Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Daf Yomi - Chagigah 23 - JUSTIFYING A CUSTOM REGARDING GEBROCHTS

Shoel U’meishiv (I: 1:130) issues a novel ruling based on our Gemora.

The Mishna had stated: One may carry terumah while he is carrying a midras (objects that became tamei when a zav, zavah or niddah place their weight on them – they are classified as an av hatumah and have the ability to contaminate people or utensils), but one may not carry kodesh while carrying a midras.

The Gemora asks: What is the reasoning for this prohibition?

Rav Yehudah says in the name of Shmuel: There was once an incident where a person was transporting a barrel of consecrated wine from one place to another and a strap from his sandal (which was tamei through midras) broke off, and he took it and placed it on the top of the barrel and it fell into the airspace of the barrel, and rendered the barrel and the consecrated wine tamei. It was at that time that they said: One may carry terumah while he is carrying a midras, but one may not carry kodesh while carrying a midras.

The Gemora asks: If so, they should have decreed regarding terumah, as well?

The Gemora answers: This Mishna is following the opinion of Rabbi Chananya ben Akavya, who maintains that when a decree was impelled because of a certain incident, it is limited to the same situation as the original incident, and since it occurred by kodesh, the decree was issued only in regards to kodesh and not to terumah.

The Shoel U’meishiv says: The obligation of eating matzah on Pesach, which is lechem oni, poor man’s bread (water and flour) is only on the first night of Pesach and not any other nights or days, including the second night. Eating lechem oni is because the Jewish people baked the dough before it had a chance to rise on the way out of Egypt. Since the mitzvah is based upon that incident and that occurred on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan, that is the only night that we have this obligation.

We know when the night of the fifteenth is, and we are not uncertain regarding the days of the new month. The Chachamim instituted that we must observe two days of Yom Tov since that it what they did in the times of the Beis Hamikdosh. Accordingly, we must fulfill all mitzvos on the second night, as well.

However, that is only regarding mitzvos that if we wouldn’t fulfill, it would be degrading for the Yom Tov. We are required to eat matzah and marror since otherwise, it would be apparent that we are not recognizing this night as a Yom Tov; however, matzah which is not lechem oni would not degrade the Yom Tov at all and therefore it would not be necessary. He cites a Beis Yosef as proof to this.

I heard that this could be the justification for the custom of not eating gebrochts only on the first night of Pesach. If the reason for not eating gebrochts on Pesach is because there is a concern that it might result in chametz, there is no distinction between the first night and all the other nights; but if the reason is based on lechem oni, there can be logic to say that it is only applicable on the first night.

11 comments:

Shneur said...

Gebrochts – Holier Than Moses

Dov Bear has a post on gebrochts, the custom of not eating matza that has in any way become wet. Dov Bear's point, based in part on Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov (a Chabadnik), is that the custom has no halakhic source. If memory serves me, the Rema* mentions the custom and is also puzzled by its source, and posits that children saw their parents not eating wet matza on the first night of Passover and confused this custom, creating the new "minhag" of gebrochts. Why not eat wet matza on the first night of Pesach? An opinion of the Rambam (here brought by Amshinover in the comments to Dov Bear's post):

[W]e quote from Nefesh HaRav by R. Hershel Schachter, shlita, Rosh Kollel of R.I.E.T.S. This sefer represents the views of his rebbe, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt"l. R. Schachter writes (p. 18: "Even though mitnagdim [as opposed to Chassidim] are not accustomed to refrain from eating gebrockts (matza sheruya) on Passover, the Beit Halevi [the Gaon R. Yitzhak Zeev Soloveichik] and after him his son, the Gaon R. Chaim Soloveichik, were both careful to refrain from eating gebrockts on the first day of Passover because of Rambam`s ruling [in Hilchot Chametz U`Matza] that one should not eat matza ashira on the first day of Passover, even when not eating it for the specific purpose of mitzvat matza at the Seder. Cooked matza is likened to matza ashira in this regard, and this chumra (stringency) is a tradition from R. Chaim of Volozhin."

Matza ashira (grape matza, egg matza, etc.) is extended – without precedent in any halakhic literature or practice – to include shemurah matza broken up into soup. This morphs into never eating any wet matza. Which morphs into the Chabad custom of not eating matza that has come into contact with any food. All of this because of the fear that unbaked flour within the matza will somehow rise when brought in contact with liquid (or, in the case of Chabad, solid as well).

