The Passover Episode (w/ New Video)

These two win Passover this year.

These two win Passover this year.

Sometimes it feels as though Karaites get more press around Passover than the rest of the year combined. For good reason, Karaite Passover customs are distinct from the Rabbinic majority. Today, I provide a new video on Karaite Matzah, discuss some historical notes, and provide links to some online resources.

I hope you enjoy this video of two students I learn with making matzah.  The recipe is located here.

One small correction: In the video, I said that the mana tasted like coriander when baked. The mana was similar to coriander (Numbers 11:7); but when it was baked it tasted like oil (Numbers 11:8). The book of Exodus also describes the mana like coriander, and says that it tasted like honey. (Exodus 16:31.)

Speaking of matzah, Mourad El-Kodsi’s Karaite Jews of Egypt tells us that the traditional Karaite Matzah was so good that Rabbanites of Egypt used to purchase some. This created a rather amusing discussion in the Karaite Jews of Egypt about whether it was possible to estimate the number of Karaites living in Egypt based on matzah sales. [1.] #KaraiteJewishProblems mentions this here.

And here are some great links for Karaite Passover resources:

Trying to maintain Karaite traditions in a Rabbinic world: My Family’s Karaite Style Passover 

Karaite Passover Recipes: Passover, With a Strictly Biblical Flavor

My talk on Karaite Passover customs: Amazing Matzah, Truly Bitter Herbs, and other Passover Customs of Karaite Jews.

Happy Preparations!

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[1.] Karaite Jews of Egypt (Second Edition), p. 16


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13 Responses to The Passover Episode (w/ New Video)

  1. V. Liepelt

    Bless you for keeping these tasty traditions alive by passing them on to the next generation and sharing them with the world on your blog.

    There is one aspect the Torah mentions about matzah which I find very intriguing, which is the time between the preparation of the dough and the baking. In my opinion the Rabbanites contradict scripture in their claim that the dough must not settle for longer than 18 minutes before going into the oven.

    Now, it is well known that wheat flour (and that of some other grains) will ferment and produce leaven when coming into contact with water, ultimately producing sourdough, which without a doubt is chametz. However, this is a process which takes many days and somewhat controlled conditions to complete.

    For how long may the flour be in contact with water according to the Torah?

    The commonly taught story can be found in the Wikipedia article “Matzo #Religious significance”:

    “The biblical narrative relates that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; the bread, when baked, was matzah. (Exodus 12:39).”

    Does the Torah say this? Let’s read the relevant verses (Exodus 12:33-39 NJPS):

    The Egyptians urged the people on, impatient to have them leave the country, for they said, “We shall all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks upon their shoulders. The Israelites had done Moses’ bidding and borrowed from the Egyptians objects of silver and gold, and clothing. And the Lord had disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people, and they let them have their request; thus they stripped the Egyptians.

    The Israelites journeyed from Raamses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. Moreover, a mixed multitude went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had taken out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, since they had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay; nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.

    There is a lot to talk about in the above passage. However, my point is simple: the people packed their belongings, including their dough, to leave behind their lives in slavery. Well above a million people. Do you think that they baked the dough within 18 minutes of its preparation? When the dough was baked, it was realistically at least half a day old, most probably a lot older.

    The statement “they could not wait for their bread dough to rise” from the Wikipedia article is nonsensical to me. If dough rises merely due to elapsing of time, the dough the people carried would have risen as they carried it on their journey out of Egypt.

    I can vaguely remember to have heard of some story of the sun baking the dough. Even if this scientifically impossible anecdote were true, a lot more than 18 minutes would have elapsed from the making to the baking.

    So, making a dough rise is not just a question of waiting. It involves infecting the dough with leaven, which has been prepared for such a purpose. Keeping, using or preparing such leaven is what the Torah forbids.

    In my family, when we make Matzah, we intentionally let the dough rest in its kneading bowl, wrapped in a cloth, to honour and remember the Exodus. It hasn’t ever risen.

    What are the Karaite opinions regarding this?

    And a second question: are there concerns over the use of olive oil when making matzah?

  2. Zvi

    To the credit of the traditional Qaraites, they know that their tasty unique Maṣah is not the authentic Maṣah which was a bread of affliction. Unfortunately, they have yet to renew the making of their Pizza-diameter Maṣah made solely of flour and water. It is a shame that as a non-Ashkenazic Community they have allowed this to happen. I can only hope this state of affairs will be corrected in the coming years.

  3. Jim

    Okay Shawn… We read Torah every night to the children. Tonight, I’ll have a special night where we watch your video beforehand. I’ll ask them if they want to do the recipe after the reading. Thanks for sharing your family’s tradition.

  4. Susan

    Sounds delicious, wonderful to see the kids!

  5. Dani

    This matzo looks good. Is it kosher for Pesach in “Rabbanite” tradition?

  6. Someone told me this recipe is not kosher. Can you tell me why that would be. Although I am not Jewish and don’t follow kosher laws I wondered why it would not be kosher.

  7. Karaites not that Biblically Passover only referring to the Lamb Sacrificed on the 14th. Is that Lamb the same Lamb you eat on the 15th?

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