Monday, March 25, 2013

I've tried both and it's not the same

Mi Yodeya (AKA just released a haggadah, based on questions and answers on their site:

DOWNLOAD the PDF here:
Click here to download "Hagada - Mi Yodeya?" (PDF)

Here is a question I answered this morning on their site:

Can sefardim eat lafa before Pesach?

There is a custom(?) to abstain from eating matza 30 days before Passover so that the taste will be new. There are some sects of sefardic or teimani Jews who eat a type of matzah that is more akin to the lafa bread used to wrap shwarma or falafel. Do those who eat this kind of matzah similarly abstain from eating breads like pita or lafa 30 days before Pesach so that the taste is new to them?

My answer:
The basis of the prohibition of eating matzah on erev Pesach (which was later expanded to longer periods before Pesach) may be found in Yerushalmi Pesachim 68b:
אמר רבי לוי האוכל מצה בערב הפסח כבא על ארוסתו בבית חמיו והבא על ארוסתו בבית חמיו לוקה
'Rabbi Levi said: One who eats matzah on erev Pesach is like one who has intercourse with his betrothed in his father-in-law's house. And one who has intercourse with his betrothed in his father-in-law's house is lashed.'
The idea appears to be that one is spoiling one's taste for matzah by having it just before the appropriate time.
People attribute the following quip to Achad HaAm, but I've heard that it was really Bialik; I've also seen it attributed to Smolenskin:
ניסיתי את שניהם ולא מצאתי דומים
"I've tried both and did not find them to be similar."
Nowadays we have chametzdik matzah available year-round. I would guess that the minhag does / should encompass such chametzdik matzah, since it would spoil one's taste. But a flat chametzdik cracker would not fall under this custom.
In terms of laffa and soft matzah, I can echo the quip: I've tried both and they are not the same. Laffa tastes good. Soft matzah does not. It is just awful. No one would confuse the two.
(It is perhaps slightly better if you take it right out of the oven just then.) Our crisp matzah is 100 times better.


Anonymous said...

It's rather funny that you proclaim that soft matzah doesn't taste good. First of all, it depends which type you use. The Syrian kind that you probably purchased in Brooklyn is, in fact, not much of an improvement on regular matzah. Yemenite soft matzah, however, really does seem like laffa bread. It is softer and thicker than Syrian soft matza. It still tastes different than laffa bread, but it is tasty. Try it sometime.

Unknown said...

I never had the syrian soft masSoth here in bk but i heard they are not good tasting. However, I ordered my teimoni masSoth from arasS yisroel and they were very good. They don't taste like laffa at all. They taste like masSoth just soft.


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