Matzo (also spelled "matzah") is unleavened bread made from just flour and water and baked before it has a chance to rise. It is eaten on Passover eve, at the center of the Seder celebration.

It is strongly recommended to use handmade, round shmurah matzah to fulfill this commandment.

The Matzo Recipe

Matzo is made out of just two ingredients, flour and water, which are carefully kept apart until the moment they are mixed and kneaded together. From that moment, the baking is done quickly, and the dough is baked before it has a chance to rise and become chametz, which is forbidden on Passover.

By definition, the matzo we eat at the Seder is lechem oni, "bread of poverty." If it contains other ingredients, the matzo is considered "rich" and not valid for the mitzvah. In addition, there is fear that the added ingredients may hasten the leavening process and render the product chametz.

Read: Is Egg Matzah Kosher For Passover?

When and How to Eat Matzo

Matzo is eaten three times during the Seder (which is held on the first two nights of Passover (just the first night in Israel):

  1. After telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt (Maggid), washing our hands for bread (Rachtzah) and reciting the blessings (Motzi Matzo), 1¾ ounces of matzo are eaten. (See instructions below.)
  2. For the sandwich (Korech), ¾ of an ounce of matzo is eaten.
  3. For the afikoman at the end of the meal (Tzafun), a minimum of ¾ of an ounce (and ideally 1½ ounces) of matzo are eaten.

In each instance, the matzo should be eaten within 4 minutes.

How much is one ounce of matzo? Half a piece of shmurah matzo is generally equal to one ounce.

Before the onset of the holiday, weigh of the box of matzot. Divide the weight by the amount of pieces in the box, and you'll know how much you need to eat.

A boy holds up a round, whole matzah (not photographed on the holiday) - Photo: Flash90
A boy holds up a round, whole matzah (not photographed on the holiday)
Photo: Flash90

Instructions and Texts for Eating Matzo

At your kitchen sink, fill a cup with water, and pour three times on your right hand and three times on your left. Then say the following blessing:

Blessed are You, G‑d, our L‑rd, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the washing of hands.

Pick up your matzo in your right hand and say the following two blessings:

Blessed are You, G‑d, our L‑rd, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Blessed are You, G‑d, our L‑rd, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the eating of matzo.

Eat the matzo while reclining to your left, in the manner of ancient nobility.

The full Seder procedure (including the other two times matzo is eaten) can be found in a Haggadah.

Shmurah matzah can now be found on supermarket shelves throughout North America.
Shmurah matzah can now be found on supermarket shelves throughout North America.

Matzo, the “Food of Faith”

When our forefathers left Egypt, they were in such a hurry that there was no time to wait for the dough to rise. They therefore ate matzo, unleavened bread. With only this food (but with great faith), our ancestors relied on the Almighty to provide sustenance for the entire Jewish nation—men, women and children. Each year, to remember this, we eat matzo on the first two nights of Pesach, thereby fulfilling the Torah’s commandment, “Matzot shall you eat . . . (Exodus 12:15)

Matzo: The Humblest of Foods

Matzo symbolizes faith. In contrast to leavened bread, matzo is not enriched with oil, honey or other substances. It consists only of flour and water, and is not allowed to rise. Similarly, the only “ingredients” for faith are humility and submission to G‑d, which come from recognizing our “nothingness” when compared with the infinite wisdom of the Creator.

Please note: Making matzo is extremely complex and very difficult to do properly at home.