Wraps; What Bracha?

5

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times

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“My Rabbi says its Hamotzi!”

“Well, mine says you can make a mezonos!”

 “What are you guys talking about?? It’s mefurash a YOUTUBE Video – where Rav Elyashiv zt”l (1910-2012) paskened its Mezonos!”

“Oh, yeah?  Well, it’s mefurash a YOUTUBE Video where Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l (1929-2020) paskens it’s HaMotzi!”

This column is not dealing with the recent proliferation of people adjudicating Halacha based upon YouTube videos.  It rather deals with the question of the day:  What bracha is to be recited on wraps – Mezonos or HaMotzi?

Wraps have, of late, become the go-to food when catering a Bris Milah, a Rosh Chodesh Beis Yaakov breakfast, or even a general company meeting.  It is a health food aficianado’s dream meal too.

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

It is a question that a young lady had once posed in a tenth grade Hilchos Brachos class.  But first, a bit of an introduction:

INTRODUCTION:  IS THERE A MACHLOKES HERE?

There is a concept called kavod habracha – the honor one must accord to a blessing.  According to the Mishna Brurah (167:4), part of that concept is that a blessing should ideally be recited on a davar shalem – a whole item.  It seems from a later Mishn Brurah (168:5), however, that the idea of a whole item is a worthwhile quality to seek even when there is no preference on the food itself. According to the Levush (168:1), however, the reason may be slightly different.  He seems to write that it is more respectful to Hashem to bless on a nicer item.

Are these two different reason?  Also, is the Mishna Brurah committed to just one?  Perhaps he means both.  The Mishna Brurah in 168:5 and also in his Shaar HaTziyun there uses the term “Hiddur Mitzvah.”

[It could also be dependent upon how one learns the pertinent Gemorah (Brachos 39b) – where there is a debate between Rav Huna and Rav Yochanan regarding what is better to recite a blessing upon – a whole loaf or bigger pieces of bread.]

THE YOUNG LADY’S QUESTION

We will come back to this, but first let’s get to the young lady’s question:

What is the story with a watermelon?  Is it more ideal to bring a whole watermelon to the table and recite the bracha on the whole watermelon?  Or should one just bring slices to the table?

It is pretty clear that no self-respecting baalabusta would countenance the thought of serving from a whole watermelon, when, say, the new mechutanim are first invited over.  And yet, for Challah we make sure that the bracha is recited on the whole Challah.  What is the difference?

CAN’T ANSWER

We can’t answer that bread is different than fruits, because the Mogain Avrohom (211:1) specifically writes that it is not just bread that is under discussion but any fruits as well.

FURTHER QUESTIONS

Also, what is the story if the fruit or the bread are kind of rotten?  Do they still have the quality of shalem – a whole entity?  And what if a section of the Challah is still kind of doughy, or burnt? The Shaarei Teshuva in Siman 274 writes that if the Challah is a little bit burnt it still retains the quality of a Shalem.   Rabbi Shammai Gross, the author of the Shaivet HaKhasi (Vol. VI #120) wishes to apply this Shaarei Teshuvah to the case of a rotten fruit, but perhaps we can question whether this extension can be made.

HOW FAR DOES IT GO?

What about pizza?  Would this halacha mandate that a person should preferably purchase a whole pizza (uncut) rather than two or three slices so that he can recite the bracha on a davar shalem?  I once had a roommate in Yeshiva who used to, well, never mind.

Rabbi Feinhandler z”l in his Avnei Yashpeh (Vol. III Siman 21:8) writes that if a person has a valid reason not to buy a whole pizza (such as wasting food or not wanting to gain the wait) he may certainly opt for that.

PLEASE HELP A VERY CHOSHUV HACHNASSAS KALLAH SITUATION

https://thechesedfund.com/zechornilah/hachnasaskallah

ONE ANSWER

So, we perhaps have one answer here. If the person has a valid reason not to bring out the whole watermelon – because it is a social gaffe to do so – then the idea of reciting on a davar shaleim can be set aside.

