Thursday, February 28, 2013

PESAH: Matzah Shemura vs. Regular Matzah

Maṣa (or in English "Matzah") is a special unleavened bread, made of a flat dough. The dough is prepared with flour and water and without yeast. The flour must come from one of the following five grains: wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt. The whole elaboration process, from the time the flour gets in contact with water until the maṣa is baked should take less than 18 minutes.

There are different types of maṣot that are used during Pesaḥ.

In the coming days we will learn the differences between 1. Regular  maṣa vs. maṣa shemura, 2. Hand-made maṣa vs. machine-made maṣa and 3. Regular maṣa vs. egg maṣa (= maṣa 'ashira). 

Let us begin with regular maṣa vs. maṣa shemura

The difference between these two maṣot is the supervision (shemira), i.e.,  at what point the supervision begins.

Regular maṣa is supervised from the moment of mixing the flour with water. Certainly, it is also necessary to make sure that the flour was kept in a dry place (humidity can make the flour Hameṣ), and that the water which will be used to make the dough is at room temperature level (warmer water will accelerate the process of fermentation).

Maṣa shemura: In addition to all the regulations of regular maṣa, the grain is meticulously supervised and protected from humidity from the time of harvesting, all throughout the process of making the flour, up to the baking of the actual maṣot

We use maṣa shemura particularly during the first two nights of Pesaḥ (in Israel is one night only), when we say the Berakha 'al akhilat maṣa. Having maṣa shemura during the nights of the Seder is a practice that we follow in attention to a special Biblical instruction (ushmartem et hamaṣot). During the rest of Pesaḥ, however, there is no need to use maṣa shemura because during the rest of the Holiday there is no formal obligation to eat maṣa but only to refrain from eating Hameṣ.


Martha Stewart visits a Matzah factory