Matza P’shuta a.k.a. Regular Matza
Matza Sh’mura a.k.a. Shmura Matza
First Oven Matzot a.k.a. First 18
Hand vs. Machine
Matza Ashira a.k.a. Egg Matza
However, the RAM”A, Rabbi Moshe Isserles, the foremost “addender” of the Shulchan Aruch and binding authority for the Ashkenazi community, states that “we” have the practice not to eat matza ashira during Pesach. Built into the Ashkenazi ban on egg matza, is an exemption for infants and the elderly (and/or infirm, who would have digestion problems with regular matza). This clearly means that egg matza is definitely not chametz. One may possess egg matza during Pesach, and provide it for those who are allowed to eat it. But, we (meaning “healthy” Ashkenazim) don’t eat egg matza (nor any product that is halachically equivalent to egg matza) on Pesach.
BUYER BEWARE. In Israel, there are many, many Pesach cookies on the market, both packaged and sold in bulk, that are made with Pesach flour and other ingredients, but no water. These cookies don’t look like the egg matza that we might be used to, but they are exactly the same. They are cookies that are Kosher for Pesach; S’fardim can eat them; Ashkenazim cannot (except as mentioned above). These cookies are often labeled MATZA ASHIRA and/or UGIYOT YAYIN (wine cookies), but sometimes not. Read labels carefully to avoid the pitfall of eating something labeled (and correctly so, for S’faradim) KOSHER L’PESACH but that may not be eaten by Ashkenazim. When in doubt — ASK.
Also note the difference between PESACH FLOUR, a.k.a. FLOUR FOR MATZA, i.e. Kosher for Pesach wheat flour that is used in the baking of matzot (and the various Matza Ashira products on the market), as opposed to MATZA FLOUR. In Hebrew, KEMACH L’MATZOT as opposed to KEMACH MATZOT. The latter is what we call matza meal or cake meal. It is made from matza that has been ground into a flour-substitute used by many (but not all - see below) for Pesach cooking and baking. When flour is used in a food product, the result is either real matza, real chametz, or egg matza (which, to repeat and stress, is not chametz, but... - see above).
BTW, the “egg-matza” cookies are a great idea for pre-Pesach snacks, especially for toddlers and crawlers who might be in the habit of stashing their food between the couch cushions and in the ribs of radiators. These cookies are not chametz, and neither are their crumbs. And you can have them around for right after Pesach - again, with no problems.
The Ashkenazi practice is based on a fear that some water might get into the mixtures at the wrong time, combined with paying token heed to the opinion - that is not accepted as halacha, but nevertheless exists - that it IS possible to produce chametz, even without water. We don’t accept that opinion as halacha, but it does influence our practice of not eating matza ashira on Pesach.
To repeat a warning...Kosher for Pesach cookies made with (Pesach) flour and wine or grape juice or apple cider and/or eggs and/or honey, sugar, etc. are halachically equivalent to egg matza (whether they are marked that way or not).
This means that S’faradim can eat them on Pesach with no restrictions, but for Ashkenazim, they may not be eaten on Pesach except by the elderly and infirm. Very young children can also eat them. These cookies are NOT chametz; no problem having them in your possession. Consult a Rav as to who may eat them.
Matza Sh’ruya a.k.a. Gebruchts
However, what if in the haste of kneading the dough for matza, some flour remains dry, unmixed with water. Then it doesn’t become matza upon baking. It remains flour. And flour is potential chametz. Not chametz, but potential chametz. This minute amount of raw, dry flour is trapped inside a sheet of matza. Eat the matza and you are actually eating matza plus a bit of flour. No problem. But, take the matza and crush it up into a bowl of hot chicken soup, cold egg & water, or lukewarm borscht, and the flour now mixes with water (and other ingredients) and can produce chametz, even in less than 18 minutes.) Does this actually happen? Do we have to worry about this possibility? Halachically, we do not have to worry about it. Machines and people who knead the dough for matza do a thorough job and we may assume that there is no raw flour trapped inside our matza. That is the halacha.
But there are many communities and families that have taken upon themselves - somewhere along their family trees, back some generations - the minhag of NOT soaking matza. The extent to which this minhag of NO GEBRUCHTS goes, varies from family to family. Today, it is mostly a matter of continuing the practices of one’s family tradition. This is so, even if one is sure that the matza dough was kneaded very well. Not eating Gebruchts does not mean that a person is more religious than those who do. It is a matter of custom. Those with the custom though, are duty-bound to keep it. A mixed marriage between a kneidel and a potato starch only person create interesting situations with in-laws, etc. A Rav should be consulted for guidance in these (and other) matters.
