The Matzah-Baking Machine
A 19th-century controversy
One of Kluger's most telling arguments was that the opportunity given to the poor to earn money for their Passover needs by working in matzah bakeries would be denied to them, as the use of machinery required fewer manual workers. He and his adherents also argued that matzah shemurah ["watched" matzah that is prepared in less than 18 minutes to be certain that no leavening has taken place],particularly, must be made with the intention of fulfilling the precept that requires the understanding of a mature adult. They also claimed that there was a suspicion that the pieces of dough left in the wheels of the machine, which were difficult to clean, would become leavened.
In the forefront of the rabbis who permitted the use of machinery was Joseph Saul Nathanson of Lemberg. They refuted the arguments of the opposition seriatim. If concern need be expressed about the displacement of the hand-bakers, the same solicitude should be shown to scribes whose replacement by the printing press had been universally accepted. They also held that these matzot are baked with the intention to comply with the law, as it is necessary for an adult to start the machine. They had no fear that the dough would be left in the machines as they are cleaned well and often. Furthermore, they contended that the machine speeds the process and is more efficient than the men and women who worked in the bakery day and night. The views of Nathanson and those who sided with him have been accepted by most Jews.
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