Siman 168:10-17 Which Bread to Say the Blessing On continued

  • Rav Asher Meir
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #104: Siman 168:10-17


By Rabbi Asher Meir







The following gemara in Berakhot discusses at what stage of processing wheat starts to become bread, and at what stage of further treatment it ceases to be bread:


It is taught [in a beraita]: One who chews wheat blesses "borei pri ha-adama." When he mills and bakes it and [then] cooks it: When the slices persist, the berakha is "ha-motzi" before and three berakhot [birkhat ha-mazon] afterwards. When the slices don't persist, the berakha is "mezonot" first and me'ein shalosh [al ha-michiya] afterwards. (Berakhot 37a)


The Yerushalmi explains that the slices are deemed to persist if there are still lumps the size of a ke-zayit from the original bread.


The gemara on the next page deals with a dish where the bread is slightly less decomposed:


Rav Yosef said, [this is the rule of] chavitza: If it has bits that are the size of a ke-zayit, then we say "ha-motzi" first and birkhat ha-mazon afterwards. If there are no bits the size of ke-zayit, then we say "borei minei mezonot" first and me'ein shalosh [al ha-michiya] afterwards.


Rav Yosef said, I learned so from this beraita: One standing and offering menachot [meal offerings] in Yerushalaim blesses "she-hechyanu." When he takes them to eat, he blesses "ha-motzi." And it is taught on this, all [menachot] are crumbled to [pieces the size of a] ke-zayit.

. . .


What have we heard on this? Rav Sheshet said: Chavitza, even if its bits are not a ke-zayit, requires "ha-motzi." Rava said, this is only if it has the form of bread. (Berakhot 37b)


The Tosafot explain that in a "chavitza" the crumbs are stuck together with fat or some other liquid.


In this case, the crumbs retain the status of bread in one of two ways:


1. If the bits are the size of a ke-zayit - even if they have no appearance of bread (from Rav Yosef).

2. If the bits have the appearance of bread - even if they are not the size of a ke-zayit (from Rava's explanation of Rav Sheshet).


The Bach infers that all of these distinctions are relevant only for "chavitza." But ordinary breadcrumbs never lose their status as bread, since no important transformation has taken place. (The Beit Yosef says that this is obvious even without any source.)


To summarize:

1. If the bread is cooked, then SIZE ALONE is critical – it is bread only if zayit-size bits remain.

2. If the bread is crumbled and then stuck together, then EITHER size of a ke-zayit OR appearance of bread retain the status of bread.

3. If the bread is merely crumbled, then NEITHER size nor appearance is important - no transformation has taken place and the breadcrumbs are bread.


This is the background to the ruling of the SA in se'if 10.





This subject will also teach us something about the relationship between the definition of bread for challah and for "ha-motzi."


We read in gemara Pesachim:


The Rabbis taught [in a beraita]: Sufganin [sponge bread] and duvshanin [honey bread] and iskritin [wafers] and challat hamasret [pan bread]...are exempt from challah. What is challat hamasret? Rebbe Yehoshua ben Levi said, a boiled homemade [pastry].


Resh Lakish said, all these are made in the ilfas [a pot, and not baked in the oven. This explains why they are exempt from challah]. And Rebbe Yochanan said, iskritin which are made in the ilfas are obligated in challah, but these [which are exempt] are made in the sun.


They replied [from a beraita]: Sufganin and duvshanin and iskritin if made in the ilfas are obligated; if made in the sun - they are exempt. This refutes Resh Lakish! Ulla said, Resh Lakish can reply that these [which are obligated] were put into the pot after it was already hot [so that the pot is like an oven. But if the bread was arranged in the ilfas first and then the ilfas was heated, then they are exempt - as if they were baked in the sun.] (Pesachim 37a)


Two things are clear from this passage.


1. All of the kinds of bread described in the gemara above are obligated in challah if they are baked in the oven. (Rashi says that we learn that bread is primarily something baked in the oven from Vayikra 26:26, where we learn that if we don't keep the Torah "ten women will bake bread in a single oven.") This is despite the fact that these types of bread have a different texture or taste than regular bread. They are examples of what we pointed out last week - that pat ha-ba'ah be-kisanin is considered bread as far as challah is concerned.


If they were roasted dry in a hot pot, Resh Lakish agrees that they are bread.


2. If the bread is made in the sun, it is exempt from challah.  (Cooking in the sun is not considered cooking in many areas of halakha, including Shabbat and, according to many opinions, meat and milk.)


We still need to know if we rule like Resh Lakish or like Rebbe Yochanan. While Rabbeinu Chananel rules like Resh Lakish, most Rishonim rule "le-chumra" like Rebbe Yochanan. So bread which is dry pot roasted is obligated in challah even if the dough was put into a cold pot. (The gemara above concludes that this is the primary locus of the dispute between Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish.) And even Rebbe Yochanan agrees that sun cooking is exempt.


What about cooking (in water) and frying (in oil)? Tosafot prove that Rebbe Yochanan is lenient in these instances. The proof is from the following passage in the Yerushalmi, which is discussing the same beraita:


Rebbe Yochanan said, whenever there is fire underneath [a pot], it's obligated in challah, and the blessing is "ha-motzi," and it fulfills the obligation of [matza on] Pesach.  Rebbe Shimon ben [Resh] Lakish said, whenever there is fire underneath, it's not obligated in challah, and the blessing is not "ha-motzi," and it doesn't fulfill the obligation of [matza on] Pesach.  Rebbe Yochanan said, that is only [true if the cooking is] through a liquid. (Yerushalmi Challah 1:3 or 4 - depending on the printing)




What is special about sufganin and duvshanin and so on? Why were specifically these pastries mentioned?


