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By Rabbi Dovid Cohen, Administrative Rabbinic Coordinator
Q. What bracha do I recite on wraps?
A. Let’s discuss some background before coming to the specific question.
Foods made with any meaningful quantity of the five primary grains – wheat, rye, spelt, oats, or barley – can be classified into one of three groups: pas, pas haba’ah b’kisnin (“snack foods”, defined below), or non-pas. [If there is a very small amount of grain and/or it is just there to hold the food together, rather than for nutrition or taste, the grain is ignored, and the bracha is decided based on the other ingredients.]
To qualify as either pas or pas haba’ah b’kisnin, the food must have tzuras hapas, which literally means the “form” of bread. That term is not so easy to define, but basically means that it has some thickness, size, and solidity to it in ways that are somewhat like bread (the paradigm pas). Pasta, Cheerios-like cereals, and oatmeal, do not have tzuras hapas, and, therefore, they are classified as non-pas. The bracha rishonah for non-pas is mezonos, no matter how it is eaten or how much you eat of it.
Cakes, crackers, bagels, pizza, cookies, pastries, soft pretzels, and many other foods have tzuras hapas. As noted, both pas and pas haba’ah b’kisnin have tzuras hapas, and the difference between them is in how “bread-like” they are. Pas is simple flour and water (plus minor ingredients) which are baked without any meaningful toppings or filling into a fluffy form. This includes bread, pita, challah, rolls, and similar staple food, and the bracha rishonah is hamotzi. In contrast, pas haba’ah b’kisnin is a food that is typically eaten as a snack or desert, and, therefore, has significant amounts of other ingredients (e.g., chocolate cake), contains substantial toppings or fillings (e.g., pizza, pumpkin pie), or is baked into a crunchy form (e.g., crackers). The bracha on pas haba’ah b’kisnin depends on what the person does with it: if they eat it as a snack, then the brachos are mezonos and al hamichyah, but if they make a meal of it then the brachos are hamotzi and birchas hamazon.
Magen Avraham (168:41) describes something that is equivalent to what we call a “wrap” and says that it is so thin that it surely does not have tzuras hapas. If so, it is a non-pas and the bracha is surely mezonos. Some contemporary Poskim understand that Magen Avraham is giving an objective criterion that something which is very thin is not “bread-like” and has no tzuras hapas. Therefore, even nowadays wraps are mezonos. However, others argue that Magen Avraham is just describing the reality of his day where no one used a thin wrap like bread, but nowadays it is common for people to make “sandwiches” with wraps; accordingly, wraps are considered to have tzuras hapas and the bracha is hamotzi. Depending on which of these positions one follows, that will determine the proper bracha for wraps.
This article first appeared in the Let’s Talk Kashrus column, Yated Ne’eman, November 17, 2023.