Siman 167 end - 168:6 Breaking Bread continued

  • Rav Asher Meir
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #102: Siman 167:end - 168:6


By Rav Asher Meir







The source of this se'if is a beraita in Rosh Ha-shana (29b):


One may not say [hamotzi] for his guests unless he eats with them, but he may say for his children and members of his household, in order to chanekh them in the mitzvot.


We have purposely left the word "chanekh" untranslated; we will now discuss its meaning.


A Jewish boy becomes obligated in mitzvot when he reaches the age of 13, and a Jewish girl at the age of 12. (Technically, signs of physical maturity are also required; there is often a legal presumption that they exist at the appropriate age - see OC 199:10.) This is the age when a person attains "da'at" - understanding and responsibility for actions.


However, we learn from many places in the gemara that even minors should perform mitzvot. The most encompassing list is on Gittin 52a, where we learn that a legal guardian may spend the orphans' money to buy a lulav, arava, sukkah, tzitzit, Torah scroll, mezuza, tefillin, and megilla - implying that the youngsters are obligated in all these mitzvot. Other places in the mishna and gemara use the word "chinukh" to describe this obligation.


One way of translating the word "chinukh" is "initiation" - see Rashi Devarim 20:5. The youngster should be initiated in the performance of mitzvot even before he is obligated to perform them. This suggests that he should perform the mitzva in exactly the same way as an adult does. The Ritva proves that this is true from the sukkah of Queen Heleni:


The sukkah of Queen Heleni was over twenty amot high; the gemara wants to prove from this that such a sukkah is kosher (Sukkah 2b). Since Heleni was a woman and therefore exempt from the mitzva of sukkah, the proof depends on the fact that she had seven sons, at least one of whom must have reached the age of "chinukh." The Ritva points out that if minors are not subject to the same requirements as grown-ups, then there is no proof - perhaps she had an invalid sukkah because she didn't need a kosher one, neither for herself nor for her sons! The Ritva thus asserts that the mitzvot performed by minors need to be "be-hekhsher gamur" - in complete conformance with halakha.


In accordance with this approach, the Beur Halakha on siman 657 writes that it is "obvious" (pashut) that a lulav bought for a young child must be kosher according to adult standards.


However, this seems to contradict the mishna in Yoma (82a) which indicates that children should "fast for hours" on Yom Kippur. That is, they should delay their meal on Yom Kippur for an hour or two, so that they should be conscious of the affliction (inui) of the day. (This is ruled in the Shulchan Arukh, OC 616:2.)  The mishna refers to this as "chinukh" - even though such a fast is no fast at all for a grown-up. This halakha seems to imply that the meaning of chinukh is "education," because such a fast does teach the child that Yom Kippur is a day of material deprivation.


This possibly could be explained by claiming that each moment of the fast is like a separate requirement, and on the contrary, we are merely demanding that the minors keep as many of these moments as possible - just as we demand that they keep other mitzvot to their ability. However, in our se'if the SA allows something for children, for the sake of chinukh, that is FORBIDDEN for adults - as the MB explains in s.k. 93. This definitely seems to contradict the Ritva's principle, that "chinukh" means to accustom children to the habits they will be obligated to do as adults.


It seems that "chinukh" encompasses two distinct requirements. One is to ACCUSTOM the child to fulfill mitzvot, and the other is to EDUCATE the child in the performance of mitzvot. Usually these aspects overlap. Giving a boy a lulav accustoms him to shaking it (if it is actually Sukkot) and also teaches him how to perform the mitzva. Sometimes they occur separately. The gemara (Sukkah 28b) relates that Shamai made a sukkah for his infant son. This initiates the child into the performance of the mitzva, but doesn't teach him anything. Conversely, fasting for an hour or two is educational but doesn't really perform any mitzva.


However, on occasion these two aspects may actually be in opposition. When an adult blesses for the child, this contradicts the first kind of chinukh, because when he is a grown-up, it will be forbidden to have someone who is not eating bless for him. But it may be essential for the second kind of chinukh. Since we MAY say a blessing for a child, it seems that when the two aspects of chinukh are in conflict, "education" wins out over "initiation."


This insight can help us explain why this particular ruling applies only to children. The Beit Yosef at first is reluctant to adopt this understanding - after all, shouldn't we provide chinukh to adults as well? But in the end he does adopt the ruling mentioned in the MB. We can now provide the following explanation: there is an obligation to ACCUSTOM both adults and children to mitzvot, and there is an obligation to EDUCATE both adults and children in mitzvot. But when there is a contradiction between habituation and education, then there is a difference. With an adult, habituation is more important, because if he develops improper habits they immediately involve improper behavior. But with a child, education is more important; the child will translate this education into appropriate habits later on in life.


