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Are there halachically required minimum temperatures for baking matzah? This Jewish instructional websites says they should be baked at "extremely high temperatures" such as "600° to 800° F".

However the Shulchan Arukh in this quote doesn't mention any minimum degree requirements.

A tafka (meaning one of the tiles used to cover the roof, "kofi" in the vernacular) made of new ceramic is permitted whether one fired it from inside or outside. This is because the fire burns under it, and even though the flame does not reach its top, it boils and the bread cooks instantly and does not rise. However, firing is needed at the beginning, whether it is used in an oven, a frying pan, a stew-pot without water, or on the ground. However, some forbid putting [the bread] on first and then firing, and it is good to be careful. There is one who says that we should stop those who make thick cakes in embers (meaning hot ashes, tzinironi in the vernacular).

Source: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Shulchan_Aruch/Orach_Chaim/461

The Shulchan Arukh seems to be concerned that there is a minimum temperature, but it doesn't seem to be concerned that there is a minimum number. Rather it seems concerned that the matzah cooks all the way through, and it is assuming that one is cooking matzah that is soft and thicker than a finger breadth, we know this to be the case because of how it discusses fulfilling the mitzvah of matzah.

One fulfills his obligation with matzo that is baked enough so that no threads can be pulled from it.

The matzah is finished when one pulls apart the matzah and there are no uncooked threads, which cannot happen in the matzah we have now, the matzah that is probably cooked between 600-800 degrees. At least, this is the argument this website makes, claiming that ovens in contrast could be too hot, stating that poskim ruled that one could matzah on paper, which burns at 392 degrees Fahrenheit.

The same argument that an oven shouldn't be too hot because it might cook the outside instantaneously while leaving the center uncooked is made in this article.

This development might have been related to the changing nature of ovens. Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin (Lev Ivra, p. 40) makes a very important point about the oven temperature. He says that if, while baking thick matzah, the oven is too hot the outside will burn and the inside will still be unbaked. And, he suggests, the halakhik indicators related to ḥimutz (browned outside and stringy dough) won't help because they are valid only with ovens at lower temperature, as were used in talmudic times. This is less of a problem for the baking of thin matzot, but he cautions that the oven temperature should nonetheless not be too hot. He says that this is all based on experience and it is worth noting that he lived among Georgian Jews for many years.

Yet one of the leading halachic authorities has ruled in the following ways:

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe OC 1:153) was asked about baking Matza on a stove-top and rules that the temperature must be at least hot enough "that straw would burn" or else we would have to worry that it is Chametz. He notes that the "classical" cooking temperatures of Yad Soledet Bo (~150°F) or boiling (212°F) are definitely insufficient.

Taking all these sources at face value would lead one to think there is contradicting information, or that there are two sets of rules: One set of rules for thick soft matzah, and possibly another set for thin dry matzah.

So with all of these factors considered, is there truly a certain minimum baking temperature for matzah?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Double AA Feb 19 '16 at 19:33

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  • Did you just plagiarize me in a post I answered?? – Double AA Feb 19 '16 at 19:29
  • Given that recent edits violate meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1231/759 by invalidating an answer below, I'm putting this on hold until the q is adjusted in a way the OP agrees with. – Double AA Feb 19 '16 at 19:33
  • @DoubleAA, shouldn't the question just be reverted to where it was when it was answered? – Isaac Moses Feb 19 '16 at 19:47
  • @IsaacMoses i would normally agree with you, but perhaps maybe my answer should be closed. Because i feel that while DoubleAAs answer was valid, it didn't really encompass the question i was actually asking, which is a question coming from conflicting information as my new edits shows. – Aaron Feb 19 '16 at 19:50
  • @Aaron, you wrote a question that did not require closure and that got an answer that members of the community consider valuable. The question should be restored to where it was when the answer made sense in its context, so that that value remains extant. If you want to ask a follow-up question, explicitly referring to information you learned in the answer here, you certainly can. – Isaac Moses Feb 19 '16 at 19:52
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As you note in the Shulchan Arukh (OC 461:2), a temperature which is too low (and is not "boils and cooks instantly [such that] the bread doesn't rise") is problematic as the dough will just rise quicker in the warm environment whilst not cooking.

Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe OC 1:153) was asked about baking Matza on a stove-top and rules that the temperature must be at least hot enough "that straw would burn" or else we would have to worry that it is Chametz. He notes that the "classical" cooking temperatures of Yad Soledet Bo (~150°F) or boiling (212°F) are definitely insufficient.

The ignition point of straw is probably not a very precise number (varying based on the kind of grass and the moisture content) but I've seen estimates of 500°F. Thus 600°F from your article seems like a reasonable practical minimum.

  • Can you source at what temperature straw burns? Because i'm finding information that straw can burn at 200 degrees farenheit. And what are the lowest estimates you've seen? – Aaron Feb 18 '16 at 23:12
  • @Aaron The two numbers I saw were 220C (=430F) and 550F. Closed the links already :/ Perhaps ask on Chemistry.SE? Like I said though there's definitely going to be variation. Straw that's dried for weeks will burn easier than green grass, seemingly. – Double AA Feb 18 '16 at 23:13
  • @Aaron I'll note that the measure of "straw burns" is also used in the context of Libbun Kal (see OC 551:4) which is given here for instance as 550F. R Moshe doesn't explicitly connect the two though. – Double AA Feb 18 '16 at 23:22
  • i do not find your argument compelling that the Shulchan Arukh is making a statement of facts that any oven that doesn't boil and cook instantly is problematic. But rather it is stating that this "tafka" oven can be fired from inside or outside because it cooks instantly and so therefore there isn't a concern. This seems to be the plain meaning as the indicator that matzah has been fulfilled a few sections over has nothing to do with oven temperature but only whether or not matzah cooks all the way through. – Aaron Feb 19 '16 at 17:55
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    @Aaron If editing the question, beware our standing policy meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1231/759 – Double AA Feb 19 '16 at 18:07

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