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What is the origin of this custom? This must be fairly recent and "Lubavitch-specific", because my grandparents, who were very observant, always had matzah ball soup and fried matzah with eggs for Pesach.

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  • 9
    It's a hekesh from the pasuk that says ועיניתם את נפשותכם Apr 9, 2012 at 21:55
  • it is told that even when the 8th day of paisach was on shabos the lubavicher Rebbe M.M.S. had mazah ball soup, so it had to be made before, so maybe it the custom is not that the water cant touch but not to eat it if it did touch
    – hazoriz
    Jan 8, 2015 at 4:17
  • Within the past approx. 30 years, the non-gebrokhts minhag has become far more common in the NON-Hassidic community, esp. in U.S. and Canadian hotels. As a matter of fact, it is evening a marketing point for many hotels running programs. Almost all Pesach program hotesl advertise that they serve non-gebrokhts as well as genrokhts options. Some are solely non-gebrokhts, and I know many in my neighborhood who are non-Hassidc who will only go to the hotels that are exclusibvely non-gebrokhts. I can't explain why they are stringent in the hotels while they aren't in their homes.
    – DanF
    Apr 3, 2017 at 18:27

6 Answers 6

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R' Eizik Vitebsker writes (look in Os 26) that the origin of this Chumra was from the Mezritcher Maggid.

R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi explains that since some opinions say that flour which was baked (without being kneaded first) can still become chometz after contacting water as it may not have been baked well.

He writes that (at least in his time) one could see flour on his Matza after baking. Therefore, one should not place such Matza in soup as the flour will become Chometz.

He writes that even though there is technically no concern as the halacha follows the Rambam and Rashi who permit one to cook flour which was baked, one should still be stringent following the words of the Arizal "to follow all stringencies on Pesach".

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    Nice! I find it historically interesting how he discusses the proliferation of a faster and more haphazard baking process 'within the past 20 years' which caused the flour to remain on the matzos. Apr 9, 2012 at 21:31
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This custom is known as gebrochts (Yiddish for "broken"); or "matza shruya" (soaked matza) in modern Hebrew. It's prevalent in many Hassidic and Hassidically-influenced communities, though many first encounter it with Lubavitch.

The custom arose out of concern that there may be a packet of dry flour in your matza. If that flour never reacted with water, then when you break your matza into your soup or the like, the flour+water could become chametz in a few minutes. (Whereas if you mix flour thoroughly with water and bake it fast enough into matza, it can no longer become chametz.)

The custom has been around several hundred years; it appears, for instance, in the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, a code of Jewish law by the first Lubavitcher Rebbe (author of Tanya) about 200 years ago.

Many families -- certainly Sefardic Jews, and many non-Hassidic Ashkenazic ones (especially from places closer to Germany or Lithuania, not Romania or Hungary) never adopted such a custom, such as your family -- and mine.

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    What's also really interesting in the middle of all of this is that these homes that keep gebrochts usually only eat hand-made shmura matzah during Pesach, so in many ways, the custom makes sense. There have definitely been times when I've broken shmura matza and found unbaked flour within. A friend of mine who doesn't keep gebrochts will only exclusively eat machine-made matza during Pesach for this reason. May 13, 2011 at 11:28
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    @TKKocheran, "There have definitely been times when I've broken shmura matza and found unbaked flour within", really? That should not happen. I mean, I know we don't wet the matza because of the concern that it might happen, but it never should. (And it never has for me AFAIR.)
    – msh210
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:31
  • 1
    @TKKocheran, if there were really a concern for that happening, I don't think most of those communities would eat gebrochts on the last day of pesach, even while they continue to only eat hand-made shmura matzah.
    – Daniel
    Apr 23, 2013 at 18:03
  • @NaftuliTzviKay The flour in the Matza was baked, it just apparently was never was mixed with water first.
    – Double AA
    Apr 11, 2016 at 6:31
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    Technically the first Chabad Rebbe. It was his son and successor that settled the movement in Lubavitch.
    – shmosel
    Apr 3, 2020 at 2:52
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The roots of this minhag actually lie in the Gemara itself. In Pesachim 40b, there is a discussion which says explicitly that Rav Papi allowed servants in the beit Reish Galuta to thicken a tavshil with "chasisi." The Rif says this is matzah meal; Tosafot say it is lentil flour, and Rashi says it is dried flour. Rava says we need to be concerned in a place where the servants are not makpid on the mitzvah and may come to mix in actual flour, instead of the matzah meal. Rava himself did actually stir matzah meal into a tavshil in his own house, and was merely concerned when dealing with servants. The claim, however, that cooked matzah can become chametz gamur lacks halakhic grounding. The Tur, to Orah Hayyim 43, paskens that it is forbidden to cook with matzah meal when servants are around, but this itself doesn't account for the shita to avoid all kinds of matzah sheruya- wet matzah. The Chatam Sofer, Vilna Gaon, and others ate matzoh balls, and the Shulchan Aruch paskens that wet matzah can be eaten by cholim, and even rules that we can wet and rebake matzah. It seems to be based on a teshuva of the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch, who notes that Rabbeinu Yerucham held that dried/roasted flour (as described as Rashi in Pesachim 40b) can become chametz when mixed with water (not normative halakha at all). Citing the Arizal's position that extra humrot are proper on Pesach, he was makpid on the minority shita and chose to avoid all matzah sheruya. He also notes that in his time, matzohs often had uncooked flour on the surface because people had recently become makpid on 18 minutes.

