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Biblical-style (soft) barley matzah
Click to enlargeBiblical-style (soft) barley מַצָּה (Karen Ben-David; photo © 2021 Yirmeyahu Ben-David)

fem. n. matz•âh; pl. מַצּוֹת — During Khag ha-Matz•ōt, matz•âh, unleavened barley dough and resulting soft flatbread—Lëkhëm Ō•ni, is eaten exclusively.

In Biblical ancient Israel, before the existence of yeast was even identified, מַצָּה was a soft flatbread. During the Babylonian Exile it became unleavened Babylonian (now Iraqi) pita, in Arabic countries, it became unleavened Arabic لَفَّ (Laffa—probably from Hebrew לֵַאֲפִיָּה ).

"[B]y the end of the 18th century [CE]," Medieval European (Spanish & Russian) rabbis evolved "our thin cracker-like [מַצָּה]"—and the cracker was born. Subsequently, the "start-to-finish" deadline of 18 minutes, producing a cracker, is an even more recent reform-innovation of the late 18th century C.E. introduced by a Lithuanian European Rebbe (see חָמֵץ).

18-Minutes Makes Crackers – European Rabbinic Reforms

In Biblical ancient Israel – throughout the history of Israel up until the 18th century C.E., מַצָּה was a soft bread. The reform of a "start-to-finish" 18 minute deadline, which produces a cracker, was a reform-innovation of a European (Lithuanian) Rabbi – the first חב"ד "Rebbe," called the "Alter Rebbe" (1745-1812 C.E.).

The ancients of Biblical Israel didn't even know of the existence of yeast. To ancient Israel, חָמֵץ (the verb) was an inexplicable ruakh no different from whatever caused other foods and substances to turn rancid. The earliest change they could observe, having no microscopes back then, was a paling of the surface color of the dough.

Nor did the ancient families possess digital timers, nor even tick-tock timers or water clocks, to clock 18 minutes. It wasn't even until the 6th century of the Common Era, in Ta•lᵊmud, that we have documentation of any defined time limit between the end of kneading and the beginning of cooking the last portion of the dough. Apparently to constrain those who were becoming excessively lax regarding immediately cooking the kneaded dough, the חז"ל approximated the length of time, after kneading ceased, until the surface color of the dough paled; about the length of time an average person could walk a Roman mile [1.48 km or .92 U.S. miles] (Ma•sëkët Pᵊsâkh•im Mishᵊnâh 43a note to Gᵊmâr•â, 46a, 48b) – which equates to about 18-24 minutes.

Ram•ba"m (1135-1204 C.E.) explicated the Gᵊmâr•â to Ma•sëkët Pᵊsâkh•im Mishᵊnâh 46a (Mi•shᵊn•ëh Tor•âh, Seiphër Zᵊman•im, Ha•lâkh•ot חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה ‭ ‬ 13):

Rainbow Rule

Any time that a person is working the dough, even the entire day, it doesn't become חָמֵץ. If he raised his hand [from kneading] and placed [the dough], and the dough has rested until it reach­ed the point of making a [burp] sound when a man hits it with his hand, then it has already be­come חָמֵץ and it should burned immediately.

Even if its [burp] sound is not heard, if it rested [long enough] for a person to walk a [Roman] mile, then it has already become חָמֵץ, and it should burned immediately.

Moreover, if the color of the surface of the dough has paled (like a man whose hair stood on end) then it is forbidden to eat it – however, כָּרֵת is not due.

Rainbow Rule

But, even 18-24 minutes approximation was "resting" time: the time between the cessation of kneading and cooking, before the surface of the dough began to pale (dry) – not the 18th century C.E. start-to-finish (from wetting the dough to cooking) strictest 18 minute time!

It is the "resting" of the dough that Scripture (see חָמֵץ) requires must be eliminated in making מַצָּה.

Furthermore, the drying (paling) of the surface of the dough, it turns out, is no physical or chemical indicator of the true time it takes to leaven bread without infusing cultured yeast (which ancients neither had nor were even aware of), solely by encouraging the growth and fermentation of natural yeast alone. Starting from scratch (unleavened) dough requires 12-24 hours of resting plus another 4 hours of proofing to leaven and rise properly; nowhere close to 18, or even 24, minutes.

Far beyond this, culturing the שְׂאוֹר (starter, or sponge, dough), the only yeast known to, and used by, the ancients, requires a week or more of careful attention to develop.

Recipe For 6 Barley Matz•ōt



Simply mix ingredients, separate into 6 balls and immediately cook (do not allow to rest or sit before cooking)!

The most authentic way to cook matz•ōt is to bake them like a pizza. They were originally baked in a תַּנּוּר—i.e. if pizzas were ancient, an ancient pizza oven. You can bake them in a pizza oven, a regular oven on a pizza stone or on upside down cookie sheet—or even like pancakes in a dry, floured, frying pan.

"Leaven" Cited By Ribi Yᵊho•shua

The spelling of the plural, מַצּוֹת, is similar to מִצְוֹת, the primary Biblical plural of מִצְוָה. Indeed, the two plurals are identical in pre-𝕸 Scripture (having no vowel pointing prior to the 10th century C.E.): מצות. Thus, the relationship of בָּצֵק to מַצּוֹת versus חָמֵץ conspicuously parallels the pristine בָּצֵק of the מִצְוֹת being infused and kneaded with חָמֵץ ("leaven" of interpretations). The בָּצֵק is, thereby, either matured (cf. The Nᵊtzârim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matitᵊyâhu (NHM, in English) 13.33) or corrupted (cf. Dᵊvâr•im 13.1 and NHM 16.5-12) – depending on the quality of the חָמֵץ – into either authentic Ha•lâkh•âh or straying (apostasy), respectively.

תּוֹרָה commands that, every year, Israel must get rid of all of the old שְׂאוֹר and חָמֵץ and begin anew, going back to the Source מצות – namely, תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכתָב – to cultivate, from scratch, both: the next year's שְׂאוֹר and חָמֵץ incorporating the current environment.

Rainbow Rule © 1996-present by Paqid Yirmeyahu Ben-David,

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