But to really understand this custom, one needs to look back to its origin and then slightly before that. The custom is not much older than 500 years old, if that. And it began not long after another Passover custom got its start – thin, cracker-like matza. Before this time (and in many Sefardic communities to this day) matza was soft and thick, like a large Arabic flat bread. These matzot were sometimes several inches thick, but more commonly 1/2 to 1 inch in thickness. These were the standard matzot eaten by Jews the world over until a custom began in (where else) Eastern Europe among those identified with Ashkenazim to – for fear of hametz being found in soft matzot. This probably took place after these communities first came in contact with Europeans who baked water crackers and saw what they felt was an advantage in the process. Soon matza was wafer tin and baked at extremely high heat. And our flat matza was born.

But all was not rosy in matza land. The rapid high temperature baking of the new matza often left pockets of under-baked dough within the matzot. Although halakhicly these matzot could not become hametz, the especially pious (and the ignorant) nonetheless feared the possibility. I believe it was then that the "custom" of gebrochts entered the Jewish community, and the memories of zeiydi who didn't eat gebrochts on the first night of Passover because of a stringent reading of the Rambam blurred into zeiydi who didn't eat gebrochts, period, because of fear of hametz.

There is no halakhic source for the custom. It is a custom described in halakhic literature as foolish. It was propagated largely by the then-nascent hasidic movement, whose hallmark was anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism. And now, the same people who rioted in Boro Park and Jerusalem are sitting around their Passover tables believing they are frummer than everyone else, in part because their matzot don't see the insides of soup bowls. And, perhaps even more absurd, thousand of Chabadniks all over the world eat their burned shemurah matza from plastic bags to prevent matza crumbs from contaminating their tables and tableware, just as Moses did in the Sinai desert 3300 years ago.

* Can anyone cite this souce?

Mike said...

jewfaq.org

Some people observe an additional strictness during Pesach known as gebrochts, from a Yiddish word meaning "broken," although I'm not sure what brokenness has to do with this restriction. Those who observe gebrochts (or more accurately, "no gebrochts") will avoid any matzah product that has come into contact with liquid after being baked. The rule arises from a concern that matzah may contain bits of flour that were not completely cooked and that would become leavened upon contact with liquid. People who observe this strictness cannot eat many common traditional Pesach dishes, such as matzah ball soup, and cannot even eat charoset on matzah at seder. They are careful not to spill seder wine on their matzah, and promptly remove the wine spilled as part of the seder. Observance of this additional restriction is not common, but many people become exposed to it because it is followed by the Chabad-Lubavitch, who are active in Jewish education. Some have criticized gebrochts for unnecessarily complicating Pesach and taking some of the joy out of this celebration of freedom for no good reason, noting that the premise of this rule contradicts codes of Jewish law that explicitly say it is impossible for matzah to become chametz once it is baked. Nevertheless, this effort to more fully observe G-d's law is worthy of respect, even if you are not inclined to add this restriction to your own Pesach experience.

Bobby said...

When do we go according to the exact incident and when do we extend it? Are there rules for this?

Standing up for Minhagim said...

I would like to point out as well as remind all of you who say this is a minhag shtus etc., that it is not up to us to make light of any minhag. There are plenty of "minhagim" practiced by various branches of Judiasim that are shtussim or CHV even worse. This is not the place for any of us who compared to gedolim of previous generations, as well as to our generation, are a bunch of amay ha'aretz gamur.

Yigal said...

The Chacham Tzvi in a teshuva someplace says that the minhag of not eating gebrochts does not have any validity.

Reuven said...

Reb Moshe says that one does not have to be matir neder on this particular minhag.

Jewish (from another site) said...

why are these ignorent people like shmarya challenging and mocking such minhagim and such scripulous behavior in regards to matzah on pesach? first of all whover mocks it should be aware that they are playing with fire!!! what makes you think that you know more than all of the holy people and tzadikim that keep these things?? and besides the whole point of pesach is to go out of your boundaries and go extreme for 8 days without trying to use your little brain and try to make logic out of them and decide which ones are important and which arent

ashminover said...

Otzar Erchei HaYahadus (p. 297), explains: "`Matza sheruya` is matza that, after having been baked, is soaked or comes in contact with water in some other manner. Pious and practical men do not eat matza that is soaked in either water or soup. However, they are not as stringent regarding milk or fruit juice. In the diaspora, they are lenient in this regard on the eighth day of Passover; they do eat soaked matza — even those who are most scrupulous on the other days of Passover."

"This custom [of not eating matza sheruya] has no basis in halacha, as matza that has been baked cannot ferment, which would result in prohibited chametz; even so, Chassidim are meticulously careful not to eat matza sheruya, and they are also careful not to use any utensils that contained soaked matza."

he concludes, "One may not override customs that one`s fathers have embraced for many generations without nullification by a sage following a she`elat chacham." (See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De`ah 228:1.)


