based upon the following article, Passover Matzos
by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, Star-K Rabbinic Administrator
Chamets is formed by the naturally occurring and almost inescapable activity of live yeast organisms [which are found all over the world] interacting with any of the five types of grains. However, yeast cannot be active when dry. It is quire surprising that although the yeast will be active when moistened by many liquids, Chamets is not generated unless it is moistened with water.
A combination of yeast, flour and liquid other than water, will rise nicely and make beautiful, light and spongy cakes, breads, muffins etc, which are in principle, Kosher for Pesach. However such foods face a very serious Pesach challenge - even the tiniest drop of water added to such a dough has the potential to render the dough almost instantaneously into Chamets. It for this reason that such Matza is not to be used during Pesach unless special circumstances apply. Such Matza is known as Matza AshiRa -"rich man's Matza"
Therefore we exercise extreme caution ensuring that from the earliest stages, water is kept well away from the wheat and flour we wish to use for Pesach. In this regard, water is our enemy.
Wheat is harvested at a time when there is no risk of rain, lest the kernels become moist. In fact even before harvesting, we are concerned that the wheat once ripened, even prior to harvest, is susceptible to becoming Chamets and we try to harvest the wheat before it is fully ripened.
When we finally do add water, in order to make dough and bake Matza, we presume that under normal circumstances, Chamets will not be formed within 18 minutes. This is the source for the well-known "18 minute Matza".
Furthermore, we are only confident about the dough not becoming Chamets within 18 minutes when circumstances are ideal, however, various factors can dramatically threaten that the dough becomes Chamets almost instantaneously, as we noted earlier when a drop of other liquid is added to the dough. Similarly, if the dough becomes warmed, we face the risk of the dough becoming Chamets in an instant. Accordingly, we ensure that sunlight does not shine upon the work area, lest the dough become warmed, we use water that we have ensured is chilled, we try not to handle the dough unnecessarily, nor mix the dough too vigorously.
Without doubt the greatest risk is faced when the dough rounds, rolled, stippled and ready for the baking, are kept waiting in line to be placed in the oven. At this point the dough rounds are very thin and consequently very rapidly warmed, and they are near the intensely hot oven. Furthermore, this is the natural bottleneck in the manufacturing process; there will be many people working to produce the dough rounds for baking but only one oven that can be used by just one baker.
During baking new problems emerge. Due to variations in dough thickness, moisture content of the dough, inexperience of those rolling the dough and also variations in oven temperature, the dough as it begins to get heated undergoes significant distortion due to some parts expanding far more and far more rapidly that other parts of the Matza. This may lead to one part of the Matza becoming folded over another part of the Matza which impedes the baking. Such folds can also occur when being
Notwithstanding all care exercised by the bakeries and their supervising rabbis, it is prudent for everyone to be the final arbiter of the Matza they eat. Although there are many things the consumer to purchase matzos and still observe some problems. The following is a brief discussion of some problem areas. It should be noted that these problems can exist in both hand and machine baked matzos, although they are more prevalent in the hand baked variety.
1. Matzoh Kefulah - If in any place, a matzoh is bent over, the doubled over portion is not kosher for Pesach. One must remove and discard this area together with a one inch margin of regular matzoh. This is required even if the bent over part is very small. However, if a matzoh is bent over, but the two layers do not at any point actually touch one another, then it is kosher, and removal of this area is not required. In handmade matzos, it is common to find creases in the matzos. If there is a corresponding crease on the other side of the matzoh, then one should assume that the dough probably doubled over during the rolling process. In such cases, it is customary to remove the creased area. An important difference between a true matzah kefula that is doubled over and a matzoh that is only creased on both sides, is that in the former case the doubled over portion must be disposed of as though it were chometz, as soon as it is discovered, while in the latter situation the creased matzoh may be kept in one's possession. If the creased matzoh is a shalem (complete), one may use if for lechem mishna. After reciting the brocha, simply put aside the creased area so it will not be eaten.
To avoid any problems of borer, separating, on Shabbos, the non-kosher part of the matzoh (the kefulah) should be held in one hand and the kosher part in the other. The matzoh should be broken and the good part should be removed from the bad part. If it is a real kefulah, it is considered to be chometz. Since one sold his chometz before Pesach, technically, this kefulah belongs to the goy. One may not discard the goy’s chometz on Pesach, and it must be put away until the conclusion of the Chag. If it is just a chashash chometz, the custom is not to discard it in the garbage. It may be placed in the non-Pesachdik sink, after it has been broken into small pieces, and washed down the drain.
2. Matzoh Nefucha - A matzoh which has ballooned and formed a blister during the baking process also requires special scrutiny. If the blister formed is so small that it cannot accommodate an average sized hazelnut (with its shell) between the upper and lower layers, then such a matzoh is kosher. Certainly, matzos that have not formed any blisters, but are merely uneven in appearance, are kosher. Matzos which do not have small holes all over them should not be used.
A matzoh lacking the usual brown spots, that is completely white on both sides, should not be used since it may not have been thoroughly baked. It follows that matzoh meal should be slightly brownish, and the more brown it is, the better the matzos from which it was made were baked.
In order for matzos to be considered shalem, so they can be used for lechem mishna, the halacha is that as long as no more than one forty-eighth (1/48, approximately 2%) of the matzoh is missing, it can still be considered a shalem. Hand matzos that are irregularly shaped, are still considered whole, as long as no pieces broke off after baking.
Matzos left over from previous years that were stored in places free of chometz may be used. TIP: If your oven has been kashered for Pesach, simply put them in the oven for a few minutes so the matzos will regain their crispness.
Through our meticulous observance of the mitzvah of eating matzoh, and all the other laws of Pesach, may Hashem soon grant our most fervent wish - of the coming of Moshiach - so that we may once again eat our matzoh together with the korban pesach in Yerushalayim, our holy city.
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