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Q&A

Why aren't we required to eat matzah every day during Pesach?

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Shemot 12:15 tells us: "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread". But our tradition (I don't know the source, sorry) is that we are required to eat matzah only at the seder(s). Otherwise, the command is understood as "if you eat bread, it must be unleavened bread".

Why aren't we required to eat matzah each day during Pesach? The language for Sukkot is very similar: "You shall live in booths seven days" (Vayikra 23:42), and that's what we do -- we are required to dwell in the sukkah each day, as well as taking the lulav each day (except when Shabbat overrides). Why is the Pesach case different?

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The Bavli (P'sachim 120) figures out from p'sukim that there's no requirement to eat matza after the first day. (Specifically, since the seventh day is listed as an "add-on" when work is forbidden but no mention is made of matza [Deuteronomy 16:8], it realizes matza isn't required then; and the other days are listed with it so have the same rule.)

That said, there are rishonim who hold that eating matza the rest of Pesach is an active fulfillment of the prohibition on eating chametz or of the command to eat matza. There's even been discussion of whether to recite the "who has commanded us…" benediction, though I don't think anybody nowadays rules to do so as a practical matter. But there are certainly people who are careful to eat matza on every day of Pesach.

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As noted by others, there are many (both historical and current) people who make a point of eating Matzah on every day of Pesach based on the Pasuk. In addition, depending on location and the day of the week that Pesach starts, there are between 2 and 5 days (out of 7 or 8) when Matzah is, arguably, required in order to have a proper Seudah (meal) on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Why aren't we required to eat matzah each day during Pesach? The language for Sukkot is very similar: "You shall live in booths seven days" (Vayikra 23:42), and that's what we do -- we are required to dwell in the sukkah each day, as well as taking the lulav each day (except when Shabbat overrides). Why is the Pesach case different?

Actually, they are very much the same!

  • On Pesach we are (generally) not required to eat Matzah except for the Seder and to fulfill any Seudah requirement (Shabbos/Yom Tov).

  • On Sukkos we are (generally) not required to eat in the Sukkah except for the first night and to fulfill any Seudah requiement (Shabbos/Yom Tov).

  • On Pesach, we have the requirement to not eat Chametz for the entire holiday.

  • On Sukkos, we have the requirement to not eat outside the Sukkah for the entire holiday.

  • On Pesach, we can avoid eating Matzah (except when required) while also avoiding Chametz, by eating "other" stuff - fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, etc. - all the items that can't be made into Matzah or Chametz.

  • On Sukkos, we can avoid eating in the Sukkah (except when required) by eating "other" stuff - fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, etc. - all the items that don't require a Bracha when eaten in the Sukkah - which happens to overlap (but not 100%) with the items that can't be made into Matzah or Chametz (e.g., there are some types of Mezonos from the 5 grains that do not require eating in the Sukkah but would still be subject to Chametz rules).

So really the two holidays are quite similar. Almost to the issue of the last day:

  • On Pesach, those who do not eat Gebrokhts (Matzah that has been allowed to touch liquids after it has been baked) will eat Gebrokhts on the 8th day in the diaspora.
  • On Sukkos, there is a general custom to eat, weather permitting, at least some of the Shemini Atzeres meals in the Sukkah in the diaspora.
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