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Gebrokts - Matzah Soaked In Water On Pesach

Issues in Practical Halacha
Issue Number 14 - 19 Shevat, 5755
Compiled and Published by
Kollel Menachem - Lubavitch (Melbourne, Australia)
in the zechus of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
This article is not intended to decide halachic questions, but rather to clarify them in a clear and concise form. Please refer all your practical questions to your local Rabbi.

There are varying opinions and customs regarding eating matzo shruyo (matzo which has been soaked in water - "gebrokts") on Pesach. The following issues discussed:

Eating Matzo Which Has Been Wetted With Water

The Ra'avan [1] writes that baked matzo which is subsequently boiled may be eaten since it can never become chometz (leavened). He mentions that there are those who - based on what they saw from their forefathers - refrain from immersing their matzo in soup on the first night of Pesach. They mistakenly believe that the reason for this is that the matzo should not become chometz. The true reason of their ancestors was that one should have the simple taste of matzo on the first night of Pesach. Indeed, the Gemoro [2] states explicitly that amongst three things that can never become chometz is baked matzo which is subsequently immersed in water or cooked.

Similarly, the Rambam [3] and Shulchan Aruch [4] rule that while flour obtained from grinding a heated kernel of wheat may not be cooked in water, it is permitted with ground baked matzo.

The Pri Chodosh [5] and Chok Yaakov [6] state that the custom is to permit anything with baked matzo.

Rabbi Yaacov Emden [7] also rules that anything made from ground matzo is permitted and those who are strict in this regard can be ignored; above all, restrictions in this matter would detract from the joy of Yom Tov.

The Vilna Gaon permits cooking matzo and making kneidlach [8]. Even if we were worried that some flour - not kneaded into the dough mixture - remained in the matzo, nevertheless anything that has been in a hot oven - such as this flour at the time the matzo was baked - cannot become chometz.

The Chasam Sofer ate foods prepared from flour ground from baked matzo [9]; one student saw him eat two or three kneidlach after kiddush on Yom Tov during Pesach.

The Sha'arei Tshuva [11] explains that the custom not to eat matzo shruyo appears to have arisen during times when matzo tended to be very thick, and there was the concern that the centre may not have been fully baked. Nowadays that matzo is thin (and the flour is pre-dried in the oven) this concern does not apply. He also explains that even one who is stringent in this regard could still wet matzo and immediately eat it, for it would definitely not have sufficient time to become chometz - just as one may chew wheat and swallow it even though saliva could turn the wheat into chometz given enough time.

In spite of the above, there are numerous G-d fearing people nowadays who refrain from eating matzo shruyo. The reasons for this are outlined below.

The Trumos Hadeshen [12] writes, and so the Shulchan Aruch [13] rules, that if, when kneading the dough for matzo, the dough is too soft, one should not add flour to adjust the consistency, but rather make a new dough of a thicker consistency and add it to the original one. For if one were to mix dry flour with the existing dough, the flour might not be properly mixed in, and might not be fully baked. If this were indeed to happen, that part of the matzo might become chometz if placed in soup etc.

The Mogen Avrohom [14] goes even further to say that if this actually happened and bedi'eved (after the fact) - this matzo was put in soup - one would need to prohibit the contents. Since the flour within the matzo is protected from the fire by the matzo crust, one would have to allow for the possibility that flour inside would not be fully baked.

Based on this ruling of the Mogen Avrohom, the Machatzis Hashekel [15] writes that it is best to refrain from wetting, or cooking with, any matzo during Pesach, since sometimes (even if no flour was added during the kneading) the matzo is not kneaded adequately and some dry flour might remain inside.

