SALT - Motzaei Shabbat, April 1, 2017

  • Rav David Silverberg

            Yesterday, we noted the discussion among the halakhic authorities concerning the addition of salt when baking matza for Pesach.  The Mordekhai (Pesachim 594) strictly forbade baking matza for Pesach with salt, and ruled that eating such matza on Pesach amounts to partaking of chametz on Pesach, since the salt content causes the flour to ferment and turn to chametz.  The Rashba, on the other hand, in one of his published responsa (1:224), disagrees, and permits adding salt when baking matzot.  As we saw yesterday, the Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 455:5) approvingly cites the custom to avoid adding salt to the matza batter, though his formulation implies that after the fact, if salt was added, the matza is permissible for consumption on Pesach (see Bei’ur Halakha).  The Rama, however, rules that one should not eat such matzot on Pesach.

            The Chafetz Chayim, in Bei’ur Halakha, observes that this stringent ruling of the Rama would not apply to seasalt, which is what is commonly used nowadays, in light of the Rama’s comments elsewhere.  The Tur (O.C. 462), amidst his discussion of matza baked with liquids other than water (“egg matza”), addresses the status of wheat that had come in contact with salt.  Wheat that had come in contact with water before the beginning of the baking process may not be used for the baking of matzot, and the Tur cites those who maintain that salt must be treated as water in this regard, and thus wheat that came in contact with salt may not be used for matzot.  The Tur, however, disagrees, and claims that salt may be treated as mei peirot (liquids other than water), such that wheat which had come in contact with salt may be used for matzot.  The Rama, in his Darkhei Moshe, claims that the Tur refers here to salt extracted from the ground, as opposed to seasalt, which is treated as water even according to the position of the Tur.  As such, the Chafetz Chaim reasons, when it comes to baking matza with salt, such matza would be permitted, as matza is, of course, always baked with water.  And thus when the Rama rules that matza baked with salt is forbidden, he must, necessarily, be referring to matza baked with salt extracted from the ground.  Seasalt, however, does not render the matza forbidden.

            The Chafetz Chayim concedes that the Magen Avraham disagreed with the Rama’s understanding of the Tur, and maintained that the Tur referred to seasalt.  Nevertheless, the Shulchan Arukh (462:7) disputed the Tur’s position, and ruled that salt (whichever salt the Tur was referring to) has the status of water with regard to the chametz prohibition.  Therefore, either way, we may assume that seasalt is to be considered like water and does not cause fermentation in a batter.

            Furthermore, the Chafetz Chayim observes that numerous poskim disputed the Rama’s stringent ruling that matza baked with salt may not be used on Pesach.  For all these reasons, the Chafetz Chayim held, one may be lenient after the fact and use on Pesach matza that had been baked with salt.