Rav Schachter on Soft Matza

It has been claimed in various quarters that R’ Schachter has no issue in principle with “soft” matza. His name has been used, making such claims, and through a long bow, trying to associate R’ Schachter with the acceptability of particular types of ashkenazi machine made soft laffa style matza.

I heard R’ Schachter speak on this topic, and I came away with the distinct understanding that

  1. Soft Matza was certainly used in the past by Ashkenazim
  2. There are some Sephardim who have maintained their Mesora on how to make the traditional soft matza
  3. An Ashkenazi who wishes to eat from a Sephardi Soft Matza and rely on a particular  Sephardi Mesora on how to make these matzos may do so if they wish, but they are relying on that well-known and accepted Sephardi hechsher.
  4. R’ Schachter in no way endorses any particular Matzos (hard or soft)
  5. Ashkenazim over the last 200 years have reverted to thin hard matzos. (R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach disagrees with R’ Schachter and says that an Ashkenazi should therefore only ever have hard matzos)
  6. R’ Schachter had absolutely nothing to say about new laffa style, some of which has also found its way into Melbourne, Australia, under R’ Rabi, and in no way should R’ Schachter’s comments be used to ascribe any acceptability to the kashrus thereof.

I understand that R’ Schachter has very recently made the above views known explicitly in response to queries about the use of his name on R’ Meir Rabi’s Kosher Business/Hechsher, which promotes Rabi’s soft laffa style product. I also understand that R’ Rabi is now aware of these clarifying comments.

There is a solution to this conundrum. R’ Rabi should open himself up to an overseas kashrus expert, such as Rav Moshe Heineman or indeed the OU or similar to come and oversee his laffa production before next Pesach, and formally put their imprimatur on his production. Heck, if it’s good, he can export it too, presumably.

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia although my views have naught​ to do with my employer. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

19 thoughts on “Rav Schachter on Soft Matza”

  1. Is there somebody on this blog who is able to explain, why if Ashkenazim over the last 200 years have reverted for some unknown reason (see here: http://www.zumodrive.com/share/4vsGOTNiZT) to thin hard matzos, than their “custom” became holy and we are not permitted to change that custom, to the original custom that was kept by Jews for thousands of years?

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    1. Well, R’ Schachter agrees with you. R’ Shlomo Zalman’s view is in Halichos Shlomo, I believe. One can only guess that they felt it was more likely to have problems in the making. Who knows.

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      1. “[ I was shocked to find that R’ Rabi posted an earlier letter from R’ Schachter on this topic……….”

        If fm picks up the story from koshervyosher.com, or wherever, as he does for most of his stories, that doesn’t mean R Rabi posted it?

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        1. There is a remote chance you are right, but I’m very doubtful that Scott stumbled on kosher Vyosher by a quirky accident. Furthermore it’s not even the type of issue that hed vacillate over unless he also thought it was scandalous and reflect badly on Rabonim.

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          1. It is more likely that someone other than R Rabi sent it to fm. (You will probably read all about Kramer et al first on fm, even before Jewel puts it on The Age.)

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    2. I don’t know if “reverted in the last 200yrs” is entirely accurate. The Rema says that the Matzot should be as thin as possible. Which would make them hard matzot.
      As a Sephardi who makes soft matzot and has for years under top Rabbanim in Israel, the way that “soft” matza is made soft is by intentionally rolling it out thicker. So the Rema’s dictate that it be as thin as possible would necessitate a cracker matza(sorry i can’t remember the siman off the top of my head).
      I understand that reliance on Sephardi Hechsherim for “soft” matza when eating a Sephardi’s house is a matter of extreme debate with people taking various positions across the spectrum(from Hametz Gamur to permissable).
      Now as to the the OU or some outside Hechsher granting this particular Rabbi’s product. To my knowledge the last I checked no Ashkenazi Hechsher covered soft matzot. There are a handful of Sephardi hechsherim that do, but they all(again to my knowledge) hold that it is forbidden to intentionally feed it to an Ashkenazi in accordance with the ruling of(most recently) Rav Ovadia Yosef(sorry I can’t find the actual location right now, however it is in his Yabia Omer, as well as the Yalkut Yosef) that Sephardim should not provide soft matzah to Ashkenazim on account of the ruling of the Rema.
      So I really don’t know who he would be able to get a valid hekhsher on it.

