A. Some people, mostly Chassidim (not only Chabad) and descendants of Chassidim, observe an additional Passover restriction of Gebrokts – not making Matzah wet. It comes from a remote concern that perhaps some of the Matzah wasn’t fully baked and some of that unbaked flour if wet may rise a bit. This may seem far-fetched to most, but its a way of showing extreme concern for even the slightest trace of Chametz. This means no Matzah-balls, no Matzah-brei, no Matzah-Pizza. Take a look at any big city Jewish newspaper and look closely at the ads for Passover getaways. You’ll notice that they will usually indicate on the ad whether they keep Gebrokts or not. This is much more broadly observed than you might think.
But on the 8th day of Passover this restriction is lifted, and there’s a go-ahead on all the above. Why? If there’s a slight concern that unbaked Matzah would come in contact with water, and cause trouble, why is it less likely on the 8th day?
First of all, let’s make it clear that Gebrokts is not Chametz. It’s perfectly Kosher for Passover. It’s only an additional custom, not a law, that restricts Gebrokts. And there’s a fascinating mystical reason from the Rebbe on why the 8th day is different.
Chametz is totally forbidden on Passover. We can’t eat or drink it, we can’t derive any benefit from it, we can’t even own it. But the irony is that 7 weeks later – Chametz Bread is a central obligatory element of the Shavuot Holiday offering in the Temple. It goes from sin to mitzvah in 7 weeks.
Beginning on the 2nd night of Passover, we begin a count-up toward the giving of the Torah at Sinai on Shavuot. We count 49 days in total, exactly seven weeks. Each week has seven days, which correspond to seven emotional attributes of personal character that we are supposed to refine each day leading up to the Receiving of the Torah. 7×7=49, because each of the attributes is comprised of each other, and there’s that much self-introspection and personal spiritual growth that has to get done.
The 8th day of Passover is the end of the first week, and the start of the second. Having completed one week – is a sign that some progress has been made in our dealing with Chametz and what it represents. So while Chametz remains totally forbidden for one more day, Gebrokts (which is a remote concern for the slightest trace of Chametz) is no longer an issue.
Often Matzah represents simple humility while Chametz represents puffed-up ego and arrogance. Passover celebrates absolute humility and surrender, with faith in G-d. But a healthy ego has its place, too. Eating Gebrokts on the 8th day demonstrates the process necessary in order to incorporate “Chametz” in our service of G-d. First it has to be totally forbidden and off the table. Only then can we slowly and gradually refine and elevate the Chametz within ourselves to the level that it can be incorporated as key ingredient in our service of G-d.
And that’s why those who keep Gebrokts can enjoy Matzah-balls and Matzah-brei, and all other forms of wet Matzah on the 8th day of Passover!