Shiur #21: Birkat Ha-Motzi The Definition of Bread Pat Ha-Ba’ah Be-Kisanin (2)
Last week, we began our study of the birkat ha-pat, birkat ha-motzi. We explained that we will divide our discussion of birkat ha-motzi into three parts: Pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin (grain-based baked products upon which one generally recites borei minei mezonot unless they are eaten as a meal), hafka’at shem lechem (circumstances in which bread is transformed into a food upon which one no longer recites the blessing of ha-motzi), and foods upon which one always says borei minei mezonot, even if eaten as the basis of a meal (pasta, pancakes, etc.).
Regarding the definition of pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin, upon which one recites borei minei mezonot unless is it eaten as the basis of one’s meal, we summarized the three views cited by the Beit Yosef (168). The Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 3:9) writes that “dough that was kneaded with honey, oil, or milk, or mixed together with different condiments and baked is referred to as pat haba'ah be-kisanin. Although it [resembles] bread, the blessing borei minei mezonot is recited over it.” The Darkhei Moshe (168) adds that the condiments or juice must be the primary ingredients, significantly changing the dough. Alternatively, Rabbeinu Chananel (cited by Talmidei Rabbeinu Yona, Berakhot 29a, s.v. ve-ein) explains that pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin refers to “pockets made from dough … and one puts nuts, honey and other sweet things into them.” Finally, Rashi (Berakhot 41b, s.v. pat) cites R. Hai Gaon, who explains that pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin refers to bread that is dry and brittle, like hard pretzels, crackers, and even dry “breadsticks.”
R. Yosef Karo, both in his Beit Yosef and in the Shulchan Arukh (168:7), rules in accordance with all three opinions. We noted that the Acharonim disagree as to whether we accept all three opinions due to the principle of safek de-rabannan le-kula (we rule leniently when there is a doubt regarding a matter of Rabbinic origin), or whether all three views are actually in agreement and merely reflect examples of the types of foods that one generally eats as a snack (Ma’amar Mordekhai 168:14; Arukh Ha-Shulchan 168:23). We suggested practical halakhic differences between these two approaches.
This week, we will discuss the definition of “kevi’at se’uda,” when one would be obligation to wash and recite the birkat ha-motzi before and birkat ha-mazon after eating pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin.
Why Does Kevi’at Se’uda Change the Blessing over Pat Ha-Ba’ah Be-Kisanin?
In two places, the Talmud (Berakhot 41b and 42a) rules that when pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin is eaten as the basis of a meal, one recites ha-motzi before and birkat ha-mazon after eating. The Rishonim differ as to why kevi’at se’uda changes the blessing from borei minei mezonot to ha-motzi.
Some Rishonim claim that pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin may have a “dual identity.” The Ra’ah (Berakhot 39a) writes:
And that which we say regarding pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin that when one makes it the basis of his meal he recites ha-motzi… and when he does not make it the basis of his meal he says borei minei mezonot… this is not because of the large amount [that he eats]… but rather because pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin is not considered to be bread, but rather a food made from the five species whose pockets (kisanin) and its context remove it from the category of bread, as it is not the way of people [to base their meal] on this type of bread. However, when one make it the basis of his meal, he considers it and makes it the equivalent of bread.
According to the Ra’ah, when one bases his meal on pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin, it acquires the status of bread and is therefore worthy of the blessings of ha-motzi and birkat ha-mazon.
The Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 3:9), on the other hand, seems to disagree. He writes:
Similar [laws apply to] dough that was kneaded with honey, oil, or milk, or mixed together with different condiments and baked. It is referred to as pat ha-ba'ah be-kisanin. Although it [resembles] bread, the blessing borei minei mezonot is recited over it. If, however, one uses it as the basis of a meal, one should recite the blessing ha-motzi.
The Rambam implies that although pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin is considered to be bread, its blessing is a function of the manner in which it is eaten. When eaten as a snack, one recites borei minei mezonot; however when it is used as the basis of one’s meal (kav’a se’udata aleha), one says ha-motzi.
One might suggest that the Rishonim disagree as to whether the blessings of ha-motzi and birkat ha-mazon are said over bread or over a meal. According to the Ra’ah, ha-motzi and birkat ha-mazon are recited over bread, and therefore, kevi’at se’uda is essential in defining pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin as “bread.” The Rambam, however, believes that as long as one makes the pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin the basis of his meal, the proper blessings are ha-motzi before and birkat ha-mazon after the meal.
This question may be relevant to the definition of kevi’at se’uda as well.
Definition of Kevi’at Se’uda
When is one considered to have made the pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin the basis of his meal? The Talmud implies different definitions of kevi’at se’uda. In Berakhot 42a, R. Nachman says that “upon something that others make the basis of their meal (kol she-acheirim kove’im alav se’uda), one must bless.” R. Nachman implies that kevi’at se’uda is a function of a societal norm. On the other hand, later in that passage, R. Yehuda explains that “where they are made the basis of the meal (kava se’udatei alayhu),” one must say birkat ha-mazon. R. Yehuda implies that kevi’at se’uda is a function of the person’s own practice or intention. Of course, these different understanding may have different practical applications.
We find these different understandings in the Rishonim as well. The Rosh (Berakhot 6:30) records:
Rabbeinu Moshe writes that if others do not make this the basis [of their meal], even if he does make it the basis [of his meal], he does not bless [ha-motzi], as we follow the practice of the majority of people, and his own practice is considered to be irrelevant (batla da’ato etzel kol adam). The Ra’avad writes that if he makes it a basis [of his meal], even the slightest bit, he recites the ha-motzi blessing before [eating] and the three blessings [i.e. birkat ha-mazon] afterwards. The words of Rabbeinu Moshe seem correct.
The Ra’avad, as cited by the Rosh, clearly believes that one’s personal, subjective intention determines whether or not he says ha-motzi before eating pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin. Rabbeinu Moshe disagrees and accepts an objective definition of kevi’at se’uda.
The Rosh adds that “if initially his intention was to eat a bit and bless borei minei mezonot and afterwards he ate the amount which others eat as the basis of their meal, he says the three blessings [i.e. birkat ha-mazon].”
Interestingly, the Menachem Ha-Meiri (1249 - 1310) writes:
If one eats [pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin] not as the part of a meal, but rather by itself, and did not make it the basis of a meal, he says borei minei mezonot … If he makes it the basis of a meal, he recites ha-motzi and the three blessings [i.e. birkat ha-mazon]. If he does not make it the basis of a meal but he eats an amount that others would make the basis of their meal, in this case as well, it is out opinion that he says ha-motzi. (Berakhot 41b)
The Meiri apparently accepts both views – both the view of the Ra’avad, who understands kevi’ut se’uda to be subjective and dependent upon the intention of the individual, and that of Rabbeinu Moshe, who emphasizes the practice of most people, which serves as an objective standard of kevi’at se’uda.
The Shulchan Arukh (168:6) rules:
One says borei minei mezonot [before eating] pat ha-ba’ah be-kisanin and the Bracha Me'ein Shalosh [i.e. Al Ha-Michya] afterwards. And if he eats an amount that others make the basis of their meal (she-acheirim regilim likvo’a alav), even though he is not satiated from it, he recites the blessings of ha-motzi and birkat ha-mazon… And if he ate an amount that others eat as the basis of their meals, even if he makes it the basis of a meal, he recites only borei minei mezonot… as his opinion is his practice in not considered in light of the practice of others.
The halakha is in accordance with the view of Rabbeinu Moshe, cited by the Rosh.
Next week, we will attempt to define the quantity one must eat in order to become obligated in birkat ha-motzi and birkat ha-mazon.