Rabbeinu Tam (Tosafot Pesachim 37b) concludes that these baked goods are made from a thin batter - not from a thick dough. He brings a convincing proof from the mishna in Challah (1:5).  The mishna states that while in general sufganin are exempt from challah, if it "begins as sufganin and ends up as isa" - they ARE obligated in challah.  Rabbeinu Tam explains this to mean if at some stage of making sufganin they have the consistency of "isa," that is a thick dough, they ARE obligated in challah.


But we still don't know what berakha to make on such sufganin. If they were baked, their blessing would certainly be "ha-motzi" - Rebbe Yochanan says so explicitly in the passage from the Yerushalmi. If they were not baked, then if the batter was never thick, the blessing would certainly be "mezonot," since such sufganin are not even "pat ha-ba'ah be-kisanin." If the batter was thick at some stage, the sufganim are obligated in challah, but it is not clear what the blessing would be.


Rabbeinu Tam attempts to prove that such sufganin (that had thick dough at some stage) are considered bread for "ha-motzi" as well as for challah. His proof is from the passage in Berakhot we cited above. The beraita quoted by Rav Yosef says that on menachot [meal offerings] the blessing "ha-motzi" is said. Rabbeinu Tam points out that some menachot were fried, and even so the beraita does not limit itself to baked menachot.


The Rash (Rav Shimshon of Sens, Tosafist and author of an extensive commentary on the mishnayot of Zeraim and Taharot) disagrees with Rabbeinu Tam's analysis from beginning to end. In his opinion, the pastry mentioned in the mishna in Challah (1:5), which "begins as sufganin and ends up as dough" or vice versa does not refer to sufganin that are a thick dough at some stage of preparation, as Rabbeinu Tam explains. Rather, the mishna refers to a pastry about which the baker changed his mind. If the baker originally intended to make bread, then the dough becomes immediately obligated in challah. Deciding afterwards to make doughnuts can not change the "tevel" (i.e. forbidden to eat if challah is not taken) status of the loaf. Conversely, if he originally intended to make doughnuts and then changed his mind, then from the time the baker decided to make bread the loaf becomes obligated in challah.


The halakhic conclusion of the Rash is that doughnuts, even if made from a thick dough, are exempt from challah as long as the baker had in mind all along to fry them. Most Rishonim agree with the Rash, and this is how the SA rules (YD 229:3; see Beur Ha-Gra).




But according to Rabbeinu Yerucham (a student of the Rosh), the Rash disagrees with Rabbeinu Tam not only on the laws of challah, but also on the application of the laws of challah to those of berakhot. His conclusion is that even if the baker DOES change his mind in the middle, deciding to make doughnuts instead of bread, then no "ha-motzi" is said on the doughnuts - even though challah is obligatory.


Basically, the reason is that the obligation of challah begins when water is added to the dough - as long as the intention is to make bread. If the intention to make bread is present at kneading, then the obligation to take challah doesn't disappear if the baker changes his mind.  But the obligation to say "ha-motzi" doesn't begin with the dough - on which we would bless "mezonot" or perhaps even "she-hakol." It arises only when the dough is baked. So for the purposes of "ha-motzi", only the baking is relevant.


(It may well be that the disputes are connected. Rabbeinu Tam may agree that a change of status due to changing one's mind doesn't obligate the bread in "ha-motzi." He may have concluded that the mishna which says that the pastry is bread if it has a "thick dough" stage is defining WHAT bread is - not WHEN the dough becomes bread. That is why it is relevant for "ha-motzi." But if the bread changed status in the middle, perhaps Rabbeinu Tam would admit that the baking is the relevant step for "ha-motzi.")


The first ruling of the Rash (that challah must be taken only if the baker had initially intended to make bread, and not if the intention was to make doughnuts all along, even if the dough was thick at some stage) was generally accepted as halakha. However, the BH points out that the second ruling of the Rash (that "ha-motzi" depends only on the baking and not on the consistency of the dough, and even if challah is obligatory, the berakha may not necessarily be "ha-motzi") was not universally adopted. Indeed, there is some doubt if the Rash himself really held this view. This insight is very important, since it resolves an evident contradiction in the SA. In the laws of challah, the SA rules unambiguously like the Rash, as we have already pointed out. But here, when the SA rules on the laws of "ha-motzi," although the view of the Rash is favored, the SA concludes that it is best to fulfill the view of Rabbeinu Tam as well!


The answer, the BH implies, is that even if we agree with the Rash that fried bread is definitely exempt from challah even if it is made from a thick dough, unlike Rabbeinu Tam, we may still AGREE with Rabbeinu Tam that anything obligated in challah is obligated in "ha-motzi" and birkhat ha-mazon. When the baker first intended to make bread and decided after kneading to make doughnuts, the dough is definitely obligated in challah according to the Rash. Once obligated in challah, it may very well be obligated in "ha-motzi" even according to the many Rishonim who disagree with Rabbeinu Tam with regard to his ruling that all "blila ava" is obligated in challah.


Of course, even Rabbeinu Tam admits that the parallel between challah and "ha-motzi" is not complete. He cites the continuation of the gemara in Berakhot we mentioned above. The gemara goes on to describe a kind of baked good which is "a mere dough," and not really bread, so we say "mezonot" on it. But it is considered matza on Pesach. I'm not sure why Rabbeinu Tam chose this particular example, since this is only one particular case of pat ha-ba'ah be-kisanin which as we discussed last shiur is obligated in challah but exempt from "ha-motzi" unless a large amount is eaten. We have already explained that birkhat ha-mazon requires not only "lechem" (bread) but also "ve-savata" (satiation) - the kind of bread eaten for satiety. This requirement definitely does not exist for challah.