Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

Can I Have Gluten-Free Matzah on Passover?

Can I Have Gluten-Free Matzah on Passover?

 Email

Note: Due to current confusion and misconception, we must stress that rice or potato matzah is not acceptable for the seder. Matzah for the seder must contain one of the grains mentioned below.

On Passover eve we are commanded to eat matzah, a thin cracker-like bread, in remembrance of the matzah that our forefathers ate when they left Egypt.1 While this matzah can be made out of flour from any of the five grains2 (wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats), the famed codifier of Jewish law, Rabbi Moshe Isserles, writes that the custom is to specifically use wheat flour for the matzah.3

(Note: Baking Kosher for Passover matzah at home would be extremely complicated, expensive and time-consuming. Before proceeding, one should consult a rabbinical authority knowledgeable in these laws. For this reason, there are few families who would venture to baking them at home.)

According to most opinions, the reason behind the custom is that wheat is considered to be the most special of the five grains, since the majority of people prefer it. However, if wheat cannot be used, then one should make matzah out of one of the other four types of grain.4

Others, however, maintain that the reason for the preference of wheat matzah has to do with the fact that other grains have a different leavening process and become chametz, leavened bread, faster; nevertheless, they would agree that in a situation where wheat flour cannot be eaten, one of the other four grains can be used.5

In light of the above, if one has an issue specifically with the consumption of wheat, one should preferably use spelt matzah, as spelt is considered a species of wheat.6 However, if someone has a problem with gluten in general, things get a bit more complicated.

(Note: It is best to use shmurah matzah, which contains wheat and flour that has been watched from the time it is harvested so that no water would come in contact with it. If it is difficult to obtain shmurah matzah for the entire Passover, you should make every effort to at least have it for the first two nights of Passover.)

Oat Matzah

Of the five grains suitable for making matzah, oats7 by far have the lowest gluten content. Because of this, in recent years some have started making matzah out of oat flour. To make these matzahs, they cultivated special breeds of oats that were known to be particularly low in gluten. At one point a small patch of gluten-free oats was found in Scotland, and they cultivated them to make “gluten-free matzah.”

The issue with oats is that, unlike the other four grains, in order to store them, the oats have to be treated with heat. When one of the five grains is treated with heat, it can no longer become leaven,8 which is problematic in terms of fulfilling the requirement to eat matzah (see footnote at length).9

In light of this, contemporary rabbinic authorities rule that in a situation where using one of the other grains poses a serious health risk, one should only use oat matzah that was treated with heat before it was stored.10 Therefore, it is important to ascertain whether someone’s issue is simply gluten intolerance, celiac disease, or a true allergy, as these conditions vary significantly.

However, recently on the market are gluten-free oat shmurah matzahs. Instead of storing and treating the oats with heat, they bake the matzah immediately after harvesting the oats. It would seem then that these matzahs are free from the above-mentioned concern that the mixture would not be susceptible to become leaven. However, it is still preferable to use wheat flour when possible.11

Footnotes
2.

The Code of Jewish Law, Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chayim 453:1.

3.

Shulchan Aruch, ibid; Shulchan Aruch Harav 453:2; Mishnah Berurah 453: 2.

4.

See Shulchan Aruch Harav and Mishnah Berurah, ibid.

5.

Rabbi Shalom Mordechai Hakohen Schwadron, Maharsham, in a gloss to Orchos Chayim 453:2 and Reponsa Levushei Mordechain 2:148, Choshev Hoefod 3:9. See however Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss in Minchat Yitzchak 9:49 where he writes that since the other grains have a different leavening process, and most of the guidelines about making matzah found in the Code of Jewish Law pertain only to matzah made out of wheat, we don’t have sufficient guidelines on making matzah out of one of the other grains, and therefore even in situations where wheat is not available, one needs to do one’s utmost to obtain wheat. He writes that the same would apply to one for whom eating a small amount of wheat once a year does not cause any serious harm; they too should use matzah made out of wheat. He would however agree that someone with celiac disease, for whom the consumption of wheat can cause serious harm, can use an alternative grain. See Responsa Shraga Hameir 5:8 where he quotes a personal communication from Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss.

