Sunday, May 01, 2005

Post-matza post-mortem

For the first Yom Tov of Pesach, we had a guest who only eats handmade shmurah matzah, the whole week of Pesach. That is, that's the only kind of matzah he eats, not the only food he eats. A very expensive custom, to be sure. He's a modern Orthodox YU graduate (decades ago) and says his family follows minhag haGra (the Vilna Gaon's tradition).

For the last Yom Tov of Pesach, we stayed with a family which only eats machine-made shmurah matzah, out of concern that handmade matzah is less reliably produced and thus runs a risk of containing chametz. The family is chassidic, of the black hat, gown and sash variety.

Then we visited relatives who eat only handmade shmurah matzah for the mitzvah on seder night, but prefer machine-made matzah the rest of the week. They are of the misnagdish sort (non-chassidic) - black hat and suit without gown or sash.

And I? I'm modern Orthodox, non-chassidic, but not from YU. I have no proud family tradition. I'll eat whatever tastes best.

Generally I prefer machine-made shmurah matzah for halachic and cost reasons, but handmade for taste reasons. Machine-made is also better for spreads, lasagnas and pizzas, and it's far easier to find whole slices to make hamotzi with.

On second thought, I do have a family tradition: My father also eats whatever matzah tastes best. When I was growing up we ate plain-old machine matzah; now that he can afford it he goes for handmade shmurah.

So don't let anyone sell you the story that chassidim prefer handmade matzah and misnagdim machine-made. It's far more complex than that.


Batya said...

Reminds me of my Sterngirl days. We were always amazed that the rabbi/teachers who seemed the strictest during the year were most "maikel" for Pesach and vice a versa.
I love machine shmura for eating, whole wheat! But regular machine is best for matza brei. (recipe
This year some kids from Yitzhar came by peddling hand shmura, so I bought three charred cardboards. And since our custom is matza's matza. Never again, but don't say never.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I agree with Batya - whole wheat matza is the best! It actually tastes like *something*, as opposed to most matza that just tastes like air and nothingness. Not that i really mind air and nothingness (i'm not one of those matza-haters), i just prefer the earthy taste of whole wheat.

Zman Biur said...

It goes without saying that whole wheat matza is the only type which is edible.

Bleached-flour matza has less flavor than cardboard, and probably about as much nutritious value. At least cardboard doesn't raise your blood sugar.

I question whether white-flour matza is even "fit for a dog's consumption".

Fortunately, shmura matza is by definition whole wheat.