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    3. Our original “minhag” – at har sinai – was to permit kitniyos on Pesach. Since that was the original minhag, should we discard the practice of our ancestors in more recent generations and revert to the “original” minhag? No, of course not. Similarly, hard matza became the “minhag” several generations ago and we should not revert to what existed before that time.

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  2. No authoritative Hechsher such as OU, OK, Star K, Rav Landau etc is going to send a Rov down to Melbourne to investigate the Halachic Status of the Rabi soft Matzo.
    It is an open Ramo, that Ashkenasim must eat thin hard Matzos.
    I also doubt that any of the major Sephardic Poskim, would be inclined to send their representatives “Down Under” for a similar investigation.
    The recent use or abuse of Rav Schachter’s name is lamentable to say the least.
    The whole matter is an unnecessary diversion from much more important Kashrus issues, i.e looking for ways to keep the prices of kosher products under control in order that young families are not put under the strain of feeding their children; which I must stress is a worldwide problem.
    I can only venture a guess as to the underlying motivation of the “soft” matzo adventure.

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  3. [Sorry for late approval, it was lying in the spam folder!!!]

    <R’ Schachter agrees with you. R’ Shlomo Zalman’s view is in Halichos Shlomo,view is in Halichos Shlomo"

    I found this http://www.realmatza.com/harav-aviner.html , but as I don't have the book do you if R'Slomo Zalman published that view anywhere, or it is a quote from somebody that wrote: "he told me that Shlomo Zalman told me".

    ______________-

    Harry

    I don’t suggest to revert to any “original” Minhag, are you so simple that you are unable to understand or know the differences between Kitniot and soft matot?

    One is a Minhag Vatikin or even a G’zeira, see here:

    http://www.responsafortoday.com/vol3/4.pdf

    see the sources quoted there, and please don’t divert the discussion to the kashrus of site.

    I wasn’t promoting anything, I was just trying to understand why eating hard Matzot is considered by some a Minhag and not just a fact.

    I am eating hard Matzot, because that was what I had at my parent’s home-I got use to it them, and I don’t eat soft matzot, not because it isn’t permitted to start a new minhag or to break an old Minhag, as all Minhagim started some time and stopped some time, changed or replaced existing Minhagim, in my eyes there isn’t much difference between not eating soft matzot just because of breaking a Minhag, or not to eating cucumbers on Pesach, or other Minhagim alike. See here:

    http://www.bhol.co.il/forum/topic.asp?cat_id=4&topic_id=1343816&forum_id=1364&upd=1

    it is in siman 410, 4:

    “ויש לעשות המצות רקיקין, ולא פת עבה כשאר לחם, כי אין הרקיקין ממהרין להחמיץ”.

    ______________________

    pinchos

    Are you able to explain the difference between the Ramo and the alter rebbe in siman 160, 10 where he wrote:

    “אין עושין מצה עבה טפח שכשהיא עבה כל כך יש לחוש שמא לא ישלוט חום האש בתוכה ותתחמץ בתוכה בשעת אפייתה, אבל פחות מטפח אפילו משהו מותר לעשות לכתחלה מעיקר הדין, לפי שחום התנור שולט בתוך עוביו כשאין בו טפח ומכל מקום טוב לעשות המצות רקיקין דקין שאין ממהרין להחמיץ כל כך כמו העבות כשעדיין הן חוץ לתנור ואם עבר ועשה מצות עבות טפח או יותר מותרות באכילה ומכל מקום יש לעיין בתוך עוביה אם נאפית יפה ולא נתחמצה שם ואף על פי כן טוב שלא ליקח אותה למצות מצוה”.

    if you will find it, please let us know where it is in harav ovadias writngs.

