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A bread question in time for Pesach!

The words to the blessing over bread are:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹקינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ

which ends with "...who brings forth bread from the earth"

Except, obviously, that's not how bread works - wheat (חיטה) is brought forth from the earth, it's then processed in a number of ways and later baked into bread. So why do we thank G-d for something that he doesn't do (directly)?

I've heard a few different explanations of this, but I don't remember them, and I wanted to share one or two at my Seder. I tried searching here for a similar question, but the best match was probably this, Why do we say hamotzi lechem min haaretz instead of min haadama?, which isn't exactly my question.

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    Jake, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing this interesting question here! Although you plan to use information from this Q&A on Passover, I don't really see it as being about Passover, so I removed that tag. Please correct me if I'm mistaken. For more great stuff to share at your seder, don't miss Hagada - Mi Yodeya?. – Isaac Moses Apr 18 '16 at 17:15
  • No worries Isaac, thanks for adding the other tags as well! – Jake Apr 18 '16 at 17:29
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    Note bread can also be made of barley. – Double AA Apr 18 '16 at 18:18
  • Very true - I was thinking about that while making the question, the actual question of חיטה is just relative to the material with which you make bread. You can even make bread from chickpeas, apparently - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickpea_bread – Jake Apr 18 '16 at 18:20
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    @Jake But then you wouldn't make a hamotzi – Shokhet Apr 19 '16 at 0:51
4

Neither the question, nor the seven answers so far, mention what is probably the most relevant Talmudic passage to this issue. The Talmud, in discussing the blessing for olive oil, states the following (with the key line bolded):

Berachot 35b

חוץ מן היין וכו': מאי שנא יין אילימא משום דאשתני לעלויא אשתני לברכה והרי שמן דאשתני לעלויא ולא אשתני לברכה דאמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל וכן א"ר יצחק א"ר יוחנן שמן זית מברכין עליו בפה"ע אמרי התם משום דלא אפשר היכי נבריך נבריך בורא פרי הזית פירא גופיה זית אקרי ונבריך עליה בורא פרי עץ זית

EXCEPT OVER WINE. Why is a difference made for wine? Shall I say that because [the raw material of] it is improved therefore the blessing is different? But in the case of oil also [the raw material of] it is improved, yet the blessing is not different, as Rab Judah has laid down in the name of Samuel, and so R. Isaac stated in the name of R. Johanan,that the blessing said over olive oil is ‘that createst the fruit of the tree’? — The answer given is that in the case of oil it is not possible to change the blessing. For what shall we say? Shall we say, ‘That createst the fruit of the olive’? The fruit itself is called olive! But we can say over it, ‘That createst the fruit of the olive tree’? (Soncino translation)

Rashi explains the bolded line as follows:

זית אקרי. והוה ליה בורא פרי הפרי שהפרי קרוי זית ואין זו בריאת שמים כי בידי אדם היא בריאה זו אבל גבי גפן הגפן היא העץ והענבים הם פרי הגפן

Is called "olive". And it would be [saying] "who created the fruit of the fruit", for the fruit is called "olive" and this [the fruit of the fruit, namely, olive oil] is not a creation of heaven – this creation is in the hands of man. Whereas by gefen, the gefen is the tree and the grapes are the fruit of the gefen tree.

Rashi is thus explaining the Talmud as follows: we cannot say "who created the fruit of the zayit" on olive oil because "zayit" does not refer to the tree, but to the olive itself. "The fruit of the zayit" therefore would be referring to the olive oil, and we cannot say that God created this because in fact olive oil is created by man. This is in contrast to wine where "gefen" is the name of the tree (i.e. the grapevine) and therefore saying "who created the fruit of the gefen" is fine because the fruit of the gefen is the grape which is created by God. It is only the wine itself which is created by man.