6.

Talmud Pesachim 35a. See Rabbi Moshe Shik, Maharam shik Al Taryag Mitzvot, Mitzvah 10 where he quotes Rabbi Moshe Sofer, the Chatam Sofer, that one should try to refrain from making matzah out of barley as it can lead to forgetfulness.

7.

Although some in recent years have challenged the translation of shibolet shual (Heb. שבולת שועל) as oats, this article follows the overwhelming majority opinion (based on the commentary by Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, Rashi, on Talmud Pesachim 35a, that oats are indeed one of the five grains. Rashi, in his French translation, uses the word aveine/avoin, which is close to the Latin word for oats, avena sativa).

One of the arguments against oats being one of the five grains is that they did not grow in Israel. This assertion has been refuted by Dr. Mordechai Kislev in Sefer Hayovel, Mincha L’ish (p. 155-168, 179-85). An additional claim is that oats many times do not contain gluten (something that the others grains contain). However, others have noted that what the five grains have in common is not necessarily gluten; rather it is that they all contain beta-amylase, which allows the fermentation to occur before the proteases cause the grain to become rancid. This last point is important since the Talmud lists as one of the similarities between the five grains (as opposed to other grains) the fact that they can become leaven (chametz), while other grains become rancid. Further discussion of whether oats are one of the five grains in well beyond the scope of this article.

8.

Talmud, Pesachim 39b-40a.

9.

The Talmud expounds on the verse (Deuteronomy 16:3), “You shall not eat leaven with it [the Passover offering]; for seven days you shall eat with it matzah….” From the juxtaposition of the prohibition of eating leaven with the command to eat matzah, we learn that a person can only fulfill the obligation to eat matzah on Passover with matzah made out of grains that become leaven when left to rise (Talmud, Pesachim, ibid).This excludes types of flour which do not become leaven, rather, they become spoiled, i.e., although it may appear as if the dough is rising, it is not due to a process of leavening, rather, it is due to a process of spoilage.

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, Maimonides, explains that the Talmud is merely providing the criteria for which species of grain are acceptable for fulfilling the obligation to eat matzah on Passover night, but there is no requirement that the specific grain used for making this matzah needs to have been able to become leaven (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Chametz Umatzah 6:5; See Maggid Mishneh and Lechem Mishneh, ad loc). According to this, using oats for the matzah would not be a problem.

However, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, Nachmanides, explains that the Talmud was giving a specific requirement that the mixture of grain and liquid used for the matzah must be susceptible to become leaven; if not, one cannot use that matzah to fulfill the obligation on Passover night (Milchemet Hashem on Talmud Pesachim 10b). Based on this, it would seem that one cannot use oats that were treated with heat to make matzah, since these oats are no longer susceptible to become leaven.

Rabbi Abraham Abele Gombiner (1635 –1682) as well as Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi rule in accordance with the stricter opinion that the mixture of grain and liquid used for the matzah must be susceptible to become leaven (See Magen Avraham 454:1 and 471:1; Pri Megadim, Mishbetzot Zehav, 461:2, Shulchan Aruch Harav 462:1. See also the Rebbe, Rabbi Menchem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, Hagadah Shel Pesach Im Lekutei Taamin Uminhagim, vol. 2, p. 397-99).

10.

Rabbi Avraham Danzig (Chayei Adam) in Nishmat Adam, Pesach 15; Rabbi Shmuel (HaLevi) Wosner in Shevet Halevi 9:117:4 .

11.

This article is largely based on an article in Sappirim published by the Chicago Rabbinical Council, CRC.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
29 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous Israel April 6, 2017

I am allergic to gluten and also have a problem with the 4 glasses of wine or grape-juice, as I cannot tolerate more than half a glass of wine or grape-juice, as alcohol and the sugar in the grape juice make me ill. So what am I meant to do? Funnily enough, the best part of the seder food for me are the bitter herbs and greens! Reply

Yehuda Shurpin (Author) April 6, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

As explained in the article, there is acceptable gluten-free oat Matzah that one can use for the Passover Seder.

