HaMotzi: Which Foods Get HaMotzi
Wash the One-Time Method and say ha’motzi on bread made of the Five Grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley, or spelt), even if you will not eat at least 1.3 fl. oz. (39 ml, or 1/6 cup) within four minutes.
Note: Say the blessing al netilat yadayim on washing hands ONLY if you will eat at least 1.9. fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread within four minutes.
Note: If you eat less than 1.3 fl. oz. of bread of the Five Grains, do not say birkat ha’mazon or any other after-blessing.
Fore-Blessing: Bread-Like Foods
To be halachically considered “bread,” the item must have been baked and have air holes in it. To determine whether a food made of the Five Grains qualifies as bread (ha’motzi) or mezonot (borei minei mezonot), decide whether the food had been made to be eaten as a meal or as a snack. If it was made to be:
Bread (that is, for a meal), say ha’motzi.
Mezonot (but you will eat a full meal), say ha’motzi.
A snack, say borei minei mezonot.
Note: Some foods may qualify as either ha’motzi or mezonot (such as pizza).
Note: If at least 20% of a bread’s flour is from one of the Five Grains, say a fore-blessing of ha’motzi on the bread (and birkat ha’mazon afterward, if you ate at least 1.3 fl. oz. within four minutes).
Note: Whether the bread/mezonot was made with fruit juice instead of water may not affect its blessing, since the blessing is determined by its intended use. Mezonot rolls on airline flights may still require the blessing of ha’motzi if you eat them as part of a meal.
Note: Since it does not have air holes, wheat tortillas get the blessing of mezonot and not ha’motzi.
Note: The fore-blessing on stuffing made of bread or a bread kugel is mezonot if none of the pieces are 1 fl. oz. or larger.
Situation: You will eat less than 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of pizza or other bread-like mezonot) within four minutes.
What To Do: Wash your hands using the One-Time Method, but do not say al netilat yadayim.
Then say borei minei mezonot.
For the fore-blessing on sprouted wheat bread, say:
Ha’motzi if the grains are more like wheat grains than sprouts.
Note: If the sprout still has any part of the original grain, excluding the husk, it is still considered to be grain and the fore-blessing is ha’motzi.
She’hakol if the grains were sprouted in water without soil.
Bread or cakes made of only rice flour may not be used for any meal requiring eating bread and saying birkat ha’mazon. The blessing is borei minei mezonot, not ha’motzi.
In a bread containing rice flour, if at least 20% of the flour is from one of the Five Grains, say the fore-blessing of ha’motzi (after-blessing: birkat ha’mazon).
In a cake containing mostly rice flour, if at least 20% of the flour is from one of the Five Grains, say a fore-blessing of borei minei mezonot (after-blessing: al ha’michya).
For the fore-blessing on cooked (but unbaked) dough, see Fore-Blessing: Cooked Dough/Pasta.
The fore-blessing on bulgur wheat (such as tabouli) is borei minei mezonot.
HaMotzi: Which Foods HaMotzi Covers
Ha’motzi always covers all food eaten as part of a meal, except wine and any non-mezonot desserts such as fruit, on all days (not just on Shabbat or Jewish festivals).
Non-mezonot dessert foods (which often have a sweet taste) are not normally eaten with bread. Say fore-blessings on desserts at a meal (for which you have already said ha’motzi and eaten bread) only on:
Fruit from “trees”(borei pri ha’eitz),
Fruit from the ground (borei pri ha’adama), such as melons and strawberries, and
Specialty items (she’hakol), such as ice cream.
HaMotzi: Washing Hands
Before eating bread, you must always wash your hands.
Note: If you do not plan to eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread within four minutes, wash but do not say the blessing al netilat yadayim.
To find water for washing hands before eating bread:
You must travel or walk up to 18 minutes away to find water.
If you are already traveling, you must continue up to 72 minutes (in the direction in which you are going anyway) to find water.
If you still cannot find water, cover your hands with any type of separation (gloves, sheet of plastic, bag, foil, or some other object) to keep your hands from directly contacting the bread.
Situation: You do not have a washing cup of at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) and you need to wash hands after sleeping or before eating bread.
Status: You may not substitute a smaller washing container (such as a 2 fl. oz./59 ml cup) and use it twice.
What To Do: You must travel up to 18 minutes away to get such a container when needed.
Note: If you have a spigot that is less than 12 inches above the ground, you may open the spigot and let at least 4 fl. oz. (119 ml) flow out, close the tap, reopen it, and repeat.
To wash for ha’motzi, use the One-Time Method, see How To Wash Hands the One-Time Method.
Situation: Someone who has not yet washed touches your hand after you have washed your hands, said al netilat yadayim, and dried your hands.
If his/her hand is dry, there is no problem of transferring impurity.
If his/her hand is wet, this may have transferred ritual impurity to your hand.
What To Do:
If his/her hand is wet, touch a normally covered part of your body and then rewash your hands and say the blessing on washing hands.
Note: If you have already said ha’motzi, don’t repeat the ha’motzi blessing.
Situation: You washed your hands in order to eat bread. You spoke before saying hamotzi.
What To Do: You do not need to wash your hands again.
You do not need to say the blessing on washing hands again.
Situation: You said ha’motzi without having washed your hands first.
What To Do: Up until the time you say birkat ha’mazon, you must interrupt your meal and wash your hands.
Note: Say al netilat yadayim ONLY if you will still eat at least 1.9 fl. oz. (56 ml) of bread afterward; if you will eat less than 1.9 fl. oz., wash without a blessing.
HaMotzi: Lifting the Bread
When saying ha’motzi, lift the bread when saying God’s name. This is a non-binding custom, not a halacha.
HaMotzi: Interrupted Meal/Hesech Da’at
Situation: You said ha’motzi, ate any amount of bread, interrupted your meal and forgot about it, and now wish to resume your meal and eat more bread.
What To Do: Wash your hands again and say the blessing on washing hands.
Note: There is no time limit for this; whenever you forget about the meal, you must rewash before eating more bread. However, you do not say ha’motzi if it is within the allowed time to say birkat ha’mazon.
For HaMotzi on Shabbat, see Shabbat: Two Loaves (Lechem Mishneh).
Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their web site for more information.
This material is provided for informational purposes only – not a substitute for the consultation of a competent rabbi.