This is spelled out even more clearly by R. Yaakov Tzvi Yalish in his comments to the above Rashi:

Melo Haroim Berachot 35b

והפרי של הזית הוא השמן וזהו נעשה ע"י אדם שסוחט הזיתים ועשען שמן

The fruit of the olive is the oil, and this is made by man who squeezes the olives and makes them [into] oil.

The question is now much stronger. According to the above sources the Talmud is clearly stating that one cannot describe God as the cause of something that man does himself. Therefore, just like we cannot say that God created wine or oil because those are actually the result of a human process, it should be impossible to say that God brings forth bread when in fact it is a human process that transforms wheat into bread.

R. Judah Loewe asks this very question:

Netivot Olam Netiv Ha'avodah Chapter 17

ועוד קשה שאמר המוציא לחם מן הארץ והרי לא יצא הלחם מן הארץ כי לא היה לחם כי אם על ידי האדם שאפאו

A further question is that it says "who brings forth bread from the ground", yet the bread does not come from the ground – bread only comes via man who bakes it.

He cites several verses to show that "lechem" does not refer simply to the finished product of bread, but to anything that satiates the heart. Since wheat is brought forth from the ground by God, and wheat can be termed "lechem" due to its satiating qualities, it is correct to say that God brings forth lechem from the ground. We only make the blessing on actual bread because bread is the complete satiation, but the blessing is referencing the main part which is that God brought forth the wheat:

ובמדרש אמר רבי יצחק בתורה בנביאים ובכתובים מצינו דהדא פתא מזוניתא דלבא בתורה ואקחה פת לחם וסעדו לבכם בנביאים סעד לבך פת לחם בכתובים ולחם לבב אנוש יסעד וביאור זה כי הלחם הוא חיותו של אדם ולכך שם לחם שייך על דבר שהוא נותן היות לבריות ולכך אמר הכתוב גם כן נותן להם לכל בשר ולשון לכל בשר משמע אף בהמה והרי אין הבהמה והעוף אוכלים לחם הנאפה אלא כי פירוש לחם דבר הסועד את הלב וכל דבר שהוא פרנסה של בעלי חיים נקרא לחם רק מפני כי הלחם הנאפה הוא סועד יותר כי לב האדם צריך סעד יותר ולכך אין מברכין המוציא לחם רק על לחם הנאפה שהוא מיוחד אל האדם שהוא סועד לב האדם ומ"מ אף קודם שנאפה הוא סעדא דליבא רק שאינו כל כך סועד הלב כמו הלחם הנאפה וכאשר נעשה לחם על ידי אפיה אז הוא סועד הלב לגמרי וכי בשביל שהאדם הוא חורש וזורע ומשקה האדמה וממרח לא יברך על הפרי שהש"י בירך אותו זה אינו רק כי עיקר הדבר מתיחס אל הש"י והאדם הוא עושה הכנה בלבד אבל מכל מקום הש"י הוציא מן הארץ דבר שהוא סועד הלב ולכך יש לו לברך המוציא לחם מן הארץ

He also offers another answer, which is that God really does bring forth bread from the ground. However, in our current state under the curse of Adam we have to do the work of making the wheat into bread. In the Messianic Era, though, the bread will come directly out of the ground. Since God does inherently bring forth bread out of the ground, and it is only due to our sins that we do not have it this way currently, it is still proper to bless God for bringing bread forth from the ground:

