Brooklyn, NY – How The Liska Rebbe Perpetuates The Minhag Of No Matzah On Pesach

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    >Brooklyn, NY – Purim has mishloach manos and hamantashen, Shavuos has dairy products and cheesecake and Rosh Hashanah has the simanim and honey. While many of our Yomim Tovim are associated with festive joyous spiritual meals and specific foods, perhaps no one Yom Tov is symbolized by a certain food then the Matzah we eat on Pesach.

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    The holiday celebration revolves around Matzah’s origination in Egypt; hours are spent baking them, lots of money is spent buying them and the whole month of Nissan we refrain from eating Matzah so that the Matzah we eat on Pesach is unique and special to us. Twice daily, for seven or eight straight days all of Torah Jewry begins the Yom Tov Seudah by making Kiddush and eating Matzah; everyone that is except a select few Yidden who don’t eat Matzah on Pesach besides for the required Kezaisim (mimimum Torah requirement) during the Seder.

    Now allow those words to digest for a few moments; no-Matzah-on-Pesach. After being made aware of this fascinating minhag by Ami’s Editor-In-Chief, Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, I was privileged to interview the current Liska Rebbe, Rav Tzvi Hersh Friedlander SHLIT”A, whose family and Chassidim are the main vessels by which this sacred and extremely rare tradition are transmitted throughout the generations.

    It must be noted that for the purpose of brevity and clarity, throughout the article where the words “no Matzah on Pesach” are used we are referring to the remaining days of Yom Tov, not the minimum Matzah that is eaten by all Yidden on the Seder Night.

    After hearing of this minhag for the first time, I must admit I was flabbergasted to say the least. I began asking many people if they heard of the minhag, let alone knew anyone who kept it. While no-one I spoke to actually practice this minhag, a few people said they knew of select people, mostly in Eretz Yisroel who kept it. The general consensus was that those who practiced it were of an older generation and did not make the same request of their families. It is only logical that there would be a pocketful of people who never lost the chain of mesorah in this minhag despite the generation gap; however they are few and far between.

    The origin of this minhag stems from Klal Yisroel’s scrupulous quest to ensure a Chometz free Pesach. This includes the fact that our Matzahs are baked in a manner in which all fears of it later becoming Chometz would be eradicated. While this is the simplest definition of what Matzah is; a non-chometz form of bread, the reason why some people have the custom not to eat gebrochts (broken in Yiddish, referring to Matzah that has absorbed liquid), is due to the fear that a small part of the Matzah that wasn’t baked properly can come in contact with liquid thus rendering it chometz. It is this same fear of Matzah becoming chometz that is the catalyst for those who do not eat Matzah on Pesach. The fear of unbaked flour pockets that can possibly become chometz has led to people to value Matzah baked in certain bakeries as they have higher standards of Kashrus and more stringencies implemented. Top dollar is paid today for Matzah that meets the many possible chumros (stringencies) in baking Matzah.

    The Sharei Teshuvah (on Halachah) mentions this chumrah and writes as follows “There are those that are machmir and don’t eat Matzah other than the first night (in E.Y.) of Pesach …. Many have deviated from this minhag because of Simchas Yom tov and on both of these groups of people whose sole intention is towards heaven I call them “Kulom Tzaddikim”, wholly righteous.

    Many earlier Torah sages kept this custom including the “Arye D’Bei Ilui”, Rav Lifschitz, the Baal Ari Sh’Bachubarah, Reb Pinchos of Koritz, Reb Shayale Kerestirer, Reb Meir of Premishlan and others. While origins of the minhag can be traced as far back as the Arizal, the first person famously documented to have practiced this minhag was the Yismach Moshe of Ujhel, Hungary, Rav Moshe Teitelbaum (1759-1841) who kept this minhag his whole life and encouraged his family to accept this minhag. However throughout the generations his descendants decided to discontinue it as they felt the Simchas Yom Tov felt by eating Matzah overshadowed the fear of the eating of Matzah.