Sometimes the tradeoff can be more subtle. For instance, if children don't yet know that the cup of wine is supposed to overflow at havdala, then making havdala on shemitta wine won't teach them about this (because it is forbidden to waste this wine by pouring it over). But if the children already know this, then making havdala on shemitta wine will teach them that it is forbidden to waste this wine. Rav Amital told me that it is better to make havdala on shemitta wine. When the next year comes around and we don't spill the wine, the children will learn the difference, and absorb both messages at once.




It is said: If pieces and whole bread are brought before them: Rav Huna says to bless on the pieces and exempt the whole; Rebbe Yochanan says that the preferable mitzva is [to bless] on the whole. But if there is a piece of wheat bread and a whole barley bread, all agree that he should bless on the piece of wheat bread and exempt the barley...A reverent person [yerei shamayim] fulfills both. Who is it [this reverent person] - Mar Barei De-Ravina, who places the piece within the whole loaf and then breaks bread. (Berakhot 39b)


Of course, Rav Huna is not saying that blessing on the pieces of bread is preferable. Rather, he means either that blessing on the pieces is permissible (Rabbeinu Tam), or that blessing on pieces may be required if they have some other advantage - for instance, if they are larger than the whole bread (Rashi).


What is the "both" that the reverent person fulfills? Rashi explains it means "both opinions." If the piece is large and the loaf small, Rav Huna prefers the large and Rebbe Yochanan the whole; the reverent person blesses on both together.


However, according to Rabbeinu Tam, this explanation is impossible. Rav Huna has nothing against making a berakha on the loaf, he merely PERMITS blessing on the piece. Rabbeinu Tam explains that "both" means "both kinds of bread" - the broken wheat bread as well as the whole barley loaf. This is also the opinion of the Rif, Rambam and Rosh, and since the SA bases his rulings on these three Rishonim, we are not surprised that this is his ruling.




The SA gives an important leniency regarding "lechem mishneh" (the two loaves of bread) on Shabbat - look at it inside.




The Tosefta (Berakhot 4:15) gives the following guidance:


A whole patisserie bread is preferable to a whole home-made bread.

A whole home-made bread is preferable to partial patisserie bread.

Wheat bread is preferable to barley bread.

A partial wheat loaf is preferable to an entire barley loaf.

Barley bread is preferable to spelt bread. Even though spelt is superior to barley, barley is one of the seven species [with which Eretz Yisrael is praised].


The Yerushalmi Berakhot 6:1 cites this Tosefta and adds the following rules:


Tahor bread is preferable to tamei bread.

Fine tamei bread and tahor coarse bread: he may bless on whichever he likes.




In Yoreh De'ah 112, the Shulchan Arukh explains that the Sages forbade bread baked by non-Jews. But he adds that there are places where the custom is to be lenient with gentile bakery bread when there is no Jewish baker; the Rema adds that some are lenient even when there IS a Jewish baker.


Obviously if we consider the bread of non-Jews to be forbidden, it would not take precedence over permitted bread. Even if we had to eat it because of danger, we would bless on the bit of permitted bread first.


Conversely, if we are going to be lenient even when bread baked by a Jew is available, as the Rema indicates, we might think that there is no difference between the two. However, Tosafot (Berakhot 39b d.h. aval) liken bread baked by non-Jews to tamei bread, as mentioned in the Yerushalmi we just cited. This gives us the ruling at the beginning of se'if 5.


The Raviah (cited in Mordekhai Avodah Zarah 630) is the source of the ruling in the second half of se'if 5. This ruling also likens bread baked by a non-Jew to tamei bread.


It seems bizarre that having a guest who eats pat akum (bread baked by non-Jews) could permit and even obligate the host to eat it, insofar as permitting it is only a leniency for a sha'at hadechak (tight situation). This is not at all like eating tamei bread, which is completely permissible.


However, the Trumat Ha-deshen (siman 32) suggests that the Yerushalmi is talking about a chaver, a non-Kohen who normally is careful to eat only tahor food. Even so, he may eat tamei bread if it is a better kind. Here also there is an element of prohibition because chaverim don't merely abstain from tamei food but actually accept upon themselves to eat in purity. So we can readily extrapolate to a pious Jew who is careful to avoid pat akum.


The Beur Halakha accepts the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh, but he does not fully accept the reasoning of the Trumat Ha-deshen. He concludes that the superiority of the bread alone can't make pat akum permissible to someone who normally does not eat it. An additional consideration is necessary, namely honoring a guest.


Many scrupulous people are willing to be a little more lenient with their chumrot (stringencies with halakha) when they are guests in other people's houses; it seems that the ruling of the SA here gives this practice a firm basis.