ובגמרא בפרק במה מדליקין יתיב ר"ג וקא דריש עתידה ארץ ישראל שתוציא גלוסקאות וכלי מילת שנאמר יהי פסת בר בארץ לגלג עליו אותו תלמיד ואמר אין כל חדש תחת השמש נפק אחוי ליה כמיהין ופטריות ורצה לומר לעתיד כאשר לא יהיה עוד קללת האדמה שהיה בשביל חטא האדם אז תקבל האדמה השפע מן הש"י בשלימות הגמור והכל יהיה יוצא בשלימות עד שלא יהיה צריך שום תיקון ולפיכך תוציא הארץ גלוסקאות וכלי מילת ועתה האדמה שנתקללה מן הש"י בשביל חטא האדם אינה מוכנת לקבל הברכה העליונה אבל לעתיד שתפסק הקללה מן העולם אז תהיה הארץ מוציאה הכל בלי חסרון כלל ומפני כי מצד הש"י אשר הוא משפיע בודאי הש"י מוציא להם מן הארץ רק שקללת הארץ גורם עד שצריך תיקון כדכתיב בזעת אפיך תאכל לחם ואין מה שטורח ועושה רק מה שגרם חטא שלו ובודאי אם לא הוציא דבר שהוא סועד הלב א"כ היה הלחם בריאה אחרת אבל בודאי הש"י הוציא מן הארץ לחם כי גם דבר שיצא מן הארץ הוא סעד הלב רק שקללתו גרם שצריך להיות לו טורח ויגיעה עד שהוא סועד הלב לגמרי ולכך יש לברך המוציא לחם מן הארץ ובגמרא בפרק במה מדליקין יתיב ר"ג וקא דריש עתידה ארץ ישראל שתוציא גלוסקאות וכלי מילת שנאמר יהי פסת בר בארץ לגלג עליו אותו תלמיד ואמר אין כל חדש תחת השמש נפק אחוי ליה כמיהין ופטריות ורצה לומר לעתיד כאשר לא יהיה עוד קללת האדמה שהיה בשביל חטא האדם אז תקבל האדמה השפע מן הש"י בשלימות הגמור והכל יהיה יוצא בשלימות עד שלא יהיה צריך שום תיקון ולפיכך תוציא הארץ גלוסקאות וכלי מילת ועתה האדמה שנתקללה מן הש"י בשביל חטא האדם אינה מוכנת לקבל הברכה העליונה אבל לעתיד שתפסק הקללה מן העולם אז תהיה הארץ מוציאה הכל בלי חסרון כלל ומפני כי מצד הש"י אשר הוא משפיע בודאי הש"י מוציא להם מן הארץ רק שקללת הארץ גורם עד שצריך תיקון כדכתיב בזעת אפיך תאכל לחם ואין מה שטורח ועושה רק מה שגרם חטא שלו ובודאי אם לא הוציא דבר שהוא סועד הלב א"כ היה הלחם בריאה אחרת אבל בודאי הש"י הוציא מן הארץ לחם כי גם דבר שיצא מן הארץ הוא סעד הלב רק שקללתו גרם שצריך להיות לו טורח ויגיעה עד שהוא סועד הלב לגמרי ולכך יש לברך המוציא לחם מן הארץ

This second answer is also alluded to by R. Joel Sirkes (Bach O.C. 167) and R. Menahem Mendel Auerbach (Ateret Zekeinim O.C. 167)

Though the above answers address the question, none of the sources actually cited the relevant Talmudic passage about olive oil. A couple of other commentaries, though, do actually cite that passage. R. Chaim Joseph Dinkles, in his supercommentary to R. Solomon Sirilo's commentary to the Jerusalem Talmud, cites the Talmudic passage and offers a similar answer to R. Loewe's second answer.

R. Ezekiel Bringer (Peri Chaviv 1:7) explicitly asks this question as a question on the Talmudic passage about olive oil, and he quotes R. Loewe's first answer.

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    Thank you very much for this extremely thorough answer!! – Jake Aug 5 '18 at 19:30
  • """loaf, we bless Hamotsi lechem (step 2[11]). For olives oil the Gemara ask why not Bore Peri Haets or B.P. Hazait or B.P. Ets hazait. But it has a sharp taste and do not deserves this bracha [30].""" – kouty Aug 10 '18 at 8:26
  • @kouty Are you asking a question? – Alex Aug 10 '18 at 12:58
  • i show you that I addressed the gemara of the olive's oil – kouty Aug 10 '18 at 14:00
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    להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה ,,⁦;-)⁩ – kouty Aug 11 '18 at 21:07
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The Bach in O.C. Siman 167 has a nice explanation of this.

