Bracha on Wraps

QUESTION: I have frequently been asked the appropriate Bracha to be recited before eating a wrap. For the uninitiated, a wrap is a thin piece of dough wrapped around a filler; which may be tuna, cheese, salad or anything else conceivable.

ANSWER: As background, it must be clarified that there are three basic categories of grain based foods.

1)      Bread. Bread products are designed to be eaten as a staple food and are always HaMotzi.

2)      The other extreme are products that are never HaMotzi, always Mezonos. This includes noodles, oatmeal and other items that have no similarity to bread.

3)      The most difficult category to define is called Pas HaBa’ah b’Kisnin. The most accurate description of this category would be foods that bear a resemblance to bread, but are designated as something other than a staple food. This describes most cakes and pastries, as well as crackers and pretzels. Halacha prescribes that these foods are generally Mezonos, unless a significant enough quantity has been consumed that would generally constitute a meal. The big “Mezonos roll debate” revolves around the precise definition of this group, and may be the topic of a future discussion.

At first glance, a wrap would seem to be very similar to a Lafa/Eish Tanur, which is essentially a wide, pocket-less pita. Both are thin doughs that are designed to be filled for a sandwich-like meal. This would unquestionably render it a bread product, which is certainly HaMotzi. This is the position of HaRav Belsky Shlita.

However, other Poskim suggest that the extreme thinness of a wrap makes it more similar to a crepe or blintz shell, which are category #2 and Mezonos. Besides the fact that the crepe and blintz are both made from a fluid batter, the Achronim cite their lack of body as denying them “Tzuras HaPas” or “Turisa d’Nahama,” the Hebrew and Aramaic terms respectively for the “appearance of bread.” While the precise definition of this term is very elusive, it seems that it is a prerequisite to be considered a bread product. Therefore, if a wrap lacks this “appearance,” it may be ejected from the #1 classification. This is the position of HaRav Bodner and others.

A problem with this viewpoint is that there are minimal sources for downgrading a pastry manufactured from a viscous dough based on its appearance. Almost all the authorities who discuss the topic are exclusively relating to a batter.  While a liquid batter that is baked becomes HaMotzi, this upgrade requires “Tzuras HaPas.” It is questionable if we can downgrade a dough based solely on its thin look.

Furthermore, no one can say with certainty what exactly defines the “appearance of bread”; however, it seems that Matza and Lafa have it. While it is true that the Poskim do mention a degree of thickness as one of the factors, to say that a wrap has crossed the invisible line that divides them is a judgment call.

Additionally, those who allow making Mezonos on a wrap generally take into account these factors and rule it a category 3 rather than a 2. So if you are eating a wrap for lunch, it is likely that you would have to say HaMotzi on it, even if it is not a pure bread. Since it is eaten as a meal, and together with the side dishes is a significant quantity, it is raised to the status of a HaMotzi product.

In conclusion, while it would be ideal to make HaMotzi on a piece of regular bread first, in my opinion a wrap always requires a Bracha of HaMotzi and one should not say Mezonos on it. However, if one did say Mezonos, the Poskim conclude that he has fulfilled his obligation ex post facto, even if it was the incorrect Bracha.

43 thoughts on “Bracha on Wraps

  1. I am thrilled to see your limitation of תוריתא דנהמא. When learning ברכות i had this very הערה on all the “books,” ( I would scream bread is bread it doesn’t need to look like it) but could not find any explicit source to back me up. (I actually remember finding a דרכי משה that maybe was משמע there is a requirement of תוריתא דנהמא i’ll have to look for it) וזאת הברה quoted Reb Elyashiv that bran flakes are פת הבאה בכיסנין. Rabbi Bodner’s son showed Reb Elyashiv a wrap and he said it did not have תוריתא דנהמא but Reb Elyashiv didn’t say if it was relevent. (Rabbi Bodner לשיטתו got all the info he needed) Any more מראה מקומות would be appreciated.

