In this article, we will iy”h, focus upon some general aspects of “pas”. We will see that Pas has a unique status in the Halacha because of its chashivus. This involves numerous halachos of Orach Chayim, and Yoreh Deah. Foods made from the chameishas minei dagan, the following five types of grain, have a special significance in the halacha. They are: Chita, Seora, Kusemes, Shipun, and Shibboles Shual. Wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and oats. Bread made from these minim exclusively, has been assigned by chazal the special status of lechem. The Tur notes that this is because they have been singled out in the Torah among the minim produce for which Eretz Yisrael has been praised. The passuk in Devarim 8,8 states Eretz Chita Useorah Vegefen Vereon Eretz Zais Shemen Udvash. Chita and se’orah are the main types encompassing all of the rest.
This special status has ramifications in a myriad halachos. Let us look into a few of them. In Hilchos Brachos, they are on top of the hierarchy of the halachic food chain, if you will. When baked they require the special bracha of mezonnos before and the full bracha achrona of al hamichya afterwards. Of course if baked in the tzurah of pas they have the highest distinction of requiring netilas yadayim washing and the super bracha of hamotzi before eating and followed by the full birchas hamazon. Because of their special Chashivus, they are an exception to a general rule in hilchos brachos. If two foods with different brachos are consumed at the same time the din is that one of the foods is deemed as ikkar the main component by virtue of its quantity and desirability. A bracha is made on the ikkar and there is no need for a bracha on the tafel the minor component. However, if the tafel the so called minor component is comprised of the five minim and is present for food purposes (not merely as a binding agent) then it does require its own bracha: The five minim due to their special significance can never be deemed as tafel as minor and will be by definition deemed as the ikkar and need their own bracha. The other component is deemed as the tafel.
Lechem made from the chameishas minei dagan has halachic significance regarding seudos mitzvah as well. Seudos Mitzvah for example the required meals on Shabbos, Yom tov and other occasions require the inclusion of lechem as part of the fulfillment of the mitzvah. Chazal, apparently viewed the seudah as incomplete without being enhanced by the presence of lechem. There is a question in the Poskim regarding seudas Purim. The Magen Avraham rules that Pas is not required. Many later Poskim disagree and require Pas.
Their special status is quite apparent on Pesach as well. If dough made from these five minim becomes leavened before baking then it becomes chametz and is subject to the most severe onesh of kareis if consumed on Pesach willingly. There are other foods that are forbidden to eat on Pesach, to be sure either middrabanan or based upon minhag, for example kitniyos (legumes), but only these can become chametz middrabanan. Conversely under the proper shmirah (watching), only the five minim may be used, to fulfill the mitzvah of achilas matzah on Pesach.
These five minim come to play regarding Hafrashas Challah as well. There is a mitzvah min hatorah to separate challah from lisha: dough and give it to the Kohen. (as the torah states reishis arisoseichem) lisha is defined as “blila avah” a thick dough. In instances such as sponge cake which is blilla racha a loose batter challah is taken after afiyah baking. This special mitzvah applies only to the dough kneaded of flour from these special five minim. This halacha applies min hatorah only in Eretz Yisrael like the other mitzvohs hatluyos baaretz: special laws applicable to produce of Eretz Yisrael. However, mi’drabbanan there is a chiyuv of challah even in today’s times and even outside of Eretz Yisrael. It is for this reason that kashrus agencies here as well as the consumer have to make sure that challah is appropriately separated. Why did the Rabbonon decree an obligation of challah separation outside of Eretz Yisrael? There is no such requirement for teruma ,shmita and the other mitzvos hatlyuos baaretz? The Shulchan Aruch based upon the Rambam says that otherwise somehow the laws of challah would be forgotten. Tosfos in Kiddushin answers differently. Challah looks like and resembles a mitzvah upon the person and not like a land oriented mitzvah because although it applies only to the grains of Eretz Yisrael the obligation does not take place in the field but rather later at the time that the dough is kneaded in the