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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 20 Oct 2017 07:23 PM and ends Sat 21 Oct 2017 08:24 PM
כ"ו אדר ב' ה' אלפים תשס"ח
Normal machine-made matzos, even if produced for Pesach under reliable supervision, are almost always supervised only from the time of the milling of the flour. The supervision following this is usually a "preventative" supervision that ensures that the flour and dough do not become chometz.
Shmurah (meaning "guarded") is matzah that is supervised and protected from water that could make it chometz, already from the time of harvesting the grain. It also has a "positive" form of supervision - with the participants in its making not just ensuring that it does not become chometz, but actively expressing their intention that the matzot are made for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvah of eating matzah on Pesach.
All major authorities state that it is the correct practice to use Shmurah Matzahat at the Seder at least when eating the minimum amount necessary to fulfil the obligation of eating matzah on Pesach night. This is in keeping with the pasuk "and you shall guard the matzah" (Shmos 12:17).
To fulfill the biblical obligation one must eat just over a "k'zayis" (the size equal to the volume of an "olive"). This is traditionally termed "eating" rather than just tasting or nibbling. There is much debate on the halachic size of an ‘olive' (k'zayis) as well as on the time frame allowed to consume it.
The minimum accepted size of a k'zayis is approximately 29 grams (or a volume of 29 millilitres) or 1 ounce. This is the equivalent of 2/3 of a machine matza - an area of approximately 14cm by 15cm - or just over 1/3 of a hand-made shmura matza. It should be eaten in four minutes (leaning to the left). It is the practice to actually eat more than this minimum amount during the various stages of the Seder as outlined in the Hagadah.
The Mishnah in Pesachim (39a) lists the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic names of five types of plants that are considered as the "Bitter Herbs" to be used on Pesach at the Seder. The commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch properly identify only two of these species today which are universally accepted as:
1) Romaine or Cos Lettuce stalks or leaves;
2) Pure Horseradish.
3) If both the horseradish and Cos lettuce variety are unavailable then the next preference should be given to ordinary lettuce (the "crisp-head" or "iceberg" variety) and the appropriate blessing over the marror may still be recited. In reality, it is actually lettuce that is the most preferred type of marror, even if it is not bitter. The fact that it may not have been as commonly used as horseradish was for the practical reasons that lettuce was difficult to find in Europe at the end of winter at Pesach time and/or that if it was found, it was very difficult to remove the infestation found in such lettuce. The usual custom is to eat a proportionate mixture of both these varieties (lettuce and horseradish) though, of course, either one alone is perfectly acceptable.
It should be carefully noted, however, that the bitter herb must be absolutely pure. It may not be mixed with anything or preserved with anything, such as vinegar, that can affect its natural taste. Commercially produced Kosher for Pesach horseradish relish (white, red and green), contains vinegar and other ingredients and the brocha over the marror may not be recited over such a mixture as one has not fulfilled one's obligation of eating marror.
If none of the above-mentioned herbs are available, then any bitter vegetable may be used in order to obtain a bitter taste. However, as one does not fulfil one's real obligation in this manner, therefore the blessing over the marror may not be recited in such circumstances.
Note that although some authorities discuss the possibilities of using ordinary radish as marror, it appears seriously questionable as to whether our common radish (with the red skin) is the same species as the one they were referring to. For this reason ordinary radish should be treated as any other bitter vegetable and not used for marror.
As the eating of marror, in the absence of the Pesach rituals in the Beis HaMikdash, is today only a Rabbinic requirement, the minimum size requirements are slightly less. For horseradish the minimum size of a k'zayis can be taken as approximately 20 ml (2/3 oz.) or one tablespoon full. If lettuce leaves are used this is the amount of leaves that would cover an area of approximately 20 cm by 25 cm. The time allowed for consumption is 9 minutes. Note that the custom is not to lean when eating the marror.
All wines, grape juice and other beverages mentioned below must, of course, bear a reliable Kosher for Pesach certification. The following are listed in order of preference:
1) Red wine (unless one has a white wine of superior quality) that is not sweetened with sugar (i.e. it should be naturally sweet or "dry') so that one tastes the natural taste of pure wine. It should also in the first instance not be "mevushal" (cooked or pasteurised).
2) Red sweetened wine, or white unsweetened or sweetened wine, are the next preferences. Again, in the first instance it should not be "mevushal". When using white wine it is also preferable to add a little red wine to the white so that the preferred red colour is discernable.
3) Wine diluted with grape juice (if one finds it too difficult to drink wine for instance, due to health reasons).
The stronger alcoholic taste of the wine must still be discernable.
4) Wine diluted with water. The general rule that covers virtually all kosher wines currently available is that the wine may be diluted to as much as one part wine to one part water. Such a mixture may still be used for the Seder and the blessing for wine still recited.
5) Pure grape juice.
6) Grape juice diluted with water in the proportion of one part water to one part of grape juice.
7) As a last resort, such products as raisin wine or any other popular, yet distinguished, (kosher for Pesach) beverage may be used. (Note that the correct brocho for the particular beverage used should be recited if it is not Borei Pri HaGofen e.g Shehakol.)
"Drinking" is defined as at least half a cup of wine for each of "the four cups" - the cup having a volume of at least 86 millilitres (approximately 3 fluid ozs). The wine should be drunk each time without interruption while leaning to the left and may take up to 9 minutes to finish.