Passover

The information below is only applicable for Passover 2020

On These Days & Nights Even the Brachos May Be Different

Rabbi Eli Gersten

ON PESACH WE ARE COMPELLED TO SIGNIFICANTLY MODIFY OUR DIETS. Although at times the foods we eat on Pesach will look similar to those we eat the rest of the year (and sometimes even share a similar name), the ingredients can be vastly different. We trade in our bread for matzah and we replace flour with potato starch, ground nuts, or matzah meal. Figuring out the correct bracha to say on these “different” foods can certainly be confusing. Below is a list of some common Pesach products and their associated brachot.

WHY IS MATZAH HAMOTZI?
ISN’T IT JUST A CRACKER AND AREN’T CRACKERS MEZONOT?

Crackers are in the category of “pas habah b’kisnin” (loosely translated—bread that is eaten as a snack). Since crackers are typically eaten as a snack and not as the staple of a meal, the bracha is mezonot. Although matzah is baked thin and crisp like a cracker, the bracha on matzah is haMotzi, since it is baked with the intention to be a replacement for bread. Among Sefardim there is a custom to only recite haMotzi on matzah during Pesach, when it is indeed eaten as a bread substitute. The rest of the year they recite mezonot. However, the practice of Ashkenazim is to always recite haMotzi on matzah.

WHAT BRACHA IS RECITED ON MATZAH CRACKERS?

 Matzah crackers are mezonot. They are baked
to be a snack, just like regular crackers.

WHAT BRACHA SHOULD BE SAID ON EGG MATZAH?

Egg matzah is also considered pas habah b’kisnin and is therefore mezonot. Although egg matzah looks like a regular matzah, it is made with fruit juice instead of water. Sefardim recite mezonot even on breads made with fruit juice, since they have a slightly sweet taste. Although the custom of Ashkenazim is to recite haMotzi on breads that contain fruit juice, unless they are very sweet like cake, Ashkenazim recite mezonot on matzah that is baked like a cracker.

However, if we eat a meal’s worth of egg matzah or two squares of egg matzah as part of a full meal, the bracha is haMotzi.

WHAT BRACHA IS RECITED ON GLUTEN-FREE OAT MATZAH?

HaMotzi. Because oats are one of the five leavenable grains.

WHAT BRACHA IS RECITED
ON GLUTEN-FREE MATZAH (THAT CONTAIN NO OATS)?

Shehakol. These crackers are made from tapioca and potato starch. Since they don’t contain any of the five grains their bracha is shehakol.

WHAT BRACHA IS SAID ON CHOCOLATE-COVERED MATZOT?

If the chocolate-covered matzah is made with regular matzah, the bracha is haMotzi. If it is made with egg matzah, the bracha is mezonot.

WHAT BRACHA IS SAID ON CHOCOLATE-COVERED
RAISINS OR ALMONDS?

This is a matter of dispute. Rav Moshe Feinstein ruled that both the chocolate and the fruit are equally important, and we must recite two brachot. First, we should recite ha’eitz on the raisin (or almond) and then shehakol on the chocolate.

Others rule that since there is no clear ikar (primary) ingredient, the bracha follows the majority ingredient—ha’eitz. Yet others rule that chocolate is definitely the ikar and only shehakol should be said.

MATZAH PIZZA?

haMotzi

WHAT BRACHA IS RECITED
ON MATZAH MEAL?

Matzah meal eaten plain is haMotzi even though it does not look like matzah.

WHAT BRACHA IS SAID ON CHICKEN SOUP WITH MATZAH FARFEL?

If matzah farfel is added to the soup when it is cooked in the pot (kli rishon), it becomes mezonot. If a lot of farfel was added, the bracha on the soup is mezonot. If only a small amount of farfel was added, then two brachot should be said: first a mezonoton the matzah farfel and then shehakol for the soup. If matzah farfel was added after cooking to the soup bowl (kli sheini), it remains haMotzi, unless the farfel begins to disintegrate and cloud the soup, at which point it becomes mezonot.

WHAT BRACHA IS SAID ON MATZAH FARFEL CEREAL
WITH MILK?

Matzah farfel is haMotzi. If matzah farfel is left to soak in milk until it begins to disintegrate and cloud the milk, it becomes mezonot. If some of the farfel is still intact, the bracha remains haMotzi.

WHAT BRACHA IS SAID
ON CHICKEN SOUP WITH A KNEIDEL (MATZAH BALL)?

When eating chicken soup with a kneidel two brachot should be said: first a mezonot on the kneidel and then shehakol for the soup.

MATZAH BREI (FRIED
MATZAH WITH EGG)?

Pieces of matzah that are smaller than a k’zayit (see chart on page 14) that are coated in egg and fried will become mezonotonce they are no longer distinguishable as matzah. If the matzah brei still has the appearance of matzah, the Mishnah Brurah writes that there is
an uncertainty regarding the bracha.
Therefore, haMotzi should be recited on another matzah. If the pieces of matzah are larger than a k’zayit, the bracha remains haMotzi, even if it is no longer recognizable as matzah.

MATZAH LASAGNA?

If the pieces of matzah are larger than a k’zayit, the bracha is haMotzi. If every
piece is smaller than a k’zayit then it is mezonot.

POTATO STARCH CAKE/COOKIES?

Shehakol.

MATZAH MEAL CAKE/COOKIES?

Mezonot.

MATZAH MEAL ROLL/BREAD?

HaMotzi.

QUINOA?

Cooked Quinoa is ha’adama. Cakes made with quinoa flour are shehakol.

MACAROONS?

Macaroons are made primarily from coconut. If the pieces of coconut are still visible the bracha is ha’eitz. Macaroons made from coconut paste or ground almonds (where the nuts are not visible) are shehakol.

QUICK RULES FOR BRACHOT

HAMOTZI – Bread made from the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats) for which Eretz Yisrael is praised.

MEZONOT – Cooked or baked items made from the five grains that are
not bread, and rice.

HA’GAFEN – Recited on wine and grape juice.

HA’EITZ – Recited on fruit and nuts that grow on trees.

HA’ADAMA – Recited on vegetables and fruit that grow from the ground.

SHEHAKOL – All other foods such as meat, fish, and eggs. Also, drinks or fruits and vegetables that are ground up and thus change their appearance.

COMMON BRACHA TERMS

IKAR V’TAFEL (Primary and secondary): When there is a mixture of foods with different brachot that are eaten together as one food, only one bracha is recited. The bracha is determined based on the primary ingredient. If the primary ingredient
cannot be determined, the bracha follows the majority.

KOL SHEYEISH BO: This rule states that if a mixture of foods contains mezonot (from the five grains) that were added to satiate or to give taste, then the mezonot is always primary.

PAS HABAH B’KISNIN: Crackers, cakes, and pies are mezonot because they are typically eaten as a snack. However, if we eat
a full meal of these items, the bracha switches to haMotzi.

TO’AR LECHEM (lit. shape of the bread): The bracha on
bread will remain haMotzi unless it loses its shape in a meaningful way. Bread crumbs remain haMotzi (they are just small pieces of bread). However, if small pieces of bread are cooked or colored or otherwise no longer recognizable as bread, then they are mezonot.

Rabbi Eli Gersten

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