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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays Hanukkah

Of Donuts

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Question #1: Challah on donuts

"Is there a requirement to separate challah from donuts?"

Question #2: Frum cousin
"I have noticed that a cousin of mine eats donuts only as part of a meal. Is there a halachic basis for his practice?"

Question #3: Holy bagels
"May I use bagels for lechem mishneh on Shabbos?"

Question #4: Hamotzi while traveling
"I will be spending Shabbos in a place where there is no kosher prepared food. I will have access to a grill, but no other cooking facilities. If I bake small loaves of bread in a pan on top of the grill, will that qualify as hamotzi for the seudos of Shabbos?"

Question #5: Waffling along
"A friend of mine just purchased a factory that manufactures waffles. Does he need to have challah taken? The factory is located in a rural area, where there is no Jewish population."

Introduction:
There is a widespread practice of preparing and serving donuts on Chanukah, notwithstanding that most of us would be better off if we consumed only the holes. (Of course, the Israeli version is hole-less, which precludes this solution. I presume that the holiness of the Land is used to compensate.) The oil in the donuts is to remind us of the miracle that occurred when one day’s supply of oil for the menorah in the Beis Hamikdash burnt for eight days. (Perhaps we are hoping for a reverse of this miracle – that the weight gain from consuming donuts for eight days should disappear in one day. After all, Beis Shammai is of the opinion that we reduce the number of lights kindled through Chanukah.)

To understand the issues raised by our opening questions, we must delve into the issue of the definition of bread, particularly for the three different mitzvos mentioned: the separating of challah, the brochah of hamotzi, and the fulfillment of lechem mishneh, having two loaves at the Shabbos repasts. (Please note: This entire article will use the word challah to refer to the Torah’s mitzvah of setting aside a sample of dough to be given to a kohen, or to be burnt if the dough is tamei. I am not referring to the unique bread that is customarily served at Shabbos and Yom Tov meals, which has come to be called challah, although this is, technically, a misnomer.)

Separating challah
We will begin our discussion with the laws of challah taking, since this will make it easier to present the halachic literature on the other topics.

The Torah describes the mitzvah of challah in the following passage:
When you enter the land to which I am bringing you, it will be that, when you eat from the bread of the land, you shall separate a terumah offering for G-d. The first dough of your kneading troughs shall be separated as challah, like the terumah of your grain shall you separate it (Bamidbar 15:18-20).

The Torah requires challah to be taken from your kneading troughs, from which we derive that there is no requirement to separate challah, unless there is as much dough as the amount of manna eaten daily by each member of the Jewish people in the desert. Chazal explain that this amount, called ke’shiur isas midbar, was equal to the volume of 43.2 eggs. In contemporary measure, we usually assume that this is approximately three to five pounds of flour. (For our purposes, it will suffice to use these round figures. I encourage each reader to ask his own rav or posek for exact quantities.)

The requirement to separate challah depends on the ownership of the dough at the time it is mixed, not on who mixes it. In other words, if a Jew owns a bakery, there is a requirement to separate challah, even if his workers are not Jewish. Similarly, if a gentile does the kneading in a Jewish-owned household, nursing home or school, one must separate challah. And, conversely, there is no requirement to separate challah at a bakery owned by non-Jews even if the employees are Jewish.

When there is a definite requirement to separate challah, one recites a brochah prior to fulfilling the mitzvah. As with all blessings on mitzvos, the brochah begins Baruch atoh Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam asher kideshanu bemitzvosav vetzivanu. There are different opinions and customs as to the exact text used in concluding this brochah. Among the versions I have seen: Some conclude lehafrish terumah, others lehafrish challah, and still others lehafrish challah min ha’isa.

Getting battered
Is there a requirement to separate challah when one is mixing a batter, as opposed to dough? The answer to this question is that it depends. When the finished product is baked in an oven, there is a requirement to separate challah, whether or not it was originally dough or a batter (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 329:2). Similarly, dough or a batter baked in a frying pan or a "wonder pot" (a pot meant for baking cakes on top of the stove) is also chayov in challah (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 329:2). (Again -- bear in mind that there is a requirement to separate challah only when there are at least three pounds of flour in the batter, a circumstance that is unusual when baking on a household stovetop.)

Waffles, which are baked from batter poured into molds, are chayov in challah (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 329:5). However, pancakes, which are made by pouring dough directly onto a stovetop or a frying pan, are exempt from challah (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 329:5), even should one make a large quantity. Why are waffles included in the requirement to take challah, but not pancakes? After all, both are made from loose batters and then cooked.