home. Therefore the Rabbonon were able to institute it outside of Eretz Yisrael as well. Hagaon Reb Moshe Feinstein Ztl, in his sefer on chumash, notes other unique aspects of Challah. Challah took effect immediately upon entry into Eretz Yisrael as opposed to Truma for example which took effect only after the fourteen years of conquest and distribution of Eretz Yisrael. The Midrash Tanchuma assigns a special role to women in the performance of this mitzvah. The Navi Yechezkel, indicates that this mitzvah results in bringing bracha to the home. Based upon his comments we may say that challah is unique because it has to be taken and given away from the staple food: bread dough that you have worked so diligently for planting the seeds reaping making it into flour and finally kneading into dough. You are now ready to partake and benefit from all of your toil and serve your family. First says the Torah give away a part to the Kohain to tzedakah. The mishpachas Yisrael is taught that before it may take and partake it must first give to others. This is a crucial mitzvah in the proper chinuch of the beis yehudi. For this reason immediately upon entry into Eretz Yisrael it took affect. The woman as akkeres habayis therefore has a special role to play in this chinuch-oriented mitzvah. It therefore brings Bracha to the home. Perhaps we may add that for this reason the Rabbonon sought fit to institute it in Chutz la’aretz as well.
It is interesting to note that there is another area in halacha where the chameishas minai dagan become relevant specifically from the time of lisha. There is an issur mi’drabbonon of kneading and baking dairy bread (fleishig as well is assur). See Yoreh Deah 97. We have already noted the special place bread has in a seudah. The seudah commonly was eaten with either meat or milk. Therefore the rabbonon prohibited the lisha and affiyah of dairy or fleishig bread lest it be eaten at the meal. Bread was the major part of a seudah; indeed poskim based upon the pasuk in Devarim state that lechem, in particular, was assered ki al halechem yiche haadam. (There are other dinim that are particular to lechem based upon this passuk see Yoreh Deah 87 and 114.)
These five minim have a special status regarding the issur mi’drobonon of bishul akum as well. There was an accepted issur middrabbonon of bishul akum regarding cooked food. This issur was never fully accepted by klal Yisrael nor instituted regarding PAS because such items were deemed chayei nefesh foods vital to subsistence. Nevertheless in many mekomos places the issur is accepted and practiced. It is less restrictive than the issur of bishul Akum to be sure and has its own set of halachic rules and guidelines. Many mekomos however have accepted the heter of Pas Palter as brought in the shulchan aruch. Pas palter refers to commercially baked bread items made of the five minim for which the bracha is hamotzi if one would be koveah seudah on them. What you may wonder is the status of bagels which are boiled and baked? Bagels are Pas and not bishul even though they are put in boiling water. This is actually addressed by Hagaon Reb Moshe Feinstein zt”l in Iggros Moshe YD 2 The bagels are baked and hence Pas. The dough is put in boiling water for a short period of time not to cook but in order to give it its unique chewy texture that bagel connoisseurs have come to love. Doughnuts on the other hand are only fried in oil and not baked and therefore are not Pas but rather bishul.
In order to certify a product as Pas Yisrael a rigorous standard of supervision must be adhered to in order to ensure that it is Pas Yisrael according to the Halacha. The nature of industrial baking its complex facilities and the fact that hashgacha temidis is not always the situation makes Pas Yisrael certification a challenge but one that can be met. This challenge is met by most accepted kashrus certified agencies by having one of the following basic conditions satisfied.
1. A mashgiach or other Yisrael actually lights the fire of the oven. this often is not an option.
2. Pilot Light: A pilot light is put on and secured by the mashgiach. The source of the fire of the oven is this lit pilot light.Halachically this is deemed aish meieish. There are two practical considerations that need to be dealt with if using this method. There need to be safeguards implemented to make sure that the pilot remains on. In addition, the pilot should be turned off and relit periodically and regularly by the mashgiach. This is not practical in many situations today because many ovens now are not gas lit but rather electronic and therefore do not have pilots.
