Matzo Riddles: Is All Matzo Created Equal?
Shailah of the Week by Rabbi Zvi Nussbaum
Rabbinic Coordinator, Kosher Hotline Administrator for the Orthodox Union
Nowadays, there is matzo and there is matzo.
The common bracha (blessing) for a regular slice of matzo is hamotzi. But then again, nowadays not all matzo is created equal. The bracha (for Ashkenazim) on regular matzo is hamotzi since it is baked with the intention of using it as a bread replacement. By contrast, the bracha on matzo crackers is mezonot, since they are intended to be a snack, and not a bread substitute. However, if one is kovei’a seudah on matzo crackers (i.e. the crackers are eaten as the primary staple of the meal), the bracha would be hamotzi, as would be true for chametz crackers as well.
There is another interesting issue to consider when it comes to matzo crackers. Kosher-for-Passover matzos may be made only with flour and water, as the addition of other ingredients such as spices or oil accelerates the fermentation process.
If so, how can matzo crackers with added salt, sugar, cinnamon, onion, garlic, and the like be kosher for Passover? The answer is that these matzo crackers are initially baked with only flour and water. After the baking is completed, the kosher for Passover status is set, and only then are the additional ingredients added for flavor.
So while matzo is matzo, be wary of the purpose of the matzo – especially the tasty matzo crackers.