In relation to the opinion of the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch (mentioned above) that it is permissible to cook using a flour ground from matzo, the Tur disagrees [16]. The Tur cites the Gemoro (Pesochim 40b) which states that when Rav Poppo permitted the bakers of the Reish Golusah to bake with ground matzo, Rava objected and ruled that it is not allowed. He reasoned that since there were servants in the Reish Golusah's household who were unscrupulous in their observance of the mitzvos, they might come to use "actual" flour in the Pesach cooking. The Gemoro continues that others say that Rava himself put some ground matzo into the cooking. The Tur cites the Gemoro - that it is forbidden to cook with ground up matzo where servants are present - to question those who permit cooking with ground matzo. As for the apparent contradiction to this from the second statement in the Gemoro, that Rava himself added ground matzo to the cooking, the Taz [17] explains that this is in fact in harmony with the first. It merely adds that Rava "in his own house", where there were no servants, permitted this.

The Chochmas Shlomo [18], further explains the Tur on this point as follows. Rav stated, and so is the halacha, that whenever the Rabbis issued a decree because of mar'is ho'ayin, the prohibition stands even "in one's innermost chamber [where no one can possibly see]". According to this, we prohibit the use of ground matzo even where it is not seen, and this is the implication of the question of the Tur. (Rava, however, was with those rabbis who disagree with Rav's ruling, and therefore permitted it where no servants were present.) The opinion of the Tur, adds the Chochmas Shlomo, is a strong basis for the custom of those that don't eat kneidlach on Pesach. This would, however, be grounds for prohibiting the use only of _ground_ - as distinct from whole pieces of - matzo in liquid.

Many of those who are careful not to eat matzo shruyo base themselves on a responsum of the Alter Rebbe [19]. The Alter Rebbe writes that "it is a very valid chumra, for there is a possibility of transgressing a Torah prohibition".

His opinion follows from a dispute amongst the Rishonim:

  1. Rashi [20] is of the opinion that once flour, or even kernels of wheat, have been roasted, they will never become chometz (even if placed in water).
  2. The Rambam [21] rules that, while roasted flour will not become chometz, kernels of wheat will not be fully dried in the oven, since the "flour" is "covered" by the shell of the wheat. Accordingly, flour obtained from these roasted kernels may not be placed in water on Pesach.
  3. Rabbeinu Yerucham [22] and the Smak [23] maintain that even flour roasted in an oven can still become chometz if placed thereafter in water.

The Alter Rebbe, after citing this dispute, writes that although the halacha is principally like the opinion of Rashi and the Rambam regarding roasted flour, nevertheless, since we find that the Arizal stated that on Pesach one should be as strict as possible, we should be stringent like those who follow the opinion of Rabbeinu Yerucham.

This is of practical significance, the Alter Rebbe writes, since "nowadays we can clearly see that even after the baking there is some visible flour left on the surface of the matzo. And the fact that there is no mention of this in any poskim is because this occurs only in matzos made from a hard dough, which is difficult to knead properly. However, their matzos were mixed and kneaded for a longer time until there was no dry flour left. In the last twenty years or so, people became particularly careful to make sure the matzos are finished quickly [within 18 minutes], as a result of which some dry flour remains on the surface of the matzo, as anyone who checks properly will see."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe [24] writes that it is our custom to be very careful not to allow the matzo to come into contact with any water. Therefore, the Rebbe writes, we keep the matzos covered on the table, and before we pour water (or something which contains water) into a cup or bowl, we check that there are no matzo crumbs there. So, too, one should not pass mayim achronim over one's lips as one does the rest of the year.

This applies to the first seven days of Pesach, but not the last day (outside of Israel), when we try to eat matzo with every dish, as discussed below.)

Eating Matzo Which Has Been Immersed In Fruit Juice

The Sama d'Chaye [25] writes that one who is careful not to eat matzo even with fruit juice is also commendable.

For the Pri Megodim [26] writes that although fruit juice alone cannot produce chometz, nevertheless, the water within the matzo is "reawakened" when it comes in contact with the juice, and this water can make the matzo chometz.

