Halacha for Thursday 5 Nissan 5781 March 18 2021

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

Salt on the Table

Question: Is there a halachic necessity to have salt placed on the table before reciting the Hamotzi blessing and is it necessary to observe this custom on weekdays as well? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 40a) states: “Rava bar Shmuel said in the name of Rav Chiya: One may not recite the Hamo......

Read Halacha

Question: May one eat bread without washing one’s hands if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and instead holds it with a napkin and like?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (107b) states: “The Sages permitted a cloth (i.e. they permitted eating bread without first washing one’s hands by wrapping one’s hands in a cloth) for those eating Terumah (meaning that during the time when the Bet Hamikdash still stood, befo......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal

The Enactment of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal There is a rabbinic enactment to wash one’s hands before sitting down to eat a bread meal. The Mishnah in Masechet Eduyot (Chapter 5) relates that Rabbi Eliezer ben Chanoch was excommunicated for having raised doubts about the necess......

Read Halacha

Eating without First Washing One’s Hands

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that one may not be lenient and nullify the edict of washing one’s hands prior to eating bread; even if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and merely holds it with gloves or a napkin, one may still not defy this edict. If one......

Read Halacha


The “Asher Yatzar” Blessing vs. Birkat Hamazon

Question: In the previous Halacha, we have discussed if one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing on food and before he does so, he uses the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, one should recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing first and......

Read Halacha

Question: If one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing after eating any food (for instance, by eating a Kezayit, approximately twenty-seven grams, of fruit) and before reciting the after-blessing, one used the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, which blessing must one recite first: Should one first recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing or the after-blessing on the food one ate?

Answer: This question has already been discussed by the Maharshal (Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria, one of the foremost Acharonim who lived approximately five-hundred years ago in Eastern Poland and authored the Sefer Yam Shel Shlomo and others) in his responsa (Chapter 97) and writes that if one becomes obli......

Read Halacha

A Power Outage on Shabbat

Question: Last Shabbat, there was a power outage and for six hours, we had no electricity. Later on in the day when the problem was repaired, the Plata (electric hotplate) turned back on. Is it permissible to eat the foods that were warmed on the hotplate? Answer: Regarding the aforementioned mat......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon in the Place One Has Eaten

Question: Is one obligated to recite Birkat Hamazon specifically where one has eaten bread or may one recite this blessing elsewhere? Answer: One who eats a bread meal must recite Birkat Hamazon in the place where one has eaten and one may not go to a different place and recite the blessing there......

Read Halacha