The gemara in Berachot 41b-42a discusses foods that may be eaten during the course of a meal on which a person would not have to say an additional blessing if he has already said HaMotzi on bread at the beginning of the meal. The gemara states that the only category of food that would require one to make a new blessing before eating it, but not one afterwards (as one could rely on the Birchat HaMazon) is "pat haba b'kisnin" - literally "bread that comes in pockets." What type of food is this and why does it have such a unique law?

The gemara proceeds to make a few additional statements regarding pat haba b'kisnin. It states that if one were to eat an amount of such a food that a normal person would make a meal out of, that person has to say HaMotzi before eating and Birchat HaMazon afterwards. Rav Huna is then cited as saying that one must always say HaMotzi on pat haba b'kisnin.


So, what is this mystery food? The word "pat" would imply that it is some form of bread. But what are these "pockets"? Furthermore, the discussion in the gemara clearly indicates that we are not dealing with just an ordinary piece of bread.

There are three opinions throughout the commentaries and poskim as to what pat haba b'kisnin actually is. The first opinion is one shared by Rashi, Rambam, and Meiri. They claim that this refers to a food made out of a bread-like dough that has been kneaded with spices or flavorings in the dough itself. While regular bread is mainly flour and water, this "bread" has other ingredients that come to enhance the flavor. As such, it loses its status as being 100 percent bread and becomes pat haba b'kisnin. In this instance, the word "kisnin" is taken to mean parched wheat, a reference to a practice at the time of the gemara of eating such breads with pieces of parched wheat after the meal had concluded.

The second view is that held by The Shiltei HaGibborim, Rabbeinu Chananel, and the Tur. They contend that the word "kisnin" in this context means pockets, as we explained at the outset of this Chabura. As such, they explain pat haba b'kisnin as being pockets made out of regular bread dough (flour and water) that are filled with various other things, e.g. meat, fish, cheese, etc. According to this view, these foods lay somewhere between being identified as breads and being identified as meat (or whatever the filling was). Such items were eaten as the main course of a meal, and as such had a certain importance (a topic that we will discuss later on).

The third view takes a very different approach. The Ritva, Aruch, and Rav Hai Gaon claim that pat haba b'kisnin is a type of bread that is baked very thin and dry, what we know basically as crackers. This opinion would also include the possibility that matzah would be considered pat haba b'kisnin, and in fact Sefardim do not use the matzah that is familiar to most of us for the seder on Pesach.

As far as the halacha goes, the Shulchan Aruch states that we accept all three views, and any food that fits into any of these categories has the status of pat haba b'kisnin.


The second aspect of pat haba b'kisnin that must be probed is the law with regard to being "kovei'a se'udah" - making a meal out of such foods. We have already seen the gemara that states that the blessings made on pat haba b'kisnin can vary depending on the manner in which it is eaten. Is "kovei'a se'udah" an objective or a subjective term? Is there a certain amount that is considered to be a meal, or is a meal defined as being whatever a particular individual eats in the context of a "meal"? The Rosh cites a debate about this very point. He first quotes Rav Moshe (I am unsure who this refers to) who claims that "se'udah" is an objective term - whatever is generally considered to be a meal by most people is considered to be a meal with regard to having to say HaMotzi and Birchat HaMazon on pat haba b'kisnin. With regard to the specific amount, the Mishna Berura (O.C. 168) learns from the laws of Eruvin that a meal is the equivalent of four eggs worth of food (appx. 6 to 8 ounces). By contrast, the Ra'avad claims that a meal is whatever the person doing the eating considers to be a meal, even if it is a minimal amount. The Rosh sides with Rav Moshe on this issue, and the Rif, the Tur, and the Shulchan Aruch codify that opinion as law. The Beit Yoseif notes further that Rav Avigdor (also unknown to me at this time) claims that a "meal" is defined as being that which is eaten during the normal meal time during the day. However, large snacks eaten during "off hours" would not qualify as a meal.

This leads to a second issue. What would be the case if a person began eating pat haba b'kisnin with the intention of eating only a small amount, and thus made a Borei Minei Mezonot before beginning, and only while eating did he decide to eat enough to constitute a meal? Does a person have to now make a HaMotzi in this case? What about after he eats - does he say Birchat HaMazon or Me'eyn Shalosh (the "abridged" Birchat HaMazon said over non-bread grain products, wine, and fruits of the seven species)? Again, the Rosh discusses this law and claims that in such a case no new blessing would be need before eating, but Birchat HaMazon would be said afterwards as if bread was eaten (this is codified by the Rif, the Tur, and the Shulchan Aruch).