He starts by pointing out that the word "hamotzi" is the preferred word for the blessing, even though the word "motzi" would suffice, because "hamotzi" implies both past and future tense (Berachos 38a). The intent, he says, is both on this bread which came out of the ground, and on the bread that Hashem will bring out of the ground.

He points out that ha'adama means any ground, whereas ha'aretz is a double entendre - it can mean "the land" or it can be a reference to the Land of Israel.

The Talmud says that in the future, the Land of Israel is going to produce fully processed, finished loaves of bread, straight from the ground (Shabbos 30b). Therefore, the blessing on bread was formulated to accommodate this future reality as well. It means that Hashem brings bread forth from the ground, but it also means that He will bring out bread from the Land of Israel, fully formed loaves.

(I skipped one step for simplicity's sake, but you could see it here)

[Re-posted from here]

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In Psalms 104.14 it is written "Lehotzi lechem min ha'aretz" צְמִיחַ חָצִיר, לַבְּהֵמָה, וְעֵשֶׂב, לַעֲבֹדַת הָאָדָם; לְהוֹצִיא לֶחֶם, מִן-הָאָרֶץ. I have always assumed that this was the source of the text, and a shiur from Rav Ya'akov Nagan from Yeshivat Othniel also gives this source.

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Unfortunately, I don't remember where I heard this, but I heard that the apparently-incongruous wording of the blessing is there to make us realize that even though bread is only edible thanks to a great deal of human activity, we still have to thank God for it as if it sprouted, fully-formed, from the ground, since all of the human activity was only possible thanks to His granting humans the requisite abilities.

(If someone else posts an answer with this idea and a proper source, I'll delete this post.)

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    IIRC, something in line with this or a related discussion is in Mas. Brachot. Don't recall the exact page. Also, the term "lechem" I think is a general term for "food", somewhat similar to the term "mazon". (E.g., "Lo al halechem l'vado yichyeh ha'adam"). – DanF Apr 18 '16 at 17:25
  • @DanF the second point is pretty interesting, considering the physicality of the different blessings - for foods we can actually eat straight from the ground or from a tree, we bless them specifically (borei pri ha'etz, etc.) But for bread, which is food which requires a lot of processing, we use the general term for 'food' - even though it's NOT directly "food brought forth from the earth." Very interesting thought. Thanks! – Jake Apr 18 '16 at 17:31
  • Isaac, thank you for the response - that's also a very interesting thought, that it's only edible thanks to a lot of help from G-d. Another interesting question that stems (pun intended) from that is why we bless the 'fruit of the vine' in "borei pri hagafen", when we drink wine - a drink which is still drinkable as grape juice before fermentation, but similar to bread, requires a lot of human activity until it's consumable in the format we want. – Jake Apr 18 '16 at 17:33
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Introduction

The question is based on similarities between wine and bread, contrasting with their differences in blessing style. Bread is better than wheat seed. So praise for the gift-bread is a bigger than praise for gift-seed. The main reason why humanity grows wheat is for bread to eat. the fruit (i.e. the proceeds from wheat) is the bread.

Sources and explanations

The Mishna in massechet Berachoth, chapter 6, says that on fruits (proceeds) coming from earth, "He says Bore Peri Haadama except for bread". You learn that the bread is considered as the fruit, you learn the definition of the word "fruit". Fruit is the aim of the production. Idem for wine. So, the definition of fruit in this topic is not the biologic-botanic definition. If the aim is good it is the fruit.
The wine, for example is considered as the fruit of the vine (step 1[20]), so the blessing must be "Bore Peri Haets". But wine is a very special fruit of a special species of tree witch fulfil an important function, the vine (step 2[21]) the tree witch was planted by Noah. But wine is not used as main meal (Gemara 35b "Suppose a man makes it the basis of his meal. what then? - He replied: When Elijah comes he will tell us whether it can really serve as a basis; at present, at any rate, it is ignored because no man thinks of such a thing. ") Bread is the fruit of the wheat sprouts, and must be "Bore Peri Haadama" (step 1[10]) but it is more than a fruit of the earth, this is the best aliment, the main aliment. Main aliment is called bread, so, on a loaf, we bless Hamotsi lechem (step 2[11]). For olives oil the Gemara ask why not Bore Peri Haets or B.P. Hazait or B.P. Ets hazait. But it has a sharp taste and do not deserves this bracha [30].

