Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day
Chometz U'Matzah - Chapter Five, Chometz U'Matzah - Chapter Six, Chometz U'Matzah - Chapter Seven
Chometz U'Matzah - Chapter Five
The prohibition against chametz applies only to the five species of grain. They include two species of wheat: wheat and rye; and three species of barley: barley, oats, and spelt.
However, kitniyot - e.g., rice, millet, beans, lentils and the like - do not become leavened. Even if one kneads rice flour or the like with boiling water and covers it with fabric until it rises like dough that has become leavened, it is permitted to be eaten. This is not leavening, but rather the decay [of the flour].
With regard to these five species of grain: If [flour from these species] is kneaded with fruit juice alone without any water, it will never become leavened. Even if [flour] is placed in [these juices] the entire day until the dough rises, it is permitted to be eaten [on Pesach], for fruit juice does not cause [dough] to become leavened. It merely causes [the flour] to decay.
The following are [included in the category] of fruit juice: wine, milk, honey, olive oil, apple juice, pomegranate juice and all other similar wines, oils, and beverages.
This applies so long as no water whatsoever is mixed with them. If any water is mixed with them, they cause [the flour] to become leavened.
[On Pesach,] we should not cook wheat in water - for example, cracked wheat - or flour [in water] - for example, dough balls. If one cooks [either of the above] - behold, it is absolutely chametz. This applies if [the kernels] crack open within the dish.
We may not fry dough in oil in a frying pan. However, we may cook a loaf [of matzah] or roasted flour. If one boiled a lot of water and, afterwards, placed flour into it - behold, it is permitted, because it is cooked immediately, before it could become leaven. [Nevertheless,] it is accepted custom in Babylonia, Spain, and the entire western [diaspora] to forbid this practice. This has been decreed lest one not boil the water well enough.
It is permissible to cook grain or flour in fruit juice. Thus, dough which was kneaded with fruit juice, cooked with fruit juice, or fried with oil in a frying pan is permitted, for fruit juice does not cause leavening.
Roasted grain which is singed in fire and then ground [into flour]: That flour should not be cooked with water, lest it has not been roasted well in the fire, and thus will become leavened when cooked.
Similarly, when preparing new pots, we should not cook in them anything other than matzah that was baked and then ground into flour. It is forbidden to do so with roasted flour, for perhaps it will not be roasted well, and thus may become leaven.
We do not stir barley in water on Pesach [to remove its husks], because [the kernels] are soft and become leavened rapidly. If one did stir [barley] in water and [the kernels] softened to the point that if they were placed at the opening to a roasting pan upon which loaves were usually baked, they would burst open - behold, they are forbidden. If they have not reached this degree of softness, they are permitted.
It is permissible to stir wheat [kernels] in water to remove the bran, and then immediately grind them, as is done when grinding fine flour. [Nevertheless,] all Jews in Babylonia, Eretz Yisrael, Spain, and the cities of the western [diaspora] have accepted the custom of not stirring wheat in water. This decree [was instituted] lest [the kernels] be left aside and become leavened.
A dish that was cooked, and barley or wheat was discovered inside it: If the grains have cracked open, the entire dish is forbidden, for chametz has become mixed together with it. If they have not cracked open, they must be removed and burned, but the remainder of the dish may be eaten. [This ruling was given] because grain that has been stirred in water without cracking open is not actual leaven as forbidden by the Torah. It is only a Rabbinic [ordinance].
[Exodus 12:17] states: "Keep watch over the matzot" - i.e., be careful of the matzot and protect them from any possibility of becoming chametz. Therefore, our Sages declared: A person must be careful regarding the grain which he eats on Pesach and [make sure] that no water has come in contact with it after it has been harvested, so that it will not have become chametz at all.
Grain which sunk in a river or came in contact with water, just as it is forbidden to eat from it [on Pesach], it is forbidden to keep [possession of] it. Rather, he should sell it to a Jew [before it becomes prohibited] and inform him [about its nature], so that he can eat it before Pesach. If he sells it to a gentile before Pesach, he should sell a small amount to a number of individuals, so that it will be finished before Pesach, lest the gentile go and sell it to [another] Jew.
Grain upon which [water] leaking [from the roof] has fallen: As long as [the leak] continues, drop after drop, it will not become chametz even if [the leak continues] the entire day. However, if [the leak] stops, if it remains [untouched] for the standard measure [of time] - behold, it becomes chametz.
We do not knead a large dough on Pesach, lest it become chametz. Rather, [the size of the dough] is confined to the measure for which one is obligated to separate Challah.