ANOTHER QUESTION

Also, what happens if a person made a bracha on a half a cookie, and did not have in mind one way or the other, for the bracha to also cover a second whole cookie?  Does the bracha work?  We know that, if one made a mezonos on Rice Krispies, for example, and one did not have in mind that it should also cover the Honey Nut Cheerios, the bracha is ineffective.  If it was made on the Honey Nut Cheerios, however, it would cover the Rice Krispies – even if he did not have it specifically in mind.  This is all based on a Rashba found in Brachos 41a.  The Rashba is cited l’halacha in the Ramah (OC 211:5) as well as in the Beis Yosef (206:2 and at the end of 211).

[As a side note, although Ashkenazim follow the Ramah, there is a debate between the author of the Kaf HaChaim and Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul as to whether Rav Yoseph Karo himself ultimately went with the Rashba or not since he does not cite it in his Shulchan Aruch.  The Kaf HaChaim (206:31 and 211:24)rules that Rav Karo did not ultimately hold of the Rashba, but Rav Ben Tzion Abba SHaul (Ohr L’Tzion Vol. II chapter 14 note 16) held that this was not a proof at all.]

Do we apply the same principles in this Rashba to the idea of non-shalem versus shalem?

In his 5761 edition of the Sefer V’Zos HaBracha, the author originally wrote that non-shalem and shalem have the same halachos of this Rashba.  However, he retracted this ruling in his 5763 edition on account of him seeing Rav Elyashiv’s discussion on the matter in his shiurim on Brachos (p. 448).  Rav Elyashiv zt”l ruled that the halacha of shalem and non-shalem are qualitatively different than the other aspects of brachos in this regard.  This might be a second answer to the one we just saw or it could be following the same reasoning.

A THIRD POSSIBLE ANSWER

Perhaps we can say that the Mishna Brurah is not actually arguing with the Levush and holds of both reasons.  It could very well be that a whole watermelon is so awkward that it is actually disrespectful to Hashem to recite the bracha on it.  If this is the case, even though it is shalem – the awkwardness would beat out the other idea of shalem.  In the first chapter of the V’Zos HaBracha (note 2), the author cites Rav Elyashiv as ruling that it does not apply to watermelon.  We can conjecture that it is perhaps because it is simply not the manner to bring a whole watermelon to the table, whereas regarding Challah it is.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

PLEASE HELP A VERY CHOSHUV HACHNASSAS KALLAH SITUATION

https://thechesedfund.com/zechornilah/hachnasaskallah

THE THREE POSITIONS

It seems that there are three very different positions on the matter.

The OU website writes that wraps are clearly HaMotzi.  This is also the view of Rav Binyomin Forst Shlita, one of the foremost experts on Hilchos Brachos, head of the Halacha Hotline in the Far Rockaway/Five Towns community, and author of the Artscroll Hilchos Brachos sefer.

Rav Shmuel Fuerst Shlita, from Chicago and a leading Posaik in the United States, has ruled that the orange colored ones do not have the appearance of bread and would, therefore, be considered a Mezonos.  The other ones, however, would be HaMotzi.

And one of the leading Poskim in Eretz Yisroel – Rav Yitzchok Rubin Shlita, author of the four volume Otzros Shabbos and Av Beis Din of Rav Nissim Karelitz’s Beis Din, has authored a remarkable analysis of the topic.  Rav Rubin is also the Rav of the shul in Har Nof where a deadly terror attack r”l occurred in 2014.

Rav Rubin believes that the bracha is clearly and unequivocally mezonos.  What follows is a synopsis of his rationale.

THE GEMORAH

The Gemorah in Brachos 42a writes that the blessing for something called “Pas HaBa B’Kiskin” (henceforth PHB) and something called “lachmaniyos” (not the modern term) is clearly mezonos.  However, if one establishes his meal on this item – then a HaMotzi is recited.  Clearly, the parameters of this bread is that it is only eaten as a snack food.

Shockingly enough, the idea of cake is not discussed in the Gemorah in terms of its blessing.  Two forms of sweeteners were available at the time, date honey and bee honey.  Sugar became available in Sassanian era Persia (and thus Bavel) only 100 years after the Gemorah was compiled.  It is discussed perhaps in terms of Pesach – where the term “gluskah yafeh” is employed, but that refers to some form of fried delicacy according to the Rishonim.

WHAT EXACTLY IS PHB?

There is a well-known three-way halachic debate as to the actual definition of Pas HaBa B’kisnin.

