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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Erev Pesach Matzos

It is common, particularly amongst the Chassidim, to use Matzos that were baked on Erev Pesach after Midday.

The Tur (458) quotes earlier Gaonim as saying that one only fulfills his obligation of Matzoh with Matzoh that was baked on Erev Pesach after midday, the reason being that since Matzoh is juxtaposed to the Korban Pesach. The Pascal Lamb must be slaughtered after midday; therefore the matzos must also be baked after midday on Erev Pesach. [There is some discussion in the Poskim exactly when it is considered midday with regard to this].

The Yerushalmi concurs with the opinion of the Gaonim; however in Tosefta it states that one fulfills his obligation with older Matzoh as well. The Tur rules that one should be stringent like the opinion of the Yerushalmi. The Beis Yosef adds that perhaps all Matzos, and not just the ones that one is using to fulfill his obligation, should be baked on Erev Pesach afternoon.

When the first night of Pesach is on Saturday night, the Matzos obviously can’t be baked the preceding afternoon because it’s Shabbos. The Tur quotes differing opinions; either you bake them Friday afternoon, or you bake them on Saturday night before the Seder. (Talk about fresh!) This was the opinion of the Gra and the Chasam Sofer reportedly did so as did his Rebbe, the Hafla’h. More recently, I heard that this is the minhag in Bobov as well. The Shulchon Aruch and Taz agree with the first opinion. [See Taz for a litany of reasons].

The Mishna Berura, although clearly stating that all of the above is only a Minhag, and one fulfills his Halachic obligation with Matzoh that was baked even a month or two prior to Pesach, appears to be disturbed by the lack of widespread adoption of this Minhag. He quotes the Bigdei Yesha who explains that many opinions hold that just as one cannot nullify Chametz on Pesach, so too one cannot nullify Chametz on Erev Pesach. Therefore if one would inadvertently come across some Chametz during the Matzoh baking process (as is quite common) he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it and would transgress the prohibition of Baal Yiraah. The Mishna Berura concludes that one should try to be machmir that the Matzos that he uses for the Sedarim be baked on Erev Pesach.

The Aruch Hashulchan questions the validity of using the juxtaposition of Pesach to Matzoh to infer when the Matzoh should be baked. The hekesh, he writes, is only to know when to eat the Matzoh, not when to bake it. He concludes that in the time of the Gaonim and the Tur they would bake fresh Matzoh every day of Pesach. Indeed, the Tur noted the oddity of the Barcelona community who would prepare all their Matzoh for the entire Pesach before Yom Tov. Therefore, the Matzos that one will use for the Seder should be fresh as well. But nowadays that we all prepare our Matzoh before Pesach very few people are careful about this and most don’t know about it all.

The Vilna Gaon is reported in Maaseh Rav as not being particular about using Erev Pesach matzos either.

There are however many who are careful about this Minhag, reportedly Rabbi Lamm, the chancellor of Yeshiva University, among them.

The Chida (Avodas Hakodesh, Moreh Betzba 7:205) says that the minhag is to sing Hallel during the baking of the Erev Pesach Matzos, just reminiscent of the Hallel that was sung whilst preparing the Korban Pesach.

There is an additional health benefit to eating warm, fresh Matzoh at the Seder; the Ohr Zaruah says that the warm Matzos will deflect the ill effects of the Maror.

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Meet Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

 In 2004 he met his wife, Suzanne Schor, a native of the warmer Los Angeles climate, and the couple settled in Lakewood, where he focused his pioneering and independent strengths on the study of Halacha, or Jewish law. His innovative spirit and innate ability to help others seeking to clarify the finer points of Judaism and integrate them into their daily lives inspired his decision to commute daily from Lakewood to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in order to bask in the day to day exposure to the world renowned Posek, HaRav David Feinstein. The daily commute was more than compensated for when he received Semicha from Rav Feinstien and the Kollel L’Torah U’lhorah (a division of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) in Tamuz 5768, June 2008.

In August 2009, the Habers moved west, heading toward Los Angeles where Rabbi Haber joined the LINK-LA Kollel. After being an active member of the Kollel for several years, he joined the business world, however he is still actively involved in teaching and learning in LA.

Actively involved in all aspects of TorahLab, Tzvi has taken upon himself a quasi-role as administrator of quality control and has effectively improved and upgraded many of the smaller yet vital details involved in our site. His advice is eagerly sought and gracefully given.

Rabbi Haber is now living in the La Brea section of Los Angeles with his wonderful family. He can be contacted at tzvi@torahlab.org