In Bereishit, Hashem said to Adam

בזעת אפך תאכל לחם

This would seem to imply that bread is universal to all people.

We also know that bread has a particular definition: it has to be made from one of the five grains. Bentching after eating bread (כדי שביעה) is a Torah obligation, so this is a Torah level definition (at least according to the accepted halacha, Rabbi Akiva in Berachot 6:8 says you can bentch on any full meal).

But there have been cultures that didn't have bread. The Aboriginal Australians, before European contact, had something called bush bread, but it was made from plants other than the 5 grains, at least according to their standard identifications. Although there is a kind of barley native to North America, it seems that most Native Americans (again, pre-European contact) made their bread from other crops, like corn.

For havdala, and possibly for kiddush and other purposes, we can use חמר מדינה instead of wine. The Rashbam (Pesachim 107a) says another drink can become חמר מדינה if there is no real wine in the city; the Rambam is more lenient and says that if the people primarily drink something else instead of wine it becomes חמר מדינה.

Is there a similar concept of פת מדינה, in a place where there is no bread made from the 5 grains? Would you be able to bentch on this "bread", or make kiddush on it according to those who say that חמר מדינה works for kiddush?

  • Before years I asked myself this question, if Beemet in Chine before ... years the function which is fulfilled by wheat in occident was fulfilled by rice, may be that the bracha hamotsi was applied to rice. Rabbi Akiva said אפילו אכל שלק הוא מזונו מברך עליו שלש ברכות. But I have no answer because maybe good for Birkat hamazon which is more linked to the funcion, and mayb not for motsi which is special for masbia. And maybe that the masbiut of rice is not particular. May be also for patatoes or corn in Americal continent before 700 years
    – kouty
    Nov 21, 2016 at 15:02
  • See Teshuvot R Avraham ben haRambam #85
    – Double AA
    Nov 21, 2016 at 15:17
  • @kouty I wasn't sure about rice, China is a huge place but my understanding is they have wheat too. Rice might qualify for the Rambam's definition of chamar medina but not the Rashbam's.
    – Heshy
    Nov 21, 2016 at 16:08
  • @DoubleAA interesting, but I'm not sure that's relevant here, unless they didn't have any of the 5 grains in Yemen or only had a little. Do we know what kinds of grain they were asking about? They have the tradition of soft matza, which could indicate continuous availability of 5 grains, though it's not an absolute proof.
    – Heshy
    Nov 21, 2016 at 18:28

2 Answers 2


Since all people can from Adam and Adam ate bread, it is the bread of all people, if a group of people decided (to move to a different land and) not to eat bread, it does not change the definition of bread even if they decide to call it that (unless the Torah also calls it that)

Even goyim came that people did not always live in Australia and America they came there from places where bread grows

My understanding is that the drink of the media can be used, becouse that what is says in the law, but we do not say hagofen on it, and not the meain shalosh

The idea is that the rabbinic law to make havdolo on an important drink did not mean sposificly wine but the most important drink that is available (which has some importance) so wine was always preferable

The law is learnt from the Torah to make an after brocho on bread made from wheat or barely which the rabbis explain include the 5 types of grains, (which seem to be the only grains with glutain)

The idea of the drink of the country is regarding the drinks importance

But by bread (its importance is secondary) the legal thing needed is that it should be included in wheat and barley so the costom of the country should not change the law

  • As I said before, you're probably right. I'm looking for a source.
    – Heshy
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:17
  • Also, you're really saying that the curse of בזעת אפך תאכל לחם was just for Adam himself and not לדורות? That's hard to justify, especially since childbirth is still difficult and snakes still slither.
    – Heshy
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:19
  • @Heshy no I did not say that, I say that people are not obligated to eat bread, Hashem gave them the right to stop, that posuk is regarding people that eat bread, and bread is something all people know about since there for fathers ate it
    – hazoriz
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:22
  • @Heshy no I did not say that, I say that people are not obligated to eat bread, Hashem gave them the right to stop, that posuk is regarding people that eat bread, and bread is something all people know about since there for fathers ate it
    – hazoriz
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:22
  • @Heshy for example Atkins stoped eating bread and rice and corn and potatoes (is his existence against the posuk?), if he and his students call ground beef or beans, bread it is also bread?
    – hazoriz
    Nov 21, 2016 at 20:25

Lechem in this context probably doesn't literally refer to bread alone.

You find other places in the Torah where Lechem was not a reference to bread but rather to life-sustaining food.

For example, The Monn which certainly wasn't bread was also referred to as Lechem

וַיִּרְא֣וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וַיֹּ֨אמְר֜וּ אִ֤ישׁ אֶל־אָחִיו֙ מָ֣ן ה֔וּא כִּ֛י לֹ֥א יָֽדְע֖וּ מַה־ה֑וּא וַיֹּ֤אמֶר משֶׁה֙ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם ה֣וּא הַלֶּ֔חֶם אֲשֶׁ֨ר נָתַ֧ן

Shemos 16:15

  • Why was the manna certainly not bread? They took it, ground it up, and cooked it. It wasn't wheat bread, but it was seemingly a baked-dough kind of food
    – Double AA
    Dec 9, 2019 at 0:45
  • The posuk refers to it in its present unrecognizable raw form as Lechem.
    – Schmerel
    Dec 9, 2019 at 0:51
  • Sorry, but there's no "certainly" here, even if you can darshin the pesukim to fit your perspective
    – Double AA
    Dec 9, 2019 at 1:04
  • Lechem often means food in Tanach. For example, nosen lvhaima lachma. But that’s not of halachik importance.
    – LN6595
    Dec 9, 2019 at 3:02

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