The rishonim explain that when processing a thin batter without an oven, the finished product requires challah only when it has a bread-like appearance, what the Gemara calls turisa denahama, which it receives when baked in a mold (Tosafos, Brochos 37b s.v. Lechem). When a batter is neither baked in an oven nor poured into a mold prior to being baked, it does not form a turisa denahama. Therefore, pancakes, which are made from a batter, are not baked in an oven and are not poured into a mold, never form a turisa denahama, which is a requirement for them to become chayov in challah.

The waffle factory
At this point, we can address one of the questions that was asked above: "A friend of mine just purchased a factory that manufactures waffles. Does he need to have challah taken? The factory is located in a rural area where there is no Jewish population."

The Shulchan Aruch rules that one is required to separate challah from waffles. Since a factory uses more than five pounds of flour in each batch of waffle mix, one should separate challah with a brochah, even though there are no Jews involved in the production. Ideally, arrangements should be made to have a frum person present during production to separate challah. Alternatively, there are methods whereby challah can be separated by appointing a frum person who is elsewhere as an agent for separating challah, but the logistics that this requires are beyond the scope of this article.

Sunny dough
All opinions agree that dough baked in the sun is not obligated in challah (Pesachim 37a). Also, a batter prepared in a frying pan that has some water in the bottom of the pan is patur from challah (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 329:2), since this is considered to be cooked batter rather than baked bread.

Holy donuts
At this point, we can begin to explain whether donuts require the separation of challah. Donuts are made from dough with a reasonably thick consistency that is then deep-fried, or cooked in oil (these are two ways of saying the same thing). Cooking is not usually considered a process that creates bread. The question is whether the requirement to take challah exists already because it is mixed into dough, or only if one intends to bake the dough.

According to one approach in the rishonim, one is obligated to separate challah from any dough that meets the size (43.2 eggs) and ownership (Jewish) requirements mentioned above, regardless of whether one intends to bake, cook or fry the dough afterwards (Rabbeinu Tam, as understood by Tosafos, Brochos 37b s.v. Lechem and Pesachim 37b s.v. Dekulei alma). Since the Torah requires separating challah from dough, one can argue that one is required to separate challah even from dough that one does not intend to bake into bread, but to cook in water as pasta or kreplach, or in oil as donuts. According to this approach, a Jewish-owned pasta factory is required to separate challah for the macaroni, spaghetti and noodles that it produces. (Note that some authorities who accept Rabbeinu Tam’s basic approach that any dough is obligated in challah exempt dough manufactured for pasta because of other reasons that are beyond the scope of our topic [see Tosafos, Brochos 37b, s.v. Lechem, quoting Rabbeinu Yechiel].)

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 329:3) concludes that dough that one intends to cook or fry is exempt from the requirement to take challah, ruling against Rabbeinu Tam. However, the Shach contends that one should separate challah without a brochah. Again, this would be required only if someone prepared a dough containing at least three pounds of flour. The Shach would hold this way also regarding other products that involve cooked or fried dough, such as kreplach. Thus, a caterer, restaurant or hotel cooking a large quantity of kreplach for a communal Purim seudah should have challah taken from the dough, in order to take into consideration the Shach’s position.

So the simple answer to the question, "Is there a requirement to separate challah from donuts?" is that there is such a requirement if more than three pounds of flour are being used. However, no brochah should be recited when separating challah, even when using a large amount of flour, since most authorities exempt dough that one intends to cook or fry from the requirement of taking challah.

Hamotzi
Having established some of the rules germane to the requirement to separate challah, do the same rules apply when determining what items require hamotzi before eating them? This is itself a subject that is disputed. Some authorities contend that the rules for brochos are identical to those applied to separate challah, whereas others (Tosafos, Pesachim and Brochos 37b s.v. Lechem) rule that one does not recite hamotzi before eating bread unless another requirement is met – that the product has a bread-like appearance (turisa denahama). The halachic basis for drawing a distinction between the mitzvah of challah and the brochah requirements is that the requirement to separate challah is established at the time the dough is mixed, whereas the halachic determination of which brochah to recite is created when its preparation is complete (Rabbeinu Yonah, Brochos; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 168:13).

Most authorities conclude that the correct brochah prior to eating a dough product that is cooked or fried is mezonos. According to this opinion, the correct brochah to recite before eating donuts or cooked kreplach is mezonos. (Sometimes kreplach are baked, which might change the halachah.) However, there is a second opinion that rules that the correct brochah to recite on these items is hamotzi, because they are all made from dough. According to this latter opinion, one is required to wash netilas yadayim prior to eating these items and to recite the full birchas hamazon (bensching) afterwards.