We do not knead with hot water, with water heated in the sun, or with water that was drawn on the present day, only with water that has rested for a day. A person who violates [this requirement] and kneads using one of the above - behold, the [baked] loaf becomes forbidden.
A woman should not sit in the sun and knead, nor [should she knead] under the open sky on a cloudy day, even in a place where the sun is not shining. [She should not] leave the dough and become involved in another matter. If she both kneads and bakes, she must have two containers of water, one to smooth [the matzot] and one to cool off her hands.
If she violated [these instructions] and kneaded dough in the sun, or did not cool off her hands, or made a dough larger than the measure for which one is obligated to separate Challah, the loaf is permitted. What is the measure for which one is obligated to separate Challah? Forty-three and a fifth eggs of average size - by volume and not by weight.
As long as a person is busy with the dough, even for the entire day, it will not become chametz. If he lifts up his hand and allows the dough to rest so that [it rises to the extent that] a noise will resound when a person claps it with his hand, it has already become chametz and must be burned immediately. If a noise does not resound and the dough has lain at rest for the time it takes a man to walk a mil, it has become chametz and must be burned immediately.
Similarly, if its surface has become wrinkled [to the extent that it resembles] a person whose hair stands [on end in fright] - behold, it is forbidden to eat from it, but one is not liable for כרת [for eating it].
There were two doughs which people stopped kneading at the same time and left unattended. From one, a sound [resounded when clapped]. From the other, no sound [resounded]. Both of them should be burned - behold, they are absolutely chametz.
We should not make thick loaves with designs on Pesach, because a woman takes time making them. Thus, [the dough] will become leavened during that time. Hence, professional bakers are allowed to make [such designs], because they are skilled in their craft and quick in its execution.
[In contrast,] a private person is forbidden to make such a design, even if he does so using a [pre-cut] form. [This stringency was instituted] lest others attempt to make [the designs] without using the forms, delay in their work, and cause [the dough] to become chametz.
The water used to wash one's hands and the kneading trough after the kneading [is completed] and, similarly, the water used when kneading - behold, it should be poured out in a place which slopes downward, so it will not collect in one place and become leavened.
We should not soak bran in water and leave it in front of chickens, lest it become chametz. However, we can boil bran for them, and then place it before them. Nevertheless, the majority of people have already adopted the custom of not boiling [grain products], lest the water not be boiled thoroughly.
It is permitted to prepare bran or flour for chickens in water if they are fed immediately, or if one places [the feed] before them and stands over them to ensure that the food will not stand more than the time it takes a person to walk a mil.
As long as they peck at it or one turns it over by hand, it will not become leavened. Once they finish eating, one should wash out the utensil in water and pour it out in a place which slopes downward.
A woman should not soak bran which she intends to take to the bathhouse in water [beforehand]. However, she may rub dry bran on her skin. A person should not chew wheat and then place it on his wound, for it will become chametz.
We should not place flour into charoset. If one did so, he should burn it immediately, because it will cause [the flour] to become leavened very fast. We should not place flour in mustard. If one did so, he should eat it immediately.
It is permissible to place spices, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and the like into dough. Similarly, it is permissible to knead the dough with water and oil, honey or milk, or to baste with them.
On the first day, it is forbidden to knead or baste [the matzot] with any other substance besides water; not because of the prohibition against chametz, but rather so [the matzah] will be "poor man's bread." It is only on the first day that the "poor man's bread" must be commemorated.
All earthenware vessels that were used for chametz while cold may be used for matzah while cold, except for the utensils in which yeast and charoset were placed, for their leavening effect is powerful. Similarly, a kneading trough in which chametz is kneaded and left to become leavened is considered as a place where yeast is soaked, and we do not use it on Pesach.
An earthenware roasting pan on which loaves of chametz are baked during the entire year should not be used to bake matzah on Pesach. If it was filled with coals and kindled on the place where chametz was cooked, matzah it is permitted to be cooked on it.
Metal and stone utensils in which chametz was boiled in water as a כלי ראשון - e.g., pots and stew pots - should be placed inside a large utensil. They should be covered with water, and the water should be boiled with them inside until they release [what they absorbed]. Afterwards, they should be washed off with cold water, and [then] one may use them for matzah.
Similarly, [with regard to] knives, the blade and the handle should be boiled in a כלי ראשון. Afterwards, one may use them for matzah.
