Question: What is the berachah on cooked bread?
A. We learned about this on Wednesday’s daf (75b) this week. Rav Yosef there issues a ruling on “chavitzah.” Rashi interprets chavitzah to mean a cooked dish that includes pieces of bread. Rav Yosef rules that if any of the pieces of bread is a k’zayis, the size of an olive, the berachah is hamotzi. If none of the pieces is a k’zayis in volume, the berachah is mezonos.
Tosfos (“חביצא”) forcefully disagrees with Rashi’s interpretation, asserting that once bread is cooked, it loses its legal classification as bread—even if it still has the volume of a k’zayis. As proof, Tosfos cites a Gemara in Berachos (37a) which states:
“If one takes wheat, bakes it into bread, then cooks it, the law is: If the pieces are still intact, the correct berachah is hamotzi. Otherwise the correct berachah is mezonos.”
Tosfos points out that the Gemara’s language there (“pieces”) indicates that the cooking removes the bread status, even if we’re talking about a piece larger than a k’zayis (otherwise the Gemara should have made k’zayis the cutoff point), contradicting what Rav Yosef is saying according to Rashi — that as long as the cooked pieces are a k’zayis, they’re still classified as bread.
I’m at a loss, though, to see why this Gemara poses any issue for Rashi. For the Gemara there is clearly saying that the bread only loses its legal status of bread once the pieces are “no longer intact.” What is the definition of “no longer intact?” Rashi there explains that it means that the pieces dissolved. Thus Rashi could easily respond to Tosfos’s question that the pieces of bread in our Gemara’s chavitzah dish are not dissolved! And isn’t that a reasonable assumption anyway? Who would make “chavitzah à la dissolved pieces of bread”?
Now maybe one will answer that Tosfos assumed a different reading of “intact” in the Gemara there in Berachos — i.e., the interpretation they suggest there, that the cooked bread is no longer “intact” if it was cooked to the point where if one picked it up it would break apart. But it still doesn’t seem fair to reject Rashi’s reading based upon the assumption that the pieces of bread of our chavitzah dish are cooked to even that point.
If you have a thought about this matter, do write in with it, I’d love to hear it. Even though I haven’t provided you with a resolution for Tosfos, I hope you enjoyed engaging with the halachic ramifications of the tasty chavitzah. Bon appétit!
Rabbi Wise is maggid shiur of Real Clear Daf, a website and mobile app that offers free audio shiurim and other resources to assist your journey through Shas. He is also the director of Tehillim Together, a mobile app (for iOS and Android) that offers a translated sefer Tehillim and facilitates Tehillim groups. To be a sponsor or to reach Rabbi Wise, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 855-ASK-RCD-1 (275-7231).