Dear Rabbi Simon,
If I’m having a piece of mezonot pita, is it proper to nevertheless wash my hands [ritually] and say ha-motzi if I’m regarding it as a meal (even say, breakfast-on-the-go)? In other words, should I treat it as bread?
Similarly, on a recent occasion I chose a mezonot sandwich when I met a friend at a bakery for lunch. He suggested I make ha-motzi and bentch [recite the full-length Grace After Meals] as this could be regarded as a fixed meal. I wasn’t sure, as usually I’d say mezonot and ‘al hamichiya in that situation.
Thank you for your very practical question.
Although there are grounds to challenge the validity of the phenomenon of “mezonot pita” (or bread)—which some denounce as a contradiction in terms–the established Batei Din (and kashruth authorities) in the UK endorse the concept, which is achieved by kneading the dough with apple juice (for example) rather than water. According to this view you may recite the berakhah of mezonot (and ‘al ha-michya afterwards) in the breakfast situation you describe. The same formula is applicable in the case of DD’s sandwiches or similar for lunch.
Regarding the bakery lunch, the situation you describe is a judgement call, and can go either way (ie mezonot or ha-motzi on your lunch choice). The halakhic high road would be to have some bread as well and avoid the uncertainties. However, there is no necessity to do so. At my long running Lunch & Learn shiur at HM Treasury (where I teach, so I don’t eat), most say mezonot and some say ha-motzi while we all eat the same DD’s sandwiches.
Many years ago, I used to eat two slices of pizza for dinner once a week at a certain kosher pizzeria in NYC. To avoid the uncertainties about the status of two Manhattan-sized pizza slices (and because I was always hungry in those days of fast metabolism) I would also eat a plain pita as well—on which I recited ha-motzi, etc.
Rabbi Rashi Simon