Utensils of metal, stone, and wood which were used for chametz as a כלי שני - e.g., bowls or cups - should be placed in a large utensil, and boiling water poured over them. They should be left in [the large utensil] until they release [the chametz they absorbed]. Afterwards, they should be washed off. [Then,] they may be used for matzah.
All earthenware utensils that were used for chametz in hot water, whether as a כלי ראשון - for example, pots - or as a
כלי שני - for example, bowls - whether they were glazed and coated with lead so that they became like glass, or they were of simple earthenware: we do not use them for matzah. Rather, we put them aside until after Pesach, and then we may cook with them.
[A person possesses a utensil which is] a כלי ראשון and desires to boil it [in order to prepare it for Passover use], however, he cannot find a larger utensil into which [to place it] to boil it: Behold, he may place a border of clay around its [top] edge from the outside and fill it with water until the water overflows its edge. [Then,] he may boil the water in it, and this is sufficient. Afterwards, he washes it off and may use it for matzah.
Chometz U'Matzah - Chapter Six
It is a positive commandment of the Torah to eat matzah on the night of the fifteenth [of Nisan], as [Exodus 12:18] states: "In the evening, you shall eat matzot." This applies in every place and at every time. Eating [matzah] is not dependent on the Paschal sacrifice. Rather, it is a mitzvah in its own right. The mitzvah may be fulfilled throughout the entire night.
Throughout the other days of the festival, eating matzah is left to one's choice: If one desires, one may eat matzah. If one desires, one may eat rice, millet, roasted seeds, or fruit. Nevertheless, on the night of the fifteenth alone, [eating matzah] is an obligation. Once one eats the size of an olive, he has fulfilled his obligation.
A person who swallows matzah [without chewing it] fulfills his obligation. A person who swallows maror [without chewing it] does not fulfill his obligation. A person who swallows matzah and maror together fulfills the obligation of matzah, but not that of maror, for the maror is secondary to the matzah. If he wrapped them in fibers or the like and swallowed them, he does not even fulfill the obligation of matzah.
A person who eats matzah without the intention [to fulfill the mitzvah] - e.g., gentiles or thieves force him to eat - fulfills his obligation.
A person who ate a כזית matzah in delirium, while possessed by an epileptic fit, and afterwards recovered, is obligated to eat another [כזית]. The consumption of [the first כזית] took place while he was free from the obligation to perform any mitzvot.
A person does not fulfill the obligation of eating matzah unless he partakes [of matzah made] from one of the five species [of grain], as [Deuteronomy 16:3] states: "Do not eat chametz upon it... eat matzot for seven days."
[From the verse's association of chametz and matzah, we may derive:] substances which can become leavened may be eaten as matzah to fulfill one's obligation. In contrast, other substances - e.g., rice, millet, and kitniyot - cannot be used to fulfill the obligation of matzah, for they can never become leavened.
A person who makes dough from wheat and rice: if it has the taste of grain, one may fulfill his obligation with it. Dough made as food for dogs: if the shepherds also eat from it, one may fulfill his obligation with it. If the shepherds do not eat from it, one cannot fulfill his obligation by eating it, for it is not watched for the sake of eating matzah.
Matzah that was kneaded with fruit juice, one may fulfill one's obligation with it on Pesach. However, [the dough] should not be kneaded with wine, oil, honey, or milk, because of the requirement for poor man's bread, as explained above. A person who kneaded [dough with one of these liquids] does not fulfill his obligation.
One cannot fulfill his obligation with matzah made from thin bran or coarse bran. However, one may knead flour together with its bran and make it into a loaf and fulfill one's obligation with it. Similarly, a loaf made with very fine flour is permitted, and a person may fulfill his obligation with it. We do not say: this is not poor man's bread.
[One may fulfill his obligation] with matzah baked in either an oven or a roasting pot. This applies whether the dough was stuck to the roasting pot and then the [pot] was heated, or whether the [pot] was heated and then the [dough] stuck to it. Even if the dough was baked in the ground, one may fulfill his obligation with it.
Similarly, even if the matzah was not thoroughly baked, one may fulfill his obligation with it, provided strands of dough will not extend from it when broken. A person may fulfill his obligation with a cake [of matzah] soaked [in other substances], so long as it has not dissolved. However, a person cannot fulfill his obligation with matzah that has been cooked, for it does not have the taste of bread.
A person cannot fulfill his obligation by eating matzah which is forbidden to him; for example, a person who ate [matzah made from] tevel, [matzah made from] the first tithe from which terumat [ma'aser] had not been separated, or [matzah] that was stolen.
