By Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Star-K Rabbinic Administrator
The production of matzos Kosher for Pesach (KFP) involves a great deal of meticulous work. The process begins with the inspection of wheat kernels to ensure that they have not been adversely affected by moisture in the air and have not prematurely sprouted. Grinding of the grain must be performed according to the dictates of Halacha which preludes any pre-grind soaking of the grain and which requires special preparation of the milling equipment to ensure that no contamination exists from non-Passover flour in the grinders and filters. The KFP flour is then loaded onto trucks either pneumatically or in bags under sheltered conditions and shipped to the bakeries.
A bakery which has been kashered for Pesach will have already prepared special water to be used for Pesach matzos. Hand matzoh bakeries do not use regular municipal water for fear that the chemicals added to the water may affect the leavening qualities of the dough. After the dough has been mixed, rolled out, cut, and perforated, the matzos go into ovens for baking. This entire process, from the time that water first comes into contact with the flour, until the matzoh is completely baked, takes just a few minutes. Unquestionably, on Pesach, every conscientious Jew would only use matzos made under the supervision of a reliable and competent Rabbi or supervisory organization.
Despite all the precautions and attention to detail by the bakeries involved in making matzos, it is possible for the consumer to purchase matzos and still observe some problems. The following is a brief discussion of some problem areas. It should be noted that these problems can exist in both hand and machine baked matzos, although they are more prevalent in the hand baked variety.
1. Matzoh Kefulah – If in any place, a matzoh is bent over, the doubled over portion is not kosher for Pesach. One must remove and discard this area together with a one inch margin of regular matzoh. This is required even if the bent over part is very small. However, if a matzoh is bent over, but the two layers do not at any point actually touch one another, then it is kosher, and removal of this area is not required. In handmade matzos, it is common to find creases in the matzos. If there is a corresponding crease on the other side of the matzoh, then one should assume that the dough probably doubled over during the rolling process. In such cases, it is customary to remove the creased area. An important difference between a true matzah kefula that is doubled over and a matzoh that is only creased on both sides, is that in the former case the doubled over portion must be disposed of as though it were chometz, as soon as it is discovered, while in the latter situation the creased matzoh may be kept in one’s possession. If the creased matzoh is a shalem (complete), one may use if for lechem mishna. After reciting the brocha, simply put aside the creased area so it will not be eaten.
To avoid any problems of borer, separating, on Shabbos, the non-kosher part of the matzoh (the kefulah) should be held in one hand and the kosher part in the other. The matzoh should be broken and the good part should be removed from the bad part. If it is a real kefulah, it is considered to be chometz. Since one sold his chometz before Pesach, technically, this kefulah belongs to the goy. One may not discard the goy’s chometz on Pesach, and it must be put away until the conclusion of the Chag. If it is just a chashash chometz, the custom is not to discard it in the garbage. It may be placed in the non-Pesachdik sink, after it has been broken into small pieces, and washed down the drain.
2. Matzoh Nefucha – A matzoh which has ballooned and formed a blister during the baking process also requires special scrutiny. If the blister formed is so small that it cannot accommodate an average sized hazelnut (with its shell) between the upper and lower layers, then such a matzoh is kosher. Certainly, matzos that have not formed any blisters, but are merely uneven in appearance, are kosher. Matzos which do not have small holes all over them should not be used.
A matzoh lacking the usual brown spots, that is completely white on both sides, should not be used since it may not have been thoroughly baked. It follows that matzoh meal should be slightly brownish, and the more brown it is, the better the matzos from which it was made were baked.
In order for matzos to be considered shalem, so they can be used for lechem mishna, the halacha is that as long as no more than one forty-eighth (1/48) of the matzoh is missing, it can still be considered a shalem. Hand matzos that are irregularly shaped, are still considered whole, as long as no pieces broke off after baking.
Matzos left over from previous years that were stored in places free of chometz may be used. TIP: If your oven has been kashered for Pesach, simply put them in the oven for a few minutes so the matzos will regain their crispness.
Through our meticulous observance of the mitzvah of eating matzoh, and all the other laws of Pesach, may Hashem soon grant our most fervent wish – of the coming of Moshiach – so that we may once again eat our matzoh together with the korban pesach in Yerushalayim, our holy city.