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The Crown of Halacha

Brocha on a Wrap

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series Rav Bloomenstiel

From Shu”t Sheves Achim by

Rav Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel, shlit”a

 

Question: What is the correct bracho on a wrap? Is it mezunos or hamotzi?

Answer:  This is a very common question.  Most people assume that a wrap is mezunos.  Though there are situations in which this may be true, most wraps are actually hamotzi

Let’s start with the tortilla or wrap-material itself. Is it bread, or mezunos? In addition to the usual requirements for bread (five grains plus water, etc.) most poskim accept two other requirements: 1) from the Rama, O.C. 168:14, that the dough be baked dry; that is, in an oven or on a hot surface without liquid (except for a small amount of oil added to prevent the dough from sticking), and 2) The dough must be “stiff” (see Meiri to Pesachim 37).

What is the din if the dough is made from a liquid batter that is poured out? According to, again, the Rama (also Aruch ha-Shulchan) any thin, unflavored dough poured out onto a griddle or baked in an oven also has the din of pas and is ha-motzi. However, if this thin dough would actually be fried in oil (meaning immersed in oil), then the brocha is mezunos (this is even with kvias seudah, see M.B. 168:70).

I spoke to a professional baker who told me that wheat tortillas and most wrap-breads are not poured out, but made from stiff dough pressed flat and cooked upon a hot surface. According to all of the above mentioned opinions, wrap-bread is pas: it is made with water, made with one of the five grains, has the form of bread (i.e. pita), made of stiff dough, and cooked dry upon a hot surface.

Even though the wrapper used in most wraps is pas, we still have to contend with the issue of pas ha-ba ba-kisnin. Of the three shitos amongst the Rishonim on pas ha-ba ba-kisnin, one is particularly relevant to a wrap. The Beis Yosef O.C. 168 cites the Aruch, Rashba, and Rach that pas ha-ba b’kisnin is anything made in the form of a pocket and filled with fruit or some other pie filling. The halachah comes down (M.B. 168:27) that even if real bread (including wrap tortillas) are used then the bracha is mezunos. The operative principle behind this definition of pas ha-ba b’kisnin is that the filling, by dint of being a dessert (fruit, nuts, etc.) prevents the wrapper-bread from being considered part of a “seudah.”  However, if the filling is something that would normally be eaten as part of a meal (such as meat, or potato), then the wrapper-bread would be part of the actual seudah and the bracha would be ha-motzi (see Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav 168:10, M.A. 168:17, M.B. 168:94 and others).

The Taz 168:20 disagrees,though, paskening that the bracha for pocket-foods is always mezunos regardless of the type of filling (the Aruch ha-Shulchan and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch appear to agree). Due to this machlokes, the Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav advises that such a pie (filled with cheese, meat, etc.) should be eaten with a bread meal or one should eat enough to be kovea seudah to remove any doubt as to the brocha.

However, in the case of a wrap, I believe that even the Taz would pasken that the brocha is ha-Motzi. Why? The wrap differs significantly from a savory pastry (i.e. a calzone). Unlike a calzone, the wrap is not baked together with its filling. Rather, it is a separate piece of bread, fully baked, that is taken and wrapped around the cooked food. I don’t see how this is any different from a hot dog or hamburger bun. This factor, along with it never having been baked “pocketed,” removes it completely from any geder of pas ha-ba ba-kisnin.

Naturally, the Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav would say that there is no safek in this case and that the brocha is ha-motzi when eating the wrap alone.

For a moment, though, let us assume that a wrap is pas ha-ba b’kisnin, and that one does not need to wash unless he is being kovea sudah on the wrap. In such a case, a snif le-hakel may be that your average wrap doesn’t contain enough “bread” to be kovea seudah. Why? When calculating the amount of bread present in a crusted pastry, the filling is not considered, only the crust. The Chazon Ish O.C. 26:8 and the majority of those writing after him agree to this idea. So, assuming that the amount of wrap-bread needed to be kovea seuda is the volume of four eggs, then, since your average wrap doesn’t contain that much bread, the correct brocha is mezunos.

In reality, though, this kula wouldn’t work.   A popular misconception is that the volume of bread needed for kvias seudah is four-egg’s worth (as learned from hilchos eiruv techumim – although the Rambam learns out 3 eggs).   Yet, the rov of the poskim (Chayyei Adam, M.B., Gra, Aruch ha-Shulchan, etc.) hold that this is a fluid shiur and depends on the amount of bread one would eat in a full meal. Rather than being dependent on the eating habits of the individual, this shiur varies according to the eating habits from country to county (Igros Moshe O.C. 3:32). Incidentally, the B.Y. 168 does mention the Ra’avad who paskens that this is an individual shiur that varies from person to person, but I couldn’t find any acharonim who agree with him.

Based on this fact, then since most persons eat wraps as meals and not as snack food in the US, a wrap will require a ha-motzi even if it eaten as a snack.

In conclusion, the correct brocha for a wrap is always ha-motzi and there is no apparent situation in which mezunos is an appropriate brocha for a wrap.

In a case of true doubt as to how the wrap material is made (i.e. the wrap appears to have been fried as one whole pocket, etc) then one should wash on a vadai hamotzi and remove any safek as to the bracha on the wrap.

[UPDATE: I was told that Rav Yisroel Belsky, ztz”l held that the correct brocha is always ha-motzi, yet I saw that Rav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a paskens that the correct brocha is mezunos.  I am not sure why Rav Shternbuch holds this shitto.  Perhaps the Rov holds that a wrap is pas ha-ba b’kisnin or, perhaps the Rov holds that is no different than a pie crust and he also paskens like the Taz that the brocha in such a case is mezunos. Another possibility is that the method by which the wrap-bread is made was not accurately described to the Rov by the shoel. Tzarich iyun.]

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