With regards to wine or grape juice, while ideally, one should drink most of the cup (regardless of how large it is), if one has problems drinking too much, then they should try at the very least to drink at least a bit more than 1.5 oz for the first three cups and 3 oz for the fourth cup. Reply

Anonymous ATLANTA March 20, 2017

Oats Do Not Contain Gluten I just wanted to correct your understanding on oats. Oats do not contain gluten. The concern is that oats are frequently grown near gluten containing grains and are therefore contaminated. Gluten free oats are oats that are grown apart from other gluten containing grains which eliminates the contamination risk. Some celiacs (less than 1%) do react to a protein called avenins that are present within oats. This is a very small minority of people and not true for the majority of people who cannot consume gluten. Reply

Leah Lieber Brooklyn March 1, 2017

There is a store in Brooklyn I came across that carries a full line of Passover gluten free products it's an amazing store with great products they have a website as well Reply

Anonymous Boston March 27, 2015

As a person with celiac disease, life is difficult enough. Has anyone checked the price of a 10 oz box of G F matzoh, well I did, and had to pay 6.99 for 1 box.
You can buy the 5 pounds package from 5 to 8 dollars.
I feel that we are being taken advantage of, every product that is labeled G F is overly priced.
Once my 10 oz box of matzoh is consumed, I will return to my G F rice cakes. They are mad with rice, and I don't see why they should not be ok.
Those are my thoughts on the matter. Reply

Jeff Atlanta via chabadofalabama.com May 29, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Yes, it's expensive. Yes, GF products are over-priced. They are (usually) more expensive to make, but they have a higher profit margin as well, which is why so many companies are coming out with GF foods. I also resent getting "ripped off" for food, and so try to avoid buying any food that is made specially gluten-free.

On the other hand, it is very expensive and time-consuming to make gluten-free oat matzohs, and I understand that the makers need to make a profit, or they won't continue to keep making it. So I pay the (ridiculously high) price of GF matzah, and get enough (only) for the Seders and Shabbos.

Since I find the oat matzo's taste very objectionable, it detracts from my simchas yom tov to eat it, so I skip it during chol haMoed.

Rice cakes are another problem. If you're Sephardi and your minhag is to eat kitniyos during Pesach, and you can find rice cakes with a Pesach hechsher, then good for you. Otherwise they're prohibited during Pesach: stick to meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Reply

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin via mychabad.org March 16, 2015

Re: Rice matzo for celiacs First, It is not at all clear that “Orez” is actually rice. While it is true that some hold that you make Mezonot on rice eaten outside of a meal, the Shulchan Aruch harav holds that if you eat rice not as part of a meal, you make the blessing of Shehakol (not Mezonot) since we don’t actual know that “Orez” is indeed rice. So even "IF" the Halacha was like Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri, it is not clear that by eating rice you would actually be following his opinion...

Second, the reason why an individual or minority opinion is cited in the Mishnah or Talmud is not because we necessarily rely on it in extenuating circumstances. The Mishnah (Eduyot 1:6) states that the reason the minority opinions were included in the Mishnah was that, should a person claim, “I have heard a different tradition from my teachers,” we would be able to point to the Mishnah and say, “perhaps what you have heard was the opinion of so-and-so.”

Third, while it is true that in certain situation and disagreements we can rely on a minority opinion in extenuating circumstances, this would not hold true in the case of Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion, for the Talmud itself states (Pesachim 114b) that” no one is concerned for the ruling of Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri.”

Lastly, thankfully, In recent years it has become increasingly easier to get oat- gluten-free shemura matazah (you can even order it online), so while those with celiac still face a challenge, it is much easier for them to fulfill the Mitzvah of eating Matzah on Passover.
Reply

Nathan Zook Washington, US March 12, 2015

Confused by these comments I am really confused by these comments. The only commandments that supercede the commandment to live are the prohbitions against idolatry, audultery, and murder. Acts which seriously affect ones health are included here. Therefore, for one with serious intolerance to gluten, the commandment to eat matzah at the seder yields to the commandment to live. Such a person is simply exempt from the commandment. (And sins if they eat.) The rabbi is assuming that a person who is considering the use of oats can tolerate the level of gluten found in the (USDA-acceptable) gluten-free oat matzah, and describing the halachic issues surrounding its use. I appreciate the article, as it raises a new issue for me.

