Although Rosh Hashanah is just a few weeks away, the Kashrut department is already thinking of Pesach. Earlier this week Rabbis and Dayanim from KLBD travelled out to the countryside to be present at the harvest for the wheat crop for Shemura Matzah.
At the Seder table, the Halacha advises us to use "Shemura Matzah". What special process is required for Matzah to be rewarded the title of "Shemura"?
Shemura Matzah has to be supervised by a Rabbi from the very beginning of its production, meaning a Rabbi needs to be present at and actually initiate the cutting of the wheat which will be used in the Shemura Matzah making process.
Before the sheaves can even be cut the Rabbis and Dayanim first have to make sure the sheaves are hard, fresh and in no way wet from the rain.
Secondly, the lorry which will transport the grain to the mill has to be thoroughly cleaned, to ensure there is no ordinary unsupervised grain left behind from a previous transport.
Once the lorry has been cleaned and the
sheaves have been given the okay to be cut, the combine harvester is put into action. Since Shemura matzah is to be eaten at the Seder to fulfil a mitzvah, the matzah needs to be cut by a Jewish person “for the purpose of the Mitzvah”. So a Rabbi or Dayan goes on board the combine harvester and presses the button and adjusts the lever that switches on the cutters and lowers them towards the sheaves. Before pressing the button, the Rabbi or Dayan says: ‘Leshaim Matsos Mitzva’ –‘For the purpose of the Mitsva of Matso’.
It only takes two or three hours for the combine harvester to cut the whole field. Once the grain is loaded into the lorry, it is sealed and labelled ‘Kosher for Pesach’.
The lorry transports the sheaves to the Rakusens Mill which is kept Kosher Lepesach throughout the year, for the supervised milling process. This special flour is then taken to the factory, located near the outskirts of Leeds, and thus starts the beginning of a tightly controlled Shemura Matzah making operation. The entire baking process, from the time the flour comes in contact with water, must be less than 18 minutes otherwise that batch of dough is considered Chametz – not suitable to eat over Pesach.
After each batch of Shemura Matzah is produced, all the equipment used is meticulously cleaned to make sure there is no extra dough or crumbs left behind. A cloth is never used twice in between each batch. Each individual Matzah is checked as well to ensure they are not “kefula”- folded. Matzahs that have folded over are discarded as there is a possibility they will not have baked properly. Once again, when the matzahs are baked, a Jewish person will press the button to start the machinery for each batch, whilst murmuring the “Kavana” - statement of intent, “for the purposes of the Mitsva”!
And that is how Shemura Matzah is made!