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Halachot of Berachot  

Halachot of Pas Haba BiKisnin

What is Pas Habah Bekisonin?

The Gemara Berachot (41-42) offers two brief descriptions of Pat Haba Bekisnin. First, Rav Sheishet says that Pas Haba Bekisnin is unique in that it is the only item that when eaten in the middle of a bread meal it requires a brocha rishona but not a bracha achrona. Additionally, the gemara tells a story where Rav Huna ate a lot of Pat Haba bekisnin and didn’t say hamotzei or birkat hamazon. Then Rav Nachman attacks that since he ate so much he should have made hamotzei / birkat hamazon. Finally, the Gemara concludes that when one eats an amount of Pas Haba Bekisonin that most people would eat then he is obligated to bentch bircas hamazon.
So what do we know from the gemara:

  1. It certainly can’t be considered a meal type food because those are covered when eaten during a meal and would require their own bracha rishona. (Tosfot and most Rishonim. Rashi learns it slightly differently – he explains that Rav Sheiset was referring to when the food was eaten after the meal and the reason it doesn’t require a bracha achrona is because the guy ate less then a shiur. But even rashi agrees that Pat Haba bekisnin is a desert like food, clearly from the fact that he establishes the case as occurring after the meal)
  2. Its bracha changes depending whether you eat it as a snack and when you eat it as a meal.

That’s All. We still don’t have a clear definition of this food. So the Rishonim come along and offer various explanations

  1. Rambam, Rashi – a dough that is kneaded with fruit juice or something sweet
  2. Rabbenu Chananel, Rashba – a dough that is filled (with sweet items) and then baked together. An example would be babka cake or hu’mantachin.
  3. Rav Hai Gaon – a dough that has been made thin and crunchy so that it’s brittle. (Example: Flatbreads or Pretzels)

Then the achronim come along and clarify within each opinion.

  1. Rambam, Rashi – how sweet is sweet?
    1. According to the Shulchan Aruch and the halacha for Sephardim is that the amount of additives need to be tasted in order to receive a beracha of mezonot.
    2. The Rema says when the additives are “Many” and thus the “Ikar.” The Shulchan Aruch Harav and Mishna Berura both seem to explain that it needs a majority. Therefore, the halacha for Ashkenazim is when there is more fruit juice, eggs, honey, milk, or sugar than water – then it is a mezonot.
    3. Keep in mind that this is referring to fruit juice of 100% concentration. But if you were to use a lower concentration fruit juice than only that percentage contributes to the overall ratio. (For example, 10 ounces of 50% juice counts like 5 ounces of pure juice.)
    4. (The Taz holds you don’t necessarily need a majority, but as long as you can taste it while the Aruch Ha’Shulchan holds it needs to visibly appear different. These are not the commonly accepted halachic opinions but they can play a role in safek cases.)

  2. Rabbenu Chananel, Rashba – does the filling need to be sweet or not?
    1. Mishna Berura and Magen Avraham hold the filling needs to be sweet in order to render the dough Pas Haba Bekisnin
    2. The Taz argues and holds that any filling would suffice.
    3. Also how much filling? The Taz holds that it needs to be enough to add taste while the Magen Avraham holds there should be a lot, that the filling should tower over the bread portion. (We generally assume more like the Taz)

  3. Rav Hai Gaon – how crunchy?
    1. The Aruch Ha’Shulcan seems to question how this could be mezonot since there is no difference in the dough except that it was overcooked and says it should receive a normal hamotzei.
    2. There are arguments regarding how crunchy it needs to be in order to qualify for Rav Hai Gaon's definition, for instance a dough which is very thin but not so crunchy. First off, if the dough is sweet then it would be pas haba bikisnin because of Rambam/Rashi. But if not, like a wrap (as in a tuna wrap) most agree it doesn't qualify for Rav Hai Gaon's definition. (However there is more to say about wraps in particular, see below "The Big Question")

Putting the 3 together

The Shulchan Aruch understands the 3 opinions as arguing on each other, and rules that out of uncertainty we would treat any item that satisfies even one of the 3 conditions as Pat HaBah BeKisonin. (The Mordecai holds that all opinions agree with each other and they are only arguing on how to define the strange word “kisonin.” But at the end of the day all agree that everyone’s classification would qualify to be in the Pas haba bekisnin category even if not the exact definition.)

The brocho for Pas haba bikisnin is mezonot and al hamichya, unless one eats the shiur of “kviat seudah”. This is a very difficult topic, so please see the next discussion where it will be covered in depth.

The Big Question

There is a lot of controversy concerning Pizza, Wraps and even Wheat Tortillas. The issue is that strictly speaking they don't qualify as pas haba bekisnin according to any of the 3 definitions. So seemingly they would be treated like ordinary bread and thus hamotzei. However, these items are not exactly like ordinary bread - they are snack-like.

There are some achronim who argue that even if an item doesn't strictly qualify as pas haba bekisnin - perhaps pas haba bikisnin is an attitude that applies to any food which isn't used as the mainstay of a meal even if not strictly qualifying by those 3 definitions. This logic has a basis in Rashi when explaining his definition of Pas Haba bekisnin he says that "people only eat a little of it." On the other hand, some argue that it could be that the rishonim were offering a reason why Chazal only granted a mezonot on these items. However, we cannot extend Chazal’s logic to different foods outside their definition.

The Final Halacha

 

The Implications

  • Pizza – doesn’t really fit into any of the 3 definitions because remember both the Mishna Berura and Magen Avraham hold the filling needs to be sweet. And since both the cheese and sauce are meal type foods (they aren’t deserts!) – they wouldn’t be able to render the dough Pat Haba Bekisnin. However, according to this Minhag Olam, if one was eating pizza as a snack than he may make a mezonot. If he is eating the pizza as his meal – then he should make hamotzei.
  • Believe it or not but a typical slice of pizza has between 8 and 9 Kazaiyit in it. That means if one eats one slice he might be able to get away with mezonot, but two slices - he should certainly bentch.

    (There are those that betch for a single kazaiyit of pizza, being that it might not even be considered pas haba bekisonin but rather ordinary bread. So two slices should bentch according to everyone. I've heard rumors that 3 slices is the cut off - but personally I think that was just made up to be convenient.)

    Even if you personally aren't full from two slices because we go by an objective standard when the individual is clearly an exception.(See Kviat Seudah for more)

  • Wraps/Tortilla - doesn't fit any of the 3 definitions and so it should be HaMotzei (See an article on Halachipedia.com about this). Nonetheless, I remember hearing from a Rabbi from the OU upon calling the OU kosher hotline about chi-chi's wheat tortilla and they said it was Mezonot.

 

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