What is the Bracha on Cooked Bread?

Provided courtesy of Real Clear Daf

We learned about this on Wednesday’s daf (75b) this week. Rav Yosef there issues a ruling on “chavitza.”  Rashi interprets chavitza to mean a cooked dish that includes pieces of bread.  Rav Yosef rules that if any of the pieces of bread is a c’zayis, the size of an olive, the bracha is Hamotzi. If none of the pieces is a c’zayis in volume, the bracha is Mezonos.

Tosfos ("חביצא") forcefully disagrees with Rashi’s interpretation, asserting that once bread is cooked, it loses its legal classification as bread--even if it still has the volume of a c’zayis. As proof, Tosfos cites a Gemara in Brachos (37a) which states:

“If one takes wheat, bakes it into bread, then cooks it, the law is: If the pieces are still intact, the correct bracha is Hamotzi. Otherwise the correct bracha is Mezonos.”

Tosfos points out that the Gemara’s language there (“..pieces..”) indicates that the cooking removes the bread status--even if we’re talking about a piece larger than a c’zayis (otherwise the Gemara should have made c’zayis the cutoff point), contradicting what Rav Yosef is saying according to Rashi--that as long as the cooked pieces are a c’zayis, they’re still classified as bread.

I’m at a loss, though, to see why this Gemara poses any issue for Rashi. For the Gemara there is clearly saying that the bread only loses its legal status of bread once the pieces are “no longer intact.” What is the definition of “no longer intact?” Rashi there explains that it means that the pieces dissolved. Thus Rashi could easily respond to Tosfos’s question that the pieces of bread in our Gemara’s chavitza dish are not dissolved! And isn’t that a reasonable assumption anyways? Who would make “chavitza à la dissolved pieces of bread”?

Now maybe one will answer that Tosfos assumed a different reading of “intact” in the Gemara there in Brachos, i.e. the interpretation they suggest there, that the cooked bread is no longer “intact” if it was cooked to the point where if one picked it up it would break apart. But it still doesn’t seem fair to reject Rashi’s reading based upon the assumption that the pieces of bread of our chavitza dish are cooked to even that point.

If you have a thought about this matter, do write in with it, I’d love to hear it. Even though I haven’t provided you with a resolution for Tosfos, I hope you enjoyed engaging with the Halachik ramifications of the tasty chavitza. Bon appétit!