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Question: Now that we are doing our pre-Passover shopping, I notice in many of the kosher sections of the supermarket packaged products that are marked “non-gebrockts.” Perusing the travel pages of The Jewish Press, I also noticed that many of the caterers at the Passover hotels advertise that they are “Non-Gebrockts.” Could you please throw some light on this current trend?

M. Schwartz
Via e-mail



Synopsis: Last week, we focused on the concept that a wife adopts her husband’s customs after marriage, whether they are more stringent or more lenient than her former practices, just as an individual who moves to a new city accepts the prevalent customs of his new location. We defined what constitutes matzah sheruya (gebrockts), and noted that the elderly who cannot deal with hard matzah may definitely use matzah soaked in water.

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Answer: Rabbi Yosef Grossman explains in his Otzar Erchei HaYahadut (p. 297): “Matzah sheruya is matzah that, after having been baked, is soaked or comes in contact with water in some other manner.” He notes that some follow the tradition to not eat matzah soaked in either water or soup, but do not apply that stringency to milk or fruit juice. Outside the Land of Israel there is a leniency regarding the eighth day of Passover (which is the additional day of the festival observed in the Diaspora). Even those who are scrupulous about matzah sheruya are lenient in this regard on the eighth day.

He points out that the custom of not eating matzah sheruya has no basis in halacha, since matzah that has been baked cannot ferment and result in prohibited chametz; even so, Chassidim are very careful not to eat matzah sheruya, and they are also careful not to use any utensils that have contained soaked matzah.

Rabbi Grossman concludes that one may not override customs embraced for many generations by one’s forefathers without a she’elat chacham (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 228:1).

Similarly, the author of Likkutei Mahariach cites Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Spira’s Derech Pikudecha (Mitzvat Lo Ta’aseh 12), which states that any matters of stringency (chumrot) above and beyond the [halachic] requirements accepted on Passover do not have to be observed on the eighth day of Passover, for by insisting on these stringencies the erroneous inference may be drawn that any leniency would result in absolute chametz that is biblically forbidden. It is not proper to cast aspersions on a large segment of Israel by suggesting (even merely through well-meaning actions) that they are careless in their observance of the prohibitions of chametz. Thus, many have a custom on the eighth day to eat matzah that is not shemura (i.e., matzah made from wheat that was not under constant supervision from the time of the actual cutting of the wheat), which many avoid during the first seven days of Passover. They do, of course, take care not to violate any real prohibition of chametz on that day.

We do see some support for a halachic basis of the custom to avoid matzah sheruya (gebrockts) in the responsa of the Ba’al HaTanya, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. At the end of Vol. 4 of his Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Responsum 6) he states: “I have seen at times matzah that has on it bits of [unbaked] flour, because the dough is hard and has not been properly kneaded. This could result in a biblical violation [should it come into contact with water, providing a basis for the custom to avoid eating soaked matzah] … yet I would not come out against those of the general populace who are lenient in this matter, as they have upon whom to rely…”

Finally, we quote from Nefesh HaRav by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Kollel of R.I.E.T.S. This book represents the views of his rebbe, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Rabbi Schachter writes (p. 188) that though mitnagdim [as opposed to Chassidim] are not accustomed to refrain from eating matzah sheruya on Passover, the Beit Halevi [Rabbi Yitzhak Zeev Soloveichik] and after him his son, Rabbi Chaim Soloveichik, were both careful to refrain from eating matzah sheruya on the first day of Passover because of Rambam’s ruling [in Hilchot Chametz U’Matza] that one should not eat matzah ashira on the first day of Passover, even when not eating it for the specific purpose of mitzvat matzah at the Seder (that is, beyond the three matzot of mitzvat matzah). Cooked matzah is likened to matzah ashira in this regard, and this stringency is a tradition handed down by Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin.

Thus, though we do find a halachic basis for stringency regarding gebrockts, every person should follow his family’s minhag. In the merit of our diligent study and observance of mitzvot, may Hashem bless us all with the ultimate redemption, speedily in our days.


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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.