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Matzot Mitzvah - Baking Matza on the Day Before Pesach

Matzot Mitzvah - Baking Matza on the Day Before Pesach

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Out of special love for the commandments, there are those who bake special Matzot on the day before Passover, even though they have already prepared sufficient Matzot for use on Passover and were careful to do so with concern for every detail of the laws.

These special Matzot are referred to as Matzot mitzvah, the three Matzot that will be used for the Seder. These Matzot are baked after the sixth hour of the day [some say after six and a half hours].

Since one is forbidden to derive any benefit from chametz at this time, extreme care must be taken to ensure that there is not even a remote possibility that the Matzot might become chametz.

These Matzot are baked in the afternoon to commemorate the Passover offering which was slaughtered and prepared after midday on the fourteenth of Nissan.

Meticulous care is taken when baking these Matzot. The process begins on the previous evening when water is drawn and left to stand overnight. The water is filtered and stored in a cool place to be used for the baking the next day.

As midday of the fourteenth of Nissan approaches, the oven to be used for baking these special Matzot is heated to half strength. Flour from shemurah wheat, guarded from the time of reaping, is brought in and a quantity sufficient to obligate one to separate challah is mixed with the water that had been left to stand overnight.

Some people have a tradition of mixing less than the quantity that would obligate the separation of challah.

Optimally, one person should add the water, one should knead the dough, one should roll it out and cut it, one should perforate the dough and take it to the oven, and one person should bake it into matzah. In any case, at least three people should work together to ensure that the matzah is baked quickly before it has a chance to become chametz.

None of the work undertaken to prepare Matzot mitzvah should be performed by a person who is not obligated by the Torah in the performance of mitzvot.

At every stage, from the drawing of the water through the baking, everyone engaged in the preparation should say that he is working "for the sake of Matzot mitzvah". While the dough is being kneaded, one should declare that "any crumbs that may fall from this dough or that stick to the utensils are hereby declared ownerless."

The purpose of this declaration is to render any crumbs, which might become chametz, as ownerless while the dough is not chametz and is still in the possession of the people baking the Matzot.

As soon as the first batch of dough is finished, the tables and all of the utensils used for preparation are thoroughly scoured and cleaned to make sure that there are no crumbs which could become chametz remaining on them.

Crumbs or pieces of dough which might have fallen are swept up and discarded before the preparation of the next batch of dough. This procedure is repeated each time a new batch of dough is prepared for baking.

It is customary to sing Hallel while baking the Matzot mitzvah, to remind us that the Passover sacrifice, offered after midday on the fourteenth of Nissan, was brought to the accompaniment of Hallel.

Some early authorities write that the three Matzot mitzvah prepared for use at the Seder should be made from a quantity of flour which would require the separation of challah [1,680 grams].

Most communities do not follow this custom, for using that quantity of flour would mean baking thick Matzot. In fact, they take great care to ensure that the Matzot are thin and baked as quickly as possible.

When the Matzot have been baked, they are placed together and covered with a cloth, and challah is separated. It is preferable to bring the Matzot home and allow one's wife to separate challah, for this mitzvah is specifically hers.

If the husband separated challah without his wife's permission, the Sages ruled that he should pay her ten gold coins as compensation for having "stolen" her mitzvah.

Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, OBM, was one of Israel's most acclaimed religious authors, whose books on the Jewish way of life and the Chassidic movement have become renowned. Text translated from the Hebrew by Nachman Bulman and Dovid Landseman.
Excerpted from: The Book of Our Heritage. Published and copyright by Feldheim Publications.
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Vera Kinsey March 17, 2014

Is what you can eat in the Seder meal described in scripture anywhere and if so where? What do you eat in the feast of the unleaven bread? Reply

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