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  • I am unclear as to why you state it has no halachic basis just as you begin to provide one. May I edit for you?
    – Seth J
    Apr 10, 2012 at 13:51
  • I should say instead that there is a halachic basis, but certainly, abstaining from gebrokts is not a halachic requirement, as the Gemara itself attests to the fact that Chazal did eat gebrokts, and history tells us that many gedolim did as well. Those who are makpid rely on the shita of Rabbenu Yerucham, as brought down in modern times by the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch. Apr 10, 2012 at 17:20
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The reason for this custom is the suspicion that some flour remains uncooked in the matzah, and by water then touching it, allows for the opportunity of becoming chametz.

Matzah with water, or certain other liquids, is called "gebrochts" in Yiddish, and people who follow the custom to refrain from eating it are often said to "observe gebrochts" or "keep gebrochts".

The custom is prevalent mostly in those from Chassidic backgrounds, especially Lubavitch, since it is mentioned by the Baal HaTanya.

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  • In what sense "especially Lubavitch"? Do you mean that a higher percentage of Lubavitchers keep the custom than (e.g.) Bobovers? I doubt that that's true: I suspect that it's close to 100% of both groups (depending on how you define membership in the group). Or do you mean that a higher percentage of people keeping the custom are Lubavitchers than (e.g.) Bobovers? I don't know relative populations of such groups, but at the very least I'm pretty sure Lubavitchers don't account for a majority of those who have this custom.
    – msh210
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:37
7

It's interesting that another answer mentions the Alter Rebbe's answer as the origin, but fails to clearly explain the history of how/why this minhag suddenly started.

Why isn't this minhag / worry mentioned by any of the poskim ??

Here is an excerpt of the Alter Rebbe's answer:

ומה שלא הזכירו זה בפוסקים, היינו משום שזה אינו מצוי כלל אלא בעיסה קשה שלא נילושה יפה, ובדורות הראשונים היו שוהין הרבה בלישה וגלגול עד שהיה נילוש יפה . עד שמקרוב זה עשרים שנה או יותר נתפשטה זהירות זו בישראל קדושים, למהר מאד מאד בלישה, ואין לשין יפה יפה, ולכן נמצא קמח מעט במצות של עיסה קשה, כנראה בחוש למדקדקים באמת .‏

Throughout Jewish history matzah was thoroughly kneaded. This process took time, and this was not a problem since the halacha states that while kneading the dough - it cannot become chametz. (see Rambam Chametz Umatza 5:13). Because of this fact, there was never any worry that after baking you'll see some flour on the surface of your matza, because all of the flour became dough.

Only in the times of the Alter Rebbe (20 years or so before the writing of his tshuvah) did the Jewish world decide to take upon themselves a chumrah: "Let's bake the Matza's from start to finish in 18 minutes". This chumrah is what led to the Gebrochs problem. Now that everyone hurried so much, they spent less time kneading the dough, and as a result the finished matza had a very small amount of flour on it.

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  • Interesting. Do any other contemporaneous works mention this shift in practice?
    – Double AA
    Oct 27, 2012 at 23:41
  • I don't know of any... but I would take the Alter Rebbe's word for it.
    – Danield
    Oct 28, 2012 at 6:59
  • Why wouldn't you do more research if you can?
    – Double AA
    Apr 23, 2013 at 3:54
  • No probs, if I find another source for this I'll post it here bli neder
    – Danield
    Apr 23, 2013 at 6:06
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I gave a Shiur on this over Pesach. Here are my notes:

(Shu”t Mima’amakim by Rav Ephraim Ashri 5:6) Exactly 80 years ago, in the year 5702 (1942), the situation in the Kovno Ghetto had gotten unbearable (of the 29,000 Jews imprisoned there, only 3,000 would survive). The Nazis, yemach shemam, would get them an insignificant amount of black bread, and that was all the food they were allowed to have. The able-bodied Jews provided forced labor for the Nazis in various sites, especially in the construction of their military airbase in Aleksotas, but the Nazis did not let the Jews obtain any extra food while on duty outside the ghetto. Despite that, shortly after Chanukah, the Jews began thinking where they could possibly get their Pesach Matzos from.

