June 16, 2024
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June 16, 2024
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There is a minhag in many families of Klal Yisroel to avoid eating gebrochts.

And yet, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 461:4) writes that one fulfills the mitzvah of matzah with matzah shriya—gebrochts, soaked matzah—as long as the matzah remains intact and whole. This is based upon the Gemara itself (Pesachim 41a) which states the very same law.

What Is the Source?

What, then, is the source for the custom of avoiding gebrochts—dipped or wetted matzah?

Almost without exception, the custom to refrain from gebrochts has spread throughout the chasidic world and even among others. How did this minhag develop? In this article, we will attempt to trace the origin of this stringency.

The Olas Shabbos

The first reference—that this author could find—directly mentions the minhag is the Olas Shabbos (453:3) who discusses a halacha in the Bach that matzos should be baked prior to Pesach and not during Pesach, as chametz is only batel before Pesach and not during Pesach. The Olas Shabbos adds, “And one who is concerned for this stringency should not cook a baked matzah on Pesach either, for how is it different from baking?”

In other words, the Olas Shabbos is concerned that the chametz that was mixed into the matzah but became nullified before Pesach is now re-awakened on Pesach itself.

The Magen Avrohom 458:1 cites the Olas Shabbos and asks questions on it, differentiating between the Bach’s case and the scenario described by the Olas Shabbos.

Cooking Not Soaking

Regardless, the concern of the Olas Shabbos deals with the gebrochts of actual cooking. Simply soaking the matzah would not seem to be a concern of the Olas Shabbos, because it is not reawakened yet through any process.

The Knesses HaGedolah cited by the Magen Avrohom (Orach Chayim 473) tells us to avoid it as a fish coating because of a woman who did confuse it with flour. The Pri Chadash (in Orach Chayim 461:2) disagrees and writes, “I say that this is all permitted and we cannot make our own enactments, and who cares if one woman made a mistake in halacha … ”

The Shaarei Teshuva—in Orach Chayim 460:2—after explaining that it is technically permitted, writes, “Nonetheless, one who wishes to sanctify himself with that which is permitted… we do not stop him.”

The next time we see a concern for gebrochts in print is in the response of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Graz or the Baal HaTanya. The concern he raises is that, perhaps, the matzah was not kneaded sufficiently, and some unbaked flour remains on the matzah. The soaking will, thus, bring about a chometz-ising process.

Different Than the Olas Shabbos

The observant reader will note that this is a different concern than that which is mentioned by the Olas Shabbos. The Machtzis HaShekel voices the same concern in 458:1 about the unbaked flour. The Aishel Avrohom (Botshatch 447:4) is similarly concerned.

Some Hints

If we wish to find hints to the common practice of avoiding some form of Gebrokts—we can. The Gemara in Pesachim (40b) discusses an item called “chassissi,” which the workers of the house of the Raish Galusa would make. There were Amoraim—the Gemara indicates—who were unsettled with eating it, however. Although Rabbi Yitzchok quoted in Tosfos understands it to be a lentil paste, the Rif describes it as matzah that was rolled and cooked.

Two Fascinating Quotes

There are also two fascinating quotes of the Raavan (Pesachim 73b). Firstly, he writes that one should avoid soaked matzah in soup on the first night of Pesach—because this takes away the taste of matzah itself. This is actually a proof to the notion that on the rest of Pesach one can eat gebrochts. However, he also writes that one should avoid making matzah balls because people may come to do it with flour itself and cook it. The Be’er Heitev Orach Chayim 460 cites the Knesses HaGedolah to this effect as well.

The Ravya (Pesachim 475) also explains that some people do not make kneidlach out of a concern that others may mix this up with doing it with flour and water. He describes this stringency as a chumrah of a baal nefesh (roughly, a worthy individual roughly).


The Maharshdam (responsa Orach Chayim no. 26) describes yupkes, a matzah meal based item, and explains that a baal nefesh should avoid it. As of yet, this author has not found a recipe for this item.

Is It Muktzeh?

How does it fit into common practice? For the Korech section of the Pesach Seder people that avoid gebrochts just dip the maror in the charoses—not the matzah (See Mishna Brurah 475:19). Is it muktzah for those who do not eat it? The Chazon Ish (Shabbos 49:15) rules that cooking kneidlach from Yom Tov to Shabbos may be muktzah if one’s minhag is that gebrochts are forbidden. If one is merely stringent to avoid it, then it is permitted.

Some Hold It Is Forbidden To Keep Gebrochts

There are also opinions that it is forbidden to be stringent. The Sheilas Yavetz (Volume II, no. 65) cites his father—the Chacham Tzvi—that it is wrong to disallow
the simchas Yom Tov with far-fetched stringencies!

Baal Shem Tov Ate Knaidlach

So, when did the chasidim start it? Reb Mendel of Vitebsk is cited by many of the early chasidim as attributing it to the Maggid of Mezrich and that—believe it or not—the Baal Shem Tov did eat kneidlach!

The Chasam Sofer (responsa Orach Chayim, 138) also used to consume gebrokts—especially with soup kneidlach. Rumor has it that some members of the Chasam Sofer’s family even have the recipe for kneidlach that his wife used.

In conclusion, Pesach allows us yet another opportunity to connect with our generations past, by strictly adhering to the minhagim of our parents and grandparents. Focusing on this aspect of the minhag will allow us to ever further our growth over this Yom Tov. A gutten moed!

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

The author can be reached at[email protected]

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