3. The mashgiach lights the actual fire of the oven and it always remains on. The company may reduce the temperature for example if the company bakes at let us say 350°F then its temperature may be lowered but not turned off. It must remain on at a minimum agreed upon temperature at which the fire of the oven can bake. At this temperature the eish of the Yisrael is still extant. Again safeguards and careful systems must be implemented to ensure that the oven never drops below the required temperature.
4. A computer phone system has been devised that would be acceptable l’halacha even for the more stringent din of Bishul Yisrael. A machine is installed in the factory which enables the mashgiach outside of the plant to by remote control by entering special designated codes in a touch-tone phone to actually put on the oven. It cannot be diverted. The Gedolei HaPoskim have endorsed this system wholeheartedly.
There are cases where Pas Yisroel derives not from Hilchos Yoreh Deiah by rather from Orach Chayim. The Poskim bring in the beginning of Hilchos Shabbos that even those who eat Pas Palter during the week should be Machmir to eat only Pas Yisroel on shabbos because of Kvod Shabbos. There is a divergence of opinion whether this refers only to the Lechamim upon which Kiddush is made or to all Lechem bread eaten during the seudos of shabbos. We have already seen that the chashivus/ importance of Lechem enhances seudah. Kvod Shabbos is even further enhanced by Lechem which is Pas Yisroel. (The Poskim also cite the recommendation that the woman actually bake the Shabbos Challos herself on Erev Shabbos for the following reason mentioned by Rashi in Massechta shabbos based upon a medrash in Bereishis. She should make challah in order to fulfill the mitzvah of separating the challah portion, through which she so to speak makes up for Chava’s woman’s sin of persuading Adam to sin which led to Adam losing his immortality. Adam was referred to as challaso shel olam first separation by Hashem from the Adamah she was meabedes challaso shel olam. This of course would be an additional reason besides the one that we mentioned earlier for the woman’s special role in hafrashas challah.)
In the Halachos of Aseres Yemei Teshuva the Shulchan Aruch cites a ruling with its source actually a Yerushalmi that even those who are not in nizhar in pas yisroel during the year should be nizhar during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva ten days of repentance. Sefarim explain that during this special period of time, of closeness to Hashem, we beseech Hakadosh Baruch Hu to bestow chessed and rachamim upon us and it is thus behooves us to act with more chassidus and attempt to be more nizhar in our Avodas Hashem.
It should be understood that while this particular chumra was certainly brought in the shulchan aruch, we need not limit our extra zehirus to pas yisroel alone. Indeed, Poskim explicitly state that it is most important to be extra nizhar and mehader in the area of bein adam lechaveiro during this special period of time. We certainly should make an effort to be machmir and zahir in our speech. Chazal have shown us the critical connection of zehirus from maacholos assuros to our spiritual well being. Consumption of non kosher food is metamtem es halev damages us. A topic receiving much attention today is children off the Derech. It is interesting to note that The Pri Chadash, already about 250 years ago writes that in his time, the reason, that there were so many young people that have gone letarbus raah is because they were not zahir in non kosher food in their youth. Similarly, improper, speech is detrimental to our spiritual well being. The pasuk states mi haish hechafetz chaim ohaiv yamim liros tov netzor leshoncha mara usefasecha middaber mirma. Our chayim ruchniyim depends upon our maintaining proper speech.
Indeed the only mention of the singular word kasher in tanach is in megilas esther when esther tells Achashverosh: vecasher hadavar the matter is proper. In lashon hakodesh davar is in the same shoresh as dibbur which means speech. (See Pninim mishulchan Hagra on Devarim 23:10) Our food must be kasher our speech must be kasher as well. What goes into our mouths and what goes out of our mouths must be kasher proper and up to the highest standards. Be”h, we should all be worthy to be able to say about our mouths in entry as well as in exit vekasher hadavar.