There was a Jew named Moshe Goldkorn, Hashem Yinkom Damo, who was a member of the Jordan Brigade, and based on where he worked he had slightly more freedom and was able to trade various items for small amounts of flour, which he risked his life to sneak back into the ghetto daily. An oven was Kashered properly and they began baking the Matzos. Nobody was happier than him that he had managed to sneak in enough Matza for 100 men to be yotzei the Mitzva of eating Matza on Pesach.

However, just two days before Pesach, the Germans decided to search his body on his way back from work to see if he was sneaking in any food. They caught him hiding a small bag of flour and beat him mercilessly, breaking all of his teeth, to make a lesson out of him so no one else tries sneaking food into the ghetto.

Moshe Goldkorn now came to the Rav with a Shaila. For him to chew the Matza with his broken teeth would be impossible. The only thing he could possibly do would be to soak it in water to soften it. The thing is, that he is a Chassid who doesn’t eat Gebrokts. But after all he sacrificed for everyone else to be yotzei the mitzva of eating matza, is he not going to be Yotzei?

Before we can answer that, we have to first address where does the minhag of not eating Gebrokts come from?

In the Litvish world it kind of has a bad rap. About a week ago someone I know who I consider to be a very big Talmid Chacham was lamenting to me about these crazy Pesach Chumros, like Gebrokts, which has no basis in Halacha. Is he right?

Avi Shafran – “The word itself? It literally means “broken,” which is what would likely describe matzo to be mixed with liquid (see aforementioned matzo farfel and chicken soup). The “ge” prefix turns the verb “brech” into its past participle (think gefilteh—“filled”—fish). And, yes, brech is closely related to the English “break” and its German antecedent brechen.’”

From the Gemara (Pesachim 39b with Rashi) and Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 461:4 and 463:3) it is completely clear that Gebrokts is Mutar. [read inside] (Sometimes you have someone who is learning through Pesachim and get all excited that the Gemara is explicit that Gebrokts or Kitniyos is Mutar. This is true, but it shouldn’t be exciting. These Minhagim obviously started way later.)

The truth is that this Minhag can already be found in the early Rishonim.

(1) – People will think they are using flour and try making the same dish with flour – similar to Kitniyos

ראב"ן פסחים סוס"י תל"ד - ומצה אפוייה שבישלה כמו שעושין מאכל שלקוק וגם לתינוקת מאכל פרפיל אינו בא לידי חימוץ ושרי. ויש שאין רוצין להשרות המצה בלילה הראשון במרק כי ראו אבותיהן שכן עשו וסבורין דמשום שלא תחמיץ עושין, ולא היא, לא הינהיגו כן אלא משום שיהא טעם מצה בפיהם כל לילה הראשון. ומיהו אינו טוב לעשות פרפיל, שלא יעשו גם מקמח, וטוב הוא לאסור זה מפני זה.

The Raavan (Pesachim, end of 434. Lived approximately 1090-1170) says that some don’t make to dip the Matza in soup on the first night because they saw their ancestors being Machmir. They thought that they were being Machmir so that it doesn’t turn into Chametz, but that isn’t the case. They did it because they didn’t want to be Mevatel the Taam Matza. However, one still shouldn’t make Matza farfel so that they don’t come to make it from Chametz.

ראבי"ה חלק ב, מסכת פסחים סימן תעה - ואפוי שבישל<ו, כגון> לתינוק ולזקן לתקן ממנו פפדל או שלקוק, אין בו משום חימוץ. ותניא יוצאים ברקיק השרוי ובמבושל שלא נימוח דברי רבי מאיר רבי יוסי אומר (אין) יוצאין ברקיק השרוי אבל לא במבושל אף על פי שלא נימוח. ואמרינן בפרק כיצד מברכין עד כאן לא קאמר רבי יוסי אלא גבי מצה דבעינן טעם מצה בפיו וליכא, והא לא שייך למימר אלא בלילה הראשונה, אבל בשאר ימי הפסח שרי. ויש שמחמירים, דלא ליתי למיטעי. וחומרא של בעל [נפש] היא:

His grandson, the Raavyah (Chelek Beis. Pesachim 475. Lived approximately 1140-1220) writes similarly that some are Machmir not to have Matzah farfel or other dishes with cooked Matza and calls it a Chumra for a Baal Nefesh.

