What should I use for hamotzi on Shabbat erev Pesach? A condensed guide
Why can’t we just use matza?
Yerushalmi states: One who eats matza on erev Pesach is like one who has relations with his arusa (betrothed) in his father-in-law’s house. And one who has relations with his arusa is punished by lashes. (TY Pesachim 10:1) Meiri explains the reason is so one eats matza on the seder night with an appetite for the mitzva. (Pesachim 13a)
Rishonim agree matza may not be eaten erev Pesach. (OC 471) Some rule that this prohibition begins the night before Pesach (Orchot Chaim, Hilchot Chametz u’Matza 114, yesh omrim); Ramban rules it begins at sunrise. (Pesachim 50a) Mishna Berura states that Rema agrees the prohibition begins at sun-up, as hamotzi may not be made with regular matza on Shabbat day, an alternative must be found; therefore, it is customary to use this alternative for Friday night as well. Additionally, there are those with the minhag not to eat matza for the month before Pesach, or from Rosh Chodesh Nissan.
One may eat chametz until sof zman achilat chametz, the 4th halachic hour of the day. The problem is – where to eat it? The house is already cleaned and kashered for Pesach. You can eat your challah outdoors, over disposables or napkins, or in a room that is easy to clean and away from Pesach food – when making hamotzi have in mind to continue your meal at the table. Matza may be used for lechem mishna, it should be well wrapped so as not to touch the bread.
Rav Ovadia Yosef explains that when matza is cooked and absorbs other flavors it can no longer be used to fulfill the mitzva of matza and may be eaten for hamotzi on erev Pesach. (Yabia Omer VI OC 39) He suggests placing a few boards of matza whole into a pot of hot (yad soledet bo) soup or meat sauce that has just been taken off the fire, taking care that the matza remains whole. Matza must be prepared in this way before Shabbat begins.
Based on this opinion it seems that a dish like matza lasagna may also be used if it thoroughly absorbs the sauce. (This is not a universally accepted opinion. Sha’ar Ha-Tziyun 444:1 notes that Vilna Gaon and Magen Avraham prohibit boiled or cooked matza products on erev Pesach.)
Matza ashira is matza made with liquid other than water – generally eggs or fruit juice. There are several reasons not everyone uses matza ashira for hamotzi this Shabbat:
- Some rule that matza ashira is chametz nukshe and therefore offers little benefit over challah. (Rashi Pesachim 36a “ain lashin”, Ra’avad Laws of Chametz and Matza 5:2)
- Some rule that even though matza ashira is not necessarily chametz, there is a custom not to eat it on Pesach, and therefore one should not eat it after the 4th halachic hour, or after midday. (Rema OC 444:1, Sha’ar HaTziyun, Igrot Moshe OC I 155)
- It may be hard to obtain matza ashira that is kosher for Pesach. (Aruch Ha-Shulchan 444:5)
- Bracha complications: Matza ashira generally falls into the category of pat ha-ba’a b’kisnin, bread or matza made with liquid other than water. Several poskim rule that the blessing on matza ashira is mezonot. (Maharil Hilchot Shabbat HaGadol v’Erev Pesach, Yechave Da’at I 91), others rule that one may only make hamotzi and birkat hamazon on such bread when eaten for a meal and/or in larger quantities. (discussion in OC 168)
Nevertheless, there are many poskim who allow and even recommend using matza ashira this Shabbat. (Shulchan Aruch OC 444:1, Igrot Moshe ibid) Shulchan Aruch rules that this matza is not chametz and may be used for hamotzi on erev Pesach up until the 10th halachic hour. Therefore, many people, particularly Sephardim who follow Shulchan Aruch, have the custom to eat matza ashira for hamotzi all three meals on Shabbat.
Rema allows matza ashira for the first two meals, but not for the third. Why? Rema limits eating matza ashira on Pesach to the elderly or infirm who can’t eat regular matza; even though it is not strictly considered chametz, as it is not customary to eat matza ashira on Pesach it should not be eaten after sof zman achilat chametz – the 4th halachic hour. (Some people may have the custom to eat matza ashira later – until chatzot hayom or the 10th halachic hours; these are valid opinions. But if one does not have such a custom and they are using matza ashira they should finish eating it by sof zman achilat chametz.) As the proper time for seudat shlishit is after mincha – matza ashira is not a suitable option.
There is extensive discussion as to what types of matza ashira are kosher for Pesach; some brands on the market contain leavening agents that render them chametz according to some poskim. If using matza ashira one should carefully check that it is kosher for use on Pesach. Those who do not eat matza ashira on Pesach should try not to get any on their Pesach dishes, although b’dieved if it does get on one may still use the dishes.