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The Difference Between Shmurah Matzah and Regular Matzah

The Difference Between Shmurah Matzah and Regular Matzah


It is a mitzvah that the Passover matzot be made specifically for the purpose of fulfilling the obligation to eat matzot on Passover, as the verse (Exodus, 12:17) states: You shall guard the matzot. The matzah must be guarded to ensure that it does not become chametz; matzah which was not guarded may not be used on Passover.

How do we "guard" the matzah used on Passover?

From the time that the wheat is taken to the mill to be ground into flour, it is kept under careful supervision to make sure that it does not come into contact with water or other moisture. We check it to ensure that the wheat is clean and whole. 

The grinding, packing, and transporting of the wheat from the mill to the bakery is done under close supervision, to ensure that the ground wheat does not come into contact with water, and all of the utensils used for processing the wheat must be clean and dry. 

The wheat is not baked on the same day on which it was ground, for it is still warm from the processing and would therefore ferment and become chametz more rapidly. It is watched while it is being kneaded to ensure that this is not done near an oven or open window which is exposed to the sun, lest the dough become hot and ferment quickly. 

The water which is used to make the dough is also specially prepared and guarded. All the utensils and machinery used for preparing the matzos starting from the sifters used on the flour must be clean and smoothed every hour so that no crumbs from a previous batch of dough are mixed with a new batch. 

There are numerous other precautions which are to be observed while kneading and preparing the dough, and also regarding placing it into the oven to bake. The sole purpose of these measures is to fulfill the mitzvah of matzah.

Since ordinary matzah is guarded, in the manner which we have described, from the time that the wheat is ground, in what way does it differ from the matzah which we refer to as shmurah, guarded. Matzah shmurah refers to matzah made from wheat which is guarded from the time that it is harvested. Many authorities maintain that one can fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah on the first night of Passover only by using matzah shmurah.

What comprises the extra precautions in the "guarding" of shmurah matzah

The wheat is reaped before the sheaves have completely dried out, for once the wheat is completely dry, it does not draw water from the ground and if it becomes wet because of precipitation, it may ferment and become chametz even though it is still attached to the ground. The wheat kernels are carefully examined to make sure that there are no grains which have split or that are sprouting, and the harvest is carefully supervised to make sure that it does not become damp until it is ground into flour.

Most authorities maintain that it is sufficient to guard the wheat from the time it is ground, in order to use it to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah. Some authorities dispute this, however, and maintain that the wheat must be guarded from the time that it is harvested. 

Therefore, those who are very stringent in their observance of the mitzvot and on Passover this is more common than during the rest of the year are careful to use only matzot that have been guarded from the time of harvesting. 

Many people make a point of eating matzah shmurah at least at the Seder, on the first night of Passover, and outside the Land of Israel, on the second night as well, for it is then that there is an obligation to eat matzot. There is no obligation to eat matzah during the remaining days of Passover.

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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Discussion (19)
March 8, 2016
shmura matzah
where can one buy shmura flour to make the matzah?
April 30, 2015
Re: Matzah - מצות
That is understood to mean that if you want to eat bread, then matzah is the only bread that may be eaten. If you choose not to eat bread, that's fine too. But only on the first night is there an actual obligation to eat bread/matzah.
Eliezer Zalmanov
April 25, 2015
Matzah - מצות
Rabbi Eliyahu, I am confused by the last line of your article "
There is no obligation to eat matzah during the remaining days of Passover." What about all the times it is commanded to eat matzah for seven days? טו.שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ. Ex 12:15, 13:6, 13:7, Num 28:17, Dt 16:3, Further Torah states: תֹּאכְלוּ מַצֹּת עַד יוֹם הָאֶחָד וְעֶשְׂרִים לַחֹדֶשׁ בָּעָרֶב:, you shall eat unleavened cakes, until the twenty first day of the month in the evening.. Ex 12:18. When was this "obligation" changed and by whom?
Tim Puzak
Tijeras, New Mexico
April 28, 2014
Re: soft matzah
Soft matzah does not have a very long shelf life, so to have enough for the entire holiday we would need to continue baking during the holiday.

And because today we don't have ovens at home equipped to bake matzah at the correct temperatures to prevent it from becoming chametz, all matzah is baked commercially.
Eliezer Zalmanov
April 14, 2014
Why has it become customary to eat hard shmurah instead of soft (pita-like) shmurah, which is now widely available in Israel? Is hard matzah a relatively new minhag, and if so why and how did the custom change?
April 3, 2013
shmirah matzah
I think my question was answered by one of the brothers here. Shmirah matzah is round uneven and a little burnt in spots while machine made motzah is square. The shmirih motzah really brings out the originality of the Passover. Thanks allot for the answer.
Coralsprings FL.
April 1, 2013
You left out some significant differences
The shmurah matzah is hand-made and round, as opposed to machine-made and square. It tends to have uneven surfaces and edges, and is often a little burnt in places. I find the difference between shmurah and ordinary matzah to be like the difference between pizza made in an ordinary pizza oven and pizza made in a coal brick oven, which gives it an entirely different taste and texture. The whole experience makes it feel like you are eating matzo from the time of the first Passover!
Andrew Poretz
March 22, 2013
Gluten Free
Yes, there is a gluten free oat matzah, you can find it here
Mrs. Chana Benjaminson
March 22, 2013
shmura matzah
is there gluten free shmurah matzah?
i just tasted a piece of Whole Wheat Israeli Matzah. The brand name is OSEM. It is Kosher for Passover and all year round. This matzah is most definitely authentic. I have eaten several different brands of matzah. This particular brand of whole wheat matzah is one of the best I ever tasted.
saskatoon, saskatchewan, canada
March 21, 2013
Re: Mitzvah to eat Matah the whole Passover
Indeed, while there is no obligation to eat Matzah the rest of Passover, one does get a Mitzvah if they do so. This is further stressed by the many esoteric reasons behind the Matzah.
Yehuda Shurpin for
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