Matzos mitzvah (Excerpted from The Kleinman Edition – Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Mesorah Publications, introduction to siman 108, p. 114) One of the major activities performed in anticipation of the festival of Pesach is the baking of matzah, the unleavened bread eaten during the festival. Matzah is made from a dough (consisting of flour of one of the five species of grain – wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats – mixed with water) that is not allowed to become chametz. [Footnote #1: Although matzos may be baked from any of the five species of grain…, the custom is to use wheat, since people favor it, and this is therefore considered beautification of the mitzvah. If wheat is not available (Ed. or one suffers from allergies or the like, whereupon he should consult his Rav), one should choose whichever of the other four species he considers most desirable.] On the first night of Pesach, there is a specific Biblical requirement to eat matzah. [Footnote #3: Outside of Eretz Yisrael, this mitzvah also applies on the second night of Pesach, by Rabbinic law.) The matzos eaten on the first night (which are known as ‘matzos mitzvah’, for they are the matzos with which the mitzvah of eating matzah on the first night of Pesach is fulfilled) are subject to an extra degree of safeguarding, which will be discussed…]
(Excerpted from The Kleinman Edition of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Mesorah Publications, 108:1, p. 115):
“It is written in the Torah (Shmos 12:17): ‘You shall safeguard the matzos…’ From here it is derived that we must safeguard the wheat that will be used for the matzah eaten at the Seder for the sake of ‘matzos mitzvah’ (see above), so that no water come upon them (the wheat kernels), which can cause them to become chametz. In the opinion of some of the great halachic authorities, may their memories be blessed, this safeguarding is required immediately from the time of reaping (Heb. ‘ketzira’) and onward. The custom, however, follows those authorities who rule that it suffices to safeguard them from when they are being brought for grinding (Heb. ‘techina’) and onward. Nevertheless, those who are meticulous in the performance of mitzvos also concern themselves to safeguard the wheat from the time of reaping, and it is proper to do so.”
(Excerpted from Halachos of Pesach, by Rav Shimon Eider z”l, pp. 212-213):
“We know that all foods used on Pesach require supervision to guarantee that they do not contain chametz. This is especially crucial for matzos used on Pesach, because of the potential of the five types of grain to become chametz – if proper care is not given. Therefore, when the Torah says “You shall guard the matzos,” it is not merely requiring preventative supervision, i.e. preventing the matzah from becoming chametz… The Torah is also requiring positive supervision, i.e. matzos must be supervised during the various stages of the manufacturing process ‘l’shem matzos mitzvah’ – i.e. specifically for the purpose of being used for the mitzvah of eating matzah at the Seder. This is ‘matzah shemura’ (a.k.a. ‘shmura matzah’) – matzos guarded and protected from becoming chametz and specifically manufactured and supervised for the mitzvah of ‘achilas/eating matzah’.”
Hand or Machine?
(Ibid. p. 215):
Should one use hand matzah shmura or machine matzah shmura (for the Seder)? Assuming that both were baked with proper supervision, “18 minute” machine matzah shmura* may be used for the Sedarim. Many have a preference for hand shmura matzah because there are Poskim who hold that the requirement for positive supervision ‘l’shem matzos mitzvah’ cannot be properly fulfilled where the entire process is produced by machine.
*(More on this topic at: http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-MachineMatzohs.htm)
MBY 454:1-4: Which matzah may not be used for the mitzvah?
Ed: This siman contains halachos that are not commonly relevant today, such as matzah made from bran, matzos made originally for animals, or matzah made from stolen ingredients. I have searched for these halachos in the contemporary halachic sefarim in English and have not found them to have been referenced. MBY will follow their example!
However, we will just mention something which you may have been wondering about: Are whole wheat matzos kosher for Pesach?
Here is what Rav Eider writes on the topic on p. 19:
“Note: Many whole wheat and chocolate-covered matzos are made with eggs and fruit juice. Therefore, their halacha is the same as egg matzos.” As stated earlier on that page, “A healthy person may not eat egg matzos on Pesach.” (Ed. The reason for that will be covered in siman 462, iy”H.) Rav Eider writes further, “It is unfortunate, how matzah companies sell egg matzos, whole wheat and chocolate-covered matzos with the words, “Kosher for Passover” on the labels – implying that they be eaten by everyone – without restrictions. As we have learned, this is not so! Even where the restrictions are printed on the box in Hebrew…, it is insufficient; because people who cannot read or understand Hebrew assume that it is a ‘hechsher’ (declaration of kashrus approval) instead of a restriction!