Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Mezonos Pizza?

Lately I have seen in a number of pizza stores a sign stating that the bracha on the pizza is mezonos. I would like to explain the issues involved.

I. Background
The gemara in Berachas (32a), which we just learned in Daf Hayomi states that you make a mezonos on פת הבאה בכסנין, however if you are קובע סעודה you make המוציא. What is פת הבאה בכסנין? There is a 3 way dispute in the rishonim. It is either, dough filled with honey or fruit, dough made with honey or fruit juice, or a very thin dough. All 3 opinions are brought down in שו"ע. There is a big dispute in the acharonim whether these opinions disagree lehalacha. Some say that they are just explaining the gemara but in principle they al agree that the gemara is telling you a principle that any bread that is not used as the principle food but rather is used as a desert or something like that is not bread and you make mezonos. Others argue that is these things specifically and only these things and therefore any thing that doesn't meet the specific criteria above is considered bread.

II. Pizza
Pizza today is eaten as the main food of a meal and you are certainly קובע סעודה on it. Therefore, even if the dough technically meets the requirements of פת הבאה בכסנין it doesn't matter you still need to say hamotzi and bench. I don't see how you can say that someone who eats a meal of 2 or 3 slices of pizza doesn't have to bench and therefore these signs would seem to be misleading.

III. Other issues
How do you measure if you are קובע סעודה? Some poskim hold that the shiur of שביעה to be mechayev in benching min hatorah is not just the bread but the whole meal counts as well. Based on this some want to say that if you eat a whole meal and then at the end you have a piece of cake you need to bench because it is all counted and it is like you were קובע סעודה on the cake. In fact R' Moshe seems to hold this way (Orach Chayim chelek 3 siman 32). This is a tremendous chumra nowadays because many times we don't wash and then eat cake at the end of the meal. The Chazon Ish (Sima 34 sif katan 5) argues.

In short, eating cake is very problematic, it is not clear what beracha you need to make.


dave said...

Regarding the last point about the cake at the end of the meal, can we say "Puk Chazi ma ama dava" Go see what the people do, i.e. they don't wash?

bluke said...

That is what the gemara on today's daf says about water. However, R' Moshe is machmir in this case (look at the teshuva).

Anonymous said...

shoudnt there be a difference between yeasted cakes and nonyeasted? yeasted cakes, like kokasch (sp?) or babka have a dough (thin or otherwise) with filling. there are a lot of cakes that are variations of them w/ pretty thick, bread like doughs that are either very sweet themselves (sometimes made with milk, sometimes with fruit juice, sometimes with honey, etc) and/or filled.
but most cakes are made from a much looser batter, so I'd have thought they aren't pas habo b'kisnin??

bluke said...

It all depends on the cake and what pas habo b'kisnin is. Since we have these 3 opinions brought down in שו"ע we are machmir like all of them so many things are considered pas habo b'kisnin or even bread. It is a very unclear area of halacha

Shmarya said...

Not as unclear as you make it out to be. What's the bracha on a cracker made of flour and water only? By your presentation, it should be hamotzi if eaten with a meal. Same for a piece of matza – and that is my point.

Matza was originally mezonot. It also looked remarkably like a thick Arabic pita bread. Ashkenazim developed the habit of using matza during the year to replace regular bread, and made hamotzi on the matza as a result. then, about 600 years ago, Ashkenazim began to make thin matzot (like today, hard as a cracker) and continued to use them to replace bread during the year at meals and made hamotzi on them.

Sefardim still make mezonot on matzot except for Pessach.

So, back to the point. Pas habah b'kissnin means bread with a pocket – pita bread or flat bread.

These types of breads were traditionally used (along with calzones, knishes, pasties, pashtidas, etc., and cakes, cookies, etc.) by workers who ate their midday meal in the fields, away from home. It is these items that hazal created the mezonot bracha for in the first place.

Halakhic bread has had time to rise and bake properly, and is eaten calmly around a table as a meal.

Matza – which has not risen – is pas ha ba b'kisnin (*except* on Pessach). It is the original pas ha ba b'kisnin, eaten by our ancestors in the wilderness as they fled Egypt.

As such, mezonot pizza (or cake for dessert w/o washing for bread) is not wrong – it is the reason the halakha was created in the first place.

So, if pizza will be your meal and if you are in no position to wash, why would the mezonot option not work?

Do you think workers in the fields washed and bentsched? Please.

Shmarya said...

To be clearer:

The 'confusion' arises because Ashkenazim developed the habit of using pas ha ba b'kisnin (AKA, matza) as bread for meals year round.

Then, because of the paucity of Jewish farmers and workers of fields, people became nohaig to ALWAYS make hamotzi on pas ha ba b'kisnin items like flat breads, matza, etc., even when they could have made mezonot.

This created the confusion you cite.

But, clearly, the original purpose and intent of the halakha is to make pita breads, etc. mezonot.

Anonymous said...

the bigist problem is found in amirca because exept for my family i never saw a person from amirica who agrees

Fivish said...

I bought some pita bread with mezonos printed on the pack.
So are you saying it's cake rather than bread?