Friday, March 25, 2011

PESACH: The pros and cons of hand-made Matza (abodat yad)

Today is the 19th day of Adar II, 5771

When an item is made to be used for a Mitzva, a Tefilin or Sefer Torah, for example, it must be done --including each one of its parts-- with the specific intention of being used for fulfilling the Mitzva. The leather used for assembling the Tefilin, for example, can not be done from left overs of leather manufactured for doing shoes, etc. The leather used for Tefilin had to be done specifically for the purpose of fulfilling the Mitzva of Tefilin. Before processing the leather, the artisan says explicitly: leshem Mitzvat tefilin, [I'm producing this leather to be used] for the purpose of the Mitzva of Tefilin.

Similarly, in the case of the Matza, the Matzot that will be used for the first two nights of Pesach, must have been manufactured with the purpose of being used for the Mitzva of Matza. Obviously, most Matzot are made with this purpose in mind. Some late rabbinic authorities, however, questioned the medium of the baking machines in this process, even when the machine's operator articulates the proper intention. In other words: when the Matzot are baked on a machine, does this interrupts the 'human process' of intentionality? This is why some authorities will require to use for the two night of Pesach --when we say the berakha al akhilat Matza-- Matza which was baked completely by hand, without machinery.

The disadvantages of hand made Matza are that 1. these Matzot are significantly more expensive than those made by machine. 2. There is more chances for human errors than when the Matzot are baked by machines.

In sum, if one can easily afford the hand-made Matzot, they should be used for the fist two nights. If not, one should not incur in extra expenses to abide by this stricter point of view (chumra). In this case, many Rabbis would suggest to use for the first two nights Matza Shemura, (which is the most meaningful hidur) made by machine.


Candle lighting in NYC: 6:54 PM

Shabbat ends in NYC: 8:03 PM



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Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024