#PesachPrep T minus 13 Days: Motzi (before) Matza

Why does the ditty go “Motzi-Matza”?
Well, obviously so that the rhyme meter proceeds smoothly!
That’s a technical answer. But it’s unconvincing. It’s like if I asked “Why did Superman live?”, and you answered “Because Henry Cavill was contracted for another movie.”

The point we have to accept and understand is that Motzi is understood to be a distinct step in the Seder. It’s not just the Bracha you make before eating unleavened bread.

How are we to understand that it’s separate from “Matza”?

To amplify the question, I will point out that the Tur, major Poseik, late Rishon and precursor to the Shulchan Aruch, writes that after making the two brochos at the Seder, one should eat not ONE, but TWO K’zeisim, (Olive-sizes) of Matza.

That would seem to contradict the Mishnah in Pesachim that says that one fulfills his mitzvah with one K’Zayis. Where did this second K’zayis come from?

So perplexing is this statement by the Tur that even though it’s taken as law by the Shulchan Aruch, the Chofetz Chaim writes in his Biur Halacha that he doesn’t know where all of this came from; after all, there is no mention of this second k’zayis at all in the Gemara!

It gets more interesting when the discussion turns into, “Which K’zayis should you eat first? We can’t answer, so eat both at the same time.” !! Harder to do when olives double in size each 100 years!

But seriously, why is this even a question? Or to put it a different way, why are we dividing this single baby in two?

Who am I to resolve something the Chofetz Chaim didn’t figure out? Yet the Tur said it, and the Shulchan Aruch was convinced enough by the suggestion that he included it in his work without comment, and the Mishnah Berurah doesn’t reject the ruling, so I feel compelled to make sense of it all. I stand firmly in the camp of those who believe that when confronted by a perplexing halachic or duly authorized rabbinic POV, the sentence shouldn’t be “That doesn’t make sense!”, but should be, “I don’t understand.” Then at least, there remains an imperative to figure it out, rather than assume I am smarter and more insightful than a Rishon.

The resolution to my understanding is that the Tur is saying that we should better appreciate what we are doing at the Seder. To wit, eating Matza at the Seder fulfills two distinct mitzvos:
1)The Mitzvah to eat Matza on Seder night.
2) The Mitzvah to have a seuda on YomTov, i.e. of bread. The bread on Pesach must of course be unleavened.

Now I would not be bothered if someone said that from a halachic point of view, both mitzvos are accomplished simultaneously, with the same k’zayis.

Yet I am comfortable accepting the idea that the Tur felt that each mitzvah should be emphasized and cherished on its own. Hence, each mitzvah should get its own k’zayis. This way, we appreciate the mitzvah of Seudas YomTov on its own, and then we appreciate the mitzvah of Achilas Matza on Seder night on its own.


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