      • He’s not discussing tzuras pas.

        That is by terisa.

        He’s discussing if it’s pas shekovin alav or lachmaniyos – which has a din pas habah bikisnin.

        There are two shaalos:
        1) is wraps lachmaniyos, and mezonos, and hamotzi when eaten bekvius.
        Aruch Hashulchan holds it’s at the best lachmaniyos, for sure not lechem gamur.

        2) is wrap terisa (shu”a 168 -15) no turisa denahama, and mezonos always.
        R Elyashiv holds it’s terisa

    • I just came upon your discussion of the bracah on a wrap. I just would like to question one point: You conclude that mezonos “b’dieved” fulfills ones obligation.
      What about the after bracha. If it really was bread &required Birchas Hamazon it is a matter of dispute if Al Ha’Michyah” is valid even b’dieved. I got a pasuk from Rav Bick that if one by mistake made al hamichayah instead of Birchas HaMazon by a bread meal it is not valid and he still must bentch. Are there other views on this point?

    • The shulchan aruch says 168 – 15 says that “terisa” is always mezonos, because it;s very thin and has no toras lechem.

      The question is if that’s only on a very thin belila racha or even a very thin belilah avah.

      Rav Elyashiv was saying that the thinness alone causes the no turisa denahama.

    • In 168:29 the Aruch HaShulchan writes that Tosafos and the Rosh understand אובליאוש to be בלילה עבה. In 168:30 he is bothered that ניליש/נאלסינקי, which is בלילה רכה, it not “לחם כלל” because it is very thin. He continues that when it is rolled extremely thin, פשר even Tosafos and the Rosh would concede. He is referring to their Shitta mentioned previously relevant to בלילה עבה and apparently understands that very thin would help even in that case.

  2. I heard also mezonos in the name of Rabbi Belsky but I don’t undertand the reason you gave that it turns Hamotzi to Mezonos. If the whole purpose is just to hold the food (which is hard to hear) It should have no ברכה. Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst I know said it is המוציא.

    • I agree with you, if we would somehow classify the wrap as a טפל המשמש, it should have no Bracha. This is almost certainly not true, as it would also eliminate the Beracha of HaMotzi from all sandwiches.
      I’m not sure which reason I gave is difficult to understand. If you are referring to the lack of Tzuras HaPas, that is clearly on the assumption that the wrap is a significant part of the food and not a טפל.

  3. Thank you for this useful and informative post. (I came across it on LinkedIn.)

    I would just make two comments, neither of which really affects the substance of your post (although the second could possibly be relevant)

    1. You wrote, “Halacha proscribes that these foods are generally Mezonos…”

    The word “proscribe” means “to forbid.” I suspect you intended to use the word “prescribe”, which, while rather clumsy sounding, would be technically accurate.

    2. You wrote, ““Tzuras HaPas” or “Turisa d’Nahama,” the Hebrew and Aramaic terms respectively for the “appearance of bread.””

    “Tzura” does not mean appearance, it means “form”. “Tzuras HaPas” refers to the “form” of bread. The concept of “tzuras hapas” assumes that there is a conventional form (or range of forms) that can legitimately be called bread, and something that is outside of the range is not bread, regardless of the ingredients and how it was made.

    The error of translating “tzura” as “appearance” becomes clear in your sentence in the next paragraph, “It is questionable if we can downgrade a dough based solely on its thin look.” Of course, the issue here isn’t that the dough “looks” thin, the issue is that it actually IS thin.

    The underlying concept is that there exists a conceptual category that we call “bread”, and this category is used to group together a wide range of distinct physical items. The category of bread, in of itself, does not exist in the physical world. It exists only in our minds. This is why it is so difficult to give an absolutely precise definition of the “tzura” of bread.