Matza Baked on Erev Pesach after Noon
Chocolate covered Matza & chocolate
SEDER KORBAN PESACH
KP is brought from unblemished male lambs and goats within their first year, and are slaughtered anywhere in the AZARA, AFTER the Tamid is completed and the Menora is tended to. KP is not brought if any member of “the group” has chametz in his possession.
KP is slaughtered (even by a non-kohen) and the blood of Shchita is received by a kohen in a sacred vessel. There were lines of kohanim from each “Shchita station” to the Mizbei’ach, each kohen with either a gold or silver vessel (within a row, all the vessels were the same; it was considered more attractive that way). The vessels did not have flat bottoms to prevent them from being put down, which might allow the blood to congeal before reaching the Mizbei’ach, thus invalidating the korban. In assembly-line fashion, the first kohen handed the vessel with the blood to the second kohen in line and received from him an empty vessel. The second kohen passed the blood to the next in line and received an empty vessel. And so on, until the kohen near the Mizbei’ach poured the blood on the base of the Mizbei’ach and handed the empty vessel back to the kohen next to him. Then the KP was hung from hooks or from poles supported by one’s shoulder and the shoulder of his fellow, and it was skinned (on Shabbat, the whole skin was not removed). Certain innards and fats were removed from the animal, placed in a sacred vessel, salted and placed on the fire of the Mizbei’ach. (The timing for HEKTEIR CHALAVIM, as it is called, was different when EP was Shabbat.) Other innards were removed and cleaned (with differences if EP is Shabbat), to be roasted alongside the KP.
KP was brought in three shifts, none with fewer than 30 people. After the first shift entered the AZARA, the doors were locked. During the bringing of KP, Leviyim sang Hallel. If necessary, they repeated it, and again, until the shift was done. For each Hallel, kohanim blew the Silver Trumpets. When the shift was done, the people were let out of the Azara and the next shift was admitted. So too for the third shift. After all KP were brought, the floor of the Azara was flooded and washed - even on Shabbat.
Roasting of KP does not “push aside” Shabbat. When EP is Friday, roasting must be done BEFORE Shabbat. When EP is Shabbat, roasting (and even bringing the KP from Har HaBayit to the place where it will be eaten) waits until AFTER Shabbat. The animal and those innards removed but not placed on the Mizbei’ach are placed on a wooden skewer from a pomegranate tree and put inside the oven, with the heat below.
When EP is a weekday, a Korban Shla- mim known as CHAGIGAT YUD-DALET is also brought (only when people are TAHOR) – from cow, goat, or sheep, male or female, any age – and is eaten as the main dish at the Seder so that the KP will be AL HASOVA, when satisfied (but not stuffed).
This is the procedure for the KP and Chagiga (which are symbolized on our Seder plates by the Z’RO’A and EGG respectively).
When we say Seder Korban Pesach, we should have in mind CHURBAN BEIT HAMIKDASH (the destruction of the Temple) AND be filled with prayerful anticipation for the next Beit HaMikdash (these are opposite sides of the same coin). Saying Amirat Seder Korban Pesach at the “proper” time on Erev Pesach, can count in “Heaven” (so to speak) as if we actually brought KP in the Beit HaMikdash, may it be built soon in our time, AMEN.
Kiddush is recited over the first of the 4 cups of wine. Other things equal (such as quality, personal preference), red wine is preferable because of the reminder of blood. When saying SHE'HECHAYANU, we should have in mind the Chag plus the mitzvot of matza, haggada, Hallel, and the 4 cups of wine. (Women who make their own Kiddush should not say SHE'HECHAYANU at candle lighting, but rather at Kiddush. Some say, women hearing Kiddush from someone else, who will have said SHE'HECHAYANU at candle lighting, should not answer int to that bracha in Kiddush, since it might constitute an interruption for them.) After the brachot of Kiddush, (sit and) recline comfortably to the left for drinking the wine (even those who usually stand). Unlike regular Kiddush, for which a hefty sip can suffice, for each of the four cups at the Seder, it is preferable to drink the whole cup, or at least a bit more than half. Grape juice is a valid, but non-preferred substitute for wine. It could should be used by those who cannot handle wine well. Alcoholic wine is a symbol of freedom, wealth, and luxury. (Diluting with grape juice is better than diluting with water.)
