Mishna Berura Summaries

Siman 167 – How to cut the bread

  1. To honor the beracha, it is best to cut the loaf (whether whole or already cut) at the point which began to bake first. That is the hard crusty area. Cut on the side – a little of the top crust and a little of the bottom crust. Do not cut at a burnt or dirty section for Hamotzi. (ShA 1 – MB 1,3)
  2. During the week, make an incision before the beracha and finish the beracha while the loaf is still uncut. This is because it is an honor for the beracha to go on as large a loaf as possible. Once the beracha is over, finish the incision. (ShA 1 – MB 4)
  3. The incision is meant to minimize the delay between the beracha and the eating. But do not cut so deep that the loaf would split apart were you to hold up the side that you wish to eat first. If the loaf is very thin, there is no need for a prior incision.          (ShA 1 – MB 4 – BeH “v’tzarich”)
  4. The size of the piece that you cut off should be no less than a k’zayis – it looks stingy. It also should not exceed a k’baitza if you will be eating that piece without cutting it further (for yourself or for other people) – it looks gluttonous. (ShA 1 – MB 8,9)
  5. On Shabbos do not make an incision. Also, the cut-off piece can be bigger than a k’baitza – it is to cherish the mitzvah of eating a big meal on Shabbos. (Rama 1)
  6. When sharing your Hamotzi with other people, cut off a large enough piece that will accommodate a k’zayis for each person. Besides for not appearing stingy, you will allow people to eat entire k’zayis at the time of “hamotzi” which is l’chatchila.   (Rama 1 – MB 14,15)
  7. Say “hamotzi” with a hay. If you said “motzi…”, it is okay. (ShA 2 – MB 16)
  8. Pause between “lechem” and “min”. (ShA 2)
  9. If you are being motzi others, you must have them in mind and they must have in mind to be yotzay. (BeH “v’hamvoraich”)
  10. They should answer “omayn” after your beracha and you should have in mind to be yotzay the mitzvah of answering omayn by listening to them. If they didn’t answer omayn, they are yotzay b’dieved. (Rama 2 – MB 19)
  11. Hold the bread before the blessing. If you didn’t, the blessing is still valid.            (ShA 3 – MB 22)
  12. It is best to hold the bread (without gloves) with all 10 fingers while blessing “hamotzi”. (ShA 4 – MB 23)
  13. Lift the loaf at Hashem’s name. On Shabbos lift both lechem mishna. (MB 23)
  14. If you want to eat your bread with a tasty dip or with salt, it will be a kavod for the beracha. Do not begin the beracha until the salt is brought. Bedieved, and you are allowed to wait for it after you say the Hamotzi. (MB 29)
  15. By sharing your bread with the poor and also by reciting words of Torah, your table becomes like a mizbayach for kappara. (MB 30 – ShaH 25)
                              1. Since your table is like a mizbayach, do not kill an insect on the table. (ShaH 26)
                              2. By eating with intention to be healthy and strong for avodas Hashem the eating becomes like a korban. (MB 31)
                              3. It is a mitzva to have salt placed on the table even if you do not use it. The kabbalists write to dip the “hamotzi” piece into salt 3 times. (MB 33)
                              4. After blessing “hamotzi”, do not delay for more than k’day dibbur. Eat immediately without speaking until you swallow. If you spoke while still chewing, the poskim argue whether or not to repeat the beracha. At least swallow the flavor of the bread before speaking – then you will definitely not need to repeat the beracha.              (ShA 6 – MB 34,35)