כנסת הגדולה הגהות בית יוסף אורח חיים סימן תסא:ג - אנו נוהגין לעשות סופגנין ממצה אפויה. רשד"ם חלק אורח חיים סימן כ"ו. אמר המאסף: שמעתי בימי ילדותי, שפעם אחת אשת חבר היתה מטגנת דגים בשמן במחבת, והמנהג כשטוגנין דגים טחים אותם בקמח שלא ידבקו במחבת, ולפי שבפסח אין יכולין לעשות כן לקחה האשה הנזכרת מצה אפויה וטחן אותה עד אשר דק הדק הטב ונעשית כקמח והטיח בה את הדגים, ובעת ובעונה ההיא נכנסה השכנה וראתה לאשה הנזכרת שהיתה מטחת הדגים באותה הקמח וחשבה שהיה קמח ממש. למחר הביאו לה דגים לטגן וטחה אותם בקמח ממש, ביני וביני נכנס בעלה וראה את אשתו שהיתה טוחה הדגים בקמח ויגער בה. אף היא תשיב אמריה, כזאת וכזאת עשתה אשת החכם אתמול, ומה תצעק אלי. ויחרד הבעל חרדה גדולה, וירץ אל בית החכם ושאל לאשת החכם אם כנים הדברים שאמרה לו אשתו. ותאמר לו חס ושלום, מצה אפויה היתה. ונשמעו הדברים לחכמי העיר [ו]גזרו שלא יעשו עוד כן מפני מראית העין. וכך הוא המנהג עד היום הזה, שאין עושין דבר זה מפני מראית העין. ומטעם זה ג"כ אין עושין פת הבאה בכיסנין שנקראין בלע"ז פאשטיליש [=מצה ממולאת בבשר] ממצה אפויה. וצריך לתת טעם למה גזרו באלו ולא גזרו שלא יעשו גם כן סופגנין ממצה אפויה מטעם זה. ואפשר שגזרו באלו מפני שאלו הדברים כיון שהם נעשים בכל יום בימות השנה אתי למיטעי ולומר דכי היכי דבשאר ימים מטיחין את הדגים ועושין הפת הבאה בכיסנין מקמח או סולת הכי נמי בפסח, אבל בסופגנין שאין דרכן בכל יום, אדרבה דרכן הוא לעשותן בפסח ולא בשאר ימים, ואדרבה ממצה אפויה יש להם טעם יותר מהנעשים מקמח סולת וליכא למטעי לא גזרו. ולפי זה למכור סופגנין בחנות אפילו ממצה אפויה אסור, כיון דהמנהג הוא לעשות סופגנין למכור בשוק.

Similarly, the Knesses Hagedolah (on Beis Yosef 461:3. Lived 1603-1673) brings a story that the wife of a Talmid Chacham was frying fish and she had “floured” them with a coating of matzah meal. Her friend saw her doing this and thought this would make a great supper. The only problem is, she didn’t realize that she was using Matza meal. She thought she was using flour. So the next day, she coats her fish in flour and begins frying them. Her husband walks in, sees what she’s doing, and starts yelling at her. The woman responds, “This isn’t a problem. I saw the Rebbitzen doing this.” The guy gets very scared and runs to the Rav’s house to find out what happened. The Rav tells him, “No, it was just Matza meal.” Word got out about this story and the Rabbanim were Gozeir not to allow this. However, they were only Gozeir on things which have room to make a mistake. Dishes which are typically only made Kosher Lepeisach aren’t a problem even if they’re made from matza meal. Something which is only made privately Kosher Lepeisach, but can be purchased year round Chametzdik from the local supermarket, is only mutar to make privately.

פסחים מ: - רב פפי שרי ליה לבורדיקי דבי ריש גלותא לממחה קדירה בחסיסי. אמר רבא: איכא דשרי כי האי מילתא בדוכתא דשכיחי עבדי? איכא דאמרי: רבא גופא מחי לה קידרא בחסיסי.

The truth is that the source for this Chumra may even be much earlier. Pesachim 40b in the first lashon says that you can’t mash חסיסי into a pot of food in a place where slaves are frequent, as they are likely to start doing it with regular flour, which would be Chametz. (In the second Lashon, Rava did it himself.)

רש"י שם ד"ה לבורדקאי - נחתומין:

Rashi understands that this means roasted flour.

רי"ף שם (יב: בדפי הרי"ף) – אבל בחסיסי שרי דהא רבה (בגמ' הגי' רבא) גופיה מחוי ליה בחסיסי פירוש חסיסי מצה אפויה שטוחנין אותה ומבשלין אותה במים ומוללין בה את הקדרות:

Tosfos asks that the Gemara on 39b is already explicit that that’s Assur and nobody argues. Therefore, Tosfos says that it means lentil flour.

The Gr”a and the Pri Chadash both write that this is an early source not to eat kitniyos, either because we treat everywhere as a place where slaves are frequent (not necessarily slaves, but people who are also likely to make a mistake. Alternatively, the Maharam Chalavah says that the same thing applies to ketanim, who are of age to help in the house, but aren’t sensitive to these distinctions) or because we Pasken like Rav that anything that is Assur because of Maaris Ayin is Assur everywhere.

רי"ף שם (יב: בדפי הרי"ף) – אבל בחסיסי שרי דהא רבה (בגמ' הגי' רבא) גופיה מחוי ליה בחסיסי פירוש חסיסי מצה אפויה שטוחנין אותה ומבשלין אותה במים ומוללין בה את הקדרות:

The Rif (12b in Dafei HaRif) and many others explain that Chasisi is Matza meal. The Rif himself is Meikel because he follows the second Lishna of the Gemara that Rav himself did it, but many others, such as the Shulchan Aruch, Pasken like the first Lishna.

