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Most people are familiar with the basic concepts of eating matzah instead of bread at Passover time. This is to remind us of what the Israelites ate during the Exodus from Egypt. They left in a hurry and had to prepare food for the journey. There wasn’t time to let the dough rise before cooking, so flatbreads were baked instead. G-d then commanded us to keep a week-long festival and not to have any chametz (leaven) during that time. The first and last days are “Yom Tov” which literally means “good days”, but has a specific meaning in Jewish law. It’s almost like the Sabbath days, but the rules aren’t quite as strict.
Matzah has several Mitzvot (commandments) associated with it. There is a special Mitzvah (commandment) to eat matzah at the Passover Seders, on the first 2 nights of Passover. There is also a Mitzvah to have “bread” at Shabbos and Yom Tov meals. Since the only “bread” we can have this week is matzah, this means that matzah must also be eaten at other festive meals during the week. That leaves the daytime meals for the first 2 days of Passover, the Shabbos meals on Friday night and Saturday, and the evening and daytime meals for the last two days of Passover, when it’s Yom Tov again.
In order for a baked product to be considered Matzah, it must be made of only flour and water; no other additives. The flour must come from one or more of the following five grains: wheat, spelt, barley, rye, and oats. Wheat matzah is the easiest to find and the least expensive. I just got a 5 pound box of it for free at a local supermarket- that box is going to a friend!
Before I identified my food sensitivities, we always used wheat matzah. When I discovered that I did well on a gluten-free diet, I tried the gluten-free oat matzah, while using the cheap wheat matzah for the rest of the family. I then continued using the oat matzah as my "bread" for Shabbos for several months afterwards. I realized I didn’t feel well during that time, so I stopped eating gluten-free oats of any kind.
After discovering BTD for my family, I switched to spelt matzah for them. I’d also discovered my topical wheat allergy- meaning that I’d get sick from even touching wheat. It’s far easier for me to feed them spelt than it is to wear gloves whenever I clean up the kitchen. That year I also bought rye matzah for myself. I still didn’t know if I was a secretor or a non-secretor, so rye seemed like the safest choice. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the label carefully enough- the “rye matzah” was like most “rye bread” available in stores, just in Passover form. It wasn’t 100% rye matzah, but a mixture of rye and whole wheat! This wasn’t discovered until after I’d eaten some. I figured the damage was already done, so I may as well fulfill the Mitzvot of eating matzah. Needless to say, I got sick that year as well.
Last year, I tried to find 100% rye matzah, but was unsuccessful. I knew that oats and spelt were BOTH avoids, and I’d already tried oat matzah and done poorly on it, so I decided to give spelt matzah a shot. It didn’t go well. My fibromyalgia symptoms returned with a vengeance. I didn’t fulfill the Mitzvot of eating “bread” with meals on the last two days of Yom Tov because the spelt made me too sick at the beginning of the holiday.
This year, I still couldn’t find any 100% rye matzah. The only options were wheat, wheat/rye, spelt, or gluten-free oat. Looking back on the time I ate the oat matzah, I realized my reactions were rather subtle. I noticed that I lacked vitality after several months of eating it, not after only one week. So I ordered a box of oat matzah. If I still get sick from that, I’ll talk to a rabbi about what I should do in the future.
I’m hoping that rye matzah becomes available. If enough Orthodox Jews start following BTD, then there will surely be other O nonnies creating a demand for 100% rye matzah.
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