    The Satmar Rebbe, Reb Yoel ZT”L once discovered a small unbaked pocket of flour in one of his Matzahs during Pesach. Horrified, he said “If this could happen in our (Satmar) Matzah Bakery in which I instituted the highest level of stringencies and hashgachic care; now I truly understand why my grandfather the “Yismach Moshe” had the minhag not to eat Matzah on Pesach. That year the Rebbe refrained from eating Gebrochts on the last day of Pesach, with his reasons ultimately known only to him.

    Video below The liska Rebbe explains the minhag to Ami Magazine NESANEL GANTZ.

    Some early Torah leaders would hold a variation of this minhag; they would eat the minimal required amount of Matzah during the Seder and Yom Tov day meals but would refrain from eating Matzah during the weekday days of Chol Hamoed. Many Brisker followers also try to minimize Matzah consumption throughout Pesach as well.

    It must be noted that although many leaders of yesteryear felt strongly about the minhag there were many leaders who were vehemently against it as well. Most notably amongst its detractors was the “Divrei Chaim” Reb Chaim Halberstam of Tzanz. He wrote in a letter “In regards to keeping this minhag of not eating Matzah all days of Pesach; this is not the correct thing to do in our times as we are a weakened generation. (mid 1800’s) Keeping this minhag contains therein a bitul (cancelation) of simchas Yom Tov and therefore one shouldn’t keep it…rather one should be matir neder, (absolve his vow) immediately.” The impact of the leaders against the minhag has certainly led to its decline.
    Upon first hearing about this minhag, many questions automatically pop into one’s head. “But it’s a Mitzvah!”, “What about Simchas Yom Tov?”, “Don’t you have to wash at every Yom Tov Seuda?” are amongst the basic ones asked. To cover the whole topic of eating Matzah on Pesach is beyond the scope of this article as further research reveals an intricate web of Halachah and minhag of which this author feels is way beyond his level to attempt to navigate. I will however cover some of the answers to the common questions of curiosity along with a myriad of other fascinating facts behind this minhag. No halachic ramifications should be derived as the purpose is solely to defend and source this minhag. A token of appreciation is owed to R’ Ezra Friedlander, president of the Friedlander Group and R’ Yisroel Friedlander founder of Machon Dor L’Dor for providing me with a wealth of Torah on the subject.

    Another fascinating reason for this minhag is brought in the Sefer Segulas Yisroel by Rav Shabsi Lifschitz. It says in the Torah “Shivas Yamim Matzah Tocheilu”, with the Artscrollian translation being “thou shalt eat Matzah for seven days”. Rashi proves from a Gemara in Pesachim that the Mitzvah of eating Matzah on Pesach besides for the Seder is a Rishus, an option; not the obligation of the Torah. The Baal Haturim and the Shulchan Aruch (siman taf-ayin-hei seef zayin) codifies that the Mitzvah Min Hatorah is only the first night (and second night outside of E.Y.) whereas the eating of Matzah on the rest of Pesach fall under the category of Rishus. Although the Torah refers to the Mitzvah of Matzah only at the Seder, the Karaites purposely misinterpreted the pasuk to imply that the Mitzvah M’Doraisah of Matzah is all of Pesach. In facts the Karaites would eat Matzah all 7 days as their contorted biblical requirement. That is another reason, says the Segulas Yisroel why many have this custom. They refrain from eating Matzah on Pesach with the sole intention of going against the Karaites.

    Amongst all the early Chassidic Rebbes who kept the minhag, no one felt as strongly about it and urged others to accept it upon themselves as the Rebbe, Reb Tzvi Hersh of Liska known by his sefer the “Ach Pri Tevuah”. While many Rebbes who felt spiritually strong to accept it upon themselves; however, they would not expect others to do so as well, except for the Liska Rebbe. He would often mention this minhag to other people he encountered and urged them to accept it upon themselves. When being mesader kiddushin at a wedding he would require the new chosson would accept upon himself this minhag before proceeding. It is also written in the sefer “Darchei Hayashar” that when a chassid was in the need of a yeshua (miracle), the Rebbe would only promise him he would honor his request contingent on the chassid accepting this minhag. It is certain that it is due to this strong feeling in keeping this minhag that the only Chassidic court to keep this Minhag today can only be found amongst Liska.