Likutei Maharich (p. 107) cites Derech Pikudecha by R. Tzvi Elimelech Spira (mitzvat lo ta`aseh 12), which states that all matters of stringency (chumrot) above and beyond the [halachic] requirement that one accepts upon oneself on Passover, do not have to be observed on the eighth day of Passover, because by keeping these stringencies the erroneous inference may be drawn that any leniency would result in chametz gamur, absolute chametz that is biblically forbidden. It is not proper to cast aspersions on a large segment of Israel by suggesting (even merely through one`s well-meaning actions) that they are careless in their observance of the prohibitions of chametz. Thus, many Tzaddikim, Admorim, Chassidim and other pious individuals have a custom to eat matza that is not shemura (i.e., matza made from wheat that was not under constant supervision from the time of the actual cutting of the wheat, which many people, including the above pious Jews, avoid during the first
seven days of Passover) on the eighth day. They do, of course, take care not to violate any prohibition of chametz on that day.

We do see some support for a halachic basis of the custom to avoid matza sheruya or gebrockts in the responsa of the Ba`al HaTanya, R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady. At the end of Vol. 4 of his Shulchan Aruch HaRav (responsum 6) he states: "I have seen at times matza that has on it bits of flour after it was baked, because the dough is hard and has not been properly kneaded. This could result in a biblical violation [if it comes into contact with water, providing a basis for the custom of the avoidance of eating soaked matza]...yet I would not come out against those of the general populace who are lenient in this matter, as they have upon whom to rely..."

Finally we quote from Nefesh HaRav by R. Hershel Schachter, shlita, Rosh Kollel of R.I.E.T.S. This sefer represents the views of his rebbe, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt"l. R. Schachter writes (p. 18: "Even though mitnagdim [as opposed to Chassidim] are not accustomed to refrain from eating gebrockts (matza sheruya) on Passover, the Beit Halevi [the Gaon R. Yitzhak Zeev Soloveichik] and after him his son, the Gaon R. Chaim Soloveichik, were both careful to refrain from eating gebrockts on the first day of Passover because of Rambam`s ruling [in Hilchot Chametz U`Matza] that one should not eat matza ashira on the first day of Passover, even when not eating it for the specific purpose of mitzvat matza at the Seder. Cooked matza is likened to matza ashira in this regard, and this chumra (stringency) is a tradition from R. Chaim of Volozhin."

Thus, though we do find a halachic basis for stringency regarding gebrockts, every person should follow his family`s minhag, and in the merit of our diligent study and observance of His mitzvot, may Hashem bless us all with the ultimate redemption, speedily in our days.

The Town Crier said...

Why are some people criticizing others for carrying on tradition that was borne into them - regardless of how it started?

I don't eat gebrokts not out of any self righteous indignation, not out of any holy attitude, other than that is what I did growing up because thats what my father did and thats what his father did going back for 10 generations.

Much of everything we do, especially when it becomes to ritual is due to minhag and tradition passed down, which has some connection to actual halacha. True, some people put more obsession into minhag over halacha but that all goes to adherence and observance of the celebration.

People put so much thought into breaking a plate at a wedding yet most dont even know why they are doing it. Is it zecher lachurban? Is it because the two families used to break a plate in half during arusin and then reconvene months later when it was time for nisuin and put both haves together? Is it just a cutsey thing the moms do at the chosson tish with a sledgehammer tied in pink lacey ribbon to put on onlysimchas.com?

I dont think you are doing something wrong by enjoying all of your matza meal cake and g-d knows what else, because thats what you do, please dont assume i am doing something incorrect by choosing not to eat it because thats what my grandfather did.

Avromi said...

The chacham tzvi says that not eating gebrochts takes away from simchas yom tov

zach said...

This Mishna is following the opinion of Rabbi Chananya ben Akavya, who maintains that when a decree was impelled because of a certain incident, it is limited to the same situation as the original incident, and since it occurred by kodesh, the decree was issued only in regards to kodesh and not to terumah.

Interesting. We can therefore logically extend this to the gezerah against kitniyos on Pesach. It originally involved only a few species (beans, rice, lentils). Two common explanations are that the gezerah was due to someone mistakenly eating chometz thinking it was flour from kitnios, or that kitnios products were often stored with grains. Both justifications would thus - according to Rabbi Chananya ben Akavya (who I'm certain ate kitnios but that's besides the point) - not be sufficient reason to include the multitude of other products that were later added, such as corn, sunflower seeds, and peanuts!