Now, what to do about the fact that the oat matzah followed by wine is extremely bitter. Reply

David Mason March 1, 2015

rice matzo for celiacs Why not say that if no other matzo was available, a celiac could rely on Yohanan b Nuri's opinion in Pesachim 35a that rice is chametz? It's a minority opinion, but minority opinions are recorded for times of need. Reply

Helen Vancouver, BC January 7, 2015

I agree with Louise. As an example of a major change in interpretation, look at the new ways this shmita year is being circumvented in Israel. There must be change; the only other choice is that we all live like Hutterites, never moving forward. (Apologies to any Hutterites reading this).

I'm celiac and I keep kosher . My meals at my table, no matter what the holiday are always gluten free, including, especially, Pesach. It can be done! Reply

Louise Kavadlo Richmond Hill,Ny 11418 December 27, 2014

Rice cakes as a matzo substitute on Passover Kohser/Kashrut laws were written more thn 2000 years ago. Things change. I feel that if eating matzo will compromise a erson's health for whatever reason, then rice cakes should be allowed as a substitute for matzoes.rice cakes are gluten-free and leavening-free. Reply

Anonymous via chabadofalabama.com May 29, 2017
in response to Louise Kavadlo:

I feel that since I have a really fast car, and since the highways don't have sharp curves, I should be allowed to drive over 100 miles an hour.

What would the Traffic Court judge say when I stated that?

Why do you think the law should yield to your feeling?

It's less bad to not have matzo at all than to eat something prohibited instead of it, don't you think?

Please notice I keep saying "think", not "feel". The great curse of the modern world is the people think it's OK to make decisions based on their feelings. (You should consider other peoples' feelings, not make decisions based solely on yours.) Reply

Anonymous North Gates, NY October 28, 2014

Deadly gluten allergy G-d commands us to celebrate Passover. How could G-d punish a person who has an allergy to gluten, meaning one cannot consume wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt? G-d created me with this deadly allergy. In ancient times I would have died. Are not allergists, doctors, created by G-d? It seems Jewish leaders need to realize many people who suffer from gluten allergies or from Celiac disease have no choice. Is it not true, if the fetus of a baby creates a deadly situation for the mother it is okay to abort the baby in order to save the mothers life? Jewish leaders have become too legalistic, instead these leaders should embrace people with food allergies. To say we have to eat wheat during Passover for people who have wheat allergies or Celiac disease discriminates against fellow Jews. Reply

Anonymous Daisytown April 14, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

On the same note, if a celiac woman is pregnant, eating any amount of gluten risks the life of her baby. Many people don't know they have a gluten issue and end up miscarrying or having stillborn babies. If someone already knows this is an issue for them (i.e. it happened to them before or they've already discovered their gluten issue), wouldn't it be murder to ignore their health condition and eat it anyway?

Love is the most important commandment.

My 3 year old can't eat gluten or she gets violently ill for a week if she eats even a little. It would be insanely cruel to feed her something I knew would make her sick like that. (In the meantime, we're working on gut healing so maybe one day she can eat wheat products without getting sick).

God is far more concerned about our hearts.

You know, God also told us not to genetically modify food (not in those words, because it didn't exist yet). Most wheat is GMO... so, it makes sense that it should be organic, GMO-free wheat too. Reply

Gershon KS September 30, 2014

To Louise As Rabbi Shurpin writes in the article, matzah is--by definition--made from grain flour and water. Rice is not a grain in the traditional Jewish view. Hence, rice cakes would not be matzah. Sure, they would not be leavened, but then neither do carrots or apples. Reply

Louise Kavadlo NY September 29, 2014

If a person has a gluten-intolerance such as Celiac disease, why can't s/he use rice cakes instead of matzo on Passover? They have no leavening. Reply

Helen April 20, 2014

Yehuda and Manischewich gluten free matzoh are allowed to be labelled gluten free as the gluten content is within the official guidelines for celiacs in England, Canada & the U.S. Individuals may be more or less affected by ingesting gluten, and is a matter totally separate from certified GF certification labelling.

