Eat Up! How Much Matsah and Maror Are Required at the Seder?

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By Rabbi Hayim Asher Arking and Rabbi Ezra Ghodsi 

 

One of the most important details  of the seder is knowing the required amount one must eat for each mitsvah that is performed with food. In order to fulfill the misvah of matsah and maror one must eat at least a specific amount. The system of measurement is based on a k’zayit – the size of an olive in ancient times. For some of the mitsvot only one k’zayit is required, and for others two k’zetot should be eaten. 

How Much Is a k’zayit? 

The measurement of a k’zayit is actually the volume of an olive. However, being that it is not so practical to measure the volume of an item, the custom is to measure by weight, and consider a k’zayit to be approximately one ounce. This is because, generally, a food that meets the weight requirement will definitely also meet the volume requirement. 

Many experiments have been done regarding hand matsah, which have determined that if one eats the weight of twenty grams of matsah, he will surely be eating the volume of a k’zayit. When measuring maror, one would need the actual weight of an ounce, as the weight and volume of lettuce are about the same. 

 

Am I Allowed to Measure at the Seder? 

Normally, measuring is forbidden on Shabbat and yom tov, however for a misvah, one may measure. When using a scale, only use one that is mechanical (non-electric). It is a good idea to pre-measure the required amount of maror and place it in a small plastic bag by each person’s place setting. This will ensure that each person eats the required amount, and will save time during the seder. 

 

How Much Matsah Do We Eat for Motsi-Matsah? 

The head of the household eats a k’zayit from the top matsah and another k’zayit from the second matsah. After receiving a little piece from the main matsot, everyone present is required to eat at least one k’zayit of matsah. It is customary for all to eat two ounces of matsah at this time. Those eating two kezatot may use a smaller measurement for each k’zayit and eat a total of 28 grams or 1 ounce. 

 

May I Take My Time Eating? 

Each k’zayit should preferably be eaten within four-six minutes, or even up to nine minutes if eating in less time is difficult. The timer starts from when you begin swallowing. One can drink water while eating to help him swallow more easily, or one can get a head start by chewing some matsah before they begin swallowing. 

 

How Much Should I Eat for Korech? 

Each person should eat a k’zayit of matsah and a k’zayit of maror. If one finds it difficult to eat so much, one may be lenient and measure the k’zayit of matsah as fourteen grams and the maror as eighteen grams. 

 

How Much Matsah Do I Eat for the Afikomen? 

One eats at least one k’zayit of matsah in remembrance of the Korban Pesah that was eaten at the end of the meal. It is preferable to eat two kezetot, to commemorate both the Korban Pesah and the matsah with which it was eaten. If one is eating two kezatot, he can measure the matsah with the smaller measurement, and a total of one ounce will suffice.