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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Torah on Parshas Tzav, and Gebrokt

A little note about Gebrokts. To soak matza is called to brok, and soaked matza is Gebrokt, or Gebrokst, or Gebrokts. (Some European Jews do not eat Matza that has contacted water after baking, for fear that the matza contains some flour that was not properly kneaded and remained intact and might now, upon contact with water, rise. No Matza balls, no Matza Brei, and so on.) I've read that this is a german word for broken, used here because people crumble their matza and put it into soup. I find this an unlikely etymology for this grotesque little word, non-linguist that I am. In Hebrew, it's called Shru'yah: if you're want to use Yiddish for soaked matza, you would call it Geveikt, which means soaked, not Gebrokt. Also, what is it with the tz at the end of the word? If anything, it should be Gebrokt, not Gebrokts.

I would say, in the spirit of "mai apotikei, poh te'hei ka'i," that it is related to the Minchas Chavitin in Parshas Tzav. The Minchas Chavitin, (which is brought by the Kohen Gadol every day and by every kohen hediot on the first day he does avodah) is an unusual Korban Mincha, in that it is baked, and boiled, and fried, and then crumbled. The word the Torah uses for boiled is "murbeches," and "tufinei pittim" means baked and crumbled. So I suggest that gebrokts is related to "murbeches" and to "tufinei pittim," and ended up accomodating both both the German/Yiddish literal meaning of crumbled and the associated meaning of cooked, or soaked, in water, from the Hebrew of Murbeches. It is murbrokt. It probably started out as "Murbeckts," or "Murbekst," and over time turned into Gebrokts. This is not unlikely. After all, Hamantashen started out as poppy-seed-filled Mohn Tashen and devolved into prune-filled Hamantashen.

I speak, however, as an outsider. I do eat gebrokt on Pesach, and I would eat quinoa and peanuts, too, if I could A., find them with a good hechsher, and B., get my wife to make something with quinoa on Pesach with the horde of maniacal einiklach underfoot and swinging on the doors who want things they recognize. And if anyone would make a kosher le'pesach mass-market honey beer with hops, you really would need a kittel to tone down the seder.

Earlier posts on Parshas Tzav:
Sitting Shiva before the Petirah, and Celebrating Lives Well Lived.

Torah Incorporated--Embodying the Torah

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