What are the regulations concerning the passover ceremony and the use of yeast in bread? Is eating bread made without yeast significant and meant to represent anything in particular?

Does this restriction further imply removing anything fermented or corrupted and not partaking in these during passover (i.e. alcohol)?

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    Welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for this question, which gets at the meaning behind one of Judaism's most widespread practices.
    – Isaac Moses
    May 12, 2011 at 2:38
  • @Isaac Moses, Glad to be here to learn, thanks for the edit. May 12, 2011 at 2:45

2 Answers 2


Chametz is prohibited to eat or own on Passover, and this includes any flour made of the five grains, Wheat, Rye, Spelt, Barley, and Oats, that has come into contact with water for enough time to halachically ferment, which is a period of at least 18 minutes.

Se'or, which is the heavily-leavened sourdough that was commonly used as a leavening agent, is also prohibitted to eat or own on Passover. The biological yeast that we use today for leavening bread is itself not prohibited, but may not be added to any flour mixtures, as it speed the fermentation process and is likely to become chametz. See here.

In general, fermented products such as alcoholic beverages are permitted on Passover so long as they are not made from the grains we are worried about. Alcohol is not prohibited on Passover. In fact, we are required to drink four cups of wine on the first night at the seder.

Practically speaking, one should only buy and consume products on Passover if they are marked with a legitimate Passover kashrut symbol.

In regard to why we eat unleavened bread, or matzah, on Passover, and what it represents, the mishna, cited famously by the haggada, explains that it symbolizes the haste in which the Jews left Egypt, so much so that they would not even wait for their bread to rise. Other symbolic reasons are given, such as it represents the deflation of the human ego, or that it represents complete freedom in its ultimate simplicity.

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    Just throwing out there that the 5 grains spoken about in the answer are: Wheat, Rye and Spelt, as well as Two- and Six-row Barley, although common practice is to count the Barleys together and include Oats as the fifth.
    – Double AA
    Mar 28, 2012 at 21:53

Any food or drink that is made from one of the five grains (like wheat and barley) which is "machmitz" or begins the process of leavening, is forbidden on Passover. The Torah says that the when the Jews left Egypt, their bread didn't have time to rise. The matza, (unleavened bread), represents the haste of exodus. Commentators expand on this idea. Another idea discussed focuses on chametz. The leavening process is not necessary for nutritional value, but is done just for taste. The bread becomes all swollen up, which is compared to arrogance & the evil inclination. Also, bread was invented in Egypt, so this might have to do with it...


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