                              5. It is best to eat an entire k’zayis before talking. (MB 35)
                              6. Once you say “hamotzi”, do not even answer “omayn” to someone else’s “hamotzi” until you swallow yours. (MB 35)
                              7. Do not move to another place before swallowing – it is a hefsek. (ShaH 28)
                              8. If you talk before eating, repeat the “hamotzi”. (ShA 6)
                              9. You hear the beracha from someone being motzi you:
                                            1. If you talk before eating, repeat the beracha.
                                            2. If only he talked before eating, there is an unresolved doubt if you must repeat the beracha or not. (MB 43)
                                              1. It is forbidden to even taste the meal before giving food to your animals, but you may drink before them. (MB 40)
                                              2. If someone was motzi you with “hamotzi” and you have not yet washed for bread – wash, dry and bless “al netilas yodayim” – it isn’t considered a hefsek, b’dieved.  (ShA 7 – MB 45)
                                              3. Shomaya k’oneh only applies if the listener is silent. Therefore if you speak when someone is being motzi you in a beracha, you are not yotzay. (MB 45 – ShaH 43)
                                              4. If you forgot to bless “hamotzi” say the beracha on what still remains of the bread. If you finished already and you aren’t “stuffed”, it is best to get a little more bread so you can say “hamotzi” upon it. This will fulfil the opinion of the Raavad who holds that the beracha can work on what was already eaten. (ShA 8 – MB 48 – ShaH 46,47)
                                              5. If you don’t remember if you said a beracha, or not, you may continue eating without worry. If another person comes, have him be motzi you just in case. (ShA 9 – MB 49)
                                              6. Bedieved, a beracha of Shehakol exempts bread. Many poskim hold that Mezonos also exempts any food and drink except for water and salt. (ShA10 – BeH “bimkom”)
                                              7. It is more glory for the King when one person says the Hamotzi for others, because the mitzva is being done in a group. This applies even when each person has his own bread and knows the beracha himself. However, l’chatchila he can only be motzi them if they are kavua together. Being kavua is achieved by sitting (not standing) around one table or one dining cloth. (ShA 11,13 – MB 57 –  BeH “oh”, “echod”, “y’shiva”)
                                              8. You should be motzi other people eating with you, even if you are all sitting together in a moving vehicle. (MB 62)
                                              9. This glory applies, likewise, to Birkas Hamazon when there are 3 people kavua who ate together. Bedieved, even if they were not kavua together, one person can be motzi the other as long as both have intention for this. (MB 54,65)
                                              10. If there is no baal habayis (who will be giving out the bread from his loaf), nor a chassan (on the day of his wedding), who should be the one honored to break the bread for others? The gadol in wisdom should. If there is a cohen present who is also a talmid chochom but not as great, the cohen should still get precedence. If they are all equal in wisdom, the honor must go to the cohen. (ShA 14– MB 68,74)
                                              11. Whoever it is, should humbly announce before the Hamotzi, “Birshus morai v’rabbosai…” (Rama 14 – MB 75)
                                              12. The above honors apply also in places where the minhag is that everyone has his own loaf and will be saying his own beracha. The minhag is to wait for the honoree to break his bread first. (MB 68)
                                                                    1. A talmid chochom can give permission to someone else to bless but not for the purpose of honoring a cohen – that would be a disgrace to the Torah. (MB 70)
                                                                    2. If the situation requires to give the honour to a cohen but someone else wants to bless – permission must be received from the cohen. It is not enough just to say “birshus hacohen”. This is true for Birkas Hamazon as well. (MB 75) 
                                                                    3. In a group where one person will cut the loaf (the botzaya) – no one should take a bite before the botzaya. Even if they didn’t intend to be yotzay with his Hamotzi, they should still wait. Therefore, the botzaya should taste a piece before giving out bread to others. (ShA 15 – MB 76,79)
                                                                    4. If the botzaya gives out bread before taking a bite, it will be a hefsek since the others mustn’t bite their bread before he does anyways. (MB 79)
                                                                    5. If each person has his own bread, even though they are hearing the Hamotzi from the botzaya, they do not need to wait for him to eat first. (ShA 15 – MB 81)
                                                                    6. On Shabbos and Yom Tov they must wait for bread from the botzaya’s lechem mishna unless they have their own two loaves. (ShA 15 – MB 82)
                                                                    7. The botzaya shouldn’t cut until most people have finished answering “omayn”.    (ShA 16)
                                                                    8. Together with the honor of breaking the bread comes the honor of choosing the first portion of food from the platter. (ShA 17)
                                                                    9. When the botzaya passes out the slices he should not give it directly into the hand of another (unless the receiver is a mourner and it isn’t Shabbos or Yom Tov) – acting like a mourner could harm his mazal. (ShA 18 – MB 89,90)
                                                                    10. Don’t throw the bread. (MB 88)
                                                                    11. For any beracha on a mitzva, you can be motzi another Jew who needs the beracha even though you already fulfilled it. But for birkas hanehenin, you can only be motzi someone when you yourself need to say the beracha . Therefore, when you are not eating, you cannot say hamotzi to be motzi someone else who is eating.                 (ShA 19 – MB 92)
                                                                    12. Any Jewish child who doesn’t know the beracha can be helped by anyone – say the entire beracha (e.g. Hamotzi) with him, even if you won’t be eating.                      (ShA 19 – MB 93)
                                                                    13. On the night of Seder, the Hamotzi on the matza becomes a beracha on a mitzva. On the first two nights of Sukkos, the Hamotzi in the sukka becomes a birkas hamitzva. The Hagoffen on any Kiddush wine is also considered a beracha on a mitzva. All of these can be recited to be motzi someone even if you already fulfilled these mitzvos and you won’t be eating. (ShA 20 –MB 95)
                                                                                            1. Eat the first slice of Hamotzi before any other bread. Since it is a mitzva, it should be eaten with appetite. (Rama 20)
                                                                                            2. The Shl”a writes to leave over from that first slice to eat when you are finished with your meal so that the taste of the Hamotzi will linger in your mouth. (MB 97)
                                                                                            3. Do not feed the piece cut off for Hamotzi to animals, birds, or gentiles. It is not respectful for the mitzva. (MB 97)