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Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

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Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas Lech Lecha


Hilchos B'rachos part XIV

Which Bread First?

On which item should the bracha be recited? is an important sector of Hilchos Brachos.

For example, we are familiar with the concept of Shiva Minim (seven species) versus regular fruit, where in most cases the shiva minim take precedence and one recites a boreh pri hoeitz on the pomegranate and not on the apple. [1]

We find a similar concept relating to on which bread we recite hamotzi when faced with several types of bread.

What difference does it make?

When one intends eating two types of bread or more, one recites hamotzi on the most important one. [2] A bracha should lchatchila always be recited on the most important item, as a hidur mitzvah to perform the mitzvah (in this case the bracha) in the most beautiful manner possible. [3]

What is the order of importance?

The Mishna Berura cites the order as follows:  Seven species Whole Clean Big.

Seven Species
  wheat and barley are specifically mentioned in the torah and precede the other three grains, namely , which are generally translated as spelt, rye and oats and are not specifically mentioned.

Wheat bread has precedent over barley bread, and these two have precedent over the other three. [4]

The table looks like this:

Wheat > barley/ spelt/ rye/ oats

Barley > spelt/ rye/ oats

Spelt > rye/ oats

Rye > oats

What if I want to eat rye bread and not the wheat bread?

Recite the bracha on rye bread, because when you do not intend eating one of the breads it does not enter the equation. [5] You need not eat the more important item just because of the bracha.

Whole versus slice

A whole loaf of bread has precedent over a slice of bread, [6] even if the slice of bread is larger than the whole bread. Consequently, one should recite the bracha over a whole roll (bun) even when it is small, rather then reciting hamotzi over a large, sliced challa. [7]

What if the sliced bread is purer than the whole bread?

Purer meaning finer wheat or better sifted. Even in such an event, one recites the bracha over the whole bread. Whole wheat bread is less fine than pure white flour, and consequently one recites hamotzi over a whole wheat roll and not on sliced white bread.


Size is also a factor but of lesser importance. When faced with two loaves or slices of similar quality, one recites hamotzi over the larger one. [8]

Cleaner or whiter flour precedes size, and therefore one recites hamotzi on a smaller slice of white bread and not on larger dark bread.

What is the relationship between size, clean and whole?

The equation is whole > clean > size. [9]

A whole brown pita has precedent over a pure white slice of challa, but only if one intends on consuming both. If one only wants to eat the challa, one recites the bracha on the slice of challa.

What if you took a slice of bread into your hand before you began the bracha and a whole bun is then placed on the table?

In such a case one takes the whole bun together with the slice and recites the bracha on both. [10] If one already recited the bracha on the slice and then the bun was placed on the table, one first eats the slice on which the bracha was recited.

The Mishna Berura does not discuss a case where the whole bun was placed on the table during the recital of the bracha, but it would seem that in such a case one does not take the bun.

[1] Siman 211:1.

[2] See siman 168:1.

[3] MB siman 168:1.

[4] See siman 168 seif 1 and 4. In seif 4 and MB 13 it says spelt>rye/oats. Rye>oats.

[5] Rama siman 168:1.

[6] Siman 168:1 and MB 1-2.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Siman 168:2.

[9] MB siman 168:15.

[10] MB siman 168:1.


Vort on the Parsha

Avraham Avinu was told by Hashem to go to a foreign place, and this command is listed as one of the nisyonos. The question is that Avraham was promised many worldly rewards for this move (as evident from Rashi), so where was the huge nisayon?

The Slonimer Rebbe points us in the direction of the Ran who says in his drashos that the nisayon of Akeidas Yitzchak was the in the words , please sacrifice your son; you do not have to. It was Avrahams choice to do so to fulfill Hashems will even though he was not commanded to do so.

The possuk ' seems superfluous because we are told later that Avram went with his wife and nephew. The Slonimer Rebbe explains that this possuk is telling us that Avram went because Hashem told him to go and not for all the worldly pleasures he was promised. To totally dismiss the promises and to fulfill Hashems command without any trace of personal gain is the nisayon. This nisayon, says the Rebbe, is greater than Ur Kasdim, the furnace of Kasdim.


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