  • Rabbeinu Chananel explains that Pas HaBa B’Kisnin is to be identified as bread made in the shape of a filled pocket. It contains some other item aside from the dough product itself – a filling that is both separate and distinct.  An example would be a blueberry banana calzone.  It should be noted that spices such as cinnamon and sugar that are added after the baking process do not effect any change in bracha according to all three views.
  • The Rambam and Rashi identify Pas HaBa B’Kisnin as a type of bread in which the dough was mixed with either spices or sweets. An example would be a cupcake.  A cupcake’s dough is made with sweets such as sugar or honey added to the basic water and flour.
  • The Aruch citing Rav Hai Gaon is of the opinion that the term “kisnin” comes from the word “koses” – chewing. According to him, Pas HaBa B’Kisnin is a cracker-like item that breaks apart and is generally chewed upon – perhaps similar to a hard pretzel or a cracker.  An example, for our purposes, would be crackers.

Rav Yoseph Karo, in his Beis Yosef commentary on the Tur, writes that since there is a debate on the matter, we apply the concept of “safek brachos lehakel – that whenever there is a question regarding blessings we are lenient.”  Thus, all three types are to be considered Mezonos, unless one has established his meal on it. We would thus make a mezonos on a blue-berry banana calzone, a cupcake and crackers.

MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE OR MUTUALLY AGREE?

But there is another question.  There is a debate among the Acharonim whether the three views are mutually exclusive or whether all of the three views mutually agree with each other as to the actual halacha regarding the blessing on the two other PHB, it is just that they argue which particular type of PHB was discussed in the Talmud.

THE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE VIEW

The Graz, the Dagul Mirvavah, Rabbi Akiva Eiger, and the Chayei Adam rule that the three opinions are mutually exclusive.  This means that THE THREE OPINIONS DO NOT ALL AGREE WITH EACH OTHER.  We will refer to this view in the future as the view of the Four Acharonim.

In other words, according to this view:

  • Rashi and Rambam would wash and bentch on blueberry banana calzones and crackers, but would recite a mezonos on cupcakes.
  • Rabbeinu Chananel would wash and bentch on cupcakes and crackers, but would recite a mezonos on a blueberry banana calzone.
  • Rav Hai Gaon would wash and bentch on cupcakes and blueberry-banana calzones but would recite a mezonos on crackers.

THE MUTUALLY AGREED VIEW

The view of the Maamar Mordechai is that all three views agree to each other’s opinion that only a Mezonos is made on all three types of food.  [This is also the view of the Aruch HaShulchan.  The Biur Halacha (168:8), however, does give some – but not complete credence to this view. He seems to give more weight to the view of the Four Acharonim]

RAV RUBIN’S VIEW OF THE MAAMER MORDECHAI

Rav Rubin cites a number of proofs to the view of the Maamar Mordechai, and uses these proofs to show that it is not the actual technical composition of the ingredients and or texture of these bread items that make them into Mezonos (like the Four Acharonim seem to hold).  Rather, according to Rav Rubin’s explanation, it is how the bread item is utilized in society – whether it is used to satiate and whether it is actually considered central to the meal.

In other words, it is not a Siba (reason) as to why they are mezonos, but rather it is a siman (indication or sign) that they are mezonos because that is how they are utilized in society. This is the old “cause versus effect” concept.

It should be noted that the Biur Halacha’s tepid view of the Maamar Mordechai perhaps indicates that he is not really in agreement with the view espoused by Rav Rubin that it is a Siman – an indication.  The Mishna Brurah seems to be more comfortable with a Siba – perspective that it is the nature of its composition.

RAV RUBIN’S PROOFS TO THE MAAMAR MORDECHAI

Rav Rubin brings six indications of the fact that the Maamar Mordechai is correct.

  1. He cites the fact that the Tur (OC 168) quotes all three views and places alongside and immediately after the three views the fourth category of lachmanios. He and the Shivulei HaLeket 159 utilize lachmanios as a fourth type – indicating the “Siman” nature of the definition of Pas HaBa B’Kisnin.
  2. Rav Rubin also quotes the Rashba on Brachos 41b where he intermingles the words of both Rashi and Rabbeinu Chananel as to how to define Pas HaBa B’Kisnin. This indicates that he holds that they do not argue with each other regarding the bracha on the other types.
  3. Rav Rubin also cites the Derech HaChaim (Hilchos Brachos letter 3) who says that any bread item where it is not the manner to eat a shiur svi’ah – an amount of it that will satiate is not a HaMotzi.