    • Thank you very much for taking the time and interest to read my post so carefully.
      You are correct about proscribe/prescribe, it was a typo and I have corrected it.
      An item’s “form” is one of the multiple aspects that comprise its “appearance”. I don’t see any significant distinction between the terms. Your description of the ”concept” of bread is very poetic, but I’m not sure what the point is.

    • Thank you for the reference.
      However, I must disagree with them on two main points.
      First of all, wraps are NOT made from a liquid batter; they originate as a solid dough which is rolled very thin.
      Secondly, the wraps I am familiar with are not “snack-like”, they are a meal. Unless you are going to call every tuna sandwich “snack-like”, I don’t understand their choice of classification.

  4. I would like to ask Rabbi Moncharsh regarding Chinese Pancakes, these are very similar to wraps and not a Blila Daka. They are marketed as Crispy Duck pancakes and the usual method of serving them is to fry them with a filling like duck, but they are essentially wraps. I quote from one of my reports on a company that produces them where I discuss the exact method of production

    “The product is baked for 10 seconds on a high heat, actually the oven is divided into 4 zones with the maximum temperature being 330°C. the dough is a regular dough not a בלילה דקה and when it is finished is essentially a finished product. But it is frozen and stored, and prior to use needs steaming for 20 secs or microwave for 10 secs to make it palatable. I asked what would happen if it was only baked for 5 secs in the oven, the reply being that it can be done, and the product could be cut and processed the same way, but would need about 40 seconds in the steamer or 20 seconds in microwave. This leads me to conclude that the steaming process is actually part of the finishing of the product, and therefore is משביח the product so its גמר is done by a ישראל and should not be an issue of פת פלטר . as far as the brocha is concerned these wraps are usually fried with something in them so should be מזונות .”

    Will be very interested to hear your response!

  5. Rabbi Eckstein: First of all, I agree with your assessment regarding Pas Palter. Since the product apparently improves significantly with the steaming, the Halacha of Shulchan Aruch YD 112:12 should apply to permit it. I would just point out that when I Googled “Crispy Duck Pancake”, many of the home recipes call for only frying the dough, without any baking. If a company would do that commercially, it could be a much more serious issue of Bishul Akum.

    However, I’m not convinced that they should become Mezonos because they are fried filled.
    Frying by itself will not covert an already Hamotzi product into Mezonos since the unit is larger than a Kezayis and retains its Tzuras Pas as per Shulchan Aruch OC 168:10. The Halacha of Seif 13 that a fried Blila Ava is Mezonos is also not relevant since it was previously baked.
    While dough that is filled with a sweet filling that renders it a desert is one of the categories of Pas HaBa’ah b’Kisnin (though if eaten in significant quantities will require HaMotzi anyways), the Magen Avraham 168§44 interprets the Shulchan Aruch there Seif 17 as differentiating when it is filled with fish or meat. Though the Taz disagrees, the majority of Poskim agree with the Magen Avraham.
    Consequently, it seems to me that a Chinese Pancake filled with duck or other meat should be HaMotzi.
    Furthermore, since it was already completely baked before frying it with the filling, it already attained the Beracha of HaMotzi. I don’t see that the subsequent filling will detract from that. It should be no different than a sandwich maker that toasts bread with cheese etc.

    • Thanks very much, however I apparently didnt make it clear. This particular product is semi-finished, it is not completely baked and is not really ראוי לאכילה. The process I describe that brought to the conclusion that there is no shaalo of pas palter, (which was agreed by our dayonim) is the fact that it is not fully baked. I am not even convinced that they are a kzayis they are pretty small and very thin, but will not concentrate on this point. The product is marketed as Crispy Duck pancake, but is in an unfinished state and is sold frozen. the end user can then either finish off the process by steaming or microwave or frying. if the baking process is completed by steaming or microwave, this may possibly be considered as regular hamoitzi if it is a kezayis, but if the process is completed by frying (the filling would be immaterial) then it may come into the category of pretzels or crackers and was never hamoitzy.

