I seem to have surprised my readers with the fact that we don’t eat gebrokt. Forgive me for a Pesach post after Pesach, because it reminds me a bit of stale matzah.
In the mid to late 1700′s, chassidim began observing the custom of not soaking matzah in water. The idea was that if any flour from the matzah remained unbaked, adding water could make hametz. The chassidim didn’t really consider gebrokt hametz, because they all suspended the custom for the eighth day of Passover (which only occurs outside of Israel).
Before I met my husband I only vaguely knew about this chumra (stringency). He was from a modern Orthodox, YU family and I never dreamed that he would be so fanatical LOL. There are three reasons I quickly adjusted:
- It involves less work and doesn’t restrict what you eat, just the way it’s prepared. I find not eating kitniyot (legumes) much more restrictive.
- We are not overly strict about it. Technically, only water and flour can make chametz, so matzah soaked in other liquids including wine, pure unreconstituted fruit juice, and milk is okay. We were able to make matzah brei (milk) and potato kugel and latkes (I meticulously dried the potatoes). In the past I have made cakes using juice and matza meal, and of course potato flour. Also, we don’t care if guests break their matzah into their soup, and we eat at the homes of gebrokt eaters on Pesach (although one friend retracted her invitation after I mentioned it).
- Even though he abandoned it, my own father grew up in a chassidic home observing non-gebrokt. We later found a set of machzorim (holiday prayer books) in nusach sefarad (chasidic liturgy) among my maternal grandfather’s effects, so he presumably abandoned it as well. My mother-in-law was from a Litvishe (Lithuanian, non-chassidic) family but it seems that I have chasidic blood on both sides.
I would never have taken this on on my own, but my husband is generally a good guy. For him I can handle a week without matzah balls.