This is the governing principle: All [matzah] upon which the grace after meals is recited may be used to fulfill one's obligation. If the grace after meals may not be recited upon it, it may not be used to fulfill one's obligation.
The priests may fulfill their obligation with [matzot made from] Challah or terumah even though it is matzah which is not suited to be eaten by all people. Similarly, a person may fulfill his obligation with matzah [made] from ma'aser sheni [if he is] in Jerusalem. However, one may not fulfill his obligation with matzah made from bikkurim even [if he is] in Jerusalem.
[The difference is] because there is no permissible way of eating bikkurim in all [Jewish] settlements. [In contrast,] ma'aser sheni can be redeemed and eaten in all [Jewish] settlements. [Our Sages interpreted Exodus 12:20,] which states: "Eat matzot in all of your settlements," [to imply that] only matzah that is fit to be eaten in all settlements may be used to fulfill one's obligation.
Loaves from the thanksgiving offering and cakes from the Nazirite offering, which an individual made for his personal use, may not be used to fulfill one's obligation, [as can be implied] from the statement [Exodus 12:17]: "And you shall watch the matzot." Matzah which is watched with the sole intention [that it be used to fulfill the mitzvah] of matzah may be used to fulfill one's obligation. However, this matzah is also watched with the intention of [being used for a] sacrifice. Those that were made to be sold in the marketplace, [the baker] has the intention that if they are not sold, he will eat them. Therefore, while he was making them he [also] watched for the sake of matzah.
All are obligated to [fulfill the mitzvah to] eat matzah, even women and slaves. A minor [old enough to eat bread] should be trained in [the fulfillment of] mitzvot and be given an olive's size of matzah to eat. [For] a sick or elderly person who cannot eat, we can soak a cake [of matzah] in water and feed it to him, provided it does not dissolve.
It is a Rabbinic ordinance that nothing at all is eaten after the matzah, not even roasted seeds, nuts, or the like. Rather, even though one ate matzah and afterwards, ate other foods, fruit, and the like, one returns and eats a second olive's size of matzah at the end [of the meal] and ceases [eating].
The Sages forbade a person from eating matzah on Pesach eve, in order for there to be a distinction between [partaking of it as food] and eating it on the evening [of the fifteen as a mitzvah.] Whoever eats matzah on Pesach eve is given "stripes for rebellion" until his soul expires.
Similarly, it is forbidden to eat on Pesach evening from slightly before the time of Minchah, in order that one will approach eating matzah with appetite. However, one may eat some fruit or vegetables, but should not fill up on them.
The Sages of the former generations would starve themselves on Pesach eve so that they would eat matzah with appetite, and thus hold the mitzvot as dear. In contrast, on the eve of Sabbaths or other festivals, one may continue eating until darkness.
Chometz U'Matzah - Chapter Seven
It is a positive commandment of the Torah to relate the miracles and wonders wrought for our ancestors in Egypt on the night of the fifteenth of Nisan, as [Exodus 13:3] states: "Remember this day, on which you left Egypt," just as [Exodus 20:8] states: "Remember the Sabbath day."
From where [is it derived that this mitzvah is to be fulfilled on] the night of the fifteenth? The Torah teaches [Exodus 13:8]: "And you shall tell your son on that day, saying: 'It is because of this...'"FS" [implying that the mitzvah is to be fulfilled] when matzah and maror are placed before you.
[The mitzvah applies] even though one does not have a son. Even great Sages are obligated to tell about the Exodus from Egypt. Whoever elaborates concerning the events which occurred and took place is worthy of praise.
It is a mitzvah to inform one's sons even though they do not ask, as [Exodus 13:8] states: "You shall tell your son."
A father should teach his son according to the son's knowledge: How is this applied? If the son is young or foolish, he should tell him: "My son, in Egypt, we were all slaves like this maidservant or this slave. On this night, the Holy One, Blessed be He, redeemed us and took us out to freedom."
If the son is older and wise, he should inform him what happened to us in Egypt and the miracles wrought for us by Moses, our teacher; everything according to the son's knowledge.
He should make changes on this night so that the children will see and will [be motivated to] ask: "Why is this night different from all other nights?" until he replies to them: "This and this occurred; this and this took place."
What changes should be made? He should give them roasted seeds and nuts; the table should be taken away before they eat; matzot should be snatched from each other and the like.
When a person does not have a son, his wife should ask him. If he does not have a wife, [he and a colleague] should ask each other: "Why is this night different?" This applies even if they are all wise. A person who is alone should ask himself: "Why is this night different?"