  6. I was under the impression that other than Matzo, for it to be pas/lechem it had to be a regular yeast dough. It is also my understanding that if, for instance, you make a babka, and use apple juice in it, then it becomes Mezonos, not Motzi. I am very open to your corrections of my misunderstandings.

    • Jaron: The yeast is not an important factor in the Beracha of HaMotzi. I suspect you have that impression because one of the categories of Pas HaBa’ah b’Kisnin, which is Mezonos when eaten in small quantities, is thin crackers. In fact, many Sefardim have the Minhag to make Mezonos on Matza, except during Pesach. However, the truth is that yeast is not essential.
      A babka IS Mezonos as you stated. The reason is because it is a sweet desert rather than a dietary staple. This is another of the three types of Pas HaBa’ah b’Kisnin. Here too, if one consumes a significant quantity, HaMotzi would be required.

      • Rabbi Moncharsh, thank you for teaching me. I am aware that if mezonos becomes large enough to serve as if it’s a meal, it becomes motzi. Back in the days of airline meals (remember those?) there was always a card in the tray that said the roll is mezonos, but you should still wash, make motzi and bentsch…

  7. From your conclusion and your comments you make it seem as if the Aruch Hashulchan’s ha’arah in Tosafos and the Rosh is somehow weak. This would therefore make it seem as if it is a weak position to say that the din of “dak dak” or valfelatkes applies to a blilah avah. Hence you say wraps are basically just bread. You give some kavod to those who say it is pas habo bkisnin but don’t agree. How do you deal with the point brought by the Aruch Hashulchan. What alternative derech are you offering in the sugyah itself. Furthermore you mention that even according to those who say it is pas habo bkisnin if you eat the wrap “for lunch” then it is hamotzi anyway. Pardon me but the din if pas habo bkisnin is not talui in what meal but rather the amount you are eating as I know you are aware. What wrap is three to four beitzim ? And if you go with the bigger shiur what meal of wraps would amount to that amount of pas? We can talk about tziruf but that wasn’t even addressed in your psak. Therefore your conclusion is strange to me. You were tofes a shitah that seems to have no foundation in the sugyah. You were also magdir the “other shitah” in a way which makes no real sense. My suggestion would be to say that really based on the sugyah wraps made from a blilah Ava (which FYI are made by pressing them in between two very hot metal disks) are not bread mamash. Or at least explain your reasoning why you think most poskim would hold that dak dak doesn’t apply to blilah ava. You can express reservations within the other shitah about making a mezonos on them if you want but not based on the fact that you are eating it for lunch. You need to mention the shiur.

    • I think the fact that all of the Poskim prior to the Aruch HaShulchan limit the effect of lacking Tzuras HaPas to Blila Raka is very telling. How would you propose to make this diyuk “nidche easily”?
      It is clearly evident from Siman 168:13-14 that a Blila Raka is intrinsically not HaMotzi and requires baking to upgrade its status. In order to create this shift, it is necessary to acquire Tzuras HaPas. However, a Blila Avah is already Pas and does not need the Tzura.
      Also, no one has conclusively demonstrated that wraps do not have Tzuras HaPas. I haven’t heard anyone question the Beracha on a lafa.
      Actually, I did mention Tziruf “Since it is eaten as a meal, and together with the side dishes is a significant quantity, it is raised to the status of a HaMotzi product”. Furthermore, 3-4 Beitzim is not the true Shiur. The Halacha is that whatever is commonly a full meal requires HaMotzi. All of the wraps I have seen clearly fit this description.
      Can you explain how your interpretation is “based on the sugya”? How would you be magdir your Shita?

