Halacha for Thursday 20 Adar 5784 February 29 2024

Sweet/Egg Challah

We have explained in the previous Halacha that there is an obligation to eat an egg’s volume of bread (fifty-four grams) during each of the Shabbat meals. We shall now discuss the status of “Sweet Challot” which many customarily use as bread for the Shabbat meals. Are they considered bread and hence one eating them would fulfill his obligation to eat bread during the Shabbat meals and would be obligated to recite Birkat Hamazon after eating them or is “Boreh Minei Mezonot” the appropriate blessing for them, like cake and the like, and one eating them would not fulfill his obligation of eating bread during the Shabbat meals and their after-blessing would be “Al Ha’Michya”?

Maran writes in his Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 168): “Kisnin bread (which is the bread that the Gemara says requires the Mezonot blessing): Some say that this refers to dough in which honey, sugar, oil, or spices were mixed and the taste of the item mixed in the dough is recognizable in the dough.” This is indeed the Halacha and such an item is given the halachic status of Kisnin bread on which a “Boreh Minei Mezonot” blessing is recited. The Rama notes: “Some say this is considered actual bread (on which a “Hamotzi” blessing is recited) unless there was a copious amount of honey mixed into it similar to a sweet baked good which we call “Lekach” (Yiddish for honey cake) in which the honey and spices are primary. This is indeed the prevalent custom (in Ashkenazi countries).”

We must now determine the status of the “Sweet Challah” present nowadays, for although the sweetness can most definitely be tasted, nevertheless, we certainly cannot say that “the honey and spices are primary”; rather, the honey or sugar are only present to give the Challah a good taste. Thus, according to the Rama’s opinion and the Ashkenazi custom, the blessing on such Challah is “Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha’aretz” and one eating them would fulfill one’s obligation of eating bread during the Shabbat meals. Indeed, the Rama in his Darkei Moshe (Section 2, ibid.) writes “that on Shabbat and Yom Tov we recite ‘Hamotzi’ and Birkat Hamazon on Challot which are heavily spiced and the spices (such as sugar and the like) are noticeable in them by taste and appearance.” However, according to the opinion of Maran Ha’Bet Yosef, our Sages enacted that the “Hamotzi” blessing and Birkat Hamazon are to be recited only on bread which was made of dough with only water mixed into it; nevertheless, if fruit juices (such as orange juice) or spices (such as sugar or honey) are mixed into the dough and the foreign taste is detectable in the dough, the blessing on such bread is “Boreh Minei Mezonot.” Nevertheless, it is clear that even according to Maran, if only a small amount of oil or sugar was mixed into the dough such that their taste is completely undetectable, which is indeed the case with many breads we have today, their blessing is certainly “Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha’aretz.” Only if their taste is actually discernible, as is the case with “Sweet Challah,” is their blessing “Boreh Minei Mezonot.”

Thus, according to the opinion of Maran Ha’Bet Yosef, whose rulings we have accepted, one should not recite the “Hamotzi” blessing on “Sweet Challah”; rather, the blessing on such Challah is “Boreh Minei Mezonot,” like cake. This is not considered bread at all and one does not fulfill one’s obligation of eating bread during the Shabbat meals at all by eating them. According to the Ashkenazi custom, such Challot are considered bread for all intents and purposes and one would fulfill his obligation of eating bread during the Shabbat meals by eating them.

We shall, G-d-willing, broaden our discussion on this topic in the following Halacha.

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