Rav Rubin’s next three proofs are from the universal halachic customs of people.

  1. When people eat all three forms of Pas HaBa B’Kisnins – they should wash beforehand because they are certainly eating a form of bread – and yet they do not do so. This indicates that the world holds of the view of the Maamar Mordechai.
  2. When people drink coffee with cake they recite the bracha on cake first and then coffee – in accordance with the laws of the order of brachos (See Shulchan Aruch OC 211:3). Yet, if cake may be bread in accordance with the mutually exclusive view of the Four Acharonim, then we should technically make the blessing on the coffee first – because the bread would cover the other items because of tafel.  The fact that we don’t indicates that we are all believers in the Maamar Mordechai rather than the Four Acharonim.  [Rav Rubin seems to be of the opinion here that it is the food item which causes the laws of tafel and not the bracha itself].
  3. His last proof from universal halachic custom is that Ashkenazim make a HaMotzi on Matzah and not a mezonos. Why are they not concerned for the view of Rav Hai Gaon and thus make a mezonos?  Rav Rubin concludes that it is because Matzah is eaten almost universally for satiation – l’achilas sova.  Thus, the working definition of Pas HaBa B’Kisnin is that it is not eaten for satiation – but for snacking.

In conversation with Rav Rubin, this author was told that he had researched the use of wraps throughout the world, and nowhere is this food item eaten by and of itself like other bread items.  It is solely used to consume other foods.  He concludes that it is not a bread item that people use to satiate themselves like they do with bread or other bread items.  Rather, it is used to quiet down one’s hunger.  He concludes that the entire nature of its consumption is of a temporary snack-like nature – achilas arai.

ASPECTS TO EXPLORE

It is interesting to explore whether Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l cited in the very beginning of this article held that the halacha is like the Four Acharonim or like the Maamar Mordechai.  It would also be interesting to find out what the rationale of Rav Elyashiv zt”l was to state that a wrap is Mezonos.  The reason why this is interesting is that Rav Rubin, who holds of the Maamar Mordechai, holds that pizza is unequivocally HaMotzi even on one slice, whereas Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l was of the opinion that one slice is a mezonos.

CONCLUSIONS

So, bottom line – what should be done with the wraps?  There is another fascinating debate out there as to how one conducts oneself in matters of halacha.  There are some families and Yeshivos who have accepted upon themselves the notion that the Mishna Brurah is the final rule in all matters of halacha that he addresses.  Others are of the opinion that comtemporary Poskim can argue with the Mishna Brurah and one may follow their rulings even when it is not a pressing situation.

It seems to this author that if one accepts the view of the Mishna Brurah as the final word in halacha – then one cannot avail themselves of Rav Rubin’s ruling of mezonos on wraps.  If, however, one belongs to the other school of thought – then one could possibly avail themselves of this leniency – after consultation with one’s own Rav – and that’s a wrap.

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

It is a question that a young lady had once posed in a tenth grade Hilchos Brachos class.  But first, a bit of an introduction:

INTRODUCTION:  IS THERE A MACHLOKES HERE?

There is a concept called kavod habracha – the honor one must accord to a blessing.  According to the Mishna Brurah (167:4), part of that concept is that a blessing should ideally be recited on a davar shalem – a whole item.  It seems from a later Mishn Brurah (168:5), however, that the idea of a whole item is a worthwhile quality to seek even when there is no preference on the food itself. According to the Levush (168:1), however, the reason may be slightly different.  He seems to write that it is more respectful to Hashem to bless on a nicer item.

Are these two different reason?  Also, is the Mishna Brurah committed to just one?  Perhaps he means both.  The Mishna Brurah in 168:5 and also in his Shaar HaTziyun there uses the term “Hiddur Mitzvah.”

[It could also be dependent upon how one learns the pertinent Gemorah (Brachos 39b) – where there is a debate between Rav Huna and Rav Yochanan regarding what is better to recite a blessing upon – a whole loaf or bigger pieces of bread.]

THE YOUNG LADY’S QUESTION

We will come back to this, but first let’s get to the young lady’s question:

What is the story with a watermelon?  Is it more ideal to bring a whole watermelon to the table and recite the bracha on the whole watermelon?  Or should one just bring slices to the table?

