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Q&A

Why do we designate specific matzot for seder rituals?

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This question arose at my seder this year and nobody present knew of an answer:

The haggadah designates the three matzot for specific purposes:

  • We are to break the middle one (and save the larger piece for the afikoman).
  • We are to use the top and (remainder of the middle) ones when fulfilling the obligation of matzah.
  • Wa are to use the bottom one for the Hillel sandwich.

Why are specific ones used for specific purposes at all, and why these ones? In contrast, when we have two loaves of bread for Shabbat there are no rules about what to do with which; we just eat them.

I can imagine perhaps wanting to hide the broken piece between two whole ones to avoid calling attention to its diminishment, though I haven't heard this explanation. One attendee pointed out that one interpretation of the three matzot is that they represent Kohein, Levi, and Yisrael, but we couldn't figure out why breaking the Levi matzah would make sense, and we didn't come up with anything for the other special designations.

Why does the haggadah care which matzot we use for which ritual elements?

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On shabbos, aren't we supposed to put one on top of the other and cut from the bottom one, or some (I... (3 comments)

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