    The current Liska Rebbe graciously welcomed me into his home in Boro Park to discuss this Minhag which is a mantle of pride in the family and Chassidus. While the name Liska is known throughout the Judaic world, today Liska is not a large Chassidic court; and isn’t of the first few names when thinking of different Chassidus’. The Liska Rebbe by his own admission is not someone who is looking to spread his Chassidus. It is precisely for this reason that the knowledge of this minhag is a relative secret and surprise to most people.

    The Rebbe has vast knowledge of the history and many halachos and different customs pertaining to not eating Matzah on Pesach. He published an extensive 11 page halachic Teshuva (responsa) in his sefer “Chamudai Tzvi” that deals specifically with this minhag.

    I asked the Rebbe why his family kept this minhag as opposed to the descendants of original followers who abandoned over a century ago. He cited his ancestor’s strong adherence to the minhag as the main reason for its preservation.

    The Rebbe admitted to me that he once questioned himself whether he should discontinue the minhag but decided against it. He related that he was once visiting a Matzah bakery and after the prescribed 18 minute shift, noticed a small clump of dough the size of a pre-flattened raw Matzah in the middle of the table. A young woman working at the bakery, obviously not wanting to get into trouble ran over to the overlooked dough and furiously started to flatten it saying “sorry, it was for me”. The Rebbe asked for the dough (to prevent the obvious possible chometz) and said “No, that dough was for me. It is a sign from heaven that I should not abandon the ways of my ancestors”. That incident erased any doubt as to the significance of the adherence to the minhag even in today’s generation.

    After I pressed him for more sources on the minhag, the Rebbe told me that literally the day of our discussion he had come across a fascinating Ohr Hachaim on Chumash that he feels is directly correlating to his family minhag. While discussing the different Pesukim that discuss eating Matzah on Pesach, the Ohr Hachaim draws the conclusion that the act of not-eating Chometz during Pesach is considered as if one would have eaten Matzah all seven days. Thus, one could fulfill the Mitzvah of eating Matzah on Pesach all seven days by the very act of not eating Chometz throughout the rest of Yom Tov. One would seemingly not have to physically eat Matzah yet can fulfill a mitzvah nonetheless.

    Interestingly, women and boys under bar-mitzvah have historically not kept this minhag even in families where the men of the house would refrain from eating Matzah. The women of the house would actually wash and then the Seudah would commence. The Rebbe said that he remembers in his home, his father Rav Yoizef Friedlander, the previous Liska Rebbe ZT”L (of the first Chassidic Rebbeim in Boro Park) would make it a point of waiting until his Rebbetzin washed and ate her Matzah before continuing his seudah. Perhaps says the Rebbe, that symbolically, while not going into the halachic ramifications, the traditional washing on Matzah is being fulfilled in the household through the women.

    On Achron Shel Pesach, the last day of Yom Tov many who refrain from eating gebrochts during Yom Tov will eat gebrochts food on the last day of Pesach. Even the followers of this rare minhag also eat gebrochts on that day. The Rebbe pointed out a Chassidic explanation for the minhag to eat gebrochts on the last day of Yom Tov. The commonly accepted reason for gebrochts on the 8th day is due to it being a “Sfeikoh D’Yomah”, an extra day of Yom Tov observed due to us being unaware of the true day of the Yom Tov’s beginning and end; thus the stringencies are minimized on that day. The Rebbe offered another explanation brought down in Chassidic sources “On Pesach, many have the minhag that “M’Misht Zich Nisht”, we don’t intermingle on Pesach. With our families minhag this is most definitely true. While the reasons we don’t eat with others is steeped in holy traditions, it still causes a certain distancing amongst family and friends. On the last day of Yom Tov we all eat the same things to show that we are B’Achdus, in unity as one nation”


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    47 Comments
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    Babishka
    Member
    Babishka
    13 years ago

    Actually this minhag makes a lot of sense when you consider the cost of shmurah matzah.

    charliehall
    charliehall
    13 years ago

    ” the purpose is solely to defend and source this minhag.”