Luckily for those adamant that foods used during Pesach be labelled as such, both of the above-mentioned products have been given a kosher for Pesach certification as well as the GF certification.

Finally, there is probably, in my humble opinion, no reason at all why other certified GF products that also carry a kosher certification cannot be used at Pesach other than the manufacturers have seen no benefit to paying an additional fee to have the right to include the words "kosher for Pesach" on their products. I assure you, though, as a celiac who also keeps kosher, the year round kosher gluten free products are no less kosher or gluten free during the 8 days of Pesach. Reply

Anonymous via chabadofalabama.com May 29, 2017
in response to Helen:

I hope you know that those matzos are not actually matzos, and cannot be used for the Seder. If you make a blessing of either "al achilas matzah" or "hamotzi" on those, it's an invalid bracha, since they're not made from oats. If you look on the box, it will say so (but not obviously enough, obviously). Oat matzo is much more expensive, and nasty-tasting, besides. I feel close to G-d when I eat it, because I know that G-d understands that the only reason I'd eat it is because He wants me to. Reply

mark December 7, 2013

way too inflexible I have faith and belief in God. But, reading this article is an example of why I have an issue with many of those who practice Judaism and many of those that practice Islam. This inflexibility in addressing contemporary issues while expecting believers to follow what was followed 2000 years ago. I don't believe for one second God is taking notes and saying "that person ate gluten free product during seder, not good". I seriously doubt that. It's much like how I heard muslims whining about the goodness of eating with the right hand. I mean it becomes downright absurd and when you step back and see it for what it is, it comes across as a form of madness. Faith is organic and yes, there are rituals that are followed, but at the same time those rituals adapt and change with the society and times in order to address the needs of the people of that time. the needs of the people in 2013 America is a far cry from the needs of the people of the middle east of 2000 years ago. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI May 1, 2013

Yes You Can! Manischewitz and Yehuda are best known for gluten free Passover products! Reply

Anonymous Glendale, CA April 29, 2013

Celiac Disease? People with Celiac Disease cannot have even a speck of gluten for medical reasons, and that includes products made with oats. Any exposure to gluten flattens the villi lining their small intestine and has serious health effects. Surely there must be accommodations in our tradition for cases such as this, when health would be compromised by religious observance, just as pregnant mothers and people with health issues are exempt from fasting. Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org March 20, 2013

Re: The 5 grains The verse in Deuteronomy 16:3 states, “You shall not eat leaven with it [the Passover offering]; for seven days you shall eat with it matzah….” From the juxtaposition of the prohibition of eating leaven with the command to eat matzah, we learn (Talmud Pesachim 39b-40a) that a person can only fulfill the obligation to eat matzah on Passover with matzah made out of grains that can become leaven when left to rise. What the five grains (as opposed to other grains) share is the fact that they can become leaven (chametz), while other grains become rancid. Reply

TONYA Calgary March 19, 2013

The 5 grains Okay, my question never got answered? Where in Scriptures does it state the 5 grains that are ONLY considered for Matzah? We have to be careful what we add to Torah. There is nowhere in Scripture that an egg is commandment for Passover either and what an abomination and paganistic to add it to a Seder plate. So please advise where in Torah that is states specific 5 grains for the Passover bread? Reply

Freyja USA March 18, 2013

Gluten free Matzah I am not Rabbinical but Biblical and yes, I do plan to have Gluten Free Matzah even if I have to make it myself...I cannot have Matzah that has gluten...it is what it is and originally the wheat was called emer which is a non gluten ancient wheat which you can get from a farm that is both organic and kosher out of WA State just google in Emer wheat for sale. Reply

Anonymous kitchener, Ontario April 5, 2012

wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats all have gluten in them so someone who has to be gluten free can not eat these. some people are able to eat oats that have been certified to not have any other of the gluten containing grains in them. I am wondering where I can buy gluten free Matzah. I even make sure my skin and hair care has not gluten in it so I can not just go a head and eat it. Reply

Related Topics