Wash hands with a cup, without a bracha. (One of the reasons for using less than a KAZAYIT of KARPAS is to avoid the question as to whether a bracha is said on this kind of washing.) Required according to the rules of Ritual Purity when eating wet foods. (Applies all year round, not just at the Seder, but here an extra “fuss” is made to highlight the importance of the Seder and to arouse the curiosity of children.)
A small piece of celery (or other green vegetable; some use boiled potato, onion, white radish - family tradition often determines what is used) is dipped in salt water (or Pesach vinegar). The bracha BOREI PRI H'ADAMA is recited. One should have in mind the maror as well, since there are questions as to whether the Maror would get its own BOREI PRI H'ADAMA). Reclining is optional. Karpas symbolizes Spring. It also whets our appetite - another symbol of freedom and luxury. Salt water reminds us of both the bitter tears of slavery and the "freedom waters of Yam Suf". Many other reasons. Such as... Karpas is a fine, richly colored fabric (mentioned in Megilat Esther) which Rashi mentions when commenting on Yosef's multi-colored coat. Karpas, then, can be a reminder of the jealousy that brought us down to Egypt. [Some say that Karpas should be held in one’s hand, not with fork or spoon, which might negate the need for washing.]
Break the middle matza. The larger piece is hidden for later (Afikoman), just as the Final Redemption is yet to come. The remaining piece is now in its proper broken form as LECHEM ONI, poor person’s bread, slave’s food. Yachatz is also a curious thing to do, prompting questions. When do we perform the mitzva of Matza - at the beginning of the meal or at the end when Korban Pesach was eaten with matza? There is a dispute on this issue and Yachatz relates to it.
Over the matza (the Seder Plate?) and the second cup of wine, the story of the Exodus is told in answer to the child's questions. Real questions should be encouraged in addition to the traditional MA NISHTANA, and personalized answers should be offered in addition to the standard Haggada text. Following the story and analysis of selected p'sukim from the Torah, the first installment of Hallel is sung. Drink the second cup (while reclining) following the "Redemption Bracha" and HAGAFEN. In some homes, the Seder leader reads/explains the Haggada and the rest of the Seder celebrants listen. It seems, however, that in most families everyone says the Haggada (more or less) together. Either way, parents and grandparents (male AND female) should also really TALK to their children about the stories and halachot relevant to the Seder night.
RACHATZ (which rhymes with URCHATZ and YACHATZ) or RACHTZAH (which rhymes with MATZA). Some suggest that the HEI at the end of RACHATZAH was accidentally broken off HAMOTZI-MATZA).At this point, we have a full formal NETILAT YADAYIM with a bracha. It is proper that there be no talking from this point until after the Hillel sandwich. (it is advisable to spend a few minutes before washing to explain the several upcoming elements of the Seder to avoid talking during, although necessary talking to the topic at hand is not considered an interruption and would be permitted.)
The 2½ matzot are taken in hand and the bracha .rtv in ojk thmunv is recited. The two whole matzot serve as Lechem Mishna in honor of Yom Tov (the broken piece as the mitzva-matza - but one of the whole pieces is that too).
Some use salt; some don't. Some keep the matzot covered during the bracha; some don't. People without their own Lechem Mishna should answer AMEN to the leader's HaMotzi, even if they will be saying their own AL ACHILAT MATZA. Without delay, put down the bottom matza and say the bracha AL ACHILAT MATZA. One should have in mind this first amount of matza, Koreich, and the subsequent Afikoman. Opinions vary, but approx. 2/3 of a square matza will satisfy both the Torah's requirement, as well as the Rabbinic preference to having two portions (which - some say - only applies IF you have your own three matzot) - one from the top whole matza and one from the broken piece (based on a doubt as to which is the mitzva -the whole or the broken). One must eat the matza while reclining to the left, as a symbol of freedom, thinking of the mitzva and its symbolisms.
One set of matzot will not suffice for the required amounts for all at the Seder; it is a good idea for each person to have his own 3 Shmura matzot, or a plentiful stock of matza pieces should be available to supplement the pieces received from the main three.