It is pretty clear that no self-respecting baalabusta would countenance the thought of serving from a whole watermelon, when, say, the new mechutanim are first invited over.  And yet, for Challah we make sure that the bracha is recited on the whole Challah.  What is the difference?

CAN’T ANSWER

We can’t answer that bread is different than fruits, because the Mogain Avrohom (211:1) specifically writes that it is not just bread that is under discussion but any fruits as well.

FURTHER QUESTIONS

Also, what is the story if the fruit or the bread are kind of rotten?  Do they still have the quality of shalem – a whole entity?  And what if a section of the Challah is still kind of doughy, or burnt? The Shaarei Teshuva in Siman 274 writes that if the Challah is a little bit burnt it still retains the quality of a Shalem.   Rabbi Shammai Gross, the author of the Shaivet HaKhasi (Vol. VI #120) wishes to apply this Shaarei Teshuvah to the case of a rotten fruit, but perhaps we can question whether this extension can be made.

HOW FAR DOES IT GO?

What about pizza?  Would this halacha mandate that a person should preferably purchase a whole pizza (uncut) rather than two or three slices so that he can recite the bracha on a davar shalem?  I once had a roommate in Yeshiva who used to, well, never mind.

Rabbi Feinhandler z”l in his Avnei Yashpeh (Vol. III Siman 21:8) writes that if a person has a valid reason not to buy a whole pizza (such as wasting food or not wanting to gain the wait) he may certainly opt for that.

PLEASE HELP A VERY CHOSHUV HACHNASSAS KALLAH SITUATION

https://thechesedfund.com/zechornilah/hachnasaskallah

ONE ANSWER

So, we perhaps have one answer here. If the person has a valid reason not to bring out the whole watermelon – because it is a social gaffe to do so – then the idea of reciting on a davar shaleim can be set aside.

ANOTHER QUESTION

Also, what happens if a person made a bracha on a half a cookie, and did not have in mind one way or the other, for the bracha to also cover a second whole cookie?  Does the bracha work?  We know that, if one made a mezonos on Rice Krispies, for example, and one did not have in mind that it should also cover the Honey Nut Cheerios, the bracha is ineffective.  If it was made on the Honey Nut Cheerios, however, it would cover the Rice Krispies – even if he did not have it specifically in mind.  This is all based on a Rashba found in Brachos 41a.  The Rashba is cited l’halacha in the Ramah (OC 211:5) as well as in the Beis Yosef (206:2 and at the end of 211).

[As a side note, although Ashkenazim follow the Ramah, there is a debate between the author of the Kaf HaChaim and Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul as to whether Rav Yoseph Karo himself ultimately went with the Rashba or not since he does not cite it in his Shulchan Aruch.  The Kaf HaChaim (206:31 and 211:24)rules that Rav Karo did not ultimately hold of the Rashba, but Rav Ben Tzion Abba SHaul (Ohr L’Tzion Vol. II chapter 14 note 16) held that this was not a proof at all.]

Do we apply the same principles in this Rashba to the idea of non-shalem versus shalem?

In his 5761 edition of the Sefer V’Zos HaBracha, the author originally wrote that non-shalem and shalem have the same halachos of this Rashba.  However, he retracted this ruling in his 5763 edition on account of him seeing Rav Elyashiv’s discussion on the matter in his shiurim on Brachos (p. 448).  Rav Elyashiv zt”l ruled that the halacha of shalem and non-shalem are qualitatively different than the other aspects of brachos in this regard.  This might be a second answer to the one we just saw or it could be following the same reasoning.

A THIRD POSSIBLE ANSWER

Perhaps we can say that the Mishna Brurah is not actually arguing with the Levush and holds of both reasons.  It could very well be that a whole watermelon is so awkward that it is actually disrespectful to Hashem to recite the bracha on it.  If this is the case, even though it is shalem – the awkwardness would beat out the other idea of shalem.  In the first chapter of the V’Zos HaBracha (note 2), the author cites Rav Elyashiv as ruling that it does not apply to watermelon.  We can conjecture that it is perhaps because it is simply not the manner to bring a whole watermelon to the table, whereas regarding Challah it is.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

PLEASE HELP A VERY CHOSHUV HACHNASSAS KALLAH SITUATION

https://thechesedfund.com/zechornilah/hachnasaskallah

The author can be reached at [email protected]


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