טור תס"ג:ג - אין מוללין הקדירות פירוש שנותנין קמח בתוך המאכל להקפותו בין אם יתן הקמח תחלה בין אם יתן החומץ תחלה ואפי' בקמחא דאבישונא שהוא קמח העשוי מקליות שנתייבשו בתנור ואין מחמיצין אפ"ה אסור דחיישינן שמא לא נתייבשו כל צרכן ומחמיצין אבל במצה אפויה וטחונה מותר ולא חיישינן דילמא אתי לאחלופי בקמח וכן בקמח עדשים ושאר קטניות שרי שאינו מחמיץ ורי"ף וכן א"א ז"ל כתבו סתמא להיתרא במצה אפויה ובגמרא קאמר דאפי' במצה אפויה אסור היכא דאיכא עבדי שמזלזלין במצות או כיוצא בזה דאיכא למיחש דאתי לשרויי אף בקמחא:

The Tur (O.C. 463:3) is even explicit in learning that the Gemara forbids putting Matza meal in a pot in a place where there are slaves.

חכמת שלמה אורח חיים סימן תסג סעיף ג - אין מבשלין בהם אלא מצה אפויה שחזרו וטחנו אותה. נ"ב, בטור אוסר אפילו מצה אפוייה, ועיין בט"ז [ס"ק ג] מה שכתב לפרש דעת הטור, ועיין בחיבורי להלכות פסח סימן זה מה שכתבתי ליישב דעת הב"י דמלשון הש"ס [פסחים מ, ב] רבא גופיה דייק דהוא מחלוקת. וכעת נראה דאתי שפיר דעת הטור, דמה שכתב הש"ס רבא גופא וכו' היינו רבא בעצמו היה עושה כן, והיינו דבו בעצמו ליכא חשש טעות, וסבירא ליה דע"י אחרים שאין יודעים אסור ואתי לזלזולי, אך ע"י גדולי ישראל מותר לעשות, גם הוי היכר מזה עצמו מדהוא עושה זה בעצמו מה שאין דרכו לעשות כן, הוי כהיכר, ואין לחוש לאחלופי. והנה לפי זה אני מוסיף עוד על דברי הט"ז בכוונת הטור, דאין כוונתו לאסור דוקא היכי דשכיחי עבדי, רק כוונתו לאסור בכל ענין כיון דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב [ביצה ט, א] כל מקום שאסרו חכמים מפני מראית עין אפילו בחדרי חדרים אסור, אף דיש דיעות דבדרבנן מותר בחדרי חדרים עיין במג"א סימן ש"א [ס"ק נו], מכל מקום בדאורייתא ודאי (קמ"ל) [קיימא לן] דאסור בחדרי חדרים, וא"כ הכא כיון דבחמץ הוי איסור דאורייתא, וכיון דרבא אוסר במקום דשכיחי עבדי, הוי ליה לאסור אפילו במקום דליכא עבדי, דבכל מקום דחיישינן למראית עין אפילו בחדרי חדרים אסור. אך בעל כרחך רבא סבירא ליה דלא כרב יהודה אמר רב, דהרי יש כמה אמוראים בפרק קמא דביצה [שם] דלא סבירא להו כרב, וא"כ גם רבא יסבור כן, ולכך מתיר במקום דלא שכיחי עבדי או בהוא עצמו עושה. אבל לדידן דקיימא לן כרב [סימן שא סעיף מה], ומטעם שכתבו הפוסקים, ומה דקיימא לן כבתראי הוי רק מרבא ואילך, אבל מקודם הלכה כקמאי, ולכך בכל ענין אסור. וזה הוי כוונת הטור, כיון דבגמרא אוסר במקום דשכיחי עבדי, ולכך לדידן בכל ענין יש לאסור. זה נראה דעת הטור. ובזה מצאתי טעם נכון לאלו שנוהגין שלא לאכול קניידליך, ולכאורה הוא מחוסר טעם, ולפי מה שכתבתי כעת הוא נכון לחוש לדעת הטור דאוסר, שיש לו סמך בש"ס ופוסקים, ודו"ק. והנה בתשובתי לק"ק פמארין כתבתי דאף דבשעת הדחק יש להתיר מין קטניות, כמו שכתבתי בתשובה מכבר, מכל מקום הקאקריזיס הנקראים טורקישע ווייצען זה ודאי אסור לעשות מהם קמח ולעשות מהם בעין פת או תבשיל לפסח, דיש בזה חשש אחלופי כיון דנראה כקמח, וכנראה מלשון הט"ז כאן דכל קמח של מיני קטניות אסור, ואין להתיר רק כשהוא בעינא כגון פאסאליס וארביס, ולא כשנעשה מהם קמח, ומכל שכן כיון דנקראים בלשון ווייצען דהיינו חטים בלשון הקודש דיש בזה חשש אחלופי ומראית עין, וחס מלהזכיר להתיר בזה, ודו"ק. ועיין במור וקציעה [סימן תנג] ובספר עיקרי הד"ט [סימן יח אות עב] מביאו שהחכם צבי היה ג"כ קורא תגר על האוסר במיני קטניות, ולכך עכ"פ יש להקל בשעת הדחק, ודו"ק:

Rav Shlomo Kluger in Chochmas Shlomo (O.C. 463:3) writes that this is likely the source for the Minhag not to eat Gebrokts. The Tur asked as a question on the Rif and his father, the Rosh, who learn that חסחסא is Matzah meal, how can they permit it when the Gemara is explicit that it’s Assur. The Taz (463:3) asks that isn’t a valid question. You can’t ask on people that Pasken like the Lishna Basra that the Lishna Kama is explicit not like them. The Taz answers that there is no Machlokes between the two Leshonos. Obviously, Rava held it was Assur to do in a place where people who aren’t sensitive to these distinctions are but Mutar to do when they aren’t. The only question was how the story that we learned this from came about. It may have been from a case where Rava forbade it because of the presence of slaves or it may have been from a case where Rava did it himself where there were no slaves. As such, Rava is clearly Paskening like the opinions that argue on Rav Yehuda Amar Rav who says [ביצה ט, א] כל מקום שאסרו חכמים מפני מראית עין אפילו בחדרי חדרים אסור. However, we Pasken it’s Assur, especially because the Maaris Ayin is for something that is Assur Mideoraysa. Alternatively, we may treat every place like a place where slaves frequent like the Gr”a and the Pri Chadash pasken or we may be Machmir wherever there are kids around like the Maharam Chalavah writes.

(2) – One should stay away from things that are reminiscent of Chametz (two ways to understand – (a) almost Hashkafically, like this is not what Pesach should be about or (b) similar to the last Peshat but here it won’t get mixed up, you will just come to make that food once you do things that are similar)

שו"ת הרשב"ש סי' צ' - נשאלתי על אלו האנוסים אשר לבם לשמים וחפצים לקיים המצות כפי יכלתם, איך תהיה בפסח הנהגתם בענין אכילתם שלא יבואו לידי כרת באכילת חמץ, עם שאינם יכולים להשתמר ממנו, כי אפילו אם לא יאכלו אלא אורז ודומה לו יעלילום הנוצרים לאמר עדיין אתם מתנהגים בחקות אבותיכם לאכול אורז בפסח כי בכל הבתים מבשלים אורז, ומזה הם מתפחדים על עצמם, ורצו קצתם העגומים והנאנחים למצא להם דרך להקל האיסור... עוד אפשר להם בדרך אחרת, והוא שקודם הפסח בזמן ארוך יעשו עוגות מצות שקורין בלשונם קרשפיל"ש, וישחקום היטב עד אשר דק ויחזור סולת כאשר היה, ולפסח ילושו אותו במים ויעשו ממנו פת או יבשלוהו במים בקדרה אפילו בלא חליטה, דאפי' שבשלו אין לה חמוץ כדאיתא התם בפרק כל שעה שדבר כזה לא נאסר אלא מן דלך לך אמרינן לנזירא סחור סחור וכו'. ובאנוסים אלו ראוי להקל להם.

Rav Shlomo Ben Shimon דוראן in שו"ת הרשב"ש סי' צ' (printed in 5502, it says that the Teshuvos were written 300 years earlier. He is the son and Talmid of the Tashbetz and a sixth-generation descendant of the Ramban – He was born in 1400 CE and Niftar in 5227) has a Shaila whether people who couldn’t keep Mitzvos publicly due to fear of Christians (I assume Maranos) and were scared that if Christians see that they are avoiding Chametz, they will report on them (I assume to the inquisition). It appears that there was special scrutiny on their behavior to see what they would eat on pesach. One of his suggestions is that they could bake Matzos a while before Pesach and then you can grind it into flour and make bread out of it. That is only Assur based on לך לך אמרינן [ל]נזירא, סחור סחור לכרמא לא תקרב, however, for אנוסים like these people, they can be Meikel. We see clearly that he holds that it is Assur for regular people to consume Gebrokts.

(3) – Chozeir Veniur

עולת שבת סימן תנג:ג - וכן פסק הב"ח [ס"ב], ומסיים בלשונו וכל בעל נפש יחמיר לעצמו ולאפות הכל קודם פסח, משום דאיכא לדחות סברא זו דקמח בקמח לא נקרא לח בלח כי אם יבש ביבש, והרי נותן טעם בפסח עצמו שהוא במשהו. וכן כתב הגהות המיימוני [קושטא פ"ה ה"ב אות ח] בשם סמ"ק [סי' ריט עמ' רכא] על תבואה גירמ"י שהוא בלשון אשכנז אוי"ס גיוואקסי"ן, שאם נתערב בתבואה שיש לאפות הכל קודם פסח, דבפסח עצמו אפילו בכל שהוא אסור, אלמא דס"ל דקמח בקמח לא נקרא תערובת לח בלח, על כן הירא את דבר ה' יש להחמיר כדבריו כי אין לך תבואה שאין שם מאותה תבואה. וגם מאן דחש לחומרא זו אין לו לעשות תבשיל ממצות בפסח, דמאי שנא מאפייה. והנזהרים באפייה שתהיה קודם פסח ובפסח עושין תבשיל ממצות, אין טעם לדבריהם.

