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QUESTION

Washington, D.C.

A bread made with mostly rice flour but some wheat flour would be HaMotzi if you could taste the wheat. What about if instead it were made with almond flour? Would the same taste rule apply or would you need rov?

ANSWER

A very relevant question for those who are gluten intolerant. So how do they make HaMotzi or eat matzah? One answer is to use oats, which is one of the 5 species of grain. However, from what I have heard, it is very hard to eat bread that is completely made out of oats. (Also, from an academic perspective, it is questionable if oats are the correct translation of שבולת שועל. See here).

So what are such people to do? (or anyone else who just wants to eat some mixed grain bread)? Mishnah Challah 3:7 teaches that if there is a mixture of wheat and rice, it is considered bread for HaMotzi and matzah if there is a wheat taste present,

העושה עיסה מן החטים ומן האורז אם יש בה טעם דגן חייבת בחלה ויוצא בה אדם ידי חובתו בפסח ואם אין בה טעם דגן אינה חייבת בחלה ואין אדם יוצא בה ידי חובתו בפסח:

While some Rishonim want to use this as evidence that טעם כעיקר turns the entire mixture into the minority thing giving taste (Rosh Chullin 7:31),  Ramban, in a long passage in his Hilkhot Challah on that mishnah, basing himself on Yerushalmi, writes that this is not a general halakha about mixtures, but unique to the combination of wheat and rice. It is a principle called גוררין – the wheat drags the rice. He explains that this special halakha applies to these two because it is the derekh to mix them together and because when mixed, they all participating in the making of chameitz, etc. (This approach is also adopted by Rashba, Piskei Challah 1:19).

רמב”ן הלכות חלה דף לא עמוד א
שמעינן השתא דטעמא דמתניתין משום דאף על גב דעיסת האורז פטורה דלאו לחם היא, ומיהו כי מערב לה בהדי דגן ואית בה טעם דגן הדגן גוררו לעשות הכל לחם להתחייב בחלה, וקסברי בני ארץ ישראל דהאי דינא ליתיה בכוסמין ובשבולת שועל ושיפון אלא חטים ושעורים בלבד הוא שגוררין, מפני שדרך עיסה שנו ודרכן של בני אדם לעשות עיסה משאר המינין עמהן.

ועוד כדקאמרי טעמא כמ”ד תמן אין לך בא לידי מצה וחמץ אלא חמשת המינין עמהםפב בלבד, דהכי קים להו לרבנן והכי בדקו לה, ודכוותה אין לך נגרר עם כולן ליעשות עיסה ולבוא לידי מצה וחמץ אלא חטים ושעורים, ודקים להו לרבנן דאינהו גוררין ומביאין אחרים לידי מצה וחמץ ולא שאר המינין.

In the Yerushalmi, there is a debate whether this principle applies to just wheat or rice, or other combinations as well. Ramban sides with the position that it is just wheat and rice,

ורבי הילא בשם ריש לקיש סבר דאין לך גורר אלא החטים את האורז בלבד, אבל שעורין אינן גוררין אורז, ולא חטין עצמן גוררין מין אחר… שמעינן השתא… אף על גב דרובא אורז גורר, ואף על פי שאין בדגן אפילו כזית בכדי אכילת פרס, כיון דאיכא טעמא לא בטיל, ולא עוד אלא שגורר,ואילו שאר כל המינין עם החטים או אפילו אורז עם שאר ארבעת המינין אינו כן, אלא ודאי אם עשה עיסה ויש בה כשיעור מחמשת המינין ועירב בה אחד מכל שאר המינין אזלינן בתר רובא, ואי רובא וטעמא דגן חייבת, ואי לית בה רוב דגן לאו לחם הוא ופטורה, וכן הלכתא.

[I would add to this a general approach that I have regarding this and other issues, which is that the use of wheat flower which is necessary for chameitz or matzah on Pesach or bread for HaMotzi is not defined like, say, נבילה, where we ask if you have a kezayit of the thing itself. Flour is just one ingredient (the other being water) in the making of this thing called “bread.” As such, it is possible to imagine that even if we need wheat, and even if in this case wheat is only a small percentage, nevertheless, as long as it is an ingredient in a way that it combines with the other ingredients (i.e., rice) the end result is still called “bread.”]

One question is does it only apply to wheat and rice, to which, as we have seen, Ramban answers yes. This halakha is brought down in Mishnah Torah, Hilkhot Bikkurim 6:11 and Hilkhot Chameiz uMatzah 6:5, where he only mentions rice and wheat. Shulchan Arukh YD 324:9 and OC 453:2 also only mentions wheat and rice. However, Shakh YD 324:17 states that it seems that the Tur – who uses the word דגן and not חטים – disagrees with the Shulchan Arukh and would apply it to all 5 types of grain (but presumably only with rice).

There is another debate about whether you need the appropriate shiur to be of grain in the dough – even if there is much more rice than wheat – in order to make HaMotzi or to separate challah. For HaMotzi, that would be a kezayit, and for challah, 43 eggs. There is no mention of this in Rambam or in the Shulchan Arukh. Ramban states that a shiur is needed in the mixture, but the ration of wheat:rice can be extremely small. Even if the wheat flour is a tiny amount, and you can’t eat a shiur of wheat in time, it is considered bread as long as there is a kezayit (or 43 eggs worth) of wheat flour. Ra’avad, in the two Rambam’s above, says that you need a shiur of the wheat flour, plus a proportion of 1:8 or 1:9 – כזית בכדי אכילת פרס – so you can eat the minimum amount of wheat flour in the requisite time.

When we get to Shulchan Arukh we find:

  1. Only wheat and rice are mentioned (as stated above) – other grains and flours are presumably no good.
  2. No mention of shiur – presumably there is no minimum proportion of wheat flour, it is considered as bread, as long as the wheat can be tasted. It also seems that for it to be bread one does not even need a kezayit of wheat flour.

LeHalakha, Mishnah Berurah 453:14 rules like the peshat of the above – it only works with wheat and rice, you do not need a particular proportion. You fulfill the mitzvah with one kezayit of the bread, even though the large majority of it is rice. He also adds that if it is a mixture of other types of grain – say barely, such that the barley is 1:8/1:9 of the rice, then you fulfill the mitzvah with a kezayit of the bread. Based on this, the only difference between the wheat-rice combo and the others, is whether you need a 1:8 proportion, or if even a tiny amount is ok, if it can be tasted. (He then quotes the stricter opinion of Ra’avad, that even for wheat and rice, you need a 1:8 ratio, and for other grains you need a majority, and says that it is best to follow this stricter position for de’orayta situations, if possible.)

SO IN SUMMARY:

Basic pesak – Wheat + rice – works even if the wheat is a tiny amount. (b) Other grains – works if the wheat, barely, etc. is 1:8 or 1:9. You fulfill the obligation even with 1 kezayit of bread.

What that means is for a person who is gluten-intolerant, they can have matzah from wheat and rice flour (yes – this overrides kitniyot), and have just a small amount of wheat flour (I think it has to be more than 1:60. To make sure it is tasted, you would probably have to do a taste test. Or just use the 1:8 or 1:9 ratio). If that isn’t an option because it has a little wheat flour, you could do barley flour plus rice (or almond) flour, with a 1:9 ratio, and it would be fine. The same would be true in general when it came to making HaMotzi.

The answer to the original question is yes, this does apply to almond flour, if there is 1:8 or 1:9 ration of wheat flour to the almond flour.