One must begin [the narrative describing our ancestors'] base [roots] and conclude with [their] praise. What does this imply? One begins relating how originally, in the age of Terach, our ancestors denied [God's existence] and strayed after vanity, pursuing idol worship. One concludes with the true faith: how the Omnipresent has drawn us close to Him, separated us from the gentiles, and drawn us near to His Oneness.
Similarly, one begins by stating that we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and [describing] all the evil done to us, and concludes with the miracles and wonders that were wrought upon us, and our freedom.
This [implies] that one should extrapolate [the passage beginning] from [Deuteronomy 26:5]: "An Aramean sought to destroy my ancestor..." until one concludes the entire passage. Whoever adds and extends his extrapolation of this passage is praiseworthy.
Whoever does not mention these three matters on the night of the fifteenth has not fulfilled his obligation. They are: the Paschal sacrifice, matzah, and maror.
The Paschal sacrifice: [It is eaten] because the Omnipresent passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt as [Exodus 12:27] states: "And you shall say: 'It is the Paschal sacrifice to God.'"FS"
The bitter herbs: [They are eaten] because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Egypt.
The matzah: [It is eaten] because of the redemption. These statements are all referred to as the Haggadah.
In each and every generation, a person must present himself as if he, himself, has now left the slavery of Egypt, as [Deuteronomy 6:23] states: "He took us out from there." Regarding this manner, God commanded in the Torah: "Remember that you were a slave [Deuteronomy 5:15]" - i.e., as if you, yourself, were a slave and went out to freedom and were redeemed.
Therefore, when a person feasts on this night, he must eat and drink while he is reclining in the manner of free men. Each and every one, both men and women, must drink four cups of wine on this night. [This number] should not be reduced. Even a poor person who is sustained by charity should not have fewer than four cups. The size of each of these cups should be a quarter [of a log].
Even one of Israel's poor should not eat until he [can] recline. A woman need not recline. If she is an important woman, she must recline. [Even] a son in the presence of his father or an attendant in the presence of his master must recline. However, a student before his teacher should not recline unless his teacher grants him permission.
Reclining on one's right side is not considered reclining. Neither is reclining on one's back or forwards.
When must one recline? when eating the כזית of matzah and when drinking these four cups of wine. While eating and drinking at other times: if one reclines, it is praiseworthy; if not, there is no requirement.
These four cups [of wine] should be mixed with water so that drinking them will be pleasant. [The degree to which they are mixed] all depends on the wine and the preference of the person drinking. [Together,] these four [cups] should contain at least a quarter [of a log] of pure wine.
A person who drank these four cups from wine which was not mixed [with water] has fulfilled the obligation to drink four cups of wine, but has not fulfilled the obligation to do so in a manner expressive of freedom.
A person who drank these four cups of wine mixed [with water] at one time has fulfilled the obligation to drink wine in a manner expressive of freedom, but has not fulfilled the obligation of four cups of wine.
A person who drank the majority [of the cup] from each of these [four] cups has fulfilled his obligation.
On each of these four cups, one recites a blessing of its own. In addition:
On the first cup, one recites the kiddush pertaining to the day;
On the second cup, one reads the Haggadah;
On the third cup, one recites the grace after meals;
On the fourth cup, one concludes the Hallel and recites the blessing for songs [of praise].
Between these cups, should one desire to drink, one may. Between the third and the fourth cup, one should not drink.
The charoset is a mitzvah ordained by the words of the Sages, to commemorate the clay with which [our forefathers] worked in Egypt. How is it made?
We take dates, dried figs, or raisins and the like, and crush them, add vinegar to them, and mix them with spices, as clay is mixed into straw. This is placed on the table on [the first two] nights of Pesach.
According to the Torah, the eating of bitter herbs is not a mitzvah in its own right, but rather is dependent on the consumption of the Paschal sacrifice. It is one positive commandment to eat the meat of the Paschal sacrifice together with matzah and bitter herbs. According to the words of the Sages, [it is a mitzvah] to eat the bitter herbs alone on this night even if there is no Paschal sacrifice.
The bitter herbs referred to by the Torah are Romaine lettuce, endives, horseradish, date ivy, wormwood. All of these five species of vegetable are called maror. If a person ate a כזית of any one of these [species] or of all five [species] combined, he has fulfilled his obligation.
This applies while they are still moist. One may fulfill one's obligation with their stem even if it is dry. One cannot fulfill one's obligation if they are boiled, pickled, or cooked.
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–Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (1789-1866)