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  4. Pitputim

    Well, R’ Schachter didn’t agree with me, as there is nothing to disagree with what I said, as eating hard Matzot and not eating soft Matzot when you couldn’t get them, isn’t much of a minhag, and is not much more than saying: in our family we had a Minhag for hundreds of years, going back to the x Rebbe, not to use mobile phones.

    we will never know, who said that R’ SZ said, or what R’ SZ said – if he said anythig about this topic.

    you said “who knows” and you were right, who knows why he said it, and who knows if he said it

    What did I find in הליכות שלמה על מועדי השנה ניסן – אב עמ’ רפא, אות מא that was mentioned in the link in my last posting?

    “מצות שלנו, הואיל ועשויין רקיקים דקים וקשים (פ) וקשה לאכול מהן כשני כזיתים…”.

    וב”דבר הלכה” שם הערה פ:

    “וכמבואר בשו”ע הרב סימן ת”ס ס”י ומ”ב שם סק”ז שם ס”ד, דאף שמותר מן הדין לעשותן עבות אם הן פחותים מטפח, מ”מ למעשה יש לעשותן רקיקין דקין עיי”ש. והמנהג בין האשכנזים לעשותה דקה ככל האפשר, ואין לאשכנזי לאכול ממצה העבה יותר מהרגיל”.

    By reading this foot note without knowing what the Alter Rebbe and the Mishnah Berurah said, you may get the impression that they said that Matzot have to be thin and hard, when the truth is that they never mentioned.”קשין”

    The source of this is: “רשימות”

    who is ?”רשימות”

    :

    “ג) חדושים והוראות הלכות והליכות אשר לקטנו ובררנו מפי השמועה בראש ובראשונה דברים אשר נמסרו לנו מפי בנו וחתנו הגאונים שליט״א ומשאר בני המשפחה וכן מגדולי תלמידיו הגאונים שליט״א וצוינו בשם׃ “רשימות”…”.) הליכות שלמה על הלכות תפילה מבוא דף 12.(

    How reliable are the רשימות”?

    …ופשוט שכל הדברים שלא נדפסו ע״י מרן זללה״ה בחײו לענין הלכה פסוקה ־ מה גם שחלק מן הדברים שנערכו על ידינו נאמרו תוך כדי הילוכו מוקף בתלמידים ושואלים ־, הרי אע״פ שעמלנו הרבה להעמיד דברים על דיוקם, אין לסמוך עליהם בוודאות, וכ״ש שלא לענין הלכה למעשה, בלא שאלת חכם, אך עפ״כ תקותנו כי יפיקו מהם המעײנים תועלת רב”.

    How accurate is the lashon in halichot shlomo?

    I think that the answer is “not very much”.

    Did the alter rabbi or the מ”ב mention קשים? did they say how thin is דקים?

    The Lashon of the alter rebbe is: ,”ומ”מ טוב לעשות המצות רקיקין דקין” And that of the Mishnah Berurah is: “מ”מ נכון יותר לכתחילה לעשות רקיקין דקין”

    did we see there a “”יש לעשותן? not really! are we able to say that they quote the Ramo? Not really! we don’t see in the Ramo anything about דאף שמותר מן הדין לעשותן עבות אם הן פחותים מטפח.

    Where did we see In halichos shlomo, that an Ashkenazi shouldn’t eat thicker Matzot than usual is because of changing a Minhag, or the need for a Masoret how to bake soft matzot?

    How thick is the usual Matzo?

    If they felt it was more likely to have problems in the making, as you wrote, why is it a problem only for Ashkenazim, and not also for Sefaradim?

    ______________________

    rabbi tzadok

    you wrote:

    I assume that you think that you are entirely accurate, if so are you able now to say where is the ramo who said that “the Matzot should be as thin as possible”, or to explain why do you think that making thiner than bread or even thin as pita should make them “hard matzot”?

    Why do you think that at least since the days of the Ramo the Ashkenazim baked Matzot as thin and as dry as possible, when it is clear from many sources that hundreds of years after the Ramo they were still eating Matzot that were thicker than the laffa Matzot.

    Rakik in Hebrew is thin – the opposite of ,עבה and not as thin as possible, and not as dry as possible, baking matzot thin as pita in an oven hot enogh to bake, and not hot to burn, doesn’t have to make them hard.

    To cut the story short:

    I never saw so much misquoting and misleading information as I saw in the laffa war.

