Halacha Date: 11 Shevat 5779 January 17 2019
In the previous Halacha we have explained that one does not recite a blessing on foods eaten during a bread meal, for the “Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha’aretz” blessing recited on the bread exempts them.
We have also quoted the words of the Ritba who explains that this is not because of the general rule of “primary and secondary foods” that usually applies to the laws of blessing (meaning that on a dish composed of several different foods, such as rice and beans, one would recite the blessing on the primary food, which is the rice and this would in turn exempt the secondary food; thus, the “Ha’adama” blessing would not be recited on the beans); rather, this is a special Halacha which dictates that since bread is the most important staple of the meal, it exempts any other food being served during the meal. Even if the other foods are eaten alone, without bread, they are nevertheless exempted by the mere fact that they part of the meal.
Based on this, we must discuss the following situation: If one eats less than a Kezayit (approximately 27 grams) of bread, must one recite a blessing on the foods served during the meal or are they nonetheless exempted with the blessing recited on the bread? Since the Ritba tells us that the reason for the exemption of reciting a blessing on the other foods is only because the bread is the main part of the “meal”, if so, this will only apply to a situation where one eats more than a Kezayit of bread which is halachically considered a “meal” as it requires Birkat Hamazon afterwards; however, if one does not eat a Kezayit of bread, there is no “meal” being held and thus, there is no reason to exempt the other foods from requiring their own blessing.
However, we must still consider the general rule of “primary and secondary foods.” Thus, even if one eats less than a Kezayit of bread, if the additional foods one is eating are secondary to the bread, such as spreads, a small amount of salad, and the like, they are surely exempted with the blessing of the bread like any other primary and secondary food. Nevertheless, any foods eaten by themselves, without bread, such as meat, fish, and the like, require their own respective blessings and are not exempted with the blessing on the bread.
We should therefore point out about a halachic pitfall common in some Simcha halls (such as at weddings and the like) where there is a buffet/smorgasbord of a vast array of different foods served to the guests before the affair officially begins. The guests eat their fill at this buffet and then enter the main ballroom, wash their hands Netilat Yadayim, and then eat bread along with their meal. Recently, however, some halls have begun serving mini pitas or other kinds of small breads at the smorgasbord and people eat them without paying attention that they require Netilat Yadayim and the Hamotzi blessing; some people do not even realize that the blessing on such rolls or pitas is actually Hamotzi. It is probably better not to serve them at all at that stage of the occasion. The family should therefore notify the management not to serve such foods to the guests or notify the guests that these foods require Netilat Yadayim and the Hamotzi blessing.