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Q&A

Why aren't worried about carrying matza on Shabas?

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The Bavli in various places (e.g. Suka 42–43) explains that the rabbis did away with blowing shofar and taking lulav on Shabas lest one "take it to an expert to learn, and carry it four cubits in public" thereby breaking the laws of Shabas.

So why didn't they do away with eating matza on Shabas? It also has laws that one may want to ask an expert about.

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The Shoel Umeshiv was asked the question even stronger: according to Rashi (Suka there), the concern is that he'll take it to an expert to learn "its shaking process or the benediction" to recite; and the latter seems to be a concern for matza too. I don't fully understand his answer, so I recommend you check it out; but there are others:

  • The Haamek Sh'ela explains that shofar and lulav are daytime activities whereas matza is eaten at night, when people are less apt to go out, so there was less of a concern.
  • Also in the Haamek Sh'ela's name (though I don't see it there): Experts would make house calls for the seder, going around to various people's houses. [Cf. Mishna B'rura 484:1.] So there's little concern someone will go out to the expert.
  • Rabbi Yitzchak Y'rucham Diskin (the son of Rabbi Y'hoshua Leb Diskin) explains that one is punished for carrying food on Shabas only if it's of a certain size, and that size is larger than the olive-sized amount one needs to eat on Pesach, so there's little concern he'll carry so much.
  • Rabbi Yosef Tz'vi Rimon suggests that the number of rules one may need to ask about, or at least the number of rules one may need to ask about while showing the object itself to the rabbi, are much fewer for matza than for shofar or lulav, so there's little concern he'll carry the matza.
  • The Chemdas Yisrael explains that by doing away with blowing shofar and shaking lulav, the rabbis left intact some remnant of the mitzva: one can learn about it and thus fulfill it in spirit. But matza, unlike shofar and lulav, is incumbent also on women — and women have no inherent requirement to learn Torah. So by doing away with matza, the rabbis would be completely doing away with it (for women): so they didn't.

This answer post is based on 1 and 2 (PDF).

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9 comments

If, in fact, the concern is that one will go an ask an expert about the shaking of the lulav, then the equivalent would be a concern over going out to ask someone about the EATING of the matzah. I would assume that there is less worry over how to eat than how to shake because we have experience fulfilling that mitzvah all during the year. rosends‭ about 1 month ago

@rosends I haven't read the linked sources, but I would have thought the consultation would be "is this too leavened" -- like, I baked it within 18 minutes but it looks puffy anyway; is this ok (hands over piece of matzah). Monica Cellio‭ about 1 month ago

But because the restriction on Chametz is not just eating, but also possessing, presumably that would be reason enough to bake Matzah prior to Chatzos on Erev Pesach to avoid any possibility of a violation, as well as to make sure you have Matzah in time (i.e., if you bake, have problems, you can go to a neighbor before the Seder to get some good Matzah,.) manassehkatz‭ about 1 month ago

@rosends I think you're saying much what Rabbi Rimon is. msh210‭ about 1 month ago

@msh210 I've heard of such things, but it sounds crazy to me. It is one thing to be in a situation where you may not be able to eat something - e.g., shechita sometimes doesn't go as planned, in which case you can't eat the animal, but you are not in violation of a commandment by owning that animal - but in this case, you put yourself in a position where if you mess up you now have a continuous violation of possessing Chametz until you destroy it. Why risk it? manassehkatz‭ about 1 month ago

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