The Alter Rebbe, however, writes that "regarding fruit juice there is definitely no reason to be strict." The Lubavitcher Rebbe, in his notes on the Haggodo [27], writes, "The Rebbe Rashab would not eat matzo with meat or fish, because of the possibility of matzo shruyo, but only with [pure] wine."

Eating Matzo Shruyo On the Last Day of Pesach

Regarding Acharon Shel Pesach the Alter Rebbe [28] rules that "whoever is lenient [in matzo shruyo] on the last day of Pesach for simchas Yom Tov, has no loss."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe [29] states that the Rebbe Rashab ate matzo shruyo on Achron Shel Pesach to demonstrate the difference between the first days of Pesach which are of Torah origin and the last day which was enacted by the Rabbonon.

Derech Pikudecho states that any stringency which one has on Pesach, beyond that demanded by halacha should not be kept on the last day, for then he would be showing that he considers it to be true chometz.

The Eshel Avrohom advocated matzo shruyo on Acharon Shel Pesach as an expression of unity and peace between all Jews [30].

It is to be noted that the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe was particular (and so is the custom today of Chabad) to wet the matza in each dish [31].

Some are of the opinion that even those who are stringent with matzo shruyo, are nevertheless permitted to use utensils which contained matzo shruyo - even on that Pesach. This is based on a ruling of the Radvaz [32] that those who have a mere stringency (chumra - beyond the letter of the halacha) not to eat from a certain shochet's shechito, nevertheless he need not worry about utensils used to cook that meat. The same would apply to matzo shruyo.

However, according to many authorities, even those who do not permit using the utensils that Pesach, would be permitted to use them the following year. This is based on a responsum of Rabbi Akiva Eiger [33] which states that utensils which have become "chometz'dig" through a minute amount (mashehu) of chometz on Pesach, would nevertheless be permitted for use the next year. During Pesach, the utensil might have become chometz'dig because even the slightest amount of chometz is not nullified (botul) on Pesach. After Pesach, however, this tiny amount of chometz does become nullified, permitting use of the utensil the next year. The same would apply to matzo shruyo where there is generally only a ch'shash (suspicion) of a mashehu of chometz.


  1. (Back to text) Pesachim 39b

  2. (Back to text) ibid

  3. (Back to text) Hilchos Chometz U'Matzah 5:5

  4. (Back to text) Orach Chayim 463:3

  5. (Back to text) Yoreh Deah 87:6

  6. (Back to text) 460:16

  7. (Back to text) Sheilas Ya'avetz Vol II Ch.65

  8. (Back to text) Ma'aseh Rav 183

  9. (Back to text) Brought in responsa Maharshag 56:2

  10. (Back to text) Responsa Divrei Yisroel Vol I Ch.122

  11. (Back to text) 260:6

  12. (Back to text) 124

  13. (Back to text) 459:6

  14. (Back to text) 463:4

  15. (Back to text) 458:1

  16. (Back to text) 463

  17. (Back to text) 463:3

  18. (Back to text) 463:3

  19. (Back to text) Ch.6

  20. (Back to text) Pesochim 39b (see verse "lo limchi")

  21. (Back to text) Hilchos Chometz U'Matzah 5:5

  22. (Back to text) Sefer Odom Nesiv 5:5

  23. (Back to text) Brought in Beis Yosef 461 (see verse "kosov haRambam")

  24. (Back to text) Sharei Halocho U'Minhag Vol II p126

  25. (Back to text) Ch.13 10:9

  26. (Back to text) Mishbetzos Zohov 467:1

  27. (Back to text) Vol I p58

  28. (Back to text) in above responsum

  29. (Back to text) Likutei Sichos Vol 22 p30; and in note 12

  30. (Back to text) Brought in Divrei Yisroel Vol I responsum 123

  31. (Back to text) see Likutei Sichos, vol 22, page 30

  32. (Back to text) Vol 4, 296

  33. (Back to text) Ch.26
 Contract For Selling Chametz Guarding The Matzo

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