One of the first sources to forbid Gebrokts and gain traction was the Olas Shabbos (453:3. Printed in 1681). He starts by quoting the Bach (2) who is concerned that some of the wheat may have been chewed by a weasel, which the Geonim were Machmir to Assur. The Bach writes that one should bake all of their Matza before Pesach because if one bakes it on Pesach, it may not be able to become Battel (if you hold the flour is lach belach, the mixture happened already when you ground it and it became Battel. The issue is only if you hold it is Yavesh Beyavesh). Based on this the Olas Shabbos wants to claim that if one is Machmir on this, it would also make sense to not eat a dish that includes cooked Matza.

Basically, as the Machtzis Hashekel (on Magen Avraham 458:1) explains, he is concerned for a Chozer Veniur when you cook it on Pesach. There are a few kulos that would come out of this. First of all, one could make Gebrokts before Pesach. Second of all, one would be allowed to have their Matzos with a schmear of some sort, the issue would only be cooking it.

The Magen Avraham is bothered (as explained by Rav Gedalia Oberlander in the Ohr Yisrael journal - טו, תשנ''ט, קלד - קמח) that even if flour is yavesh beyavesh, when you first baked the Matza it was lach belach and became battel. Were it not to have became battel at that point, it wouldn’t be battel now (since there isn’t another point it could have become Battel before Pesach) and one wouldn’t ever be allowed to eat Matza on Pesach.

The Pri Megadim (M.Z. 453:2) answers based on the Maharil that when there is a new cooking (making Matza balls) that is Mechadesh a new Taam so we have to dan on it anew, so we say Chozeir Veniur.

(4) – There may be flour on/in the Matzos that can become Chametz when mixed with water

The Shulchan Aruch HaRav (in Teshuvos printed in the back #6) has another reason to be Machmir. The Matzos commonly had a small amount of visible flour on the outside of them. Even though the flour had been oven roasted along with the Matza, so many hold it can’t become Chametz the same way the Matza can’t, still it is worthwhile to be Machmir not to go ahead and put the flour directly into liquid, which could potentially be an Issur Deoraysa. Early sources don’t address this point because they used to take the time to knead the dough properly. Now we are in much more of a rush, so it is Kedai to be Machmir like the Maharashdam. This is not an actual Issur, many Poskim, such as the Rambam and Rashi hold it’s fine, so one shouldn’t protest against those who do and one can be Meikel to have Gebrokts on the last day of Pesach and can have matza meal with fruit juice (there is a Machlokes whether fruit juice can be Machmitz, see 462:1-4, S.A. is Meikel, Rama says that the Minhag is to be Machmir unless it’s a Shaas Hadchak). This is especially so as the Arizal writes that one should be Machmir on all Chumros on Pesach.

The Machtzis Hashekel (on Magen Avraham 458:1) quotes the same Svara to be Machmir. He also adds that as you continue to mix it, that flour can end up inside the Matza.

When the Shaarei Teshuva (O.C. 460) quotes this Svara he adds that it could be even worse. That flour inside the Matza may not even get completely baked because the Matza around it may be protecting it.

The Eishel Avraham (Betchutch - 447:4) adds that there is another reason this would be even worse. If there is flour inside the matza that never got kneaded there is no element of Issur over here. There is nothing that is Chametz so there is nothing to become Battel. Everything is Mutar in all respects. However, if you put it in liquid on Pesach, it would now become Chametz and can’t be considered Battel.

On the other hand, Rav Mordechai Epstein (quoted in footnote four by Rav Gedaliah Oberlander in Ohr Yisrael - טו, תשנ''ט, קלד - קמח) writes that this Chashash was only when they made thick Matzos, but now that we make thin Matzos there is no flour inside of them.

As we said earlier, the Gemara, as understood simply holds that matza soaked in water is Mutar. This is how the vast majority of Meforshim and Poskim understand it.

Nevertheless, the Chassidim were mostly Machmir, presumably based on the Shulchan Aruch HaRav.

The Gr”a (who is always the one to come out against the Chassidim) is obviously Meikel (Maaseh Rav 187). While preparing for this Shiur I heard in several Shiurim that the Gr”a would actually leave a Matza ball in his window so everyone would know it was okay.

