Monday, April 10, 2006

Extreme Matza: Life on the Edge.

After a hectic trip to the US on the week before Pesach, I'm blogging less than usual due to lots of "work" work and helping clean up for Pesach at home.

However, I wanted to share an Erev Pesach experience from the Muqata that has already become a routine custom for us.

Many people view living in Israel as "life on the edge" -- as if there's an inherent danger to living in Israel or a settlement-yishuv in the Shomron as we do. As I've blogged about before, we go on trips all around Israel, and try to maximize safety and security, while at the same time maximizing the Jewish experience of living in Eretz Yisrael.

We've gone to Har Eval (I, II), Hevron, Har Grizim, Kever Yosef, Tekhelet Snail snorkling on the Dor Beach, and countless other places...they all help strenghten our religious and national connection to the land of Eretz Yisrael.

And then comes Erev Pesach. While some would say the following experience is the most dangerous of all, we believe it is important enough to carefully weigh the risks involved, and involve our children in this venture so that we can positively enhance our Pesach experience.

Extreme Matza.

Going back in time, to when the Korban Pesach was sacrificed in Yerushalayim, matza was baked for the seder...on Erev Pesach. In fact, matza for the seder was baked was after mid-day on Erev Pesach.

Therefore, in preparation for the Pesach when we will once again merit bringing the Korban Pesach, a group of us from our yishuv bake matzot on Erev Pesach, after mid-day.

The stakes are high, as the experience is radical and the possible consequences, rather extreme.

It is forbidden to have any chametz in your posession on Erev Pesach after mid-morning, and absolutely forbidden by the afternoon. Therefore, we take radical precautions in the baking of matza on Erev Pesach.

One slight mess up and if the 18 minute minute matza becomes chametz -- we would be transgressing one of the most serious of sins. (No snippy comments here about showering during the 18 minutes on Erev Shabbat -- chametz on Pesach is kareit, serious excommunication)

To minimize the inherent danger involved, we carefully arrange the different tasks; the timekeeper, the flour watcher, the water watcher, the expert group of dough kneaders and rollers, the matza perforater, the oven baker and the cleanup crew.

We only use the most mehadrin flour - organic wheat grown by Jews from a nearby settlement which was watched from the second it was cut to ensure it had no contact with water and securely kept from any contact with chametz. We use "Mayim Shelanu" -- cold water that's sat outside overnight. We have our own outdoor matza oven - a huge hand-built brick oven used once a year exclusviely for matza baking.

From the sound of a whistle, we work quickly and excitedly to prepare the matzot, mixing the flour and water, kneading it, rolling it, performating it, and rolling it into the oven. Time is carefully kept to ensure we don't even approach the danger zone of 18 minutes. After the dough process is finished, the entire plastic tablecloth, rollers, and any remnants of flour are quickly rolled up and thrown away into the public dumpster. A quick and thorough check is done to ensure nothing was missed. The matzot are baked and then carefully stored in the living room.

And during the matza baking process, all of us together -- children, teenagers, and adults all sing songs of Pesach, Redemption and Hallel to the backdrop of guitars, flutes and bongo drums.

And then at the evening seder, we use these special matzot -- which our children know were hand baked only a few hours earlier.

May we all experience a Pesach of personal and national redemption, and merit the ingathering of the Jewish people from all corners of the Earth, to Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim.

This coming Year in a Rebuilt Jerusalem!
לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Jerusalemcop said...

sounds really cool.

can I come and help???


Jameel @ The Muqata said...

JCop: Sure! I'll get the exact times for you - we'd love to see you.

Michael Kopinsky said...

Mayim sheLanu is not "our water".

It is "Water that slept" - it has to sit overnight, so you know it'll be cold, since hot water is machmitz faster.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Michael: You are of course, correct about "mayim shelanu".

I'll fix it in the post, but leave this comment in :)

Soccer Dad said...

Possession of Chametz is an Issur Kareit?

westbankmama said...

Jameel - in our yishuv the men use paper coverings for the tables, and these are ripped off after each round of baking and burnt in an open fire (in addition to the paper ends of the sticks used to put the matza into the ovens). The little kids have the job of ripping them off and putting new ones on (kids who are not yet 16 are in charge of the fire).

Live music - wow - that's cool.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

David: Messing up the 18 minute matza and making it chametz...and having it for seder would be pretty bad. Just having it around is a "lav" -- (bal yera'e, bal yimatzeh)...and even a "lav" like that is pretty bad. Some would say its not worth it do do this entire production.

WBM: Come to think of it - we might use paper tableclothes as well - I'll take pictures this year and post them :) Our oven is so hot, that only an adult (over 40 ;-) is allowed to deal with it...

MUST Gum Addict said...

Ok, so I'll admit that I'm feeling a bit "american" at the moment -- all of this really sounds wonderful and to be a part of that would be something really special.

But just so you don't think we've got nothing here in the states, I'll tell you that we have EXTREME SHOPPING. In similar nature to what you describe, we carefully prepare our shopping list way in advance. We then let the list sit overnight. In the morning, we get dressed, hop into the car, fight for a spot, run up and down the aisles of the stores while fighting cart traffic and trying to grab tuff off the shelves before others do.


Irina Tsukerman said...

Chag Sameach!

YMedad said...

Hey, this year I saw on TV that they're making matzot that don't make crumbs. Gevald! What has Pesach come to?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

YMedad; check out my latest video clip to see how to break matza without the crumbs :)

Ezzie said...

Sounds cool and all, but... why? As you noted, who would want to fool around with kareis?

Shifra said...

That does sound terrific actually.
Makes me very homesick for E'Y.

bec said...

just to take things terribly out of context here:
"It is forbidden to have any chametz in your posession on Erev Pesach after mid-morning, and absolutely forbidden by the afternoon."
well, now, don't go telling that to the folks who buy our chametz from us. they might not buy it next year. :D
very cool with the matzah. see, now had you mentioned this (and the community chametz burning receptacles and the toiveling stands and the public boiling areas) not to mention the one day chag, maybe i could have made aliyah last week and then i wouldn't still be up going bananas (which would be great with some coffee.)
have a beautiful pesach!

Soccer Dad said...

I know what the issur is but you wrote:
chametz on Pesach is kareit, serious excommunication That was why I asked.

the sabra said...

o wow jameel. whatta zechus. aizeh basah i cant join. a kosher pesach to us all and bec, im with you on the shoulda-made-aliyah-already-to-have-one-day-chag-and-not-three lament.

Anonymous said...

You think that is extreme, try doing it in Williamsburg -- it is extreme matzah baking with an added dose of running with the bulls.

I don't believe there is any issur deoraysa on erev pesach. Regardless, to be safe from any issur be mevatel everything but the actual matzot that were baked in the oven.

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