What’s the Blessing Over Matza?

As mentioned previously, one of the Bet Yosef’s (Orah Haim 168) criteria for determining if a food is Mezonot is if it is crunchy. Given this criterion, it would appear that the blessing over Matza would be Mezonot. On the other hand, there are many opinions that state that certain Mezonot-type foods, warrant the blessing of HaMotzi when eaten as a mealSince Matza is often eaten as the staple of the meal, its blessing would therefore ostensibly be HaMotzi. Rabbi Haim Benveniste (Shiare Knesset HaGedola, § 168) writes that modern-day Matza is softer and easier to eat than in the past and therefore could be the staple of a meal, and by extension, be HaMotzi. Additionally, Rabbi David Yosef (Shu’t Bet David, §70 & §83) explains that the Bet Yosef’s intention was that the Mezonot blessing is only applied to a baked food which was cooked further and as a result became crunchy, such as toasted foods. However Matza, which is crunchy to begin with, would be considered HaMotzi according to this view.

Nevertheless, many in the Sephardic community rely on the HIDA (Mahzik Beracha 168), who writes that the blessing over Matza should be Mezonot. His opinion is based on the notion that Matza is considered HaMotzi on Pesah because it is the staple of every meal, whereas during the rest of the year this is not the case. If one were to eat Matza as the basis of a meal, however, it is possible that even the HIDA would also agree that the blessing would be HaMotzi.  Rabbi Yitzhak Ratzabi (Shu”t Olat Yitzhak), quoting Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, writes that it is erroneous to recite Mezonot over Matzasince most people eat Matza year round a substitute for bread in their meals. Rabbi Moshe Levi (Menuhat Ahava) also explains that Matza nowadays would be considered HaMotzi. Nonetheless, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Hazon Ovadia, Berachot, pg. 64) maintains that the blessing over Matza is indeed Mezonot. Rabbi Shalom Messas (Shemesh Umagen, vol. I, §34) disagrees with Rabbi Levi’s approach and rules that Matza is Mezonot. However, Rabbi Messas based his opinion on the assumption that the Matza was not forming the basis of a meal, in which case it is possible he too would agree that it would be HaMotzi.

As such, although several Sephardic rabbis rule that Matza is Mezonot, there are considerable opinions that it is in fact HaMotzi. However, it is preferable to eat the Matza as part of a meal so that its status as HaMotzi is buttressed and so as to eliminate the doubt regarding which blessing to recite.

Summary:   Matza, when eaten as the staple of a meal, is consideredHaMotzi for blessing purposes. As suchsince many rabbis are of the opinion that Matza is normally Mezonot, it is advisable to eat it in a meal.