A "Kazayit" of maror (romaine lettuce leaves or stalks -or- horseradish) dipped in charoset is eaten, following the bracha rurn ,AL ACHILAT MAROR, as a reminder of bitter slavery - hence, no reclining. The Yerushalmi explains that the longer lettuce remains in the ground, the more bitter it becomes. This makes lettuce, although it is not very bitter per se, symbolic of the life of our ancestors in Egypt and therefore, particularly appropriate for the mitzva. Some wrap a small amount of horseradish in a lettuce leaf. (This gives it the “punch” people remember from the horseradish days. Seriously, Lettuce, which should be properly cleaned of possible bugs, is by far the preferred vegetable for Maror. Horseradish was common where lettuce was unavailable and is/was so prevalent among Jews of Eastern European and Russian origin, that switching to lettuce took getting used to.) Maror is a Rabbinic requirement until the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, when it will resume its Torah status when eaten with Korban Pesach (and matza).
A piece of the bottom matza is combined with another portion of maror forming the "Hillel Sandwich" which commemorates the Torah's command to eat the Korban Pesach with matza and maror. Some dip in charoset; some don't. Some recline; some don't. Although most Hagadot instruct us to say the ZECHER L',IKDASH K'HILLEL passage before eating the KOREICH, it is recommended to say it after the KOREICH is eaten, so as not to constitute an interruption between the MATZA and MAROR brachot and the eating of the two foods together.
We now have the festive meal, which should be an integral part of the Seder, not just a food break. Now is a perfect time to discuss various aspects of the Seder in a relaxed atmosphere. Some recline during the meal. Many start with egg (from the Seder plate and/or elsewhere) with salt water. Care should be taken not to overdo the eating at the Seder, since the Afikoman must be eaten AL HASOVA when satisfied but not stuffed. The meal should be enjoyable in fulfillment of the mitzva of SIMCHA on Yom Tov. Keep in mind, too, that at the best of times in Jewish History in Eretz Yisrael with a Beit HaMikdash, the main dish was also sacred meat - viz. the Korban Chagiga.
As a sign of freedom & luxury, the Korban Pesach was eaten as a dessert at the end of the meal. Our Afikoman commemorates the KP and/or the matza that was eaten with it. (This is why some eat two “K'zeitim" of matza for the Afikoman.) Care should be taken to eat the Afikoman before halachic midnight, since this was the preferred deadline for eating the Korban Pesach. This year, CHATZOT in Jerusalem is 12:39am, Israel Summer Time.
Birkat HaMazon is recited over the third cup of wine. Forgetting YAALE V'YAVO invalidates Birkat HaMazon and requires repeating it all (for men). If a MEZUMAN is present, the head of the household should lead the benching rather than honoring someone else (as one would ordinarily do). Here’s another example (Benching with a cup of wine) of something that is done (can be done, should be done?) throughout the year. But most people don’t do it. (Of course, it is common at large simcha gatherings.) At the Seder, we all do it, to lend extra honor and ceremony to this important evening. Remember too that Birkat HaMazon is one of the Torah mitzvot fulfilled at the Seder (as well as any other time one eats a satisfying meal). Drink/recline.
The fourth cup is filled and Hallel is completed. The other Hallel is also said, as are other songs of praise from our davening. A special cup of wine is filled, Eliyahu's Cup, which focuses on the fifth Term of Redemption, the coming of Mashiach, and the building of the third Beit HaMikdash. Care should be taken to drink (with reclining) a sufficient amount of the fourth cup, so that there is no question that an after-bracha is indeed required (since it is part of the Seder service).
We conclude the Seder with songs and poems which speak of miracles, Divine protection and justice. May we soon see the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the fulfillment of our prayer, which we express on the day of "Repentance from Fear" (Yom Kippur) and on the day (night) of "Repentance from Love" (Pesach) - Next year in Rebuilt Jerusalem. This forward-pointing focus makes an important point vis-a-vis Pesach and the Seder. Pesach commemorates the birth of the Jewish Nation and its redemption from Egypt, but not yet the “and they lived happily ever”. This will come to fruition in the time of the Complete Geula. Earlier in the Seder, we had reference to this idea. In the Mishna’s discussion about the remembering of the Exodus at night and not just in the daytime, we also have the comment of the Sages that the Exodus will continue to be remembered in the time of Mashiach. So too, in the DAYEINU poem, we go beyond the Exodus to the Splitting of the Sea, the Shabbat, Har Sinai, receiving of the Torah, entry into Eretz Yisrael, and the building of the Beit HaMikdash. These three (at least) points in the Seder give us “the whole picture”.
Some read Shir HaShirim after the