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Thanks to this question I am compelled to ask:

What is the source for not eating Matzah prior to פסח?

Is there a source for not eating it for 30 days prior?

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Please don't say M"B. I want to know the source for the M"B's Minhag. –  Seth J Mar 19 '12 at 17:06
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FWIW, Maharil doesn't seem to mention more than erev Pesach. –  msh210 Mar 19 '12 at 17:45
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Also nothing in Ta'amei HaMinhagim or seemingly the Aruch HaShulchan. –  Double AA Mar 19 '12 at 17:53

2 Answers 2

The Mishna Berura (471:12) brings that the custom is not to eat Matzah from Rosh Chodesh. One of the sources he brings in the Shaar HaTzion is the Chok Yaakov. The relevant Chok Yaakov is here.

There (471:7), he quotes Sharei Knesset Hagedola brought in this answer. Interestingly, he quotes it as saying from "Rosh Hashanah", which I'm assuming in this case refers to Rosh Chodesh Nissan.


With regards to not eating Matzah 30 days prior to Pesach, there is a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe (published in Likutei Sichot volume 11 page 293) to a person who was told that he must remove some of his teeth for health reasons.

In the end of the letter (dated the 4th of Nissan 1954), the Rebbe writes:

And in these days, which have already started (we have already started?) the Matzah, the bread of healing (sourced here to the Zohar II:183B), which is why we are careful to refrain from eating Matzah 30 days before Pesach....

See here, where HaRav Yosef Nemes posits that this is connected to the statement of the Baal HaTanya (quoted in Hayom Yom for the first day of Pesach):

The Alter Rebbe declared: The matza of the first evening of Pesach is called the Food of Faith; the matza of the second evening is called the Food of Healing. When healing brings faith ("Thank you, G-d, for healing me") then clearly there has been illness. When faith brings healing, there is no illness to start with.

We have an obligation to start learning about the holiday 30 days before, and since the faith must proceed the healing, we spend the 30 days prior to the holiday studying the holiday but not eating the matzah, so that when we finally eat the Matzah we have made sure that we have preceded the healing with faith.

See there for more details.

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Is he the first to suggest abstaining for 30 days? –  Seth J May 30 '12 at 17:25
    
@SethJ: I don't think so. It seems like he is explaining an already existing custom. –  Menachem May 30 '12 at 18:04

An original source of this custom is the Sheyare Knesses HaGedola Siman 471:3 where he writes that the custom in Kushta (Istanbul) is to avoid eating matza as of Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

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Nice edit! Thanks, both of you! –  Seth J Mar 19 '12 at 18:51
    
So how far back does this custom date? –  Seth J May 30 '12 at 17:24
    
When the Chok Yaakov quotes this Sheyare Knesses HaGedola, he says it is the custom of "Constantina", which I'm assuming is Constantinople - hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=32461&pgnum=107 –  Menachem May 30 '12 at 22:18
    
@Menachem Constantinople = Istanbul = Byzantium = Kushta –  Double AA May 30 '12 at 22:26
    
@DoubleAA: Interesting. I knew that Constantinople and Istanbul were the same, it's an explicit song :) : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul_%28Not_Constantinople%29 . I didn't know that "Kostantiniyye is the name by which the city came to be known in the Islamic world." –  Menachem May 30 '12 at 22:45

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