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Forbidden to eat matza after surgery...


Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 6, 5775
Shalom, About 2 months ago I had a laparascopic sleeve surgery (bariatric surgery that left me with a much smaller stomach). I was told by the dietician that the Doctor/Surgeron (Dr. Rami Shapira at Sha’arei Tzedek, Jerusalem)does not want us eating matza the first year. She said I can have a bite. Since a bite does not constitute a czayit, what should I do about the Seder meal (prescribed sandwiches....). Can I just have a bite and be yotzi? Also, how about birchat mamazon if I don’t have a czayit. Thanks for your help and Kol Tuv
Shalom, First of all let me wish you a complete and speedy recovery. In order for you to fulfil the mitzvah of matzah you first need to find out two things from your doctor. 1. What is the danger of eating matzah (about half a pieces worth)? If there is a real health risk, then you are obligated according to halacha to follow the doctor's advice. But, if eating this small amount of matzah will just perhaps cause minor discomfort, or in a very small way slow down full recovery, it may be that you are still obligated to eat matzah. The only person who can answer this question is the doctor – and you must follow their advice completely! So, please call your doctor again to find out exactly your situation. 2. When the doctor said you may eat a "bite" – what size exactly did they mean? According to many calculations, in times of need, one can rely on the very small measure of eating one sixth of a matzah as a keziyit. So, again, speak to your doctor and find out if you are allowed to eat three keziyit's of matzah during the seder (one at the start of the meal – mitzvah matzah), one for the korech sandwich, and one for afikoman. You should also ask if you would be allowed to eat more if you soaked the matzah in water before eating it. Because if so, you should eat a larger measure in such a fashion. If you are only allowed one keziyit (or less), you should certainly eat as much you are allowed to. There are opinions that calculate a keziyit as a very small measure about the size of our standard olive's today, and those who say that even eating less than a keziyit is also a mitzvah – so you should without a doubt eat what you can. The way to do this is eat the rest of the meal without washing and without matzah. Then, when you are up to afikoman you should wash without a blessing (if you are allowed to eat a keziyit there are opinions that allow you to say a blessing on washing, and others refrain from the blessing unless you will be having at least a betzah (eggsworth) of matzah), then say "hamotzi", and then eat the matzah. If you are allowed to eat a keziyit (one sixth of a piece of matzah) you should also say the blessing "al achilat matzah". In this way you get to do the mitzvah of matzah and afikoman together, and the taste of the matzah is the last thing you will eat in the seder, so it's taste will remain with you. If you are allowed another keziyit, you should have one at the start of the meal and one for afikonam. And if you are allowed a third one, then use it for the hillel korech sandwich. May you be blessed with only good health.
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