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Apr 16, 2011 07:39 PM

Rabbi Hershal Schachter Approves Soft Matzoh For Ashkenazim

Rabbi Hershal Schachter Approves Soft Matzoh For Ashkenazim

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  1. What exactly is soft matzah? Like matzah brei or is there an actual soft product?

    5 Replies
    1. re: brokentelephone

      Never mind. I just watched a youtube video. For anyone else who hasn't heard of it, soft matzoh looks like a matzah version of naan bread.

      1. re: brokentelephone

        The reason it went out of fashion in the 19th century is that it doesn't store at all; it has to be baked fresh each day. That was all very well when the local bakery could just operate each day and supply the day's matzos to everybody in the village, just as it did the day's bread during the year. On Shabbos there was indeed a problem, because Friday's matzos would be nearly inedible, but they dealt with it by soaking it in water and not eating very much of it. This model stopped working when people started moving into the cities, and the market demanded specialist matzoh bakeries that would bake before Pesach and ship. At about the same time, the rabbis decided that baking before Pesach was a great idea, because it avoids the problem of what to do with the mistakes, the batches that go wrong and become chametz. Before Pesach those can just be thrown away, or sold as chametz, or whatever. So we ended up with our modern crispy matzos, which can easily last several months or even a year.

        The recent innovation with the soft matzos is that they're frozen immediately after baking, and should be warmed up immediately before eating. This makes baking them in advance and shipping them feasible.

        1. re: zsero

          Zsero, thank you for that explanation. About freezing. I was utterly puzzled by how this could work now, when it did not used to.

          1. re: AdinaA

            Shipping methods that keep it frozen?

            1. re: DeisCane

              For that matter, freezing itself. In the 19th century it didn't exist. By the time it came around, all Ashkenazim and most Sefardim had switched to the new-fashioned crispy shelf-stable version, and had almost forgotten that a mere 200 years ago our ancestors ate soft matzos that could be wrapped around lettuce (and lamb, back in the day).

    2. This was the response I received from the OU about this matter (rec'd 4/6/11):

      Thank you for contacting the OU.

      Rav Schachter did write that it is permissible for Ashkenazim to eat soft matzos. However, they would need to be baked with all the Ashkenazic customary chumros of Pesach. Therefore until such time as an Ashkenzic bakery takes it upon themselves to bake soft matzos, there is no practical application for this.

      Please do not hesitate to contact us again should you have any further questions.

      Have a Kosher and happy Pesach,

      The Web(be) Rebbe
      Orthodox Union Kashruth Division

      3 Replies
        1. re: grumpus

          This would certainly apply to Yemeni matzos, which (as I understand it) are dusted with lentil flour. But I'm not aware of any Ashkenazi-specific chumros in matzah baking that are not also done by most Sefardim. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

          1. re: grumpus

            It's a great business opportunity.