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There is the whole discussion of pas with regard to whether it needs to be baked by a Jew... Yoreh deah siman 112.

How do we define bread? I know it must contain one of the 5 grains(sif aleph). Does it have to be bread like (soft)? What about granola, which is a grain (oats but is definitely not a "bread"? What about pasta (being that no matter how much you eat you would never make a hamotzei?

  • granola if not baked would not be considered bread as the bracha on raw grains would either be shehakol or haadama – Dude Apr 7 '16 at 19:58
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To be bread it must have toar lechem, "the appearance of bread". So noodles are definitely out, as are cooked grains, which do not even necessarily require bishul yisrael (to be cooked by a Jew), but batter-based cakes etc. are in. Beyond that things get hard to pin down, and I have not seen any responsa on the subject. Rav Yitzchok Berkovits says they showed Rav Shlomo Zalman Cheerios, and he said, "אה, קליינע בייגעלאך" - literally, "Small baigels!" but in Israeli parlance, "Small pretzels!" He held that Cheerios have the appearance of bread and would therefore not be pas yisrael. Similarly, I believe I saw a chart from the Star-K which said that if one eats Cheerios to satiety one would be Biblically obligated to say birkat hamazon. However, the Lakewood minhag seems to be to treat Cheerios as a noodle and not require them to be pas yisrael, though I have seen no source for this. I asked Rav Gedaliah Anemer if bran flakes had toar lechem and would therefore be forbidden to eat during the 10 Days of Repentence (OC 603:1) and he replied he didn't think so.

The concept of toar lechem, "the appearance of bread," comes from OC 168:10, where the Shulchan Aruch approximately says that if you crumble your matzah, wet it and make it into a matzah ball, it loses its "hamotzi" and becomes a "mezonot". Rav Alexander Mandelbaum in V'Zot haBracha mentions the the gemara says grains which are ma'aseh kedeira ("cooked in a pot") are always mezonot, not hamotzi (Brachot 37a). He quotes several authorities who thought noodles did have toar lechem, but Rav Akiva Eiger rejects them and infers that the Rambam agrees with him: even though they are made from dough, since they are not baked, they are not bread-like, and so is the conclusion of the Mishna Brura.

Rav Mandelbaum quotes Rav Mordechai Eliyahu that pancakes and melawach have toar lechem. He says breakfast cereals consisting of various baked shapes of some thickness - he mentions Grape Nuts and several Israeli brands - have toar lechem according to Rav Shlomo Zalman and Rav Elyashiv, however Rav Scheinberg disagreed. Rav Shlomo Zalman agreed that bran flakes do not have toar lechem, but Rav Elyashiv held they did.

I do not know of any source that links YD 112 to OC 168; I think it's taken as self-evident, given that YD 113:1 states that any food which is not eaten raw and which is "suitable for a king's table" is forbidden if cooked by a non-Jew.

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    +1. "Rav Yitzchok Berkovits says" -- is this in writing somewhere? – msh210 Apr 7 '16 at 21:10
  • I always thought the "cheerios = bagels" thing was a joke, but this would actually be sensible. – Double AA Apr 7 '16 at 21:13
  • @msh210 no, unfortunately not. That is why I was happy to find that R'Mandelbaum backs up my oral tradition for what R'Shlomo Zalman held. – Ari Heitner Apr 8 '16 at 8:45
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    I find this answer very confusing. 1. "Cheerios have the appearance of bread and would therefore not be pas yisrael" - don't you mean that if they are bread, they would be pas? 2. When you say that it's self-evident that YD 112 is connected to OC 168, what does this have to do with being suitable for a king's table? – הנער הזה Jul 3 '17 at 21:43
  • @Matt I think he means they have the appearance of bread and would therefore be prohibited as pas akum since cheerios are made by akum – Double AA Jul 3 '17 at 22:22
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Guidelines for the definition of bread for the purposes of this halakha can be found at Halachipedia, here.

To summarize:

  • Any baked food item made primarily from any one or more of the five grains. A good test is whether or not it one would ever recite a bracha of Hamotzi over it, either because it is literally bread or even only if Hamotzi is made when eaten as a meal. (Taz to YD 112:6, Tosfos Beitza 16b)
    • There is an exception to the rule of baked grain foods: anything which does not "look like bread" never requires Hamotzi (Rama O.C. 168:13, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 168:15, Mishnah Berurah ibid. 168:3) and therefore is not bread for the purpose of this halakha as well (Shakh YD 112:18 quoting Toras Chatas 75:12). Therefore, pasta and most breakfast cereals are accordingly considered not bread (see here and here).
    • Another possible exception is where food was baked from a pour-able batter, as opposed to solid dough. This is subject to dispute (Chelkas Binyamin 112:64)
  • According to some, fried or deep-fried foods made primarily from one of the five grains (such as donuts) are also considered bread for this purpose. (Implied by Tosafos Pesachim 37b, but Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 112:31 based upon Tashbetz 3:11 and Rivash 28 holds that these foods are not bread)
  • Foods made from dough that were cooked in water instead of baked are not considered "bread" for this purpose. However, bagels are not made edible by the boiling done before baking, and so bagels are considered to be bread. (Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 112:31)

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