    Is it too much to ask from a person that is quoting a source, to check the source before quoting him?

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    1. Dovid,
      We can ask R’ Zalman Nechemia if the words in Halichos Shlomo are accurate. Anyone in Israel able to do that for us?
      He, as I’m sure you would agree, is completely trustworthy.

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  5. Isaac,
    # please direct us to the Shiur you heard from HaRav Schachter, I presume it is publicly available.

    # I don’t follow what your complaint is. I have provided an independently vetted summary and explained, and posted a facsimile of HaRav Schachter’s note, do you feel that is wrong? Please explain. When discussing HaRav Elyashiv’s message I do specify that although he actually had a sample of Exodus soft Matza in his hands, his approval is not, cannot be for Exodus Matza, since he is unaware of the manufacturing process. This is not applicable to HaRav Schachter’s comments.

    # I think you are mistaken about R Sh Zalman; he encourages THIN Matza but does not mention that they should be HARD.

    # I did not post on the FM website. When I post I use my true name. You might want to edit your article, Isaac. It would have been prudent to ask me before publishing.

    # The Rama says that Matza shold be Rekikin. You can see details on http://www.exodusmatza.com The BaEr Heitev quotes the Beis Hillel, Rekikin means like a finger’s thickness about 12mm. The Rama does not say “as thin as possible”.
    It is almost certain that the Rama was eating soft Matza. Not one of the Poskim says Matza should be hard.
    The Mishneh Berurah The Aruch HaShulchan and the ShA HaRav all speak of Matza being soft like a sponge. HaRav Schachter mentions this in his note. In fact the Chacham Echad he refers to in his note is myself; I brought this to his attention.

    # Anyway as far as thin is concerned Exodus Matza is probably the most Mehudar Matza available, less than 1mm thick; thinner [better] than most other Matzos.

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    1. Meir,
      Fortunately, I have some 4000 shiurim in my digital library 🙂 I often listen in the car etc, and I simply can’t recall where or even when I heard this. It was about two years ago, I think. But more importantly, you as I understand it have been provided with the clarification from R’ Schachter and know it to be absolutely true. As such, the issue is closed in respect of R’ Schachter and using him as support for your laffa product. You should not be using R’ Schachter. He makes no statement about your production or methodology, let alone if he considers it the same as the Sephardi Matzos he talks about.

      I have altered the post. My understanding of R’ Shlomo Zalman is not the same as you. As I’ve said to Rabbi Segal, it might be best to ask R’ Zalman Nechemia. Any Israelis out there willing to do so?

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  6. (light editing)

    Dovid Segal,

    You say.. “I don’t suggest to revert to any “original” Minhag, are you so simple that you are unable to understand or know the differences between Kitniot and soft matot?”

    I beg your pardon?

    Can’t understand the point I was seeking to make?

    You said previously, “Is there somebody on this blog who is able to explain, why … we are not permitted to change that custom, to the original custom that was kept by Jews for thousands of years?”

    Well, I was explaining that, just like kitniyos were originally consumed and yet we have kept the “invented” minhag that developed not to eat them, likewise with matzah. The minhag arose not to eat them, and that is the “invented” minhag that we keep today. It is not in our hands to return to what was done prior to that time.

    You repeatedly cite links to sheelos and teshuvos in the hope that we will think you are a boki on this issue. It is obvious, however, that you are simply stirring the pot, trying to raise a storm in favour of the Melbourne agency that has sought to uproot the hard matzah tradition.

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  7. Isaac,
    thank you for altering your post.
    Do you think you should be making comments that reflect poorly upon others just by relying on your memory? notwithstanding that you believe that your memory is proved correct.
    I will probably have something to post about HaRav Schachter’s recent letter.

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    1. Yes, I do.
      I raised an issue with R’ Telsner a few years ago and quoted R’ Schachter and spent 3 days trying to find where he said it, and failed to find it. But, I know I heard it. Thankfully, alzheimers is proceeding slower 🙂

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  8. So even if you comprehensively search and can’t find it you maintain that one may still rely upon one’s memory in matters of such gravity. Are you issuing a Pesak Halacha?

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