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The Shulchan Aruch OH 458 says that the minhag is to make the matzos mitzvah for the Seder Night on Erev Pesach after noon (chatzos).

נוהגים שלא ללוש מצת מצוה בערב פסח עד אחר שש שעות שהוא זמן הקרבת קרבן פסח
It is customary to not knead Matzot Mitzvah on the eve of Pesach until after the sixth hour, as this was the time when the Pesach offering was offered.

No machlokes mentioned there.
If you look in the Tur there, on the other hand, you'll see an astonishing discussion where a number of Rishonim say that you may not make the matzas mitzvah before that time - to the extent that if Erev Pesach falls on Shabbos, they suggest making matzas mitzvah on Seder night itself! The Tur eventually seems to conclude like the Shulchan Aruch, that it's actually okay to make matzas mitzvah earlier, only the minhag is to do it Erev Pesach.

The Shulchan Aruch Harav also makes it clear that that was the "minhag of all Israel", even in his time, says it should not be varied, and goes on and on about details of the minhag.

No one of these suggests you don't need to bother. And yet it seems to be very rare; one local Rav told me that even if he had time, he wouldn't do it: "The only ones doing it these days are Chassidische Rebbes."

The Mishnah Berurah there suggests a possible reason for this: Though we poskin that chometz can have bitul until Pesach itself begins, there are poskim who hold that it is assur b'mashehu from the time that it becomes assur, Erev Pesach afternoon. Thus it is inherently more risky to try and make matzah then, just as the custom is not to make matzah on Pesach itself.

Okay! So the question is, What customs are around now? Are there communities (or other individuals) that try to follow this explicit halacha in the Shulchan Aruch? Are other reasons given why some do not?

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    I bet every professional matza bakery in the world does this, for the very few select people who paid enough and live nearby. Thats still very very few people.
    – Double AA
    Mar 22 at 20:12
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    So much of this is going to be bound up in the history of the shift towards professional/commercial/industrial over time... people used to make masoth at home, whereas today for most folks the idea is altogether alien. That is the context in which these customs originally arose and which is no longer present (for most) today. Mar 22 at 20:19

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When I asked this question to several Rabbanim, both Asheknazi and Sepharadi, I couldn't find anyone who follows this practice in a public way. Even amongst many Sepharadim bakeries they make matzot days/weeks before and freeze.

I believe in either sefer Minhagei Mitzrayim or another book of Egyptian Halakha they mention most people make days before, but they have local non Jewish bakeries bake the matzah based on Rashi. But there are some who are careful to bake themselves (i believe by renting space/time at the bakery) to make their own matzah erev Pesah. But this custom was before the expulsion of the Jews from Egypt.

I believe there's a completely valid reason for this custom to no longer be so prevalent. The Shulchan Arukh is only discussing soft matzah, and the thing about soft matzah is it does not last. After a day or two it becomes so rock solid it's basically inedible. So Jews a few hundred years ago all the way back to Sinai would make fresh soft matzot very close to the time you wanted to eat it. So for the seder, people would bake a few hours before to make sure the matzah was fresh and soft. But they knew they'd probably need to bake a new batch for the next day as whatever was cooked before might be inedible the next day.

But now that we have freezers, soft matzah can be made days or weeks before and frozen. And Ashkenazim now have a custom to make matzah with very little water which creates a dry shelf stable matzah that can be made days or even months before the seder.

I personally make a set of matzot right in accordance with the custom mentioned in the shulchan arukh erev Pesah for my personal seder. I have also met Iraqi Jews who do this practice privately in their homes as well. And I was honored that a congregant from a conservative synagogue that I taught to make matzah has now taken upon themselves the custom of making matzah a few hours before the seder. But all of these examples are a private practice, whereas the Shulchan Arukh is mentioning a public custom.

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  • Thank you. The Aruch Hashulchan says a reason that is very similar to what you said. sefaria.org/…
    – MichoelR
    Mar 22 at 22:49

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