      • The diyuk is nidche easily because it only proves the converse, that Blilah Rakah is intrinsically not hamotzi. It doesn’t prove that Blilah Avah is automatically hamotzi. For that you need poskim to write explicitly that Blilah ava is automatically hamotzi which it isn’t. It depends what you do with the dough. Lets take “kechim yeveishim” a case where a Blilah Ava is made and baked but the result is a brittle cracker. The bracha is mezonos. Let’s also take sufganiyos for example. Once deep fried in oil their bracha is mezonos. They still have tzuras hapas. I am glazing over the immense amount of detail and big machlokesim in the sugyah of techilaso isah vesofo sufganin, but the point is still true. The fact that something had tzuras hapas from beginning to end doesn’t mean that the bracha is automatically hamotzi. It depends on exactly what you do with the dough. Furthermore, I have yet to hear from any world class authority the exact geder of tzuras hapas. Everyone just claims to have a sense for what it is. That is very much not in line with the immense degree of precision we normally utilize in the halachik process. I find it difficult to build a reliable proof on something that pivots entirely on that detail. Furthermore, I am pretty sure you are trying to compare wraps with lafa which I think is just a mistake. There is no camparison. It may be true that as a rule of thumb Blilah Raka lends itself to become mezonos and Blilah Ava lends itself to become lechem but it isn’t an iron clad rule. The bottom line is it depends what you do with the dough. And it depends on how people relate to it. I have never seen anyone pick up a wrap and eat it by itself (something that we could never say about actual lechem certainly not about layout). That should tell you something about the nature of a wrap being entirely changed and not “lechem Gamur”. Granted that 3-4 beitzim isn’t necessarily a relevant Shiur. And granted that the rules of tziruf apply at least according to Ashkenazim…but You claim every wrap you have seen is a full meal. That is at the very least dependent on the cultural realities of how much volume people eat in a meal. One wrap may be a meal for one type of person but it is a stretch to say that one wrap is a meal in any culture. The places I am familiar with would not consider one wrap a full meal even when filled.

        • First of all, thank you very much for taking the interest to read what I wrote and formulate a detailed and intelligent comment.
          Regarding your main point, I never claimed that belilah avah is always hamotzi; as you pointed out it clearly isn’t. What I DID write is that we never find a belilah avah losing its status as hamotzi due to a lack of tzuras hapas, rather we only find it losing this due to being fried, ke’achim yeveishim etc. I think this remains a very strong point and nothing you wrote contradicts this. Therefore, I stand by what I wrote that it would be very difficult to downgrade a wrap from being pas gamur based solely upon a supposed lack of tzuras hapas.
          You mentioned in passing that it would be a mistake to equate a wrap to a lafa, could you please elaborate on this statement.
          Also, I didn’t say that a wrap is a “full” meal, just that it is eaten as part of a meal not a snack and certainly not as a dessert. This again clearly indicates that is is true pas and not pas haba’ah b’kisnin.

  8. In your conclusion and comments it seems clear that you feel the Aruch Hashulchan’s position within Tosafos and the Rosh that the din of “dak vkalsuh” applies to blilah ava is weak. You don’t offer any other approach in the sugyah though. You seem to assume that since the din of “valfelatkes” is generally described by the poskim as a bli raka therefore it can only apply to raka. Sorry but in light of no alternative to the Aruch Hashulchan, and a diyuk that could be nidche easily, I don’t see where your confidence is coming from to say that a wrap is just bread and therefore requires hamotzi on even on bite. Saying to wash on bread is an eitzah but….also you are magdir

  9. Rav Moncharsh, עמו”ש

    Thank you for your interesting article.

    Why do you think it was first the ערוך השלחן who has an issue if תאר לחם on a בלילה רכה? We say מזונות on kneidlach, although it’s original state was בלילה עבה. Starting without aתאר לחם could only be worse.

    Also, the רמ”א needs to state that פשטידה and קרעפלאך have תאר לחם; obviously, some בלילה עבה items don’t have תאר לחם, or he would not have had to specify.

    Again, יישר כחך.

  10. Thank you for your thorough discussion on the topic. In regards to your reservation with the Aruch Hashulchan it should be noted that more recently the Minchas Yitchak also made this distinction regarding wraps in חלק א סי׳ יא אות ו

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