Shiur #23: Birkat Ha-Motzi Troknin and Tarita Birkat Ha-Motzi and Mezonot

  • Rav David Brofsky



In previous shiurim, we discussed what differentiates bread-like products upon which one says the blessing of Ha-Motzi from those which warrant the blessing Borei Minei Mezonot. One example of these products is pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin. Although prepared in a similar manner to bread, one does not say Ha-Motzi before eating pat ha-ba’ah bekisanin unless it is eaten as the basis of one’s meal (kevi’at se’uda). We studied in great depth the definition of pat ha-ba’ah bekisanin, as well as what constitutes kevi’at se’uda.  


The upcoming shiurim will focus on other foods that are not considered to be bread, whose appropriate blessing is therefore Borei Minei Mezonot. Furthermore, as we shall see, some of these foods are so dissimilar to bread that even if they are eaten as the basis of a meal, one still says Borei Minei Mezonot upon eating.


Teroknin and Tarita


The Talmud (Berakhot 37b – 38a) discusses two foods, terokin and tarita, and questions whether or not they are considered to be “bread” regarding the laws of challah, birkat Ha-Motzi/Birkat Ha-Mazon and matza. This sugya is complex and challenging due to both textual and conceptual difficulties. We will focus on the conclusions relevant to the birkat ha-pat.


            Regarding the teroknin, the gemara teaches:


Troknin is subject to the law of challah. When Ravin came, he said in the name of R. Yochanan: Troknin is not subject to the law of challah. What is troknin? Abbaye said: [Dough baked] in a cavity made in the ground…

Abbaye said to R. Yosef: What blessing is said over dough baked in a cavity in the ground? He replied: Do you think it is bread? It is merely a thick mass, and the blessing said over it is Borei Minei Mezonot. Mar Zutra made it the basis of his meal and said over it the blessing Ha-Motzi Lechem Min Ha-Aretz and three blessings after it. Mar son of R. Ashi said: The obligation of Passover can be fulfilled with it. What is the reason? We apply to it the term “bread of affliction.”


What is a troknin and why does it not warrant the blessing of Ha-Motzi?


Rashi (s.v. kova d-ar’a) explains: “He makes a hollow cavity in the oven and he places water and flour into it as one does in a pot.” A troknin is not baked in the normal manner and its dough is not typical. It is not clear which of these factors, according to Rashi, differentiates troknin from bread.


The Me’iri is somewhat clearer:


One who put flour into water and mixes them into a very thin batter, similar to cloudy water, which is known in their language as a “troknin”… if the batter was thin but [the cake] was thick because it was baked … one says Ha-Motzi.


The Me’iri implies that the usual consistency of the batter determines that one says Borei Minei Mezonot on a troknin. However, if it is baked in a manner in which the final product is not thin and soft, one says Ha-Motzi. In other words, if a thin batter is made into a soft, bread-like product, one recites Borei Minei Mezonot. The Rashba (Berakhot 38a, s.v. hai kova) explains that Tosafot (Berakhot 38b, s.v. lechem) also maintain that a soft and thin batter determines the appropriate blessing.


Finally, the Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 3:0) writes:


Before partaking of dough baked over the ground, as is baked by the Arabs living in the desert, one should recite the blessing Borei Minei Mezonot, because it does not have the shape of bread. If, however, one uses it as the basis of a meal, one should recite the blessing Ha-Motzi.


According to the Rambam, troknin does not have “tzurat ha-pat,” the shape or appearance of bread, and therefore one only says the birkat Ha-Motzi if it is eaten as the basis of the meal.


In summary, while the Rambam maintains that troknin does not have a “tzurat ha-pat,” the shape of bread, others assert that the process in which the bread is made – either the thin dough and/or the manner in which it is baked –  distinguish a troknin from ordinary bread.


Interestingly, the Tur (168) writes:


Troknin, when one makes a hole in which one puts flour and water, mixes and bakes it, is obligated in challah and one says Ha-Motzi … since it is in a hole, and it is gathered together it becomes like regular bread.


The Shulchan Arukh (168:15), however, rules like the Rambam and most Rishonim that one recites Borei Minei Mezonot before eating a teroknin:


Upon teroknin, when one makes a hole in which one puts flour and water, mixes and bakes it, one says Borei Minei Mezonot … and if he makes it the basis of his meal he says Ha-Motzi and Birkat Ha-Mazon.


The Shulchan Arukh cites the language of Rashi, implying that the difference between troknin and bread lies in the process, and not the tzurat ha-pat. Indeed the Magen Avraham (168:40) attributes this to the viscosity of the dough (belila raka).


            Regarding the tarita, the Talmud teaches:


Abbaye also said: Tarita is exempt from the obligation of challa. What is tarita? Some say, gvil meratach; others say, nehama dehindaka, and others say it is bread used for kuttach.  


Rashi explains that “gavil meratach” is a very loose batter. He interprets “nehama dehindaka”as dough coated with oil that is baked on a stake. Finally, he explains that bread used for kuttach is cooked in the sun.


The Tur, and afterwards the Shulchan Arukh (168:15-16), cites all three examples as explained by Rashi. Regarding the first example, the Shulchan Arukh (15) rules:


Tarita, which is [made when] one takes flour and water and mixes them and pours it onto a stove and it spreads out and is baked, does not have torat lechem at all, and one recites upon it only Borei Minei Mezonot and mei’ein shalosh (Al Ha-Michya), even if one makes it the basis of his meal.


 Interestingly, according to the Shulchan Arukh, a tarita does not even have any torat lechem. Therefore, the appropriate blessing is Borei Minei Mezonot and one never says Ha-Motzi and Birkat Ha-Mazon for a tarita, even if eaten as the basis of his meal. Although some Acharonim disagree (see Magen Avraham 41), this position is generally accepted by the Acharonim.


Practical Ramifications


The Shulchan Arukh, as we learned above, lists different categories of bread products. Pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin physically differs from bread, and is therefore generally eaten as a snack and not a meal. However, when eaten as a meal, one treats pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin like bread and recites Ha-Motzi and Birkat Ha-Mazon. Troknin also differs from bread, as its dough is soft and liquidy (belila raka) and, according to some, it is baked in a different manner than bread. This product, however, apparently does have a “torat lechem” (even if it does not have the “tzurat ha-pat”), and it therefore warrants the birkat Ha-Motzi when eaten as the basis of a meal. Tarita, in contrast, at least the first example, is so watery that one always says Borei Minei Mezonot before eating it, as it does not have a torah lechem at all!


Let us mention two possible ramifications of this distinction.


First, cakes made from very loose batter most likely fit into the category of troknin. Therefore, according to all opinions, one must say a blessing before eating it in the middle of a meal when it is not eaten as part of the meal. Second, some suggest that blintzes, thin pancakes, and even wafers fit into the category of tarita. Therefore, not only must one say a blessing before eating them during a meal, even if they are eaten as the basis of one’s meal, one does not say the birkat Ha-Motzi and Birkat Ha-Mazon.



Next week, we will continue our study of those foods upon which one recites the blessing of Borei Minei Mezonot, and not Ha-Motzi