Why Eat Matzah?

When our ancestors left Egypt in great haste, there was no time to wait for their dough to rise. They therefore ate Matzah, unleavened bread. With only this food (but with great faith), the Jews relied on Hashem to provide sustenance for the entire nation – men, women and children. Each year, to commemorate this, we eat Matzah on the first two nights of Pesach, as instructed in the Torah.

What is Matzah Shmurah?

When Moses instructed the Jews to prepare Matzah for the Pesach eve feast (scheduled for the night before their anticipated departure from Egypt), he instructed them to “guard the Matzahs – Ush’martem Et HaMatzot” (Exodus 12:17). This verse is the basis of an interesting law. It is not enough to eat Matzah on the Seder night; it is also a Mitzvah to guard the Matzah dough as it is being prepared for baking, so that it does not rise.

Shmurah means “watched,” and it is an apt description of this Matzah, the ingredients of which (the flour and water) are watched from the moment of harvesting and drawing until they are baked. Shmurah Matzot are under strict supervision to avoid any possibility of leavening during the harvesting and baking process.  

Why Matzah Shmurah?

It is easy to recognize a hand-baked Matzah, because they are round in contrast to the square-shaped machine-made variety. Interestingly, the Torah describes the Matzah that the Jews ate when they left Egypt as “Ugot,” a Hebrew word that also means round-shaped. 

Whilst one could buy machine made Matzah Shmurah, many people ensure they eat hand-made Matzah Shmurah on Pesach and certainly for the Seder. Why?

As mentioned above Matzah represents the genuine and pure faith of the Jews, led into an unknown desert with only unleavened dough on their shoulders. The Zohar calls Matzah ‘the bread of faith.’ Whilst eating Matzah is a physical act, we are in fact spiritually nourishing our souls with an infusion of faith. Eating Matzah strengthens our belief in Hashem. 

Faith can often be superficial. Therefore, when we eat Matzah we digest the spiritual nutrients within the Matzah ensuring that our actions become more consistent with our faith.

Baking Matzah involved mixing the dough, rolling, shaping, baking, etc. A Jews must perform all these steps. As the Matzah is being made, all those involved constantly repeat, “L’shem Matzot Mitzvah – we are doing this for the sake of the Mitzvah of Matzah.” This is why machine-made Matzah is not, according to many, the best choice for the Seder.

Hence, hand-baked Matzah Shmurah is becoming more and more popular and many people eat it for the entire Pesach. This practice was strongly encouraged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Why not make the effort to have hand-made Matzah Shmurah at least for the Seder?

How much is an injection of faith worth?