Grapes are not better than other fruits, so no need to bless specialy the vine when eating grapes.
Wheat seed is not very pleasant food (eaten raw it is not usual) also when grilled, so no need for calling Chita, just Adama if grilled.

Why do we not mention "fruit"?

Suppose that bread is coming from a fruit of a tree. And this Tree is called Chitim. So, at first sight, you where right. According to the reasoning given for wine (not sure 100%) we might have though to blessing "Bore peri Hachitim". Here is the point of the O.P.
We can perhaps answer that the word "Lechem" is the greatest praise because it is more functional for humanity. (lechem is perhaps originally synonym of subsistence and subsequently the name of some good product of 5 species of cereals[12]). As soon above, an intermediate step before Hamotsi is Mezonot.

CONCLUSION

Bread is more defined as fulfilling a need than as a fruit of a plant.
Notes concerning bread:

[10] It is implicit in Gemara 35b that the seel of wheat is improved by bread making.
[11] The Gemara stated that bread has a satiating effect. A particular attention should be given here to the
    two different levels, "Mezonot" and "Motsi".
  1. Mezonot blessing is attributed to the products of the 5 cereales witch satiate,
  2. Hamotsi for a subcategory: The main component of meals.

[11] A proof that Lechem is the name of a function is for example the case of Kuba DeAr'a, a kind of pancake made from liquid paste (according to some opinions in Tosfot, Rashi, Rashba) backed in the sand. Its blessing is Mezonot, but Mar Zutra made it the basis of his meal and said over it the blessing, 'who bringest forth bread from the earth' (Berachot 38a). According to some opinion in Tosfot, Kreplech too. And it is clearly morphologically distinct from standard bread. So, "Lechem" is a name of function.
Notes concerning wine

[20] The first argument concerns the fact that the wine making is an improvement of the product of the fruit tree "אישתני לעילויא". Wine is the best product that could be obtained from vine cultivation. Wine is best than grapes. The proof: The majority of vines are planted and grown for production of wine.
Theoretical example: If we obtain wine from Grenada, this wine is SheHakol. If in 10 years we will see that most producers cultivate Grenada for wine, following some Rishonim (Rashba), the wine will be bore peri haets and the botanicly called fruit, Bore Peri Haadama.
[21] The second argument concerns the fact that wine has two special qualities that other fruit don't have. He brings fun and he satiates. So, a common fruit's blessing is not sufficient for it.

Note concerning olive's oil:

[30] The Rambam, Ahava, Berachot, 8, 2
‏ועל השמן {כוונתו לשמן זית}--הוא מברך בתחילה, בורא פרי העץ ‏ {It is recognized that olive oil deserves blessing Bore Peri Haets, but the strong taste of this oil must be attenuated by a "seasoning"} ‏: במה דברים אמורים, שהיה חושש בגרונו ושתה השמן עם מי השלקות וכיוצא בהן ‏ {the result of the seasoning is a mixture of water of cooking of chards and a small part of olives oil.When drunk for pleasure by a man with angina, its required blessing is Bore Peri Haets} ‏, שהרי נהנה בשתייתו; אבל אם שתה השמן לבדו, או שלא היה חושש בגרונו--מברך עליו שהכול, שהרי לא נהנה בטעם השמן ‏
The Magen Avraham (See S.A. O.C. 202, 4 )

Afterword

At first glance I thought it would be better to introduce points of Rama Mipano about "Hamotsi Lechem Min Hashamaim" (or mamtir lechem according to others) and to explain the lake of the name "fruit" by the fact that there is no tree (in the sky or bellow ground) in bread production. Indeed, unfortunately, unlike the case of wine-vine couple, bread has no tree. So "by the impossibility" we have to look at the Earth and Sky. But that is a secondary topic. The essential Chidush (and topic of OP) is the lack of the name fruit. It is true for Mezonot too. So it was essential to states that.