How do we rule?
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 168:13) and the Rema (ibid.) both follow the majority opinion that the correct brochah prior to eating a dough product that is cooked or fried is mezonos. However, the Shulchan Aruch also cites the minority opinion that one should recite hamotzi prior to eating a cooked dough product. He concludes that, to avoid any question, someone who is a yarei shamayim should eat a cooked dough product only after making hamotzi and eating a different item that is definitely bread. This way the G-d fearing person avoids all halachic issues. (It should be noted that some authorities question this solution, since pas habaah bekisnin, a dough-based snack food, requires a brochah even when consumed in the middle of a meal. Those eager to pursue this question are referred to the Magen Avraham [168:35] and the Machatzis Hashekel [ad loc.])

We are now equipped with enough information to answer another of the questions asked above: "I have noticed that a cousin of mine eats donuts only as part of a meal. Is there a halachic basis for his practice?"

Indeed, there is. According to the Shulchan Aruch’s recommendation that a yarei shamayim eat cooked dough foods only after reciting hamotzi on a different food that is definitely bread, your cousin is following the approach advised by the Shulchan Aruch to cover all the bases. As explained above, although the cousin’s practice is not halachically required, it is the recommended approach.

Holy bagels
At this point, let us return to another of our original questions:
"May I use bagels for lechem mishneh on Shabbos?"

To answer this question, let us spend a moment researching how bagels are made. The old-fashioned method of making bagels was by shaping dough into the unique bagel with-a-hole circle, boiling them very briefly and then baking the boiled dough. Modern bagel factories do not boil the dough, but instead steam the shaped bagels prior to baking them, which produces the same texture and taste one expects when eating a bagel, creates a more consistent product and lends itself more easily to a mass production process. In either way of producing bagels, the halachah is that their proper brochah is hamotzi because they are basically baked products (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 168:14). Since halachah treats them as regular bread, they may be used for lechem mishneh on Shabbos and Yom Tov. So, although bagels and donuts often share a common shape, they do not, in this case, share a common halachic destiny.

Hamotzi while traveling -- Holy breads
At this point, let us examine one of the other of our original questions: "I will be spending Shabbos in a place where there is no kosher prepared food. I will have access to a grill, but no other cooking facilities. If I bake small loaves of bread in a pan on top of the grill, will that qualify as hamotzi for the seudos of Shabbos?"
The question here is whether bread "baked" on top of a grill qualifies as bread for hamotzi and lechem mishneh.

We can prove what the halachah is in this case from a passage of Talmud. The Gemara (Pesachim 37a) quotes a dispute between Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakeish whether bread baked in a pan or pot is chayov in challah or not. According to Rabbi Yochanan, all such bread is chayov in challah, whereas according to Reish Lakeish, it is chayov in challah only if the pan is preheated and then the dough is placed inside; however, if the dough is placed into a cold pan which is then heated, there is no chiyuv challah.

Although Rabbeinu Chananel rules according to Reish Lakeish in this instance, most rishonim rule according to Rabbi Yochanan, and this is the conclusion of the Shulchan Aruch. The halachic conclusion is also that this bread requires the brochah of hamotzi (Rema Aruch, Orach Chayim 168:14). Furthermore, most authorities understand that the dispute between Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakeish is when one is attempting to make bread out of a batter by baking it in a pan on top of the fire, but that all opinions agree that dough baked on top of the fire is definitely treated as bread. Therefore, we can answer this question positively. One may produce bread this way and use it for the Shabbos meals, including lechem mishneh.

Conclusion
We have discovered that there are a variety of regulations that define whether something is chayov in challah, requires hamotzi and may be used for lechem mishneh. When baked in an oven, it is treated as bread for all these mitzvos. This is true when it is made from dough or a batter and then goes through a baking process, even if not in an oven.

On the other hand, a batter that is subsequently cooked or fried is not considered bread for any of these purposes.

In between, we have our donuts, which, although made from dough, are cooked. One should take challah from them without a brochah, assuming that there is sufficient quantity to create a chiyuv. For brochos purposes, we usually consider them mezonos, although there is a basis to be more stringent and to eat them always within a meal, to avoid getting involved in a halachic dispute.

Since we have spent most of our article discussing the mitzvah of challah, we should note the following Medrash that underscores its vast spiritual significance: "In the merit of the following three mitzvos, the world was created – in the merit of challah, in the merit of maasros, and in the merit of bikkurim" (Breishis Rabbah 1:4). May we all be blessed with a happy and healthy Chanukah!!


This Shiur is published also at Rabbi Kaganof's site
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