- Question: [Wednesday, 20th Kisleiv 5783]
I came a little late for a Seuda and there were no more whole loaves available, as they were all broken into. Is there any preference regarding which of the broken loaves I say Hamotzi over such as a small broken loaf versus a large broken loaf, and should I cut a piece off one of the loaves before I say the blessing? For example, if three quarters of the Challah is still intact, should I first cut off a slice from it and then say Hamotzi, or should I first say Hamotzi and only then cut the slice off?
It is a clear ruling in the Talmud and Poskim that you are to prefer the largest available loaf or largest available slice of bread for the saying of Hamotzi. Thus, if you have a number of loaves of bread that were broken into on the table, you are to say a blessing on the largest of the loaves, and only after the blessing are you to cut off a piece. The only exception to this is in the case that the loaves of bread are made of different flours, and have different taste and qualities in which case you are to say the blessing on the greater quality loaf or slice of bread.
Explanation: The concept of making a blessing over a Shaleim is quite well known, and hence whenever one has a whole loaf of bread on the table, it is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar for the blessing of Hamotzi to be said over the whole loaf versus over the slices of bread or a half a loaf. Now, what people are not aware of is that this concept likewise extends to larger versus smaller pieces of bread or loaves. Meaning that just like whole loaf should be preferred to half a loaf, so too a larger loaf should be preceded to a smaller loaf, and that even a larger slice of bread should be preceded to a smaller slice of bread. Accordingly, even when there is no Shaleim on the table, one should still choose the largest piece of bread for the Hamotzi blessing, and hence if there are slices of bread and a half of a loaf on the table, the blessing should be said on the half a loaf. Likewise, one should not cut a slice off from the half a loaf before the blessing and say a blessing over the slice.
Sources: See Admur 168:5; 167:3 [regarding not cutting from half a loaf until after blessing]; Seder Birchas Hanehnin 10:3; Luach Birchas Hanhenin 3:3; Michaber 168:2; Brachos 39b; M”A 167:4; Mordechai Remez 129; Hagahos Maimanis Brachos 7:4