  • So why, would you say, do we say Borei Pri Hagafen for wine? Why not Borei Hayayin or Hayotzi Yayin Min...or something like that? Given that wine is the end goal? Granted, grapes are actually worthy foods, but still clearly different, being non-alcoholic. – Jake Apr 18 '16 at 18:13
  • @Jake I am sorry, Bore peri hayayn, answered, Bore peri chita, answered – kouty Apr 19 '16 at 7:28
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    @Jake It's a great pleasure for me to contribute to your profound question – kouty Apr 19 '16 at 13:03
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The main "fruit" is generally what the final product is. Bread is generally the final product of wheat, especially when Chazal were instituting brachos. Therefore it says lechem and not chitah. It is for this same reason that some say the bracha of Ha'eitz on tropicana orange juice and hershey's chocolate. It is because those plants were cultivated specifically to processed into those final products.

  • So in the case of bread, there's a final product (the bread) and an initial product (wheat). In the case of orange juice, the blessing over both the final product (orange juice) and the initial product (an orange) would be the same, ha'eitz. – Jake Apr 18 '16 at 18:17
  • In the case of chocolate, the final product (chocolate bar) is shehakol, but I don't know what the blessing for the initial product (a cocoa bean) would be - this onthechocolatetrail.org/booksupplement/… seems to say that it would be haetz, and apparently a Rabbi believes the blessing for the final product should be haetz as well - "the essence of the blessing is borei pri haetz, and he expressed wonder about those whose custom it is to bless shehakol". So basically, I'm not really sure how the blessing for the final product interacts with the initial product. – Jake Apr 18 '16 at 18:24
  • Meaning, they say ha'eitz on chocolate because that is that tree's "true" fruit/final product. They would not say ha'eitz on the cacao bean itself. Perhaps ha'adomah. The same regarding oranges specifically grown to be juice. Only the juice would be ha'eitz, as it is the "true" fruit. The orange grown to be juice, but eaten as an orange, would not be ha'eitz. It's important to note that this is not the accepted practice. – Mordechai B. Apr 18 '16 at 19:12
  • There's a discussion in Tal. Brachot (I'll see if I can locate page) regarding fruit juices, in general. Conclusion is that if the fruit is designed mainly for its fruit, then bracha is ha'etz. I asked a question on M.Y. a while ago regarding why bracha for tea and coffee is shehakol. Do a searvh, and you may find it. If, I can, I'll post as a related link. CC @Jake – DanF Apr 18 '16 at 20:49
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65120/5275 – DanF Apr 18 '16 at 20:50
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perhaps it was due to their eating bread from the heaven for 40 years (Manna), whose blessing was (according to some) hamotzi lechem min hashamayim, so when they switched to wheat bread, they said simply hamotzi lechem min aretz.

  • I would not take this blessing too seriously for historical purposes, as the earliest source i know for it is in the acharonim; who lived a long long time after the period of he manna. Offhand I don't even remember evidence that they had such blessings, as besides for the possible exceptions of blessings after bread and before Torah, blessings are generally rabbinic. – mevaqesh May 25 '16 at 20:02
  • The Sefer Chassidim already discusses the bra ha – sam May 26 '16 at 12:44
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We thank Hashem for bringing forth bread and not wheat because we see the potential in the wheat. Therefore we have to recognize the wheat not for what it is now, but what its potential is. I believe there is a tremendous lesson to be learned from this.

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