    A minhag that trumps halachah!

    yklbp
    yklbp
    13 years ago

    My grandfather, who grew up in Poland, ate gebrokts pesach but he would davka not eat gebrokts on the first night… he was niftar before I could ask him why… Anyone else ever hear of such a minhag ?

    Label1750
    Label1750
    13 years ago

    more power to them. Year after year Pesach keeps getting watered down. Today you can get BREAD kosher for Pesach in Supermarket freezers. Whatever it takes to preserve our holy traditions should be done to counteract the modern day Karaiites.

    Anonymous
    Anonymous
    13 years ago

    This is a fascinating and informative article abut a minhag many of us were clearly unaware of but it also brings forth a more fundamental question of WHY some yidden believe that we must overlay chumrah on top of chumrah in living a life under daas torah rather than finding comfort and joy in serving the Ebeshter in less rigid way. We seem to obcess and fixate on details and in the process miss out on the bigger picture of serving hashem “basimcha” and not out of “fear” of tripping up on some arcane technicality.

    jonkamm623
    jonkamm623
    13 years ago

    I think this whole anti gebroks thing is political.Rav Moshe feinstein ate gebroks,as well as other gedolim.This whole thing is the kosher mafia.The same reason you cant buy a jewish press at Rockland Kosher.

    UseYourHead
    UseYourHead
    13 years ago

    Wouldn’t the best thing be to bake your own matzos and take care to ensure that there is no flour remaining?

    13 years ago

    Here is an easy solution to avoid such problems: get machine matzah

    Most hand shmura is made by Cossack immigrants, so don’t tell me how it’s better. I trust a machine more that I trust a Cossack.

    13 years ago

    To #3,

    Some have the minhag not to eat matza ashira the first night. One such matza ashira is when matza is cooked with something, it then gets a “rich” taste – as opposed to its regular blandness. I beleive I heard this in the name of Rabbi Akiva Eiger.

    ConcernedJew
    ConcernedJew
    13 years ago

    There has been many famous Jewish personalities over the years that have had the same custom. One that I could remember hearing about was the famous Chabad Mashpia, Reb Yitzchok Horowitz, more commonly known as “Reb Itche der Masmid” He would only eat Matzah Mitzvah and the Lechem Mishnah kezeisim throughout the Chag and that is all. The reason being, if any type of food during yom tov could even have the slightest doubt of G-d forbid being Chametz then Matzah would be the number one food. Therefore, not Chas Veshalom to say Matzah is Chametz but why put yourself in a “Sofek”…

    The_Truth
    Famed Member
    The_Truth
    13 years ago

    As a Rebbe of mine often said, “Pesach is a time to do without – we can survive a week without Kosher L’Pesach cereal, bagels, bread, pizza etc. The more you realize you do not need all these manufactured and processed items, the learn to enjoy the ‘simpler’ foods (during the year as well), the happier you will be.”

    LiberalismIsADisease
    LiberalismIsADisease
    13 years ago

    So what do they wash on for the other Shabbos & Yom Tov seudos? Gefilta Fish?

    volfie
    volfie
    13 years ago

    The Torah commands us to eat matzoh 7 days.Not one day.The matzohs baked today are more reliable as to chometz issues than the matzohs baked at the exodus,where it was done for the first time and while on the run.Give us all a break from the mishigas.chag sameach !!!

    shlomozalman
    shlomozalman
    13 years ago

    I have been aware of this minhag for thirty years. The Brisker Rov kept it. The minhag follows a long tradition of neuroticism and obssessive compulsiveness amongst the ultra-orthodox.

    DemsBeBabies
    DemsBeBabies
    13 years ago

    this whole article mentions only rebbes as having this “minhag”. any litvish or yekish have this minhag, no, so its just made up in the last 300 or so years. lethtem have their minhag, but no one else should ever take this as even a chumra on themselves.

    13 years ago

    Sometimes a chumra can result in a kula. While you are sure to not be eating any chametz, you will be mising out on “the bread of emuna”

    Vestin
    Vestin
    13 years ago

    Its well known the Vilna Gaon ate Matzah every day of pesach and made an extra meal on isru chag to have another chance to get a mitzvah for eating matzah.

    misnaged
    misnaged
    13 years ago

    rabbi chaim ozer gorelick of philidelphia yeshiva doesnt eat matza all pesach except for the kazeisim

    SarahJ
    SarahJ
    13 years ago

    I know the Liska Rebbe and I can tell you that he’s a gaon oilam–not too many people know it

    13 years ago

    I must correct your story.
    As I don’t know Mr. Ganz of Ami.

    Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum never ever found any flour in the Matza. I am a very close to the original story when the publicity of finding a problem happened.
    About 36 years ago 1 of the managers at the Matza bakery wanted to make whole wheat style Matza which is higher in fiber. So he added about 5% of the outer shell of the wheat to some special orders. So a person could see pieces of the wheat shell baked in to those Matza’s and one of the Star chasidim went to the rebe complaining that could happen that if a half or a quarter of a wheat is in the Matza. Maybe It’s not fully baked 100%.
    So the Star rebe zt”l ordered not to eat that year the Matza gebrogts on the 8th day as a chumra.
    At that time he spoke about the special chumra his great grand father the Yismach Moshe not eating Matza all 7 days.

    AniMamin
    AniMamin
    13 years ago

    See Nimukei Orach Chaim Siman 475 and Darkei Chaim Veshulem Os 616, where the Minchas Eluzer quotes the Magen Avraham, the Gr”a and his father the Darkei Tshuva and that one SHOULD eat matzoh all 7 days. Through keeping this minhag one is mevatel Mitzvos Aseh of Seudas Shabbos etc…

    DovidTheK
    DovidTheK
    13 years ago

    So is it or isn’t it a mitzvas aseh? Shivas Yomin Matzos Tocheilu. It sounds like a mitzvas aseh to me. So don’t you HAVE TO eat matza?

    volfie
    volfie
    13 years ago

    to reply 19 -tanna kamma : check out the maftir for the first day yom tov “shivat yamimim matzohs tayachail”- what does that mean…??? Any other interpretation is wrong.
    to reply 25-ester : would you buy matzohs from a bunch on the run ,of people baking them in portable ovens which were not kashered(this is b-4 matan torah , which i am sure u did not consider) ,probably conserving water, and without watches to check that it is done by 18 minutes? and no supervision-?. what about shmura from the time of the growing or cutting of the wheat,? what about mayim shelanu ? what about alot of other requirements ? you wouldn’t-most of us wouldn’t.chag sameach,kasher,
    and with intelligence.

    stamm
    stamm
    13 years ago

    Chumros which one takes upon for Pesach are not to be ridiculed since the issur of chometz is so strong.
    As a child I asked my father why don’t we eat the pesach cookies since they bake it in a separate place. He then told me that it is more likely that they are chometz free even more than the matza is.(He still did not allow it) It is then that I realized that he only ate matza when and how much he had to(kzaisim and for kiddush)

    Dead_Rebbe
    Dead_Rebbe
    13 years ago

    I think this is a prime example of how “eyun” is allowed to overcome “peshat,” or context and is something that the ancients would never have allowed. To rely on an interesting Rashi explicating the verse שבעת ימים מצות תאכלו to sanction a bizarre practice that flies in the face of thousands of years of Jewish tradition is, for lack of a better phrase, a “modne zakh.” The holiday, after all, is called חג המצות! This probably explains why it is only practiced among a small conventicle of sectarians.

    Another חומרא, mentioned in the שלחן ערוך הרב, is that of various ultra pious individuals to observe a second day of the Day of Atonement as that holiday’s יום טוב שני של גליות. That practice, as any strict interpretation should, enhances the core mitzva, beautifies it, protects it. משא’’כ the practice of avoiding unleavened bread for most of the Feast of Unleavened Bread serves to contradict the letter and spirit of the גזרת הכתוב.

    HaNavon
    HaNavon
    13 years ago

    So what’s he do about the passuk “for 7 days you shall eat matzah”?

    13 years ago

    so many poskin quoting halacha here. I would have thought they would be to busy before Pesach to gissip here.

    Maybe they’re not really poskim, just yentas?

    OpenOrthodox
    OpenOrthodox
    10 years ago

    What do they do about the fact that you need lechem mishneh for your shabbos and yom tov meals?