Friday, March 16, 2007

Stop eating Matzah! (Only until pesach, of course...)

As everyone in the shul is maddeningly eating the all the frozen chametz that they have in there freezers and the half eaten boxes of pasta before pesach, one of our members asked a wonderful question, which was:

Everyone knows you have to eat matzah on Pesach, but when do you have to stop eating matzah before passover?

The answer to this question also pertains to those things baked with matzah meal-- like cookies or cakes (I guess some people do this even when it is not pesach. Why? I am not sure). But it excludes dishes that are cooked like matzah brei (is that the right spelling?) or matzah ball soup. Those you can continue eating all the way up until Pesach.

The prohibition against eating Matzah before Erev Pesach is found Hilchot Pesach 471:2. Yosef Karo does not mention it, but it is stated by the Rema (Yoseph Isserles), who writes the Askenazi gloss on the Shulchan Aruch. It is a note on the permission that Karo gives to eating Matzah Ashirah (what we call egg matzah) before Erev Pesach. The Remah comments, "However matzah that fulfills your obligation to eat it in the evening, that is forbidden to eat it (at all) on the 14th day." He cites the Ran in the name of the Rambam for this ruling. The prohibition, according to the Mishneh Brurah (the Chofetz Chayim) is said to have been enacted by the rabbis (again, he cites the Rambam) so that you will remember to eat it in that evening-- which is the specific mitzvah.

Then the Chofetz Chayim continues: "There are some who do not eat Matzah from Rosh Chodesh onwards."

He does not mention anything about Purim. But I did find something online from Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer from Bar Ilan where he mentions "from Purim" but he does not give a citation for it and I have not found one yet.

See here:

1) It is Rabbinically forbidden to eat matzah on erev pesach (OH
471:2). The majority of Poskim maintain that this prohibition starts
only from the morning [alot ha-shahar] (ibid., MB no. 13). The minority
view maintains that one should be stringent from the night before. (IM,
OH, I, 154). Some have the custom of not eating matzah from Purim or
Rosh Hodesh.

In sum, it is rabbinically forbidden to eat Matzah on the 14th starting from amud hashachar (and those who are machmir say even the night before), but it is a custom to not eat matzah from Rosh Chodesh and (according to Prof. Frimer) for others Purim.

If anyone knows the source of some people not eating matzah from Purim onwards, I would love to see it. In the mean time, I think it is safe to stop eating it on Rosh Chodesh which this year falls on the 20th of March.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Igros Kodesh 8/219; See Igros Moshe 1/155 [Appendix]

The reason: Although from the letter of the law it is permitted to eat Matzah prior to Erev Pesach [471/4], nevertheless some are accustomed to avoid eating Matzah thirty days beforehand, as the entire reason behind not eating Matzah is so one does not experience the Mitzvah prior to its proper time, just like one may not have relations with an Arusa until Nessuin takes place. Accordingly, it is proper to avoid eating Matzah starting thirty days beforehand, as is the ruling with all matters relating to Pesach. Nevertheless, the Sages did not desire to establish such a decree due to difficulty for it to be upheld by the public. It was therefore only prohibited on Erev Pesach. [Igros Moshe ibid] Alternatively the reason is in order so the Matzah be new and beloved onto the person. [Likkutei Maharich Seder Hanhagas Chodesh Nissan p. 3b]