Given all that we have said so far, it is logical to ask if there is a such thing as a food that will always require nothing more than Borei Minei Mezonot, or if everything made out of grain is subject to this law of pat haba b'kisnin? The first level of the answer is that there obviously are grain products, such as pasta, that are not made in any way like bread, and thus would not be subject to this law. However, what about cakes? Seemingly, one should have to make HaMotzi if one were to make a meal out of mom's apple pie or chocolate cake! Is this really this case? Also, would one be able to say Borei Minei Mezonot on challah sweetened with honey if one was eating it merely as a snack?

There are a few further ideas raised in this context, dealing mainly with the first opinion that we cited as to what is defined as pat haba b'kisnin. The Beit Yoseif makes a few claims in this regard. First, he states that if the amount of water in the dough far exceeds the amount of other liquids and spices, the final product is considered to be 100 percent bread and HaMotzi must be said before eating it. This solves the honey challah problem - however sweet it may be, water is still the main ingredient (after flour) in the mixture and thus HaMotzi is said. He then introduces the factor of taste, effectively saying that if it tastes like bread, then it is bread in the eyes of the halacha. The Ramo states in this regard that any ingredient that contributes taste must be significantly present so as to change the status of the food (thus distinguishing honey challah from chocolate cake). The Bach adds in yet another factor. He writes that if the flour makes up a majority of the mixture, then it is considered to be bread. However, if the various spices and flavorings are the main part of the dough, then the blessing made is Borei Minei Mezonot (hence that is the blessing made on cakes and other such goodies).

Finally, the Taz points out that in a case such as apple pie (my example, not his), even if the filling were to be removed one would still say Borei Minei Mezonot on the remaining shell, as the blessing that is made depends on the one that would have been made at the time that the food was baked.


No discussion of this topic is complete in today's world without a discussion of two major issues. The first is the recent invention of "mezonot rolls" - seemingly ordinary dinner rolls that miraculously do not require one to say HaMotzi or Birchat HaMazon, but instead require only a Borei Minei Mezonot. The actual blessing that needs to be made on these rolls are the topic of some debate. Based on what we have said so far, as well as on a shiur by Rav Yissachar Frand and an article by Rabbi Binyomin Forst in the RJJ Journal (#19), we will investigate the issues surrounding these rolls.

The main argument that surrounds mezonot rolls is whether we consider the taste of the rolls or the sheer quantity of non-water liquids that are part of the mixture. Mezonot rolls are made by replacing the water in the dough with apple juice, and thus if all that we care about is the ingredients one would indeed say Borei Minei Mezonot on such rolls. But what is the law according to the view that the taste is what is important? Rav Yitzchak Belsky, in an article in Mesorah, claims that there are those who can taste the fruit juice in the bread, and thus there would be a reason to say only mezonot on them. However, in general these rolls do in fact taste like ordinary bread and thus should be considered to be bread and a HaMotzi should be said. A further proof for this fact comes from the matzah debate. As we stated above, Sefardim view matzah as pat haba b'kisnin. However, Ashkenazim say HaMotzi on matzah at all times despite its being pat haba b'kisnin! How is this so? Again, this comes from the view that if something is classified as bread in a popular sense, it is considered to be bread by halacha.

There is an easier solution to the problem, one that does not require a knowledge of the ingredients of mezonot rolls. As we said above, one always makes a HaMotzi on pat haba b'kisnin if one is eating it as a meal. Mezonot rolls were invented mainly out of convenience - so people do not have to wash their hands before eating at affairs or on airplanes. As such, their entire purpose is to be part of a regular meal! As such, the entire institution of mezonot rolls collapses on itself - regardless of the ingredients, the general usage of such rolls obligates one to say HaMotzi on them.

Finally, what blessing must be said on pizza? Pizza bagels and any other pizza made from regular bread are clearly under the category of food requiring HaMotzi. What about "pizza store" pizza, i.e. pizza made with pizza dough and not bread? This issue depends on an argument between Rashi and Rambam. Rashi claims that a meal is considered to be six ounces, while Rambam contends that the amount is eight ounces. In practical terms, two slices would definitely require HaMotzi according to Rashi. According to Rambam, two slices alone might still require only a Mezonot, but if the entire amount of the meal exceeds eight ounces, meaning basically two slices and a few French fries, then HaMotzi is needed.

Back to Chabura-Net's Home Page