Apr 15, 2019

The size of the Temple-era eggs discovered! Eat less matza?

There has been a long-standing debate as to what the true size in modern measurements of the halachic measurements "kzayit", the size of an olive, and "kbeitza", the size of an egg.

The debate is commonly referred to by the sizes determined by Rav Chaim Naeh and the Chazon Ish. The Chazon Ish size is very large and the explanation given is that the ancient olives, and eggs, were much larger than what we are familiar with today. Without going into the various explanations of the opinions and sizes, if considering the debate in regards to how much matza one must eat on the upcoming holiday of Pesach, those who follow Rav Chaim Naeh's opinion will eat a minimum of 26cc while those who follow the Chazon Ish will eat a minimum of 50cc.

Recent advancements in technological capabilities have now allowed archaeologists to do a 3D image reconstruction of eggshells they discovered from Temple times. The imaging technology is normally used for reconstructing pottery shards, but someone had the idea to try to use it for the eggs to see if it can be determined how large eggs were in Talmudic and Temple times.

After a successful reconstruction, it turns out the size of the egg was very similar to our eggs we have today. It fell well within the range of our eggs of varying sizes, and was not unusually large as suggested by the Chazon Ish.
source: TOI

I do not know how many, if any, poskim will change their opinion on the halachic measurements based on this finding. the archaeologist himself says he will not be changign how much matza he eats anyways since as a Yemenite their tradition has always been using the sizes of our modern eggs being similar to the ancient eggs, so the discovery does not change anything for him. It would only potentially change things for Ashkenazim who follow the Chazon Ish.

We have found numerous items, sometimes dating further and further back. They are always interesting, even fascinating, and often shed light on what life was like in our land so long ago.. Rarely do these findings potentially affect our own behavior in a significant way. This is one of those findings that potentially could.

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  1. I do not know how many, if any, poskim will change their opinion on the halachic measurements based on this finding.
    miyut sheino matzui at best

  2. I think the chances that poskim who follow the Chazen Ish will change their psak is about the same as the chances that poskim who follow Rav Chaim Naeh would change their psak if archaeologists found evidence that eggs used to be much bigger.

    In any event, the various psaks were arrived at by more than just trying to figure out how big an egg was at that time.

  3. Actually with improvements of breeding etc & antibiotics & hormones, I'm suprised they're the same size as ours. I would've thought that theirs would've been much smaller than today's.

  4. Since when has a Charedi changed his mind about Halacha based on reality?

  5. You are aware that the originator of the idea that the eggs were bigger once was the Noda B'Yehuda, not the Chazon Ish?

    1. it has been a while since I have gone through the sugya, so I did not remember that, but it is beside the point. Today the opinion is referred to as "the shiur of the chazon ish". I wasnt expounding on the background nor getting into a halachic analysis.


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