Halacha for Monday 10 Nissan 5779 April 15 2019

Measuring the Appropriate Amounts of Matzah and Maror for the Seder Night

We have explained previously the amount of Matzah and Maror every individual is obligated to eat on the Seder night. Some say this amount must be determined by volume of the Matzah, not its weight. (For instance, by inserting Matzah into a baby bottle until it reaches the twenty-seven-milliliter mark, which would indicate twenty-seven grams of volume.) Indeed, this is the correct way to measure the amounts of Matzah, Maror, and any other food for that matter based on volume and not weight, for this is the method of measuring handed down to us by our Sages throughout the entire Talmud.

Nevertheless, the great Rishon Le’Zion Hagaon Rabbeinu Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a writes (in his Yalkut Yosef- Pesach, Chapter 486) that already from the times of the Geonim (over one-thousand years ago), people were instructed to measure by weight since there is not usually that great of a distinction between a given food’s volume and weight, among other reasons. Similarly, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l replied to us ten years ago when we asked him this question that although in theory one should measure by volume, nevertheless, since this is difficult to do, it is already the prevalent custom to measure by weight. Thus, whether with regards to hard Matzah, soft Matzah, or Maror (romaine lettuce) eaten on the Seder night, one should measure these amounts by weight. (A weight of twenty-seven grams of Matzah or lettuce certainly contains a twenty-seven-gram volume within it since both hard and soft Matzah as well as lettuce are lighter than water. One who wishes to act stringently should take approximately thirty grams of soft Matzah.)

The question therefore becomes: Is it permissible to keep a mechanical (non-digital) food scale next to the table on the Seder night to measure the appropriate amounts of Matzah and Maror for all those present?

Indeed, our Sages forbade measuring or weighing anything on Shabbat or Yom Tov, for these acts resemble acts resemble weekday actions of merchants conducting business. It is therefore forbidden for one to weigh a piece of cake on Shabbat in order to ascertain how much it weighs. It would seem then that it should be forbidden to measure or weigh amounts of Matzah or Maror for the Seder.

Nevertheless, our Sages (Shabbat 126b) taught that it is permissible to measure things in the context of a Mitzvah on Shabbat. For instance, one may measure a Mikveh on Shabbat in order to ascertain whether or not it is lacking water. The Poskim therefore write that it is permissible to weigh Matzah and Maror on Yom Tov or Shabbat (when the Seder night coincides with Shabbat). Maran zt”l rules likewise in his Chazon Ovadia- Shabbat, Volume 6, page 26. Needless to say, this applies only to a mechanical scale, not a digital one.

Summary: The Kezayit of Matzah and Maror for the Seder night should be measured by the weight of these foods. There is no need to measure based on volume. It is permissible to weigh the Matzah and Maror with a mechanical scale during the Seder.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Thermometers on Shabbat

Question: Is it permissible to use a thermometer on Shabbat? Answer: Clearly, there is no room to take one’s temperature with an electronic/digital thermometer. Our discussion will revolve around using a thermometer that is not electronic and contains mercury which expands and rises as it h......

Read Halacha

Sleeping on Shabbat is Enjoyable- An Incident Regarding Maran zt”l During His Visit to the United States

Question: Is there a Mitzvah to sleep on Shabbat in order to fulfill the edict of “Sleeping on Shabbat is enjoyable” or is it preferable to delve in the holy Torah all day long? Answer: We find that the Rishonim already mention that there is a Mitzvah to sleep on Shabbat, for “s......

Read Halacha

Widows and Orphans

The Torah states (Shemot 22): “You shall not oppress any widow or orphan. If you oppress them and they call out to me, I shall surely hear their cry. My anger shall flare and I shall kill you with the sword; your wives shall then be widows and your children orphans.” The Torah explains t......

Read Halacha

A Driver’s License-“Lashon Hara”

Question: If an individual wishes to obtain a driver’s license and I am aware of a medical problem that will impair him from driving, may I relay this information to the Department of Motor Vehicles? Answer: The Rambam (Chapter 1 of Hilchot Rotze’ach) writes: “Anyone who has the......

Read Halacha


Various Dangers- A Car on the Road

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the positive Torah commandment for one to make a railing around one’s roof so that no one falls from there. After explaining this Mitzvah, the Rambam (Chapter 11 of Hilchot Rotze’ach U’Shmirat Nesfesh) adds: “Similarly, it is a M......

Read Halacha

An Orphaned Student and a Divorced Woman

Question: I am a teacher and I have an orphaned girl in my class. How must I act when she misbehaves? Similarly, a colleague of mine is a divorced woman. Is there any special prohibition to cause them pain? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that Hashem has commanded us not to oppr......

Read Halacha

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

A Woman Scholarly in Torah

In the previous Halachot we have discussed the laws of rising for an elderly man or woman as well as the obligation to rise before a Torah scholar and the wife of a Torah scholar. In the previous Halacha we have explained that Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that a female student mu......

Read Halacha