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Is Egg Matzah okay for Passover use?

by Rabbi Shais Taub

  

Library » Holidays » Passover » Matzah | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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The Short Answer:

Egg Matzah is not ok for the Seder - when there is an obligation to eat "Matzah". As for the rest of Passover, Sephardic Halachic authorities permit Egg Matzah, while Ashkenazic Halachic authorities have restricted its use due to risks of Chametz

The Askmoses Answer:

Okay, it’s time for a little Kosher kitchen chemistry. 

Simple question:  What makes bread rise?  That is to say, when does flour begin to undergo the fermentation process called leavening which renders it chametz and therefore forbidden on Pesach?

The simple answer?  Water.  Once grain flour comes into contact with water, the leavening process starts to kick in and – unless promptly heated with fire – the flour/water mixture will go on to become chametz.  Indeed, that is why Passover matzah must be baked within eighteen minutes of the dough being mixed, in order to stave off the otherwise inexorable leavening process. 

Flour made from other ground foods like corn, rice or millet and the like do not undergo leavening but rather spoil from being left wet too long
Now, it is significant to note that water does not have this effect on all flour, but rather only upon grain flours, namely wheat, barely, spelt, oats and rye.  Flour made from other ground foods like corn, rice or millet and the like do not undergo leavening but rather spoil from being left wet too long.

Next question: If there is a difference between various flours as far as the leavening process is concerned, is there a difference between the various possible liquids that make flour wet?  We know that water triggers fermentation of grain flour, but what about fruit juice, eggs, honey, oil or milk?  Regarding this detail, the Talmud1   states that liquid food extracts do not cause flour to leaven the way that water does. 

But what exactly does that mean?  The Talmudic commentator Rashi explains that this means that such liquids actually do initiate the fermentation of flour but that it is not as intense as the effect of water.  In Talmudic terms, these liquids will bring flour to a state of chametz nukshe, a lesser form of chametz, but nonetheless still forbidden on Passover. 

Thus, according to this view, flour mixed with other liquids would – for all intents and purposes – need to be treated with the same care as flour mixed with water. 

However, other Talmudic commentaries2   contend that such liquids only produce a leavening reaction within flour if they themselves have had water added to them and otherwise the dough they produce is completely permissible for consumption during Passover. 

Footnotes

  • 1. Pesachim 35a.
  • 2. See Tosafot.

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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Chametz
Any leavened product which is produced from wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats. This includes bread, cake, cereals, crackers, biscuits, yeast, pasta and whisky. It is forbidden for a Jew to possess or consume Chametz throughout Passover.
Matzah
(pl. Matzot). Unleavened bread which is eaten on Passover, especially at the Passover Seder (feast), commemorating the Matzah which the Jews ate upon leaving Egypt. It consists of only flour and water and resembles a wheat cracker.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Rashi
Acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105). Legendary French scholar who authored the fundemental and widely accepted "Rashi commentary" on the entire Bible and Talmud.
Ashkenazim
(pl.) Jews of Northern or Eastern European ancestry. (singular: Ashkenazi)
Sephardim
(Pl.: Sephardim) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.
Seder
Festive meal eaten on the first two nights of the holiday of Passover (In Israel, the Seder is observed only the first night of the holiday). Seder highlights include: reading the story of the Exodus, eating Matzah and bitter herbs, and drinking four cups of wine.
Sephardic
(adj.) A Jew whose ancestors stem from Southern Italy, Spain, Portugal, North Africa or the Arabian countries.
Pesach
Passover. A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.