basis for this chumrah as the Ramba"m holds that there is a mitzvah Deorisah (from the Torah) to eat Matza all seven days of Pesach.  If one follows the psak of the Ramba"m then it makes sence to insist on only Matza Shemorah throughout the whole of Pesach.

Some only eat machine-baked Matza, others insist on only eating hand-baked Matza

There are those who insist on only machine baked Matza throughout Pesach. They argue that there is far less chance of mistakes being made and therefore far less likelyhood that the Matza might be chomeitz (chas veshalom). Moreover they argue that quality and hygene standards are higher in commercial factories. From a practical standpoint, machine baked Shemorah Matzos are considerably cheaper than hand-baked.

Others however insist on only eating hand-baked Matzos. This opinion, held by Rav Shlomo Kluger amongst others, argues that machine baked Matzos lack the required kavanah (intention) for the mitzvah whilst they are being produced. The halachah states that the Matzos should be made "beshem mitzvos Matza" and everyone involved in baking Matzos by hand, from the one who mixes the water and flour, to the one who kneads the dough, to the one who cuts the dough up into pieces and rolls them out into circles, to the one who puts the holes in the circles to the one who puts them in the oven and removes them; All have kavanah that they are part of the Mitzvah of producing Matzos for Leil HaSeder. Those who argue in favour of machine-baked will claim that the one who pushes the button to start the machinary has kavanah for the mitzvah and this is sufficient.

Moreover, Rav Shlomo Kluger argued that the machines were taking away the parnasah of skilled Matza Bakers who earned their livelyhood from supplying Matza to the community.

Many insist on only using hand-baked Matza at least for the three Matzos on the ke'erah (the Seder plate). The reason has nothing to do with kashrus standards but everything to do with chinuch (children's Torah education). The simple fact is that hand-baked Matza looks far more impressive to a child and much more like "the real thing" we ate in Mitzrayim (Egypt) than the square uniform boring looking machine-baked versions. Others however argue that machine-baked are easier to chew and swallow and find hand-baked too hard. Whichever one you choose, either hand-baked or machine-baked, you have great Rabbanim to rely on, on both sides.

Cardboard or machine-baked Matza?

Chag Kasher veSamayach


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