Notably, while the Chassidim are Machmir, the Baal Shem Tov himself was Meikel (Rav Gedaliah Oberlander, footnote 21, quoting the (Vitebsk, Belarus – Before WWII Jews were about half the population. Marc Chagall is from there) ר"י שו"ב אות נד בשם רבי מנדל מוויטעבסק). This isn’t such a surprise as the Baal Hatanya writes that this issue only started about twenty years earlier when they started rushing the Matzos and not kneading them properly.

The first Chassid we find being Machmir was the Mezricher Maggid (Same source. Rav Yitzchak Eisik of Vitebsk, Talmid Muvhak of the Baal Hatanyah, also writes that the Rabboseinu of Mezrich were Machmir), which works out chronologically with when the Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes that the problem started. Still, it’s fun to tell Chaassidim that the Baal Shem Tov was Meikel.

Similarly, (Siach Sarfei Kodesh Breslov 2 page 18) Rebbi Nachman of Breslov wrote that one who does not keep Gebrokts should not take it on but one who already was Mekabel the Minhag should continue with it. He personally was Machmir.

(Otzar Minhagei Chabad, page 49, Mei’ir Einei Hagoleh page 73) The first Gerrer Rebbe, Rav Yitzchak Meir Alter (1798-1866) was Meikel and was once by the Kotzker Rebbe with Rav Mordechai Yosef of Izhbetz, the author of the Mei Hashiloach (1800-1854). The Gerrer Gerrer Rebbe made kiddush and was Yotzei Kiddush Bemakom Seuda with a Matza ball. They tried serving Rav Mordechai Yosef one as well, but he refused. The Gerrer Rebbe asked him why he was being more Machmir than him and Rav Mordechai Yosef just smiled. Immediately, the Gerrer Rebbe felt something hard in his teeth, took it out, and it was half a kernel of wheat. The Gerrer Rebbe said “I know this is your work.” The Kotzker Rebbe said, “You don’t need to be concerned for the Kashrus here. Rav Mordechai Yosef’s Koach is so powerfel he can make wheat appear even in food that’s completely clean and Kosher.”

The Yaavetz (5:65) was Meikel and writes that his father, the Chacham Tzvi, disproved all the Machmirim and writes that being Machmir leads to refraining from Simchas Yom Tov.

The Maharshag (1:56) and Minhagei Chassam Sofer (10:25) write that the Chassam Sofer used to eat Gebroktz. In Teshuvos OC 138 it also says that it’s Mutar). However, in Teshuvos YD 222 he writes that it’s a nice thing to be Machmir. (See Betzeil Hachochmah 6:40, Shu”t Shevet Sofer OC 27, and Moadim Lesimcha Vol. 5 page 442. Din Online brings an answer which presumably comes from one of those sources that he held it was a slight Chumra but not worth going against his Rebbe, Rav Nosson Adler, for.)

Rav Avraham Yishai Berkowitz told Rabbi Baruch Simon that the Divrei Chaim had a daughter who had difficulty conceiving and had to go to various doctors for help. As she was travelling, she ended up by the Chassam Sofer one day of Chol Hamoed. The Chassam Sofer served her Matza ball soup, and she was torn, should she eat it or not? After all, her father help it was Assur but the Chassam Sofer is serving it to her and she didn’t want to be disrespectful. In the end she ended up eating two Matza balls, but she felt very guilty about it. Baruch Hashem, her travels were successful, and she had twins. She discussed with her father how guilty she felt about consuming the Matza balls and her father said to her “had you eaten eight Matza balls, you would have had eight kids.


Taking back to the story with Moshe Goldkorn, Hashem Yinkom Damo. Rav Ephraim Ashri Paskened that he was allowed to eat his Matza soaked in water to soften it up. The whole thing is just a Chumra, not an Issur, and he shouldn’t lose out on the whole Mitzva of eating Matza for it.

(He did tell him to be Matir Neder, although I’m not sure that would be required.)

Many Rebbes were in similarly Meikel on themselves or family members to soak their Matza in water as they aged and became unable to eat Matza without doing that.

Moshe Goldkorn was Matir Neder and did in fact eat his Matza soaked in water and despite being in tremendous pain from having been mercilessly beaten just two days earlier was boundlessly happy and gave thanks to Hashem for giving him the opportunity to not only be Mekayem the Mitzva himself but also to be Mezakeh 100 other Yidden with the Mitzva.

Hashem should bring us the days when we know no more pain and can all be Mekayem the Mitzva of Al Matzos Umerorim Yochluhu with the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash Bimeheira Biyameinu Amen.

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  • At some point when I have time I'll try to add in the rest of the quotes.
    – Eliyahu
    Apr 25 at 18:38
  • 2
    Wow thanks this is amazing, really appreciate you taking the time to write this! Apr 25 at 22:30
  • What Sefer were you quoting from Rav Gedaliah Oberlander? Apr 25 at 22:31
  • @YehoshuaLevy It's from the Ohr Yisrael journal (אור ישראל (מאנסי), טו, תשנ''ט, קלד - קמח). I found it on COTAR.
    – Eliyahu
    Apr 26 at 13:37

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